I absolutely love the experience of popping a new CD in the tray and being surprised, in a most positive way, by what I hear.
This time around, it happened with Paul de Benedictis’ “Quintets,” released in 2007. We last talked about de Benedictis a few weeks ago in reference to his self-composed-and-performed piano solo album Power of One. It was an interesting album, but one that didn’t fully capture my attention. It was better as background music than as music one could get lost in.
All that changes with “Quintet.” In this album, a variety of 5-piece groups (piano, strings, wind, vocals, even a mute trumpet) perform music written by de Benedictis. And it’s all sorts of awesome. I’ve gone from cautiously optimistic to “when is this guy going to write some more music?” And, seriously, with his association with the industry of audio engineering, this guy needs to start getting recognition in media. In other words, the guy should be featured in a videogame score. That’s my thought.
I think you’ll agree with me if you take the jump and read the rest of the review.
05 Il Lago
Alright, I’ll lay this out to you very easily. Have you heard Echochrome‘s soundtrack? Of course you have. Well, the string-only stuff sounds like that. Great 20th-century neo-classical compositions.
But then there are other instrumental arrangements with the strings. One track has a mute trumpet, and the track sounds extremely similar to the final track on Sufjan Stevens’ “Illinois” album (if you don’t know what that is, we cannot be friends).
Track 2, “Incantations,” sounds like something from Myst or Riven, with one exception: the addition of a saxophone.
And then there are a few tracks with semi-improvised female vocal recordings. The opening track, “Prelude,” as well as “Il Lago,” have this vocal work. It is strange and enchanting and phenomenal.
If you have a penchant for quirky, but ultimately quite tonal, 20th century composition, you’ll love this album, at least as much as I do. If you know you wouldn’t love it, well, your loss! And if you don’t know what I mean by any of these descriptors, just give it a shot (link to purchase). It’s a little too refined to simply be bunched in with “New Age” music. There’s something special about this album, and the compositions are truly memorable, though never in an “I can hum along” kind of way.Tags: echochrome, Myst, Neo-Classical, New Age, Paul James de Benedictis, Quintets, Reviews, Saxophone, Sufjan Stevens