Reviews of the BUTTERFLIES album - page 2
|Review from Wind and Wire - continued from previous page
.....Butterflies also renews Kendle's collaboration with acoustic guitarist Ian Cameron Smith (who previously was heard on Flowers). Once again, Smith's graceful playing enhances and adds a naturalistic element to the music on various tracks. The two artists are certainly on the same page, since their musical togetherness is readily apparent on the spirited first song, "Butterfly Meadow" with cheerful picking by Smith and Kevin's lively piano, soprano sax, string sections and synth bells, colored by assorted sparkling keyboard textures.
Picking out favorite songs, as it has always been with Kevin Kendle's albums, is a purely mental exercise, since I love every song and never skip any of them. However, that said, I must say that "Speckled Wood" is too lovely for words. Gentle piano, serene washes of keyboards and strings, and softly lilting sampled flute are mixed with subtle birdsong. I can picture myself walking through a meadow, surrounded by butterflies and gently warmed by the sun, drinking in all that nature has to offer.
Some of the CD's track titles are the names of specific butterflies, while others are associative phrases, e.g. the opening cut and "Iridescence." "Red Admiral" (an English garden butterfly) will be instantly recognizable to long-time Kendle fans, with many of his trademark keyboard sounds (from plucked strings to twinkling cascades of synths to the pleasant use of pitch-bending and superlative soprano sax). This track also showcases Smith's tasteful and nuanced guitar work. "Iridescence" is appropriately spacy and ethereal at the start, with warm washes of synthesizers, soon graced with a variety of delicate twinkling bells (this song harkens back to Kendle's earliest recordings, First Light and Eventide). There is even a slightly melancholy number ("Brimstone") on which the artist uses (as he did on Clouds) synth chorus to excellent effect, not overdoing it as many others do, but allowing it to color the main melody ever so slightly. And, once again, Smith also lends his considerable talent here as well, bringing to mind the softer side of Bruce BecVar. Kevin's flute samples on this track are divine, by the way. How he gets such a realistic sound is beyond me.
As one might infer (what with the theme of the album being what it is) the last cut, "Transformation," begins quietly and builds into a celebratory musical "emergence," musically portraying a caterpillar as it blossoms and becomes a winged creature of beauty. As he has done throughout his career, Kevin Kendle has an uncanny ability to paint vivid "pictures" of the natural world with both amazing accuracy and a true artist's soulfulness.
What can I tell you? To my ears, Kevin has once
again shown why damn few artists can touch him when it comes to creating
new age music that has all of the pluses of the genre and none of the
minuses (coincidentally, one artist who comes damn close is his good friend,
Llewellyn, and they both reside in the same part of England - must be
something in the water!). Beautiful and melodic without being sappy or
saccharine-laced, relaxing and soothing yet never soporific or somnabulent,
Kendle's music deserves all these accolades, if not more. Technically
flawless (Kevin also does a lot of mastering for other artists, so you
know his own albums will be flawlessly recorded) and artistically inspired,
Butterflies is music that floats effortlessly and serenely, yet does so
with enough charm and beauty to lift your soul up into the warmth of the
sun where you can feel refreshed and renewed. In other words, another
Kevin Kendle album that merits my highest recommendation...!"
|Reviewer: Bill Binkelman
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