Various Artists

Domo Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As much as I try to appreciate all forms of music, sometimes I find all-instrumental music boring. It's not the lack of vocals that is the problem, it's that the music doesn't show any additional imagination or life in place of a voice.

And then, there's Reflections, a disc that just hit the stores. Featuring seven artists of different styles from around the world, they combine their talents on solo tracks to make an album that is surprisingly cohesive, as well as creative and fresh - and I can't stop listening to it.

Three of the selections come from Manuel Iman (whom I am told has a solo album coming out soon). Iman's addictive style of Spanish guitar, as well as just a touch of Latin funk when it's called for, make these tracks stand out. "Slow Gypsy" is a track I would have liked to see stretched out a bit longer; to my ears, it was far too short, though it was incredibly charming nonetheless.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If any player is under-represented on Reflections, it is classical guitarist John Mills. The one selection he performs, "Tremolo," brought back memories of the late Michael Hedges and his jaw-dropping skills on the harp guitar. If any one player might be destined for superstardom in the world of guitar work, Mills is my vote for the leading candidate.

Another artist who establishes a name for himself right off the bat is John Adorney, whose three compositions on this disc might be the most new-age based, but are equally as beautiful and powerful as those by his counterparts. "Moving On" flows so smoothly, you'll hardly believe that six minutes have passed when the track ends.

Whether it is the captivating sounds of the cello on Ron Clearfield's "Soliloquy" and (as provided by Wendy Velasco) on Stuart Hoffman's "Gone," or the chime-like keyboard work on Kazuhiko Ikegami's "Mau," or it is the Mideastern influences (complete with tablas) on Nigel Holton's "Remembrance," Reflections is an incredible disc that reminds me what I first heard in the field of new age music that I loved.

You see, at one time, new age music did not mean Yanni leading his version of Heaven's Gate followers into the pits of hell. New age music was the capturing of a particular mood, style or place, and through its performance made you feel like you were there. Indeed, if the music hits me just right, songs on Reflections make me feel like I'm standing on the shores of Japan, taking part in a fiesta in Madrid, or even standing outside the Taj Mahal (whoops, we're back to a Yanni reference). This is the beauty of new age music - beauty I think even the most diehard headbanger could appreciate.

Reflections is a wonderful collection of artists whom I sincerely hope we hear more from in the very near future. Until such time, this disc is a wonderful sampler of their work, and is, so far, high on my list as one of the best albums of the year.


Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Domo Records, and is used for informational purposes only.