Deborah Offenhauser ~ “Soundscapes”
Deborah Offenhauser’s album, “Soundscapes,” is a masterful blend of a variety of sounds and superb ensemble instrumentation, combining elements of smooth jazz, neo-classical piano, World music, and New Age.
This contemporary instrumental album is an enticing cornucopia of thirteen compelling, original compositions from Offenhauser, a multi-instrumentalist, who has an impressive musical career spanning thirty years. “Soundscapes,” which is an exciting and deliciously different album, seems a natural segue for both us as listeners and for this artist. The album is over one full hour of intriguing compositions sure to hold your attention and captivate both your imagination and your heart.
Deborah’s career milestones include piano performances for Broadway tours of West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, A Chorus Line, Oliver, Sound of Music, Peter Pan, Nutcracker, Miss Saigon, The King and I, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Producers, Mama Mia, Hairspray, and The Full Monty,
The album has the kind of vibe and verve that is well suited to music licensing, TV, and film soundtracks. So it is not entirely surprising that Deborah’s music has been heard on many hit TV shows as well as The Weather Channel.
That she can play the piano and play it very well, is obvious. This album, however, is an intriguing piece of artistry that’s a little out of the box, and showcases her growth, range, and immense talent as an artist and composer.
“Soundscapes” was recorded with renowned, Los Angeles based sound engineer, artist, and producer, James Linahon, whose work has included several well-known and major award-winning projects.
The album begins with “Decidedly Joyful,” which is as might be expected, decidedly joyful. Smoothly flowing, with incorporated jazz elements, percussion, and other instrumentation, mixed expertly with piano, it’s one of my favorites on this album.
Following on track 2 is the tantalizing “Free Radical.” It’s a lush landscape, infused with nature sounds, piquant piano melodies, strings, and various other interesting electronica and instrumentation along the way. There is nothing boring about this composition which is constantly changing, holding our interest all the way through. In fact, the whole album is that way.
“Nothing Can Touch You Now” is one of my favorite songs on this album. Again, there is nothing remotely mundane here, and this is truly brilliant in every way. The track begins with soothing nature sounds, which evoke initial feelings of a rainforest. Strings, and other pleasant aural elements are introduced, before the whole thing opens magnificently onto a lush, and richly textured expanse of completely gorgeous piano and more. Gently flowing and moving, one could listen to this song over and over again and never tire of it in this lifetime.
Aptly named is “Irrational Exuberance” on track 4 with its playful, percolating, plucky strings, flute, and piano. The subsequent “Tanz” is mysterious and worldly, with an awesome atmosphere of the exotic East. In continuance of the World music style, is “Spatial Palace,” which initially transports us to what could be a busy outdoor marketplace. The piece is Asian in flavor, tantalizing and enticing us with what comes next.
Starting off softly and gently and then becoming quite big and grand is “Through a Glass Darkly” on track 7. This is a richly layered, fascinating composition full of passion and emotion.
Dreamy, twinkling piano along with otherworldly, atmospheric percussion, introduce the piece “Rosemont Theme,” which one might possibly construe as being kind of eerie. However, just when you may be thinking or feeling that, the composition evolves into a stunningly beautiful piano melody. Warm strings and more soon accompany. This is a diverse, breathlessly outstanding piece, and one to get completely immersed in.
“Air” is a delightful and melodic tune. This begins with guitar, airy and light, and capturing the emotions of what it might feel like to be light as air. As the song progresses and takes shape, we are led to imagine air perhaps evolving into a body of sorts. Ultimately, then, air returns to its natural state of being, fanciful and free. Another truly interesting composition.
Next up is “The Gloaming” with its somber, but still sparkly evocations of mystery and suspense. How you perceive this piece depends upon how you view twilight in general. It would make an excellent soundtrack to a movie thriller or horror film as would the song “Tanninim” (meaning “sea monsters” or “creatures of the sea), on track 12.
As far as I know, any kind of darkness is always followed by the dawn, and “It Is Written” is very well-placed here after “The Gloaming,” as track 11. “It Is Written” is one of the most exquisitely beautiful songs on “Soundscapes,” and my absolute favorite in all aspects. Supremely relaxing, its movement is graceful and flowing. As rich and as multi-textured as the rest of the compositions on the album, and possibly written with film in mind, this one speaks directly to the heart in a poignant, tender, and powerful way. Just gorgeous through and through.
“The Wonderful Unfoldment of Blue” winds up Deborah Offenhauser’s thoroughly enjoyable “Soundscapes.” Somewhat somber, yet also peaceful at the same time, it’s a good way to exit this notable and refreshing album.
Buy “Soundscapes” on CDBaby now: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/deborahoffenhauser15
Official artist website: http://debspianoweb.com/