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Reviews of the FLOWERS album - page 4


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Review from Wind and Wire - continued from previous page

......."Fuchsia" will certainly remind Kendle followers of the earlier cuts on Aerial Vistas, with gentle synth notes underneath a drifting piano melody, joined later by a lilting flute hovering above it all. But the next cut, "Sunflowers," is the opposite. Featuring a repeating series of keyboards washes and notes, the song has a Ravel's Bolero-like quality as the same series of notes is played in a slowly building intensity, sometimes embellished with flute, oboe or other musical instrument textures. The pitch of the repeating phrase slowly inches its way upwards as the cut sonically captures the gradual emergence of the sunflower as it stretches and opens to greet the warmth and light of that big yellow ball in the sky. As the cut progresses, things get positively lively - Kevin even jazzes out (well, relatively speaking) on the piano a bit. By the six minute mark, as with Bolero, I was starting to sense the tension in the song (a most agreeable tension, though, based on cheerful themes). Yet, almost as if slyly winking at the listener, Kevin dials back a bit on the song, taking a small break from the escalating of the drama. Finally, at about eight minutes into the piece, flute, piano, and swirling synths join together and erupt (in a subdued manner) suggesting that the sunflower has bloomed. Truly a defining moment on this album.

The final two cuts bring us down from the elation of "Sunflowers." "Roses" is a quite pretty piano-led tune, with hints of grace and almost regality in its flute and twinkling synths and floating undercurrent of synths. There is a sense of crescendo in this song as well, but it is considerably less dramatic than in the previous cut. "Winter Jasmine" closes out Flowers with a subdued and somewhat melancholic feel. Synth chorus, harp and ambient washes open the song with a somberness that, up till now, has been absent. This song is more in line with much earlier Kendle albums like Autumn and Eventide. I'd sure like to see Kevin try his hand at a whole album of more reflective music, in the same vein as his album, Autumn. "Winter Jasmine" hints that he could really work his magic with that kind of theme. The mood lightens somewhat as the song winds down, with a bittersweet mini-crescendo of sorts. As an album-ending cut, it's damn near as perfect as one could hope for.

Kevin Kendle proves once more (as he has done on other recent recordings, such as the neo-ambient Pure Dreaming) that he is more interested in evolving and exploring new musical soundscapes than he is in just mining the same territory (although, what great territory it is!). It's a testament to his compositional skill and his musical abilities that no matter where he travels on the musical map, be it the skies above (Aerial Vistas and Clouds), the ground below (Spring and Flowers), the metaphysical world (Tarot) or through the phases of the day (First Light, Eventide, and Pure Dreaming), he always brings a warmth and humanity to his work. He is, in my opinion, the most consistently listenable artist working in the field today. His music is always a joy to listen to. Flowers is so full of loveliness and cheer that you may want to "plant" it in a window box or a terra cota pot. Like its title namesake, the songs each offer their own version of beauty and together their assembled music is like an assortment of wildflowers bursting on the musical scene. Chalk up another great album from this gifted and talented artist....."

Reviewer: Bill Binkelman


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