Reviews 12-31-2005 


Music Reviews 



Standing and Falling

by Tim Story and
Dwight Ashley

Visit Tim Story's  website

Visit Dwight Ashley's website


The first word that comes to mind when considering Ashley & Story’s latest release, "Standing + Falling," is "grace." Not just the grace of the music itself, although it does move with unhurried presence and the rhythm of calm breath. Rather, it’s the CD taken as a whole—the construction of each individual piece, the play of the elements within each, and the relationship between tracks—that evokes the overarching sense of grace. The disc opens with the slow dance of "Obstinato," where a gentle strings-feel melody meets electronic twiddling, setting the tone for the pieces to follow. That combination of playfulness and deep e-music sensibility pervades the work.

Take, for example, the transition from the gentle flow of "Poppies [for Irene]" into the blip-and-funk cool of "Chicken Pot Pie." While utterly different in form, there’s an oddly complementary feel to placing one after the other. It happens in perfect reverse order in the movement from the twangy-bass-and-beat-driven title track into the warm and dark current of "Ohmen." "Standing + Falling" closes with the 20-minute-long "Dysnipsia," a gorgeous exercise in drifting minimalism that truly exemplifies the work’s quality of grace. 

Across the breadth of this CD, Ashley and Story build exquisite landscapes loaded with tiny, constantly moving details. Each is rich in emotion and nicely balanced between dark and light, simple and complex. 

It’s worth noting that the collaborative efforts between Ashley and Story on this CD took place largely via electronic media, with each adding elements bit by bit as the pieces evolved. The seamless melding of musicality and atmosphere from each pays a great tribute to the natural ease of their compositional chemistry. 

John Shanahan/The Hypnagogue

Reviewed by John Shanahan for Ambient Visions



The Voice

by Stanton Lanier

Visit Stanton's website

CD Baby website

“The Voice” is pianist Stanton Lanier’s fourth album to date. The first three recordings were self-produced (I haven’t heard them), but this one was produced by Grammy Award winning Will Ackerman, who was also the founder of Windham Hill Records. Calling himself “Pianist of Peace” and his foundation “Music to Light the World,” Lanier’s melodies have spiritual inspiration and he incorporates scripture into his liner notes to explain where the music came from. However, he also states that his desire is for listeners to enjoy the music for itself and for them to receive a sense of peace and hope. Most of the thirteen tracks are solo piano, but two include vocals by Noah Wilding and two are piano and cello duets with Eugene Friesen. The recording was done at George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound Studio, so the sound quality is exceptional. Drawing from a variety of human experiences and emotions, the music is both deeply personal and universal. Most of the songs are on the quiet side, but a couple are more energetic and joyous, which adds a nice contrast.

The CD begins with “Secret Things,” a gentle and very melodic piece with a warm and peaceful flow. The title track is stunning in its simplicity and clarity. Quietly searching, one feels a strong sense of hope and peace. Gorgeous! “All Things” has a contagious energy and was originally improvised for an audience of middle and high school students. It is very joyous and free. “Resting” returns to quiet simplicity with a soothing a deeply relaxing piece that has a lot of open space between the notes. Another real beauty! “Peace” was composed in memory of a young child who died of leukemia. The first half of the piece is like a music box lullaby - sweet and delicate - and then the piano goes deeper and the ethereal voice of Noah Wilding comes in, suggesting an angel watching over all of us and bringing us peace. I love this one! “Freedom” becomes more energetic, describing how the human spirit finds true freedom through serving others in love. My two favorite tracks are the cello and piano duets. “Tears of Lament” explores the times of sadness and mourning that happen in life. Eugene Friesen’s cello takes us deep within the pain of loss without becoming melodramatic or maudlin. Wow! “Eternity” is an invitation to a peaceful place, for Lanier a welcome home to heaven. In this piece, the cello is more poignant than sad. Both of these pieces are standouts.

“The Voice” is a very soothing a beautiful CD that can take you to a peaceful and gentle place and give a sense of renewal. Recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions


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