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Wind & Wire Review of the LIGHT FROM ORION album - page 1
       

 

 
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"...Inspired by his love of astronomy and star-gazing, English new age music artist Kevin Kendle has released the first in a series of spacemusic recordings, under the subheading of the "Deep Skies" series. His first effort, Light From Orion, is stunningly beautiful "pure" spacemusic - floating, ethereal, lush and almost overflowing with a sense of awe. Joined by Brian Abbott (glissando guitar) on many tracks, as well with an assist on keyboards from Nigel Shaw, Kendle showcases a side of his music that will be new to his fans who have previously only heard the artist's more earthbound works, such as Eventide, First Light, Flowers and Butterflies. Only his albums with a slight "airborne" title (namely, Clouds and Aerial Vistas) carry a hint of what he is up to here. On those releases, he flirted with an ambient style of electronic keyboard music, especially on the last three cuts on Aerial Vistas.

Light From Orion soars, floats, cruises or drifts into outer space, as if the listener were navigating amongst assorted nebulae, star clusters, asteroid belts, and other astronomical phenomena. Only one track ("Bellatrix") contains some of Kevin's more "new age" style of music (a plucked-and-strummed guitar sound and short flute passage), but it is brief and is actually quite pleasant, fitting in nicely. The easiest way to distinguish Light From Orion as a Kevin Kendle album is the excellent production, sterling engineering, and meticulous attention to the highest caliber keyboard/synthesizer sounds.

The ten tracks, totalling about an hour's worth of music, are all named after astronomical items within a cosmic "stone's throw" from the constellation of Orion (hence, the CD's title). Some are stars (e.g. "Alnitak," "Rigel," and "Betelgeuse") while others are more breathtaking phenomenon (e.g. "Horsehead Nebula," and "Great Orion Nebula"). Comprehensive liner notes and beautiful photographs of the assorted (titled) astronomical objects are a major bonus with the album.

When I refer to Light From Orion as "classic" spacemusic, I'm defining the genre in two ways: 1) the presence of mostly major scale tones/notes/chords and 2) a much more "full" sound than the more sparse, minimal and quasi-ambient approach that newer spacemusic usually takes (such as the darker spacemusic from artists like eM on The Foundry label). Kendle's music is much closer to the dramatic soundscapes of artists like Constance Demby, Michael Stearns, Kevin Braheny or even a few newer "retro" artists like Telomere (Chris MacDonald). The music swells, soars, and then subsides, as Abbott's glissando guitar glides in circles around it effortlessly, as if it were driven by giant solar sails. Keyboard sounds from Kevin include choirs, an assortment of more "typical" cosmic sounds, and those massive washes of synthesizer chords so evocative of outer space. There are also moments when things quiet down momentarily, such as the transition between track one ("Horsehead Nebula") and track two ("Alnitak"), when cascading bell-tones and twinkling synths flit amongst a lovely undercurrent of lush keyboards.

Light From Orion is not ambient music - it deserves your full attention (especially played in a dark room and away from distraction). The mix is intricate and detailed. However, you could choose to simply relax and let the many layers of sound coalesce around you, forming a cohesive "whole" musical image of cruising through the night sky...

       
   
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