Author: admin_robinja

Serene Sublime Earth and Sky

A review of Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers

Robert Thies (piano) and Damjan Krajacic (flutes)

Delicate, like two wise birds heard singing on a breeze — piano and flute, bringing unhurried and relaxed, melodic instrumental wonderment. Consistently contemplative serene movements, weaving a diaphanous kaleidoscopic silk tapestry. Nothing is even remotely fast or moderately hasty, the entire album (74:55) is a perfect daydream with clouds and in my mind’s eye some mystical starfish are slow-stepping in the sky. Thies and Krajacic create soundscapes that leave enough space in the music for the listener to fill with their own thoughts. It is about life. It is about freedom. It is about taking the time to truly enjoy the fine art of listening.

All the sounds one hears on this album were acoustically created on flute and piano, and sometimes using extended techniques not commonly associated with the instruments, creating a well grounded acoustic music that reflects the natural vibrations of this planet and humanity. What I hear is a collection of honest, spontaneous musical conversations that capture a moment in time. The challenge and beauty of improvisation is to attentively listen and react to what you are hearing, discovering a story in the process. It stops becoming intellectual and becomes more emotional and spiritual.  Perhaps that is really what this is about.

Thies and Krajacic, inspired by friendship, are each celebrated exquisite virtuosos, adding occasional unusual percussive instrumental textures, such as recording the sound of tapping rhythmically on the flute valves or thumping the piano while holding down the foot pedal, or applying putty to the strings, all to pull a lot more from those two instruments than what comes from a traditional color palette. And that is the true inspiration, just let it be what it is at that moment.

This is truly music from a quieter place, it is just really very, very sparse. You will hear peaceful intricate layers with no technical studio fireworks. Listen to delicate moments of fresh improvisations, each track feels new and one-of-a-kind, the performances are perfect magic, with haunting melodies, all gorgeous, no darkness or thunder, no hurry, no worry.

Some insights of les musiciens from the album notes:

“The music of Blue Landscapes is inspired and grounded by our love for Earth’s beauty and all of her natural wonders. Whether it be the motion of the seas, the majesty of the mountains, the rhythmic flow of the rivers and streams, the migrations of her creatures, or the mysteries of the forests, all feed the imagination. 

“May we cherish and protect our planet for all the generations that follow.   

“And as always, it is our hope that this music will take you to a quiet and reflective space.”  

~ Robert & Damjan

Deeper Into the Frontier

The album begins with and maintains a consistently delicate slow levitating feeling created by the piano accompanied by flute, “Drifting” (3:37) explores sounds and colors, you feel like you might be blissfully sitting next to a stream for hours, just listening and watching the flowing water. Exploring moments of spirituality in music and in nature, “Forest Path” (6:56) presents detailed percussive flute fingering providing the path and tempo of the journey, melodic flute soaring and decorated with tiny piano embellishments. Nature has always been an inspiration for fine art and for sacred healing experiences. “The Abandoned Monastery” (5:42) with peaceful flute layers slow and stately, a single flute’s voice takes the focus over the slow layers exploring the potential with what the flute could do, the piano joins in, understated and keeping the slow stately pace, exploring the old monastery’s ruined stones overgrown with brush and raked by the wind, here is where the altar once was, there is where the monks once worshiped, they are now long gone…

Piano sketches, telling a story in music, perhaps about a quiet afternoon, slowly the flute joins in, matching the melody side by side, turning and gliding in perfect synchronicity, there is a sweet tiny chime hidden in the framework. “Le Musicien” (3:34) has a sound that is organic, pure, and ethereal. Next, you can see the lighthouse in the distance, and now you are on top of the lighthouse and looking into the horizon, feeling the magical slow pace, describing the sea on a still day, surveying infinity: “The Lighthouse” (3:46) stirring the heart and awakening the mind, it’s magical. 

Flowing piano with a shadowy flute chiffon, evoking raw, human emotion, memories long faded and treasured, “Goodbye” (6:42) light and dark speaking to the experience of life, that’s really what the music is about. Improvisation is, like life, magical and unpredictable. “Frontiers” (6:09), geometric patterns of piano thistledown with a breezy flute sweeping overhead, some percussive tapping on the instrument to create more depth in places, very delicate. As the song progresses, the sparse fingering of the piano becomes more bold on top of the constantly repeating geometric patterns, calming and transforming. The uncertainty that comes with improvisation allows us, listeners and musicians, all to reach deep and let go, unifying us musically and spiritually and with everything around us at the same time.

For the next track the piano is disguised as a harpsichord, slow and diaphanous, the flute is dry and whispery, joined by another layer of piano, all understated and delicately stunning, gorgeous,  a love for other kinds of music coming from a different place, “Tranquility” (4:24). With an elegant symphonic sound from just one pianist and one flutist, waking with no memories, just the fascinating new day ahead, thinking: “Take My Hand” (3:49). Absolutely authentic, heartfelt, thoughtful and comforting. Fine silken piano fields under a sky that has no horizon, it just goes forever, the flute brings punctuation and textures, punching a playful breeze, percussive touches to complete the portrait of “Infinity” (6:41). Thoughtful, moving, healing. Graceful — a rich palette of colors, sounds and percussive effects not commonly associated with the flute.

Nature is a muse for many composers, it’s no different with this music. The piano creates a cascading liquid flowing feeling, the flute provides the breeze and all you can do is float along, on a perfect afternoon. “The Distant Waterfall” (3:42), shape shifting, playing the flute and creating a  deep connection to our natural world, allowing for more soul searching. Melodic tides bring the sand endless treasures, fine details sent by ocean currents, a night of warm breezes and “Waves on a Moonlit Sea” (4:28) gently clearing the heart very deeply, inspired by our beautiful natural world.

In this collection of sonic jewels there is more than one miniature journey, this next track is a mystical cavalcade, a caravan of free spirited wanderers. Here you can find solemn nomads who pass through “The Valley of Echoes” (4:35) reaching forefronts of beauty and visions of nature, reinforcing a feeling of connection to our planet. Gossamer thin and timeless, “Forgotten Memories” (6:28), the piano draws pictures of incredibly beautiful visual landscapes, an extremely beautiful sonically elegant little pattern that in your mind is going to play on and on, long after the recording has stopped. Floating and “Letting Go” (4:38) is an improvisational musical dialogue, the musicians are so tuned in to each other, providing a very deep listening experience, kind of like life, with situations where you have no idea of what’s going to happen next.

Robert Thies is the only American pianist in four decades to win a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn. He is in high demand at festivals and special celebrations, a master class teacher, chamber music coach, lecturer, and adjudicator across the globe. Thies’s recordings can be found on the music labels Centaur, Albany, Golden Tone, Denouement Records, and now on Myndstream.

Damjan Krajacic is a musician of eclectic styles, spanning jazz, latin jazz, and classical training, he is of Eastern European heritage, a native of Zagreb, Croatia. He was instrumental in starting the Croatia Flute Academy, and has 8 CD releases. His groove-packed latin-jazz and meditative ambient music show his jazz and classical sensibilities as well as Eastern European rhythms and melodies. On this album he plays a regular C flute, and a bass flute, which is an octave lower, at times it might sound as if a folk instrument is playing, or Native American flute, perhaps not to simulate those instruments, always extending the color palette of the flute.

This album is the third part of a series, preceded by Blue Landscapes (2012) and Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries (2016), which is a 2018 Global Music Award Bronze winner.

Track List

1 Drifting
2 Forest Path
3 The Abandoned Monastery
4 Le Musicien
5 The Lighthouse
6 Goodbye
7 Frontiers
8 Tranquility
9 Take My Hand
10 Infinity
11 The Distant Waterfall
12 Waves on a Moonlit Sea
13 The Valley of Echoes
14 Forgotten Memories
15 Letting Go

I highly recommend that you listen deeply to this New Age instrumental ambient meditation, you will be rewarded with an easy peaceful feeling, again and again. For more about the story behind the musical series Blue Landscapes, visit these links:

http://www.bluelandscapesmusic.com/
https://myndstream.com/robert-thies-damjan-krajacic


the complex and moving musical poetics of everyday life

Instrumental electronica, with layers loopy and delicate, with components of cycling patterns, with surprising line breaks, with quick, associative leaps, and peppy repetition on this moment of insight or revelation. The music overall has a beat, especially the brighter melodies, it is consistently energetic. With all of its richness and vitality, this day is, in the end just “like any other,”  subject to an exotic location and a masterpiece of varied tones and sample sources, such as you might hear from synthesizers, strings and chimes. Electronics zoom in like a telephoto lens to see the dust inside yesterday and then tomorrow, and pulls back to consider the entire, ordinary day in which all these things occur. It also registers the mixture of repetition and variety in everyday life, with its insistence underscored by repetition, to make a declaration about what is valuable, what is worth noticing, because that will so fascinate the listener. It is a day like any other,  deliberately leaving open what “it” is meant to refer to, is “it” the meaning of this specific everyday moment? It’s a day like any other, calling us as it explores the complex and moving musical poetics of everyday life at the center of this work. 

Darshan Ambient discovers a new, more vital mode of music, one highly attuned to what is happening right in front of our noses, all the time.  In a way, he realizes a song could be born simply from paying close attention to the present and immediate, to what was happening outside the window, he turns away from the remote and the antique, and toward the common and familiar.  Through his gift we are suddenly aware that this kind of “marvelous” event happens every day, and that only our inattention obscures it from view.

The first track is titled “City of the Seven Hymns” (5:20) and features percussion and synthesizer beats with celestial organ and steel guitar, using precise and fresh images to notate how the listener’s ear perceives the minute and shifting details of an ordinary dusk in an ordinary evening at sunset.

“Ah! Sunflower” (4:01) brings strings and uplifting feelings, the resulting sensation itself serves as both the fruit of that recognition and a recognition about subject matter, about attentiveness to daily life, and about form, with intelligent light.

Flowing out of fragments he chose but might have otherwise never used, “The Echoing Green” (2:56) is a slower darker deeper track to listen and think about, in an associative fashion that is possibly meant to mirror the way consciousness actually moves in daily life, as if concealed in each drop of water is the sea.

Up the pace again with piano sounds including the hammer strikes and reverb pedal wide open, embracing organic form, quotidian experience, and colloquial instrumental language, “Wishful Thinking” (4:33).

“A Little Wool Gathering” (4:38) whimsical with strings bright pace, the listener’s jaw drops open at the wonderful, accidental congruence of this contingent everyday moment. Or so it seems now.

Next the sound is slower and darker, reflective and somber, “He Lamented His Thoughtless Acts” (4:34) echoing the colors of the setting sun in the sky and building facades, vividly etches the gritty details of the urban scene, with dizzy whirls between self and world where the differences blur.

Heavy sustainment systems that allow long term survival, the bare necessities to live another day, behold “LightFighter” (5:11). Here and now I cannot adequately tell you why I like it (I do) and why it works (it does), it features many new textures including passages of backwards sounds, perhaps from a piano. An efficient design, demonstrating the benefits of the element of surprise, lyrical superiority in the air, to simultaneously have superior maneuverability, and to possess suitable melodic effectiveness.

This next track for me allows the present to mingle with memories of the past, in particular. Enjoy glimpses of the “Shadow Lines” (5:23) featuring guitar electronique, expanding loops which seem to effortlessly arrive at this commitment and devotion to the literal and unsymbolic day. 

While the reference remains loose and indeterminate, “The Rain Has Flown” (4:49) favors a classical guitar sound, with electric guitar trills and decorations, a bit of steel guitar (country-western style slide guitar sounds) at a moderate pace that is not so up and also not so dark, to conjure up memories of other rhythm and rhyme.

The title song, “A Day Like Any Other” (4:02), has a nice energetic pace, strummed guitars with electric spices, a pronounced beat, a walk on a sunny day’s conclusion which turns the everyday – and everydayness – into its central theme and subject, as well as an object of representation, ‘a day like any other.’ 

The album’s listening adventure concludes with “The Republic Of Dreams” (4:44) perhaps a bit  energetic for a sleep piece but illustrative of positive dreaming, an upbeat tune. It comes in with a quiet feeling and then rises in tempo and pace, to help us find out more, including how to control something marvelous happening, transforming everything.  It then occurred to me that this happened more often than not, which catches the composer at the very moment of a conversion to an everyday-life aesthetic.

Michael Allison hales from San Francisco, California. In 1992 after several years as bassist, guitarist, and vocalist, for groups like Nona Hendryx & Zero Cool, Richard Hell And The Voidoids, China Shop and Empty House, he began a solo project using the name Darshan Ambient. The name Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit word darshana meaning something like “sight,” “vision,” or “appearance.” In 2008 his CD From Pale Hands To Weary Skies won Best Ambient Album for the New Age Reporter (NAR) Lifestyle Music Awards. His music has been used in films, documentaries and television commercials.

In an interview on the radio program Echoes (October 2013), Allison reveals that “Growing up with the Beatles and progressive rock, I’m always trying to be progressive with the music that I’m doing and that’s really what I, what I consider myself doing is more progressive music than anything else.  And that could be anything. Progressive music could have jazz elements, classical rock, you know, that sort of thing.”

Overall, A Day Like Any Other is an upbeat, melodic and energetic album, positive and well lit, no brooding darkness or strange zones. Most of the songs are a walk on a bright sunny day, moving right along and with a happy feeling, as reflected in the cover art created by Spotted Peccary graphic design master Daniel Pipitone. 

1 City of the Seven Hymns
2 Ah! Sunflower
3 The Echoing Green
4 Wishful Thinking
5 A Little Wool Gathering
6 He Lamented His Thoughtless Acts
7 LightFighter
8 Shadow Lines
9 The Rain Has Flown
10 A Day Like Any Other
11 The Republic Of Dreams

Spotted Peccary Music

Presale will be live at:  https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/product-category/record-labels/spotted-peccary/ 

Meditation on Gratitude

Last year was so much better than 2018, and I am most grateful for that. I believe that attitude has everything to do with having a good life. Expectations facilitate feelings of reward or disappointment, satisfaction, or whatever. Existing is often difficult and I hope we can all find our way and never try to force our opinions on others. Of course, good conversation allows for anything!

Thank you Maggie LaNoue for this website and for the various home town websites including AlbionMich.com and AlbionMich.net. Thanks to Frank Passic for his many interests and for his local history articles. I am grateful for having lived most of 2019 in Olympia renting a room in an apartment with my good friend Jeffrey Bartone, in the place where I experienced my most formative years 1977-1995. I am grateful for my friends there and in other places. I am grateful for the medical care and good health I have. I am grateful for my employment at The B Company and the opportunity to create income based on my interest in music, as well as helping Jason Renaud with the Portland Mental Health projects by serving on the Project Council. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as an opener at the Olympia Food Coop. I am grateful that I had a car!

2019 was a very good year. What could possibly go wrong?

I am now in Pittsburgh, renting a room from my sister-in-law, and I am in a much better position to contribute to the care for my brother as he experiences his transition to the afterlife. I am very grateful that his distress is not acute at this time. I am grateful that my nephews are providing excellent care for him.

The future has always been elusive to my calculations. I know that I must strive to stay alert for opportunities both anticipated and mystical or mysterious. I hope I can become a better writer and to develop more ways to experience happiness and to create income to weather my own future transition to the afterlife. The afterlife is less important to me than the period leading up to that transition. Who will push my wheelchair around?

For now, both the wheelchair and the afterlife seem remote and I am focused on making more of my time and expectations. I love making plans, I do it every day, new plans. Plans are usually abandoned when new circumstances and opportunities arise. I am thinking always that I might have sex today. I might enjoy an excellent meal. I might have a fantastic dream. I might meet someone new. I might have an unplanned adventure. I will discover something new. I have confidence in that. Confidence is self-delusion but it is effective. Life long learning is a good way of life.

A Wildering Haven

https://www.booksie.com/house-wildering-haven-2157


The Wildering Haven Publishing House

Titles:

Drifting on the Mekong: an interview with Kelly David
by Robin James
Article / Non-Fiction

David Helpling: Whirlpools of Deep and Mystifying Ambient Solo Guitar Cerebrations
An interview by Robin James
Article / Non-Fiction

A review of WOODLANDS by electronic composer Rudy Adrian
by Robin James
Article / Non-Fiction

Music is Sweetness: Sangeeta Kaur
An interview by Robin James
Article / Non-Fiction

Troubled Sleep
by Robin James
Short Story: Horror

The Agitated Skull
by Robin James
Short Story: Horror

Dixon Tower
by Robin James
Short Story: Extreme Experimental Fiction

Right now the long distances of interspace travel to escape from a poisoned earth to a new planet that might be suitable to support human life would take several hundred years to arrive at the destination. What might actually arrive after such a journey?

Change is constant

I have arranged the cassette collection so that if you tap one it will send a ripple through the whole line, you can watch the ripple move along and be transferred to the whole series. Right now David Bowie is visiting and I show him this phenomenon, he is amused. I wonder what it is like to be David Bowie, he seems like a mysterious hero. I do not know how to ask him and I know it would be awkward, so I just joke with him, he relaxes and we laugh.

Its dawn now and my new friend has purchased a cassette for me, she is taking me to a bus stop, there is a greyhound bus parked in the city. We are in New York City and it is early morning. One of the men she is talking to has a new morning face, he looks like he has been up all night with his rheumy eyes. I think he is also a policeman, but he is one of the men at the informal bus stop where my new friend is speaking to the group of friendly men in Spanish, I do not speak Spanish and it is not her native language. I think she begins by apologizing to them for her language skills, they laugh and assure her that they understand what she is saying. She is telling them something and they understand, they sadly look away from me, and seem to assure her that her plan will work just fine. I ask what is going on and she says “You are going to Seattle” and I take the cassette she purchased for me out of the wrapper, once removed you can see its all broken up and useless, the little booklet is fine, the jewel box is somewhat cracked but the cassette itself has been badly damaged and would never play. That is okay, as I do not have a way to play it anyway, I can read the booklet and see the ribbon of audio tape sparkle rainbows.

Nobody seems to care, that is not the purpose of the cassette, they look sadly away. The morning is beautiful, even in New York City. The park where the bus is resting is bathed in new morning light. The new friend of mine has thanked them and now she is on her way, looking away from me sadly while she wishes me a good voyage.

The men are friendly but we speak different languages. The trip to Seattle will begin soon. The light in the park is beautiful and the June leaves all give a pleasant shadow. The cassette is not going to play but the point is not to play the cassette, it is to have something to handle while the time goes by. The bus will be loading soon and I wait. I probably should be concerned about going somewhere by myself, but I feel strangely relaxed and surrendered to the only option I have, which is to go along with my friend’s plan.

C’est L’Halloween!