Saturday, February 3, 2018

Spotlight: We Have Only Come To Dream by Terry Lee Nichols & Rebekah Eden

We Have Only Come to Dream is the collaborative project of Terry Lee Nichols and Rebekah Eden. Subtitled A Resonance of Human Migration to the Americas, the album moves through eleven enthralling compositions, as the listener is welcomed on a journey that begins with the first people who populated the New World – eventually leading up to the foundations of its modern civilization. Credited as the album’s producer, composer, orchestrator, pianist and virtual instruments performer, Nichols masterfully integrates styles of cinematic, new age and neoclassical music. Drawing much of his inspiration from a range of notably accomplished film score and contemporary classical composers, his own works are often likewise thematically grand-scale. Joining Nichols on this album is Rebekah Eden who provides exceptional vocal arrangements throughout – her soprano singing mostly wordless and semi-veiled, as it frequently ascends to ethereal heights. Additionally, the album’s liner notes include a descriptive overview of the individual pieces, along with an accompanying poem written by Philip Spevak for each.

The opening piece, “Phantasmagorical Voyage”, is inspired by the earliest known voyages from the descendants of Australian aborigines and Melanesians to the Americas thousands of years ago. Seemingly conveying a mysterious arrival from the mists of the seas, its initially tip-toeing introduction soon blossoms into a mesmerizingly cascading piano riff merged with Rebekah’s layered, wordless vocals. Affectively tender and sweepingly cinematic, the piece essentially signals the beginning of great immeasurable potential that lies ahead.

Named for one of the earliest advanced civilizations of North America, “The Ansasazi” (meaning “Ancient Ones”) is characterized by a moving blend of classical and contemporary motifs accentuated by glistening chimes, native-style flute and Rebekah’s dreamy vocals soaring above a majestic soundscape. Following next is the title piece, “We Have Only Come to Dream” , which draws its inspiration from the Aztec culture of Mexico that was once part of the greater Mesoamerican civilizations (that also included the Maya). Rainforest sounds comprised of waterfalls, birds and insects form the backdrop to gentle piano notes – eventually evolving into a symphonic motif in tandem with angelic vocals. The ensuing “1492” denotes the year of the first Spanish-based transatlantic maritime expedition led by Christopher Columbus. Pristine, dramatic and darker-toned, the composition brings-to-mind the iconic 1992 soundtrack, 1492: Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis, which accompanied director Ridley Scott’s movie of the same name. The storyline continues with “Conquistadors”, of which also sounds somewhat Vangelis-esque, as the piece seemingly evokes powerfully moving images in slow-motion. Named for the Spanish conquerors of the Americas whose genetic seeds would eventually merge with that of many Native populations, this turning point in history has always been of enduring interest to me – perhaps because it’s so integral to my own.

Inspired by the enlightenment philosophy held by many leading colonists of North America, as well as their ultimate declaration of independence from Britain, “The Courier” engages its listener with a dynamic arrangement of synthesizers and symphony. Further expressing the gist of this passage is an accompanying poem titled Paul Revere’s Ride. The next piece, “The River of Life”, is inspired by the subsequent influx of many more European arrivals and their westwards expansions. Tonally bright and optimistic, it seemingly feels like that of watching a time-lapse video depicting a long passage of time.

Aptly imbued with a Celtic touch, “The 19th Century Refugee Crisis” is named so in reference to the large wave of Irish migrations to the United States. Denoting how the Irish once endured hardship, discrimination and prejudice in their newfound American homeland, Rebekah conveys this motif with a lovely melody sung in English, which boasts a pleasing reminiscence to the music of Loreena McKennitt. Likewise, “A House Divided” is a poignantly heartfelt composition inspired by the bondage and eventual emancipation of Africans who were brought to the New World. Beginning with a vocal performance by Kehembe Eichelberger singing the lyrics of a traditional slave freedom song – the piece’s contemplative atmosphere of sorrow injected with glimmers of hope is perfectly enhanced by its affecting cello and piano melody.

“The Last Cowboy” is named for the vaquero traditions that developed in Mexico and the American southwest from methodology brought to that region from Spain. The vasquero eventually became the foundation for the North American cowboy – and so this piece is captivatingly enhanced by the sounds of running horses, saloon music and human chatter along its course. Finally arriving at “Canyon Sunset”, this passage is aptly dedicated to the national parks across the U.S. Showcasing an enchanting flute performance by Sherry Finzer, the piece seemingly conjures an aerial overview of breathtaking landscape, in a most fitting conclusion to a riveting journey.

As a longtime enthusiast of history, geography and genealogy related subjects, it was easy to become immersed in this truly epic sonic voyage. Listening to the pieces while reading the accompanying narratives and poems sometimes felt like witnessing the often complex and fascinating stories of my own ancestral melting pot unfold. Destined to be one of this year’s most highly-praised releases, numerous fans of period drama film scores – particularly by the likes of James Horner and John Barry – are especially encouraged to take note of this musical achievement! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the websites of Terry Lee Nichols and Rebekah Eden. This album can also be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.

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