Mychael Danna and Tim Clément: The Best of Dana and Clément (CD, 67:27); Mirage, 1999 Oasis Productions Limited 8306 Taylor Road, R.R.# 4 Cobourg, ON Canada K9A 4J7 TELEPHONE, EMAIL & WEBSITE: Tel.: 1-800-554-0855 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://www.oasisproductions.com Confessional: Until Oasis/ Mirage sent EER this release, I had never even sampled any of these artists before. I do remember seeing their releases hither and yon in environmental/ nature music bins. I refrained. I find most such material bland, shallow electronic noodlings laced with thunderstorms, birds, surf, or various canine vocalizations. Oops, and of course whales too. Sampled, looped, or phase shifted – it all can be pretty weak. I figure I may get enough of that in some rest home or mental hospital some day. End Confessional. This release, best of, err – remastered, reissue does utilize environmental sampling but my dear friends -- this ambience is anything but bland. The collection includes seven enviro- ambient electronic pieces dating from 1981-1986. One piece, "Luma II", was specially commissioned for this 1999 CD. Most compositions use nature/ambient sounds but these usually add an intro, limitedly embellishing, and signal an outro. They fade in and fade out. It is all a marvelously conceived and balanced approach – never overused. Track times range 2:20 to 25:08 but mostly run 7 to 10 minutes. Danna and Clément lived on a remote Canadian farm, with many of these pieces coming into being out of that experience in seclusion. Their "woodshedding" allowed them the prefect setting to compose a music intertwined with the outdoors. All around them and within them Nature sang and they replied. Being an outdoors kind of guy myself and one-time professional forester – I hold this release to nearly an exact mirror of things Nature speaks to the soul. That same "oneness" and "silent grandeur" comes though in this release. At times when, the outdoor sounds cease, space music or strictly ambient electronics is heard. The magnum opus of "To The Land Beneath The Waves" is alone worth grabbing this CD. I highly, highly recommend you obtain your own copy now. Way to go Danna and Clément! ~ John W. Patterson
Mychael Danna and Tim Clément: North of Niagara (CD, 51:59); Hearts of Space, 1995 HS11049-2 Cyberhome: http://www.hos.com/ When I now think of music that breathes Nature, illuminates that certain "feel" of being outdoors, of losing one's psyche in the grand vistas of the Creation – I think of the music of Danna and Clément. Ah but yes -- foremost will always be composers of such ilk as Delius, Copland, and Hohvaness but they didn't compose works quite like Danna and Clément. And that is good – each era brings fresh ideas. I first came across Danna and Clément reviewing their "best of" release recently. I have since deemed it one of my Top Five favorite ambient works. Now I have reached back in time, contacting Hearts of Space to obtain certain foundational releases, North of Niagara, being one of 1995's best HOS releases.
Bruce Trail view across Georgian Bay to Flowerpot Island, 1993
photo by John W. Patterson
North of Niagara is a musical stroll, a hike, a vision quest of impressions along Canada's Bruce Trail. This is a trail in Canada that somewhat parallels the Appalachian Trail in the United States. Danna and Clément weave "live" trail environmental atmospherics, piano, synths, steel guitar, bass, bassoon, and even accordion into twelve tenderly beautiful, awesomely austere, and uniquely unforgettable pieces. I have hiked and camped along the Bruce, walked the rocky shorelines of Tobermory, (tears of wonder flooding my eyes), and peered from stone citadels down into azure blue waters of pristine clarity that is the Georgian Bay. Hiking in 1993 up the Bruce Peninsula, where this Bruce Trail lives, her quiet majesty has me returning the summer of 2001 for more memories. Danna and Clément have captured all this delicate magic in their perfect homage to one of the world's most beautiful yet virtually unknown places.
Flowerpot Island vista looking towards Lake Huron 1993 by John W. Patterson
If you enjoy vision-laden, minimalist keys and synths with unexpected embellishings that work to achieve a wondrous harmony of soul and grandeur of peacefulness, then seek out North of Niagara by Mychael Danna and Tim Clément. It is worth the time to point and click that mouse. You won't be sorry – I promise. This release is splendid! ~ John W. Patterson Tracks: Cootes Paradise, Ravensview, Remember Summer, Old Mail Road, Mount Nemo, Silent Lake, Avening, Crook's Hollow, Headwater Trail, Crawford Lake, Green River Formation, Lookout Point
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