Alex Cline Ensemble

Montsalvat

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AllMusic Review by

If you seek some of the most peaceful music around, you will find it here. Drummer/percussionist Cline has conceived and written it for vocalist Aina Kemanis, violinist Jeff Gauthier, keyboardist Wayne Peet and bassist/cellist Eric Von Essen to pour their souls into. The vessel used to transmit these sounds falls in an improvised/composed area which new agers should relate to, but it's really all world music, incorporating European frames, jazz backgrounds and spiritual fa├žades. Kemanis' wordless singing is the glue of the ensemble. She weaves in and out of pieces, addressing midnight mariners' bell calls and alien dolphins on "Shining One," while quick decrescendos burst in air and Gauthier's haunting violin leads Peet's harmonium waves. "The Kiss of Piece" has Cline on a kantele, which has the sharpness of a dulcimer and resonance of a harp. The shimmering voice of Kemanis reflects off this mirror of sound. "Spiral Steps" is a half and half piece, rawer energy in measured beats which leads to more religious tones. There are three long and developed compositions. Over its 13 minutes, "In the Shadow of the Mountain" contrasts oohing vocals, slashing strings and quiet piano with a string fanfare, Native American nuances, chiming electric keys, more haunting violin, churning drums and piano, and a rhythmically busy, dense coda spurred by a dramatic ostinato bassline. Another 13-minute piece, "He Hears the Cry" starts as a hymn with strings and soft percussion, gongs announcing synth/cello and choral vocals. It's truly a spiritual siren's song courtesy of Kemanis and Gauthier. "Colors of Memory" is nearly 17 minutes of varied mental spectrums; a drone with vocals, dervish 6/8 to echoing bass and back to dance, free harmonium, regal synth, and lyrics by Kemanis that suggest "smooth stone, dark trees...white clouds, blue smoke, gold flames...father, mother, beloved, brothers, sisters, angels of light...One Word, One Song, One Love." Cline's ensemble project offers much hope and a vision for our future through this music. It is all under the surface, deep in the recesses of our mortal existence, but it is palpable, easy to recognize, and warmly offered. You will be pleasantly surprised when you purchase and listen deeply to this invigorating and inspirational recording, one you'll play more than once.

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