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(51:26, Dreaming Records)
Prolusion. Based in the Netherlands, Henriette KAT is a composer and musician who has been quite active the last few years. The autumn of 2008 saw the release of her third CD since 2006, "Home", on Musea Record's sublabel Dreaming, a label specializing in electronic music.
Analysis. Previous efforts from this artist have been instrumental productions, exploring a brand of electronic music with firm roots in classical symphonic music. Synthesizers have been used to mimic many of the typical instruments from a symphony orchestra. Gentle and carefully crafted sonic structures have been the composer's calling card, utilizing multiple audio layers to produce a textured and nuanced soundscape where the individual layers have had a wavelike motion, coming and going much like waves coming in towards the shore. The various textures used have been utilized in a manner that gave the individual compositions continuity, always with one or more layers bringing the melody line forward to be taken over by the next sonic wave. An additional trait in Kat's past work has been the evolvement of intensity in her creations, most times opening calm and gentle, gradually growing in intensity and then finally ending as calm and gentle as they started. An at least partial aim on her former releases was to create music soothing and relaxing as well as interesting; this structure was quite effective in achieving just that. On this third effort the music itself is pretty much similar to those past efforts, with synthesizers emulating various instruments and a foundation in symphonic classical music. The same wavelike sonic layers are still present, although not as much as in the past, and quite a few traces of the evolvement regarding intensity can be found too. But there are quite a few changes this time around: This is a production showcasing an artist in development, daring to step away from the familiar to explore new ground. The addition of vocals to the compositions is without doubt the most major change to this most recent creation, and in fact this addition is the cause of most, if not all, of the other alterations in the songs this time. The vocal segments will naturally see to it that the music has to be adapted to include this new facet, and this is partially done by slightly dampening the instrumentation in the affected parts to give room to the voice and partially by replacing the flowing wavelike instrument layers with more thematic based melodic segments. The instrumental segments still contain the wavelike motions heard on her past releases, but now adapted so that they start off at the end of or just after a vocal segment and, with additional adjustments, just prior to one. These changes aren't as dramatic in scope as one might expect from the above description, but they are detectable and do give these creations a somewhat different nature. This also affects the levels of intensity in the tunes as such, still maintaining the basic pattern from past works with a slow and gentle start and finish but with more shifts in intensity in between those. As for the vocals added, I'll have to be honest and admit that the voice of Mrs. Kat isn't quite to my taste. Partially because the vocals come across as somewhat restrained, but also because I tend to like vocals with more raw passion than what's offered here. Technically the performance is brilliant though, a fine example of total control on intonation as well as delivery. Many vocalists might admire her pure show of skill in that department. Atmospheric and captivating segments are to be found aplenty on this album, but the compositions come across as slightly flawed in places – the passages without the ebb and flow technique lacks a substituting facet maintaining the musical flow, resulting in brief moments of silence lasting up to a second. When this happens several times in one piece it becomes somewhat fragmented. Especially when listening actively, this causes a break in concentration, disrupting the mood and atmosphere.
Conclusion. If you find the idea of synthesizer music with a firm foundation in classical symphonic music interesting, and in addition enjoy technically skilled classical vocals, this is a release worthwhile checking out further. It's not a flawless production and the vocals will not be universally appealing, but there are many beautiful moments and quite a few fine compositions to enjoy on this production – and curious readers are advised to find Henriette Kat's MySpace page, where samples from her releases can be investigated.
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