Piano Dreams and Nightscapes, the latest CD from electronic/ambient musician Brannan Lane, is one of the most relaxing and lovely ambient CDs released this year.
The CD explores the ambient territory pioneered by Brian Eno and Harold Budd on releases like Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirrors, and The Pearl. Though Lane visits similar territory, the CD sounds fresh and original, because he brings his own unique musical perspective.
The tracks feature piano and other keyboards treated with cavernous reverb and other effects. Lane makes the ambient environments a prominent part of the sound. In a sense, the pieces are Lane’s musical explorations of these otherworldly acoustic environments.
On Piano Dreams and Nightscapes, the space between notes becomes almost as important as the notes themselves. The cover of Lanes’s CD features a blurred photograph that hides the image’s subject matter, yet reveals colors and contrasts in the image that might otherwise go unnoticed. In a similar way, the tracks on this CD focus your attention on aspects of the sound that often go unnoticed.
There are seven tracks. First, there are three sets of two tracks, where each pair explores a common soundscape. In the first pair, Piano Dreams, Lane explores the sound of treated acoustic piano.
The next pair, Fallen Nightscapes, has more of an organic feel. Very quiet insect noises and other night sounds and synths create a backdrop for Lane’s piano work. On these pieces, the piano seems to have a reverse echo on it, so that each note fades in and out, rather than sounding percussive.
The final pair, Moonlit Reflections, brings to mind some of Steven Halpern’s proto-new age work. The pieces feature electric piano in a more synthetic landscape. Faint metallic sounds fade in and out, along with high-pitched tinkling keyboards, almost like an electronic version of chimes blowing in the wind.
The final piece, Daze Gone By, is the longest, at 15 minutes. This piece has the most electronic feel of all the tracks, with buzzing synth washes and echoing droplets of white noise. The track also has more of an abstract feel, because of its lack of clearly recognizable instruments.
The overall arch of the CD moves from the familiar sounds of acoustic piano towards more abstract sounds, and from intimate soundscapes to more unfamiliar territory. The music is so gentle and relaxing, though, that even the abstract soundscapes towards the end of the CD don’t seem too alien.
When Brian Eno coined the term ambient music, he explained his concept like this: “Ambient Music…must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”
With Piano Dreams and Nightscapes, Brannan Lane creates real ambient music. Play this CD quietly, and it will lull you off to dreams. Turn it up, though, and you may find yourself wondering at the strange and quirky sounds that Lane almost sneaks by you.
Highly recommended for fans of ambient music!
- Piano Dreams (Pt.1)
- Piano Dreams (Pt.2)
- Fallen Nightscapes (Pt.1)
- Fallen Nightscapes (Pt.2)
- Moonlit Reflections (Pt.1)
- Moonlit Reflections (Pt.2)
- Daze Gone By