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Fans of Harold Budd, Brian Eno, and Roger Eno piano with treatments works will enjoy this release. This, to date, is James Johnson’s most “mainstream, new agey, relaxation piano” release. It will have a very broad appeal to those afraid of weirder-voiced ambience or highly synthesized excursions. As Michael Allison aka Darshan Ambient is one of the newer masters of melodic ambience so too I see Johnson has this ability in him to create compositionally. The dreamy and lilting pianoscapes of Johnson with Thompson’s select embellishments and treatments are in perfect balance. This is a very pleasing listening experience that will serve to establish James Johnson as one of the genre’s best. I knew this long ago on my very first listen to his Surrender releases which featured a delightful piano intermission betwixt a wall of drones.
This is a 95% total relaxation release. Only on the 5:28 “Innocence Lost” does a tension surround the listener with ominous and mournful synths. This is gradually decreased by the careful entry of Johnson’s piano and some wordless choir effects but there remains a sense of remorse and unresolved regrets throughout. Those folks who like a touch of environmental sounds courtesy of the Hand of the Creator will also enjoy nature’s watery whispers here and there on “Low & Clear”.
Overall, this is a solid winner for fans of meandering ivories that drift in the airy heights of the soul’s ascent to peace. This type of music re-affirms to my soul that Man is more than brain and brawn. He is a living soul with Mind and a spirit to hear the call of the Eternal One. And Death is but a door . . .
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.