Lenny MacDowell

The Farthest Shore

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One of Lenny MacDowell's more successful experiments at blending new age spaceiness with smooth jazz-influenced instrumental music, 1997's The Farthest Shore is a bit meatier than earlier attempts like 1995's Flying Torso. The seven extended tracks average over ten minutes apiece, ranging from the evocative three-minute flute solo "Natural Flair" to the epic 21-minute closer "The Spiritual Sound of the Ocean." Not nearly as pretentious as that title might suggest, the track blends MacDowell's overdubbed and treated flutes with African percussion and a more electronica-oriented set of keyboards than usual; like the rest of the album, its extended length gives MacDowell and the other players ample time to build and develop the trance-like melodic lines and drones where MacDowell's earlier albums tended to feature shorter and much less complex pieces. This broader canvas turns out to be exactly what MacDowell needed; The Farthest Shore's seven tracks work both individually and as movements in an organic whole, making this his best album.

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