Music review: ‘Translucent’ – Solo instrumental piano CD by Roth Herrlinger
by Wayne Lee
“When I sit at the piano, I open up to what will come through, and let inspiration lead as I lose myself in the music.” So says Roth Herrlinger, who has just released his first solo instrumental piano CD, “Translucent.”
The sincerity of his statement speaks volumes on the simplicity, authenticity and penetrating connectedness of Herrlinger’s music.
“All of these songs came from that source of inspiration,” he explains. “Several of them are played note-for-note, exactly as the first time they came through me.” While we don’t know which melodies he’s referencing, all nine tracks on this collection sound as fresh and spontaneous as if they were all written through such on-the-spot inspiration.
All the other melodies are equally evocative in that they invoke a spirit, create an atmosphere, paint a sensual world that one not only hears, but sees and feels. These are the mature compositions of a confident, spirited and emotionally honest songwriter.
There are no gimmicks here. These songs are technically proficient, stylistically consistent and firmly rooted in nature, family and faith. They show an abundant appreciation for simple pleasures and authentic experiences. Herrlinger hears the melodies of the living world and gives them life through his ear, heart and fingers.
After “The Gift of Flight,” the CD features these songs:
“An Unexpected Rain” opens with a 6/8 simulation of dripping water, which escalates into rainfall. This is not an oppressive, gray-clouded rain, but a joyful, life-giving and nurturing one.
The searching intro to “You are Whole, Child” seems to pose a question to which the playful melody provides an answer, an assurance that all is well.
“Daybreak” uses a throbbing left hand ground and a syncopated right hand to create a rising intensity that shines brightly.
One of the most optimistic tunes on the album, “In Your Dreams,” features graceful, trotting 8/8 rhythm and assured tone.
“Sunflower” uses a swirling waltz tempo to craft a pretty, happy melody. As in so many of these tunes, Herrlinger shows tremendous patience in building his melody, and effectively using silences that allow his tune to breathe.
“Walk on Water” is a gentle tune that benefits from seamless segues between melody and bridge.
Appropriate to its title, “The Folded Flag” is a hymn-like homage to God and Country. Herrlinger opens with an ascending/descending chord motif, then develops the theme with clean strokes, a sure touch, and deft pedal work.
The CD closes with the heartfelt ballad, “Your Victory.” The delicate 4/4 intro is reminiscent of George Winston and the Windham Hill solo instrumental heyday of the 1980s. Like so many of these tunes, this song sounds like it could have come from a movie soundtrack, and that’s not a bad thing. This is music that will seep into your subconscious and nourish you with its melodicism and sheer beauty.
“When I sit at the piano or pick up a flute,” says Herrlinger, “I’m sometimes fortunate enough to transcend the moment and allow inspiration to flow freely,”
Speaking of flutes, the composer will release his first Native American flute CD, “Peace Howl,” later this year. Herrlinger also teamed up with acclaimed spiritual poet Devin Grace on 2007’s “Silence Whispers.”
Editor’s Note: For information on Roth Herrlinger, visit http://rothherrlinger.com. Living in Santa Monica, California, Roth Herrlinger composes music for piano and Native American flute. His songs have been used in film, television, and radio.
Herrlinger donates 10 percent of the profits from all sales to not-for-profit organizations devoted to community enrichment, individual empowerment, and the advancement of health care and public education. In June and July 2009, 10 percent of the profits from sales of Translucent will be donated to The ManKind Project International. Order here.
|Wayne Lee: A former music critic for The Washington Times (DC), The Seattle Times, Jazziz and other publications, Wayne now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where his writing focuses on poetry and fiction.|
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