In 2009 I happily reviewed the first four albums of ten-time Grammy Nominated pianist and composer Peter Kater's Element Series, Air, Earth, Fire and Water and now, five years later, the quintessential finale, Etheria. The seven track recording not only lives up to its name as a collection of otherworldly atmospheric experiences, but also goes beyond the corporeal, allowing the mind to be free and open to daydream. More importantly, it allows the spirit a means of escape, a commodity more precious than gold. Kater has been composing and performing high attitude piano music for over three decades. He has been nominated for more awards that can be mentioned, produced at least a hundred scores for every size screen, and he has successfully collaborated with such luminaries as R. Carlos Nakai, Snatam Kaur, Douglas Blue Feather, and Paul McCandless.
“Heaven's Window” opens the work with a delicate chant of Agnus Dei, Lamb of God by an angelic chorus around a drifting melody with subtle soprano sax by Richard Hardy, the only other instrumentalist on the album. Peter's echoing piano score floats in, empirically weightless, as if I was embracing the point of a star in my mind’s eye. Like the piano’s notes, everything is quite clear.
The mood is slow, yet deliberate on “Celestial Light.” The dreamy piano notes formed a bridge that I could access as I headed for the light. The music encouraged a heaven of my own making, but as a mortal, I knew I had to return.
A strong piano lead begins the tune “Rising Sun.” From my mountain vantage point, I often get to see the sunrise, but Peter’s music makes it quite an enhanced experience. The music is so powerful I can almost feel the ascension of light in the eastern sky and the warmth engulfing me, the light a promise of the new day, the heat a fulfillment.
“Violet Waves” one of the more complex pieces on the CD. It has a strong chorale layer combined with the tenor sax and a prominent piano arrangement that drives the tune. This one is more up-tempo than the others are, but it still manages to get me to follow it at a leisurely pace. With this kind of music, I am more than willing.
“Awakening Stars” is another song with wandering properties, diaphanous, but with a million points of light to aim for. The cold light is a beacon in my travels. Each star represents a single thought and as the music drifts along, I get to ask a question, and find an answer.
The music of “Waxing Moon” is the soundtrack to an event that reminds that we are on a moving body and that we as a planet have an effect on the cosmos and, in this case, visa versa. Like a lunar tide, Hardy's sax has a pulling effect on the music, while Peter's piano pushes back, striking a sense of poise or equilibrium.
With a sound of a Singing bowl, “Luminescence” is the most pellucid piece on the album. The beginning piano melody played “largo,” is uplifting in every sense of the word. The main body comes into play and the piece takes on a substantial feel, solid, yet still transparent. With all the themes on this album, the one of light seems to be in the forefront, but this kind of music reminds me that light takes many forms and originates not only in the heavens, but also from within.
You will finds no better meditative music that Peter Kater’s Etheria. It is quiet, calming, yet simultaneously thought provoking. I have watched Peter play in concert and he is the master of improvisation, where the music is spontaneous, yet fulfilling. On Etheria, the themes seem to develop a bit more, the elements more transcendental, and the mood continuous. Obviously to me, once I heard and enjoyed this music, I knew that Peter has discovered the elusive fifth element and his series is complete.