Reviews of the TAROT album - page 2
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|Review from Wind and Wire|
Kendle, one of the preeminent musicians in the music for relaxation field,
flexes his musical muscles, as it were, and shows that he can compose and
perform a much wider variety of keyboard-based music than he has ever hinted
at. His latest recording, which is also the newest addition to New World
Music's Mind, Body and Soul series, is called Tarot. Its inspiration is,
of course, from the fortune-divining cards that have been used by seers
for centuries. Kevin has painted a musical portrait of the cards that clearly
shows why he is one of the most accomplished electronic musicians playing
today. Tarot captured my heart and soul on the first playing (which I am
used to happening with him, being a huge Kendle fan for years). What I was
wholly unprepared for, however, was the width of Kevin's expertise on this
While earlier cuts, such as "The Fool" with its light-hearted flitting melody line (played on Kendle-trademark plucked-strings and flute synths) and "The Magician" (filled with shimmering notes and Kendle-esque textures) bring to mind Kevin's pastoral masterpieces like his recent release, Clouds, or his classic Aerial Vistas, other songs illuminate a side to Kevin that long time fans will scarcely recognize. "The Emperor" begins with rapid-fire synth notes and soon becomes a jaunty escapade into synth-vibes and thundering timpani, bringing about a sense of drama that is rare in previous recordings. Bells chime, quasi-Berlin school notes rain down from above, and soaring synths caress a wonderfully fluid melody. Crescendos resound and the song is an ode to joy, as wave after wave of drama explode like beacons of light. Marvelous - simply marvelous!
"The Heirophant" continues to show a new side of Kevin's musical self as it builds slowly into a musical number of power and grace, with the addition of a snare drum rhythm and church organ effects. "The Lovers" begins in a spacemusic vein, but soon morphs into classic Kendle elegance, with gentle piano notes floating above luxurious washes of keyboards and lilting flute. Lovely! Vintage Kevin Kendle at his best, yet also somewhat warmer and more ethereal than anything but the most ambient tracks on Aerial Vistas.
"The Chariot" may represent the most dramatic departure from Kevin's signature sound. Beginning with a synth arpeggio of sorts, the cut soon erupts in a thundering herd of timpani. Explosive is a word that has never been used in connection with Kevin's music in any of my reviews. But that's what this track does - it explodes into a quasi-Celtic romp as synth choruses, synth bagpipes, and those incredible pounding timpani combine to produce a song that just begs to be played loudly! What a rouser! "Strength," the next song, again opens with atypical synth textures, sounding somewhat spacy, but it soon settles into a warmth and gentility that is indicative of Kevin's previous work. Piano-like keyboards reverberate against a background of washes and echo-effect washes. But then, the cut takes an abrupt turn and rather dramatic synth choruses enter the song as the piece takes on an almost reverential tone. A lone flute line floats effortlessly above the synths as the song slows down into a serene and gentle number before the re-emergence of the choruses.
Next to last is the near-ambient cut "The Hermit" containing patient washes of synths and arrhythmic notes counterpointed by solo flute. Finally, the CD closes with "The Wheel of Fortune," an almost celestial number. Cascading synths fall like sheets of rain. Violin-like synths and airy synth notes skitter above an underlying current of keyboard washes, eliciting an emotional response of hope and even joy. The use of twinkling bell-like tones evoke a feeling of well-being and happiness.
Tarot shows, to great effect, that Kevin Kendle is a musician of more than one dimension. Not only does this album reinforce my belief that he is the premier melodic keyboardist recording today, but it also illustrates that Kevin is capable of composing music which contains as much drama, excitement, and even mystery as the best artists in the business. Fans will doubtlessly fall in love with this new side of Kevin's persona (I certainly did), and new listeners will wonder where he has been all this time.
More than any single artist I have reviewed in my three
and a half years of critiquing this music (and many more years of being
a fan of the genre), Kevin Kendle's CDs are the only ones I never tire
of. Tarot is a revelation of the highest degree. It is both relaxing and
exhilarating - capable of soothing and stimulating the listener with its
multi-hued approach to electronic music. Hands down, this is one of the
best recordings I have heard this year and, hopefully, it will cement
Kevin's reputation as an artist of the highest caliber. It receives (with
considerable ease) my highest recommendation..."
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