Album review by Dyan Garris, New Age CD
Picture this. You’re in a crowded room. It’s so noisy you can’t distinguish any particular conversation from another, and no one phrase, sentence, or topic stands out. It’s just noise, an incessant din, and people clamoring for attention among themselves.
However, as you make your way through the crowd, you notice there are two people in the corner having an interesting dialogue. A quieter dialogue. Your attention is drawn to them magnetically, because they seem to be having a genuine exchange that is somehow effortlessly rising above the cacophony, without perhaps, that direct intention.
You move closer. You want to hear what they are saying. As you move closer, and can make out what they’re saying, you decide that it’s not so much what they’re saying, it’s how they’re saying it. Wait a minute. Wait. Correction. It’s both. You stop, listen, absorb, and are amazed.
You have just discovered the profoundly compelling improvised musical conversation of piano meets flute that takes place between pianist Robert Thies and flutist Damjan Krajacic in their “New Age” album collaboration, Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries.
Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries – the second album in a series appropriately captioned, “Music From a Quieter Place” – is a refreshingly candid improvisational musical dialogue between concert pianist, Robert Thies and flutist extraordinaire, Damjan Krajacic.
Improvised? How good could that be? Read on.
These are not just two who like to get together and make music. Thies is an internationally recognized concert pianist, who in 1995, won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is world renowned for his piano mastery and ultra-sensitive, heart-felt delivery and interpretation of technically difficult classical piano pieces that would undoubtedly daunt any virtuoso.
If you want to experience the classical musical genius that is Robert Thies, watch on YouTube his performance of Chopin’s Etude in C minor, Op. 10 no. 12 “Revolutionary.” It’s astounding. I’m sure you will agree that if he doesn’t have his hands insured already, he should do so.
But his extraordinary talents aren’t wasted here by any means. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Thies, raised in a musical family, is also a composer in his own right and a gifted improvisational artist who began composing and improvising at a young age.
And it’s equally important to note that composer and flutist, Damjan Krajacic, also raised in a musical environment, doesn’t play second flute to Thies’ piano skills either. Hailing originally from Croatia, Krajacic holds a Master of Music degree from California State University, Los Angeles, in Afro-Latin Music, where he studied Charanga, Jazz, Brazilian, and Classical flute.
Here, Krajacic’s own extraordinary musical mastery is showcased through the use of several different kinds of flutes, each with its own distinctive voice inside this conversation. But none of it is for its own egocentric purpose. This is one resonant frequency speaking fluently to and with and woven throughout the other. It’s authenticity, musically and otherwise. It’s another reason to be attracted to this conversation.
When you’re having a real conversation with someone, you don’t script out beforehand what you’re going to say. You just engage in the exchange and see where it takes you. You walk away with food for thought and with something that gives you opportunity to propel yourself to higher knowing. Each person brings their own fresh, unique point of view to the mix. This is the true beauty of the musical interchange going on in all of the compositions on Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries. And it is here that we have opportunity to rediscover our own native authenticity that has perhaps been lost in the crowded space.
I love every one of these 15 tracks found on this album. The heartfelt, thoughtful compositions here open one up into to a vast, expansive landscape where you can actually feel like you’re back in touch with yourself and with your individual life after a long period of being away.
Even though I feel like the whole album is a standout, some of what is specifically worth noting is as follows:
The first track, “Floating,” is aptly named. There is a freedom of spirit inherent here that is palatable. This is love of life.
On the track “Into the Horizon,” it’s the flute that has the haunting melody here. It’s as if we’re flying into the horizon in our airplane of life. The piano provides the grounded framework we need to in order “keep our horizon” in our sights. It’s exactly what we need to keep ourselves straight, steady, and aloft. The flute melody then allows us to soar to new heights. Uninhibited by the earthly landscape, we can thoroughly enjoy the ride.
“Discoveries” is a brilliant, colorful combination of Thies’ piano mastery and Krajacic’s subtle, interwoven flute. It’s served up on a bed of rhythmic heartbeat. Have a listen and you’ll discover the depths for yourself.
Particularly alluring is “Across the Open Fields.” The melody is engagingly lovely and one feels as if they are flying high above. The groundedness of the flute combined with the lightness of the piano melody makes for an interesting juxtaposition in a place where the flute could be expected to be the air and the piano then should be the ground. It makes for a nice mix of sky and earth in a whole different way.
Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries is without question the best New Age album I’ve heard this year. Thoughtful, moving, healing. Graceful. Elegant. Beautiful. Provocative without even trying to be. These adjectives and descriptions hardly scratch the surface of conveying what truly can’t be conveyed by words. That’s why we have music.
What’s particularly refreshing about this “music for quieter place” is that it speaks volumes to our planet and to our souls. Discover it for yourself.