Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Synth Harmony By Don Slepian

Synth Harmony
Don Slepian
Written by
Steve Sheppard

A fascinating project is on offer for fans of quality synth music from artist Don Slepian, this intriguing collection of artistic visual podcasts goes under the overall banner of Synth Harmony, where currently, 21 extremely crafted performances can be found.

I have been a fan of synth based music ever since my introduction to artists like Vangelis and the late but still great Isao Tomita. Slepian’s ability to create fascinating narratives within synth music is well known, but in my view underrated, you only have to listen to my starting point on this project to understand the construct further, as Picture Impressions: Overture is very Tomita in style and extremely artistic.

Pictures at an Exhibition has always been one of my favourites classical works, by both Mussorgsky and Emerson Lake and Palmer and now I can also enjoy Slepian walking hand in hand with Mussorgsky, through Picture Impressions: The Walk Continues and Picture Impressions: Swans On The Lake, both many faceted compositions.

This final chapter for the artist is entitled Picture Impressions: Symphonic Escapades, through this composition it is as if we have marched with the Red Army beyond the Great Gates of Kiev and right up to the hut of the Baba Yaga herself.

The smooth presentations here are incredibly listenable and fun to watch; this next selection inspired by the works of the poet William Blake. Love and Harmony is transcendent in its beauty, energy just flows with a kindly texture all of its own, while Flowing Waters, Part One caresses the essence of one of my favourite instruments in the classical guitar, the sounds that Slepian has created here on keyboards are both warm and layered, the added floating synth projections take me to a world where there is no time, a dimensional portal to a natural tranquillity of sorts, one that is further emphasised by Flowing Waters, Part Two, one that has its own beautiful ambience in abundance.

I will freely admit that I was deeply moved by these next two tracks Grandeur Parts One and Two. The symphonic gestures here were nothing more than outstanding, the depth of composition and arrangement were undeniably classy and film score in style. Part Two gifted us a sublime moment of change through phrase and melody, and an almost astral projection of ethereal voices float over ones musical soul.

Another glorious partnership can be found on Mystic Harmony Parts One and Two, there is also a divine tone of intent and an ethic of mystery built into the weaves of these tracks, which make them both so very compelling to listen to. Part two was amazingly fascinating, a really lush Jazz mood can be felt here with a wonderful walking bass too; now this is a piece that will move the feet as well as the soul.

The next duo of tracks entitled Bamboo In The Rain Parts One & Two is upon us, there is a certain lightness of structure here that I enjoyed immensely. The floating and eastern motifs are beautifully composed and arranged, the keys and string sounds, simply move in a totally symbiotic pattern, taking the listener on a veritable perambulation, perhaps around a beautiful meditative Chinese garden.

The bass walks us into another wonderland of a Jazz styled composition in Morning Stroll, something you won’t get any arguments from me on, as a Jazz fan and radio host of a Jazz Show, this is one those offerings I would love to see played live, but watching the performance here, is the next best thing. The piano here is simply delightful and floats smoothly into the arms of a little blues ethic.

We now move ever onward within the realms of this project called Synth Harmony by Don Slepian and as we do so we come across wonderfully fluent piece entitled Melancholy Fanfares. There are some fascinating keyboard segments here that contain elements of a regal tone, but one seemingly sliding back in history to the middle ages whilst doing so, this is a truly remarkable artistic sojourn.

Happier Fanfares gives us an ebullient musical journey to enjoy its excitable tone and cheer filled musical narrative, perhaps tells the story of a cheer filled day ahead, but then comes Covid-19 Bathrobe special Continued and Interrupted, and life is changed forever, this for me is a song so very redolent of our current global perspective, and one that fondly reminded me of Tomita’s interpretation of Debussy’s Golliwogs Cakewalk.

On Mid Night Reflections there was something quite emotive that I found quite riveting, also one that would lead me on nicely to the piece Grasshoppers. This up-tempo electronic arrangement has a sparkling dynamism about its construction, which would bring a musical smile to anyone’s day.

The penultimate offering is entitled Elven Dances and this short form composition has a warming sense to its overall narrative, the electric piano never sounded so crisp, but at the same time mellow, a piece to enjoy a moment of reverie with indeed.

So as we knock on the final door to this collection of crafted opuses, we are finally gifted a track called Prehistoric Grasshoppers. There is a certain humorous content within this piece that is both entertaining and attractive, regardless it brings to an end this current walk through the dimensional portal entitled Synth Harmony by Don Slepian. It was so good to touch base with the artist again and once more swim in the musical oceans of his muse, of a multitude of memories, it was a sojourn I was glad to have taken and I hope you will find these waters as equally as fascinating, and enticing enough to want to dive deep into as well.

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