Henrik Hytteballe, aka The Haiku Project, once again takes us on a wide-ranging journey through our emotions as his music reaches inside the listener and gently plucks on our heart strings evoking a variety of feelings. The album is simply called Life, and the song titles reveal that the compositions reach from the depth of the oceans with the “Great Barrier Reef,” all the way to “The Bright Side of the Moon” and back again. The music covers a lot of ground with tracks that are skillfully woven together to provide the listener with a seamless experience that reaches outward to that distant moon in the sky, and then back down into our very soul as we contemplate who and why we are here, with a song like “Existence.”
Life might surprise some who are reading this review thinking of it strictly as a new-ageish release, and that surprise would be because Henrik has included a couple of tracks that would fit very nicely into a purely ambient music scheme. “Existence” clocks in at 12:25 and is a wonderfully introspective song that floats the listener along and allows them plenty of time to sit quietly and delve deeply into the sensations that will inevitably manifest in listeners. Of course each listener will have a different journey contingent upon their own circumstances in life or their present challenges, but the great thing about music like this is that it’s completely malleable to each person’s temperament, like a chameleon showing different shades to different listeners. There is a voice that floats through this track as well, lending the song an ethereal, almost other worldly feel. It’s something you’d expect from a song that attempts to tackle the subject of existence in a 12 minute chunk of time.
When you add to “Existence” the almost 12 minute track “Great Barrier Reef,” then you start to get an idea as to why Life is almost as much an ambient album as it is an instrumental new age album, featuring guitars and piano on several of the tracks. I don’t mean to say that these two songs are the only things that shine on this album, it’s just that between the two of them they command a 24 minute share of the overall album which makes them important to the “feel” of the music you will find here. The electric guitar is an interesting element that appears throughout this album and it gives the music an attention-grabbing edge and creates a unique character that the listener won’t soon forget.
The album ends with a song called “Vagabond Forever,” a simple melodic piece that brings to a close the overall tranquil music that has been with us for the last 72:11. Life is mainly a piano piece, but with some strings floating overhead along with a cello offering the occasional depth to the lighter sounds of the keyboard. Perhaps the title suggests that there is not a true destination in this life for any of us. The short period of time that we have to spend on this earth makes us feel like we are passing through, but never really able to settle down permanently, which need not be a negative thing. This music leaves you feeling that the journey is just another aspect of life that needs to be accepted before you can truly let go and simply be who you are, where you are, right now, before moving on.
Summing up, Life definitely has an introspective feel to it with songs that are well crafted and very enjoyable, even after multiple listenings. Hytteballe is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer; this shows in the music which flows so well together that was chosen to be a part of this album.