On this release, Steven Halpern creates a musical fusion that combines some of the best ideas of new age music with the timeless appeal of the blues.
Halpern manages to avoid rhythm and blues cliches, and also avoids creating music with no soul. Instead, the music on Deja-Blues seems inspired by the underlying ideas of soulfulness and reflection that the blues often captures.
If you’re familiar with Halpern’s music, you’ll know that it’s usually very slow and without a regular tempo. He usually plays a combination of synthesizers and electric piano and uses reverb to create a sense of deep spaciousness. His music always has a surface glossiness, because he avoids anything that draws attention directly to the music or the musicians. There’s rarely anything that sounds virtuosic, even though the music is skillfully played and produced.
On Deja-Blues, Halpern explores some new territory. The album draws upon elements of some of his older recordings. As he tells it, he was in his studio in 1998 transferring some of his old reel-to-reel tape to digital format, and came across the master tapes of some tapes from 1977. Listening to them, he found himself drawn into the music, and also imagining new arrangements for it.
He decided to make new music using some of these source tapes. In doing so, he took the music in a new direction, adding bass and making it more rhythmic and soulful. He called upon several musicians to add percussion and other elements.
One of the most important elements he introduced was the vocalization of Melissa Phillippe. Phillippe sings wordlessly, and her improvisations combine middle eastern elements along with some blues stylings. The result creates takes Halpern’s peaceful music, and gives it more sensuality and soulfulness.
The music is extremely relaxing, and, like other Halpern recordings, is perfect for meditation, reflection or massage. However, unlike most of his other music, it also has a regular pulse which gives it a greater sense of activity and focus. The result is relaxing music that awakens your senses.