Fiona Joy Hawkins- Blue Dream – Little Hartley Music multichannel SACD FJH005 ****:
(Fiona Joy Hawkins – piano, didgeridoo, vocals Will Ackerman – guitars & mandolin/Noah Wilding – piano, Flugelhorn, vocals/Jeff Haynes – English horn, percussion/ Luka Bloom – piano, vocalsPhilip Aaberg – cello, keyboard / Heather Rankin & Lilith – vocals/ others)
This already-popular New Age album is another example of individual performing artists wanting the highest possible fidelity in the distribution of their work and therefore releasing on hybrid SACD when the major labels have given up on it. Versatile pianist-composer Hawkins introduces her note booklet with this quote showing her strong focus on how the music sounds: “There is no clarity, honesty or integrity greater than the intention of a musical note.” She says her musical influences include George Winston, Michael Nyman, Chopin and Mendelssohn.
There are 22 short tracks with a wide range of instrumentation and some vocals, which may be wordless vocalese, in a foreign language or in English. The tracks dovetail into one another for a sort of musical magic carpet ride. Ms. Hawkins reports that this is the most autobiographical music she has yet written, and very personal. She sees it as like a film score that takes one on a journey to different places. There is a world music influence, with elements of Gaelic, East Indian and African. One of the longest tracks is The Void, a deeply mysterious improvisation for piano, cello and keyboards. Contributions from other composers and lyricists are part of Blue Dream. For example Samite’s Interlude is by Samite Mulondo, with Will Ackerman’s lyrics translated into his Luganda language. The SACD has an extended version of this track to what is on the standard CD release. It is about how Samite as a child walked out of his African village after seeing most of its inhabits, including his family, brutally murdered. The uncut version was recorded in one take.
The surround sonics are excellent at spotlighting the various instruments and voices in a not-quite-completely-surrounding acoustic. Blue Dream is musically a cut above most New Age albums and deserves a hearing even from those who normally eschew the genre.
￼From The Outside
￼Sunrise At Ularu
￼Indigo Dream Interlude
￼Voice Of Angels
￼Prelude To A Painting
￼Midnight Interlude, The
— John Sunier