Various Artists

Hearts of Space: Universe Sampler 90

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This compilation marks the establishment of the Hearts of Space radio program's very own label imprint. Continuing with the space music format established by the popular public radio show, initial Hearts of Space signees included Kevin Braheny, Constance Demby, Bill Douglas, and Al Gromer Khan. While early pieces from Braheny and Douglas access more conventional (or at least contemporary instrumental) rhythms, Universe Sampler soon lives up to the grandeur of its name with songs that drift on comets' tails and soar into the cosmos. Raphael's "Disappearing Into You" seems timed to match a sunset, while Robert Rich's fabulously named "Forest Dreams of Bach" drifts like dust in a sunbeam. While the longest composition here just scrapes the nine-minute mark, most of these songs could seemingly go on forever. Percussion is almost a non-issue, and melodies are like rubber bands stretched to their breaking point. Listening to the set becomes an exercise in audio spelunking, discovering new nooks and crannies inside the enormous cavern called space music. It's not for everyone, but for those who get it, Universe Sampler will provide hours of entertainment (even if it's really only 80 minutes).

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