Don Slepian: Sea of Bliss (CD, 70:26); Don Slepian Music, 1998 Cyberhome(s): Sonic Garden: http://www.sonicgarden.com/sonic-web/artist.cfm?artistid=6890 and http://DonSlepian.com Go back, go way back to . . . 1980! Yes that's right, 1980. This is what I call extremely innovative, satisfying, cutting edge, ambient space music for 2001 and go figure -- Slepian crafted this over two decades ago! Three bliss-laden streams of synth textures, trickling crisp sounds, drones, bass echoes, mid range arpeggios, upper register washes, electronic palettes beyond the limit of words will completely wrap you in another world and transport your psyche into deepest contemplative netherworlds. I discovered Slepian back in the LP, vinyl days, when CDs were slowly catching on and loved his marvelous synth works. So finally we have his very best all in one package! Hear Minimalism, Ambient, and New Age "frontier" trail-blazing work by Slepian done before all the genre buzz wordz even meant anything. Highly, highly recommended! ~ John W. Patterson Personnel: Don Slepian - All synths Tracks: Sea of Bliss (29:30), Awakening (24:46), Sonic Perfume (16:06)
Electronic Music from the Rainbow Isle Introspection By Don Slepian Private release, Don Slepian Music, 2000 Cyberhome(s): Sonic Garden: http://www.sonicgarden.com/sonic-web/artist.cfm?artistid=6890
Don Slepian is a keyboard man, and he’s been tickling the ivories (actually, plastic) for more than 30 years. He also plays other instruments like guitar and percussion, but keyboards are his mainstay. With this skill, he’s been able, over the decades, to play all sorts of electronic instruments, starting with the very first “performance” synthesizers back in the early ‘70s. These two albums form a retrospective set, a compilation of Slepian’s work all the way from the early 70s when he was a wired teenager in the electronic music studio, to the current era as a seasoned veteran.
Electronic Music from the Rainbow Isle is mostly work that he did while living in Hawaii. It features the sound of many synthesizers that are now considered “historic.” Listening to it, it is hard to realize how innovative many of these sounds were, now that they are used in every other commercial on TV. But back in the ‘70s, Slepian was working on new equipment, some of it custom-built. The polyphonic keyboard synthesizer had just been invented, along with new modification techniques for electric guitars and miked piano and he was listening to the exciting electronic pop and rock music coming over from England with “Emerson, Lake, and Palmer,” and other synthesizer-rock bands like Germany’s Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. With these early pieces, you can hear the echoes of folk-rock and psychedelia, which are so old that they are now fashionable again. Much of it is light-textured, rhythmic background music (some of it done for dance performances or video soundtracks), short on melody but rich in mood and interesting timbres. Some of it reflects his experience with Indonesian music, with its Oriental tuning and pentatonic modes. Young Slepian shows the same cheerful, optimistic character that he will show in the compilation of newer music from the ‘80s and ‘90s. No dark death-wails for him, nor pretentious minor-key noodling. In Introspection, he has matured from youthful rock to a kind of elegant chamber jazz. It’s sweet but not sticky, with moments of wry humor as well. His pieces from the ‘80s have a sound reminiscent of other ‘80s “New Age” music, especially the gentle harmonies of the “classic” Windham Hill ensemble recordings, as well as the piano of George Winston. Slepian, though, unlike the Windham Hill classics, in the '80s continued to rely more on electronic sound than acoustic. Running throughout Introspection is a series of live improvisations, done on the piano with electronic accompaniment. The “Retrospective Suite,” created in 1999 according to the liner notes, is the newest music on the album, and it shows just how far Slepian has come since his younger days zinging hard-edged sequencer lines or evoking pastoral landscapes. In the later pieces, he seems to be edging towards a kind of “classical piano jazz,” complete with singable tunes and Bach-ian harmonies, but also with inspiration from French impressionist music like Ravel or Satie. He’s gone from the knob-twirling synthesizer studio with the psychedelic posters on the walls, to the modern world of digital sound and any instrument sampled at his fingertips. Who knows where this versatile keyboard man will go next? Stay tuned. Electronic Music from the Rainbow Isle : 7 out of 10 Introspection : 8 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero 8/14/01
Don Slepian, Introspection Don Slepian Music, 2000 Cyberhome(s): Sonic Garden: http://www.sonicgarden.com/sonic-web/artist.cfm?artistid=6890
Introspection is an amalgamation of the old and the new from Don Slepian, "one of the genre's major talents" according to Rolling Stone. This is absolutely symphonic synthesizer music. Don composed and performed new music, "Retrospective Suite, Parts 1 - 15", to bridge the older tracks together. the suite adds more to the marriage of the old and the new. It is performed entirely on acoustic piano, eschewing new digitalia. Don is definitely a major talent in this genre. His fans and listeners are anxiously awaiting new music from this genius. - Jim Brenholts
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