Various Artists

Hearts of Space: Universe Sampler 92

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This is the second compilation release from Hearts of Space, the label outgrowth of the popular public radio program dedicated to space music. Bill Douglas, Raphael, and Robert Rich return from Universe Sampler 90, but 92 also features a few notable newcomers. Giles Reaves gets things started with the pensive, black hole-gazing "Evolutions/Twilight," while Tim Story turns in two of the album's strongest pieces in "And Evening Falls" and "Her Cathedral." The latter track especially shows the depth of space music; while it's predominantly a piano-driven composition, Story is nevertheless able to evoke a bottomless range of depth with just a few carefully placed plinks of the keyboard. The song also points to the HOS imprint's aggressive roster expansion (in addition to its already rampant mind expansion) -- Universe Sampler 92 features the tasteful new age ivory tinkling of John Boswell, who tempers the spacy elements of "Eastern Sky" with a more conventional song structure. Guaranteed to land safely in the backyard of space music aficionados everywhere, this Hearts of Space comp also tosses a lifeline to listeners curious about the genre's particularly amorphous gravitational pull.

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