Finally a continuing series of acoustic based albums with a consistent theme and consistent quality. A lot of record companies have tried this, but it appears that twice Grammy-nominated composer Peter Kater and Real Music have got it done, and done very well. They are called The Elements Series: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
There is something almost Zen-like in the quality of the music. Pensive and hypnotic, yet expansive and graceful. This is not background fluff, this is quality escort music. It is sound that will guide you to that far away place, your inner sanctum or just somewhere you have always wanted to be, if only in your heart. Joining pianist-composer Kater is Grammy nominated oboist Paul McCandless, Mike Hamilton on guitar, Richard Hardy on bamboo and silver flutes and violinist Ludvig Girland.
Air: Wings of Sound - An example of what I call breathing music, with an ebb and flow; a musical tide if you will that provides a soothing, interim time of peace to your spirit. Kater’s piano score is outstanding in this track. Richard Hardy’s flute work literally soars on this one. At 20:21 it is the longest track on the album, but it is both short-lived and timeless if that is possible. Four (long) tracks.
Earth: Celestine - Over nine minutes of pure beauty in musical form. Strong, stable, organic and solid like the planet itself. Hardy’s extraordinary flute and Hamilton’s dreamy guitar swirl like drifting sands that covers the desert. And like sifting sand it sometimes reveals secrets and treasures long forgotten. My absolute favorite on this disc. “Summer” – Brilliant guitar and flute combination and haunting piano score that musically portrays a complete season in the life of the planet. There is the rising heat of the sun, the verdant growth of new life and the maturation that only a summer of fertile surroundings can produce. Eleven tracks.
Fire: Northern Lights may be the best track on this album. With a haunting flute lead, an eerie oboe companion, and a melancholy piano, the flow of this one is mesmerizing. The mystery of the dancing lights has long been a part of man’s mythology and religion. To me it is the gift of the earth to man for surviving in the frozen northern climes. “Solaris” — Kater’s piano illuminates the music with a very strong score while Girland’s violin flares brightly in the background. Dedicated to the earth’s closest star, the giver of life and the protector of all fears, the sun plays a dramatic part in history, science and faith. The ensemble captures the heat and enduring light of the daystar that warms any spirit. Seven tracks.
Water: Substance of Life - is one of the most complex tunes of all the tracks. Mike Hamilton’s guitar is the impetus, but McCandless really does a number accompanying Kater’s elaborate piano work. Like water traveling through a labyrinth of rivulets, the music flows endlessly to its final destination. It may be a bigger pool or an ocean, but the flow continues as it has for an eternity. The concept as well as the imagery of the song has unsurpassed beauty. “Cascade” — An intricate solo piano piece that evokes the clear, cool healing waters of every thundering waterfall, every river and stream that originates with summer rain, thunderstorms and winter runoff. Our lives are sometimes like falling water; fast moving and tumultuous, but with periods of incredible clarity, depth and strength. Eight tracks.
Of all the albums I’ve reviewed, this is the first time I’ve had difficulty picking particular tracks. They were all that good. Kater’s music plays a big part in the life of the mind, in energizing the spirit, healing the hardened heart and relaxing the harried soul. Peter Kater and company have accomplished what New Age/contemporary instrumental music set out to do.
With tributes to the natural elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water it makes you wonder what the quintessential element will be. This series is on my 2005 Top Ten list.