Larry Heard

Sceneries Not Songs, Vol. 2

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First gaining fame in the early '80s as Mr. Fingers, Chicago-based house music pioneer/MIDI programmer Larry Heard helped pave the way for what now some call ambient house, while others label it acid jazz. His major label debut on MCA, Introduction, enjoyed success on both the dancefloor and smooth jazz radio in the States and overseas.

On Sceneries Not Songs, Volume Tu, Heard continued the winning formula. The opener, "Crystal Fantasy," inspires good feelings with an airy mix, soaring strings, and solid handclaps. The misty "Romantic Sway" is in the mode of Paul Hardcastle's Jazzmasters with light rhythm box, soft, slow synth swells, and vibraphonic lead lines.

There are a number of melodic dance workouts here. "Carla Dance" has tasty percussion and jazzy acoustic and electric piano solos. Despite its name, "Techno-Centric" isn't hyper-kinetic but rather sparse and mid-tempo with jazzy, upper-register piano and unassuming synth textures. "Night Images" is good mood music for a lovely conversation. "Ice Castles" has stomp funky bass and xylophone solos. "Nature's Bliss" has an openess that's built around gentle conga, shaker, and tambourine that leaves plenty of space for comping piano and clear synth flute lines. The oh-too short mid-tempo "Precious Tears" has an otherworldy synth lead, slapped congas, and harmonica riffs. Though his vocals are missed, Larry Heard paints deft, aural "sceneries" on Sceneries Not Songs, Volume Tu.

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