Kurt Riemann's latest work is a musical homage to the planet, seen as a living being who "...is all around us, giving and sustaining life...always maintaining the balance necessary for the survival of her creatures." The 14 short tracks are like musical snapshots of different geographical areas and aspects of the planetary process. From the gradual unfoldment of the opener "Dawn" to the elegaic final track "Apotheosis," we are led through spaces that are by turns beautiful, murky, powerful, and serene. Kurt Riemann's background in classical music is everywhere evident, as he skillfully orchestrates each piece, many of them so full of subtle details and structural developments that it is hard to believe they are only three or four minutes long. World music touches abound, as on the visionary "The Dreaming," where the trance-like drone of the dijeridoo summons us into another dimension, or on "Bali/Cicada" with its galloping gamelan rhythms. "Mind in the Waves" features gradual piano crescendos that climax in a wash of breaking waves, while "Dance" explores complex disjointed rhythms, with crashing gongs, stinging sequencer patterns, and Middle Eastern melodic fragments. The centerpiece of the album is "Arctic Light: Spring, Summer, Autumn," a space music tour-de-force, resplendent with shimmering synthesizer flurries, modulated drones, and starry sound effects. Elsewhere, looming cellos, swooning violins, thundering tympani and delicate bells add to the melange of moods and atmospheres, fleshing out the picture of the "larger nature" that connects all the creatures of the planet. Gaia is not easy-listening background music, but is a mature multi-faceted work full of treasures for those willing to give it their attention.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic