David Peoples is a composer and Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. But wait. That’s not all. He’s also got these degrees: Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts. But wait. There’s more. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of North Georgia. This man knows music. His new album, “Looking for Utopia” is a unique cornucopia of Jazz, World, and “New Age fusion.” “Looking for Utopia” is twelve interesting tracks that can perhaps best be described as eclectic, different, and innovative. It’s not your typical “New Age” fare, whatever that may really mean. The exciting thing about this album is that it is chock-full of the unexpected. Just when you’re committed in one direction, the artist changes up the vibe. So, if you’re okay with changing things up midstream, then good. You’re in the perfect place. “Looking for Utopia” is an aural adventure.
The twelve-track album opens with “Valley of Hidden Treasures,” which nicely sets the stage for all that follows. Here David truly paints a musical landscape where we feel as if we are actually physically flying through a valley of hidden treasures, full of both light and dark. Soft piano draws us into the mystique at first. The sweet flute of guest artist Carina Bruwer winds in, then the cello of Natasha Jaffe, all making a nice mellow mix. These wind in and out all through, forming an intriguing, melodic dance. Fine. Relax into the ambiance. But just when you think you possibly know everything there is to know here, and you’re flowing along, suddenly everything stops. Then it all picks up again, like a spectacularly surging stream winding gracefully through the valley. Fine. But there are even more treasures to be discovered. Soon then, comes a tempo change, booming percussion, the amazingly wild flute of Carina Bruwer, and big cinematic excitement. It’s a song that will leave you breathless. Catch your breath because. . .there is much more.
Following is the jazzy, bluesy number, “Peach Blossom Spring,” which is a definite standout with its “World” beat and engaging percussion elements. Again, nothing ordinary or remotely boring here. “Moondreams on Crystal Roses” is intriguing as well, with dreamy piano, flute, unexpected tempo and melody shifts, plus exciting and unusual percussion again. “Dance of the Flickering Fire” begins with bluesy, jazzy piano and a great beat. The “fire” gets hotter with a good dose of percolating electronica mixed in. One can almost see the sparks and embers flying. Nothing typical about this one either and it’s quite tantalizing throughout.
“City of Golden Lights” is all that defines the sultry city soundscape; sometimes quiet, but never soundless, and other times busy and bustling. Breathy flute, together with deep, low piano and effervescent percussive elements perfectly capture the heartbeat of a sparkling, twinkling, metropolis.
The mellifluous cello of guest artist Natasha Jaffe folds in perfectly with piano, beats, and percussion in the smooth and flowy “Crystal Skies.” This keeps us grounded and is showcased beautifully. “Solitariety,” as the name might suggest, is an essentially solo piano piece, but exciting on its own, nonetheless, as it also contains its own surprises.
“Glass Flower City,” is melodious with the deep cello, beats, vibes, and piano all leading up to a nice build that ends up morphing into a pleasant conversation between piano and cello. “Glass Butterflies” brings fluttering flute that mixes in, around, and through dreamy piano, exhilarating electronica, and ultimately lower register piano. “Hidden City at Crying Rock” features some splendid piano playing and has us exploring deeper depths again. The album closes out with “Take Me to Elysian Fields.” For those that do not know, this is a perfect ending, as in Greek mythology, Elysium was known as the final resting place of the virtuous. Here we can almost hear their voices. Nicely done.
One of my ultimate favorites on this creative, avant garde album is the title track “Looking for Utopia.” This could be any one of us embarking upon our journey and searching for nirvana. Quiet piano begins the piece, leading us into free-floating space, and then the song builds toward the hugely cinematic percussion in the center. The whole thing quiets down again with percussion fading out and we are left with soft piano; a different octave, a reflection in the crystal. . . or ourselves. Perhaps utopia is simply found within us all.
More information and get “Looking for Utopia” at http://davidpeoples.com
(Note: Drums and vibes on this album by Abnmusic3 and Jwnaugle respectively).