Will Clipman / William Eaton / Quiet Fire / Gary Stroutsos

Quiet Fire: Zen Moods for the Spa Exerience

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One might be forgiven for wondering what exactly the "spa experience" (which offers wealthy people the chance to be physically pampered) has to do with Zen (a highly disciplined school of Buddhist meditational practice). Yet "Zen spas" apparently do exist, and there are indeed Zen-related massage techniques, so there you go. As far as the music itself on this trio album, it's lovely and virtuosic, though it doesn't exactly come by its air of Eastern exoticism honestly. Flutist Gary Stroutsos plays a variety of Asian and Native American flutes; William Eaton plays a fascinating array of highly unusual guitars that he designed and built himself; and Will Clipman plays all kinds of Indian, Cuban, Asian, and African percussion instruments. The music, naturally enough, is soothing and meditative, and always thoroughly pleasant, so it might seem churlish to wonder who they think they're fooling with its mystical pretensions. Besides, the answer's obvious: they're fooling people who want to be convinced that enlightenment can come by way of soothing music and sensual self-indulgence. Even those whose grasp of Zen philosophy is a bit sketchy might be pretty sure it's not supposed to be quite that simple. The music sure is pretty, though.

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