Vivian Khor

Paradise: Vivian Khor

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Although California resident Vivian Khor is of Asian descent, Paradise isn't among 2003's more overtly Asian-minded new age releases. There have been an abundance of new age discs that were heavily influenced by Asian music -- Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or otherwise. But Paradise doesn't fit that description. Rather, Khor favors a more conventional approach to new age that gets its inspiration from romantic movie themes as well as the recordings of Suzanne Ciani (who is obviously a major influence). While the self-produced Paradise isn't one of new age's more challenging, innovative, or cutting-edge CDs, Khor's material is generally enjoyable. The adjectives that are usually applied to new age discs -- calm, tranquil, peaceful, serene, placid, soothing -- easily describe Paradise, and the song titles are stereotypical new age titles. When you see titles like "The Joy of Life" and "Soothing Moments," it's safe to assume that you're getting a new age release -- and, of course, that's exactly what Paradise is. But if Khor's work is less than groundbreaking, Paradise never comes across as stiff, cold, or mechanical -- just the opposite, in fact. For an album that is so heavily produced and programmed, Paradise has a lot of warmth and charm. It also has a very piano-minded outlook; most of the time, Khor uses her keyboards, synthesizers, and sequencers to make Paradise pianistic-sounding (which makes sense when you consider that she has been playing the acoustic piano since childhood). Paradise doesn't pretend to reinvent new age's wheel and falls short of exceptional, although it's a pleasant, worthwhile effort from the West Coast musician.

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