Reviews of the CLOUDS album - page 2
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|Review from Wind and Wire|
his first release for New World Music, Kevin Kendle has crafted another
superlative recording of quasi-ambient relaxation music. But, he also stretches
himself as an artist and goes in some new directions as well. As a result,
while fans of the English keyboardist will instantly recognize some of his
trademark sounds, they will also hear new textures including a greater use
of piano to carry the melody line.
As he did on Aerial Vistas, Kevin refrains from using
any environmental sounds (unlike his last CD, Spring). I miss Kevin's
excellently recorded nature sounds, but thematically the sounds would
be out of place, since this album is about-what else-clouds. The music
bears some resemblance to Aerial Vistas, except the majority of songs
here seem less structured then some of the songs
Only one of the cuts varies markedly from the others (see later in this review), but nothing sounds too similar either (this is a Kendle trademark, i.e. the ability to compose cohesive and subtly thematic music without letting it become boring or repetitve). The album starts off with "Cumulus," a gentle light-spirited floating number, with piano, guitar, soprano sax (or recorder?) and flute. Of course, it's really just Kevin and his assortment of keyboards, but the samples are superb and very realistic.
"Cirrostratus" is slightly more jaunty. Again Kevin uses piano and guitar and adds harp and gentle washes of synths, which flit about the edge of the song, sometimes counterpointed by vibes. The song is delightfully light-hearted. "Stratus" is more ambient in feel and will bring to mind earlier Kendle releases like Eventide or First Light. While not remotely dark, there is a subtle touch of mystery in this song.
The remaining songs are also all named for cloud types and draw their musical inspiration from the nature of the cloud itself. On the song "Cumulonimbus" Kevin introduces something I have never heard in his music before, i.e. the synth here bears some resemblance to one of Vangelis' trademark sounds. The song itself is the dramatic highpoint of the album, as befitting the cloud type (it's a storm cloud). Kevin also uses, for the first time, a lush sounding synth chorus, a la Eno's Music for Airports. There are also some spacy textures (another first!) in the background (some of the keyboards here reminded me of the classic David Lange CD, Return of the Comet) The song even has some muted tympani. The whole thing took some getting used to on my part, owing to my familiarity with Kevin's body of work. Once I got over the shock of hearing it, I liked it. It certainly fits the majesty and awe-inspiring sight of a distant thunderhead.
Clouds represents both another great recording of music for relaxation and daydreaming from possibly the best artist in the field, as well hinting at (via the one song mentioned above) a whole new musical side to Kevin. I am always amazed at how Kevin can keep producing album after album of fresh music each time, while still maintaining his signature style. However he does it, fans of beautiful melodic keyboard music are the lucky ones. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Bill Binkelman
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