David Helpling / Jon Jenkins

The Crossing

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Not since the mid-'80s new age projects of David Lanz and Paul Speer has the genre had a duo that so powerfully and hypnotically fuses keyboard, electric guitar, and ambient textures. While their work balanced its expansive pieces with lighter pop confections, on their follow-up to Treasure, David Helpling and Jon Jenkins are all about gentle moods, and graceful and trippy reflections which build to soaring, passionate guitar- and synth-driven crescendos. Jenkins counts his inspirations as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Tangerine Dream -- and that mix of rock and electronica is a core force in these 11 emotional compositions. Helpling is a notable film composer, and many of these pieces have a rich cinematic quality that seems to urge the listener to create images to go along with the listening experience. The opening track, "Awake," blazes the trail with hypnotic, dreamy soundscapes easing us into a relaxed mode before building dramatically to a blistering climax with fiery guitars and booming drums. "Two Paths" is more rhythmic and densely percussive (not to mention seductive) from the start. The title track takes us out to deep space with languid guitars and ominous atmospheres before the rock & roll fire bursts in. Some tracks, like "To the Ends of the Earth," are dreamy throughout, but even these are so texture rich that only repeated listening reveals their full sonic glory. Those who are not lifted by the end of "Lifted" (the final track) are simply not opening their ears to one of the most powerful ambient recordings in years.

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