Tim Janis

American Horizons

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The somewhat presumptuous title aside, American Horizons isn't Maine-based composer Tim Janis' attempt to follow in the footsteps of his fellow New Englander Charles Ives and create a truly American musical form. Indeed, as always, Janis' lead instruments are the same vaguely Celtic pipes and swelling masses of creamy strings (borrowed from the European post-Romantics and their followers) that are at the heart of all of his music. Janis is a more gifted composer than most who work in this semi-new age form of modern-day elevator music, which is exactly what makes American Horizons a somewhat frustrating album. A hack like John Tesh can get away with repurposed Claude Debussy and John Williams cops, but the brief solo piano interludes scattered about this album betray a fair amount of melodic skill and improvisational ability. If he chose, Tim Janis could be making albums along the lines of what Hans Zimmer, Wim Mertens, Andrew Poppy, and other European post-minimalist composer/performers were doing in the '80s and '90s, music that was unapologetically melodic and often genuinely beautiful, but lacking the gloppy sentimentality that drags down most of American Horizons.

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