Cristal Rêveur

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Cristal Rêveur delivers a platter of quality new age pop without scoring points on invention. Olyam's talent as a producer is obvious, but his writing remains bland. He pushes the right buttons but forgets to put excitement or even involvement in the gesture. Playing keyboards, percussion (both electronic and acoustic) and guitars, he is joined by a cast of musicians contributing targeted acoustic touches of trumpet, flute, strings, and accordion. Most melodies are stated on acoustic guitar and then repeated with flourishing arrangements. It works convincingly (as in "Between Earth and Sky" and "First Contact," the standout tracks), except when he throws in an exotic touch. His world music references are constantly clichéd and taken out of context, the worst example being the Andes-like panpipes in "Sacred Geometry." The track sequence also leads to two or three awkward moments; segues force unrelated tunes to sound as if they were parts of a bigger whole. When keyboards take the lead and things start flying, Olyam gets very close to the spirit of Fonya's music. When female vocals or an acoustic melody comes in, one thinks more of Mike Oldfield or Vangelis. This music has qualities and the production is lush, but it lacks character, something that exists and is valuable even in the often-diminished new age genre.

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