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(56:59, Dreaming Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Turquoise 8:04 2. Jade 8:50 3. Amethyste 6:53 4. Quartz Rose 6:55 5. Ambre 8:15 6. Hematite 8:06 7. Cristal de Roche 9:56 SOLO PILOT: Didier Bardin all instruments With: Carole Moon voice (2, 4)
Prolusion. Didier BARDIN is a French composer and keyboard player and, unless he uses extremely good emulators, a multi-instrumentalist to boot. "Le Pouvoir des Pierres" ("Power of the Stones") is his debut album, and it was released in 2008 on the Dreaming label, a subset of the French progressive rock specialist label Musea Records.
Analysis. Before describing the music as such, I think that in this particular case it would be useful to convey some of the thoughts the artist had on this release, a sort of summary of what the intentions of the release is. As I read on his homepage (or rather his homepage as translated by the Google translation application), this goes as follows. The purpose of "The Power of the Stones" is to answer the question: Is it possible to create soothing and relaxing music that at the same time is varied and interesting to listen to? Research carried out by Professor Lee Bartel (University of Toronto) forms a further premise for the compositions on the album; the good professor has researched how frequencies of a certain kind influence the production of various brain waves and also how rhythm influences the cardiac and respiratory systems. Certain minerals are then used as symbols for the various effects the individual compositions are thought to produce on the listener. It has taken five years to finish this project, and as for the question raised by Bardin yes, indeed, it is possible to make relaxing and soothing music that is entertaining and interesting to listen to. This has been proven many times previously though, by artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Kitaro. Everybody may not agree with this, but the commercial success of these artists is undeniable, which tells us that many people indeed find their music interesting. Of the three mentioned, Kitaro is probably closest to Bardin in approach, but quite different in style. In this case, the style explored is pretty much typical new age, with extensive use of synthesizers and classical music as major sources of inspiration. The compositions are mostly slow-moving explorations, and floating synth layers are a dominating trait throughout. The above is often evidenced in multiple layers, and quite often with one or more layers played in a wave fashion - a constant sound or melodic theme gradually becoming more intense, fading and then growing in intensity again. Adding variety to the pieces, either emulated or actual instruments are added; my musical ear isn't good enough to tell for sure in this case. Acoustic guitar licks and piano are the instruments and techniques used most often, but what I believe sounds like flute, violin and clarinet are among the other instruments utilized. These instruments will have mostly minor roles in parts of the compositions, but they stand out from the lush synth textures to good effect, enhancing melody lines or supplying new ones, clearly adding a drive and tension to these songs. Careful use of percussion and drums in most tunes further enhances this aspect of the compositions, forming a wholeness that is both relaxing and interesting to experience. Unlike most new age music I've come across, some of these songs contain highly complex movements as well, where the multiple layers of sounds are utilized to perform slightly different melody lines rather than just augmenting each other. Even when it comes to structure, these compositions are slightly more advanced than your average new age production, both because each song is made up of a minimum of two segments and because these segments are constantly evolving and changing. This last facet of the songs is a subtle one, though, but it is present. When that is said, this isn't a revolutionary album. Being better than the average new age album in most respects will for many music fans mean that this release is better than something trite and unlistenable. As a matter of fact, this is a rather good album of its kind, with compositions that may actually appeal to a broader audience than the regular new age crowd. Overall it's not a great release, but it is interesting and quite fascinating in places.
Conclusion. Most fans of keyboards-dominated new age music will find this release highly appealing; the slow-moving compositions are relaxing and soothing the perfect remedy after a stressful day at work. There are also layers of complexity to this release though, and the songs do evolve in a manner at times reminding the listener of classical symphonic music, and overall it seems to me that this recording might have a greater appeal as well. If there's anyone out there who would like to sample new age music more complex in nature than the standard "soothing and healing" music by (mostly) unnamed artists you find most places where music is sold, this album is a good place to start.
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