Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spotlight: Kiss the Quiet by Michael Whalen

Michael Whalen is a veteran of over 700 TV and film scores, thousands of commercials and numerous TV themes and video games. A highly versatile composer, his superb discography and many associated projects span new age, ambient, classical, pop, jazz and fusion styles of music. The follow-up recording to his outstanding 2017 release, Dream Cycle, which incorporated ambient-electronic and dreamy vocal elements, Whalen’s newest album, Kiss the Quiet (subtitled Meditations on Life & Love) is comprised of ten compositions that equally stuns with its haunting blend of subtle ambient textures and atmospherically minimal piano. Topping it off is the impeccable mastering skills of none other than Tom Eaton, who’s crafted some top-notch ambient-piano albums of his own.

The title piece, “Kiss the Quiet”, beautifully introduces the album with gossamer textures thinly enshrouding the listening space like a moonlit mist, as a tenderly lulling piano melody reverberates throughout the twilight soundscape. Following next is “Heart So Full of Joy”, which livens the mood a bit with a gently forceful and soulful melody played on piano amid synthetic strings and twinkling timbres. Next is “Full Moon Dance”, which opens with a melody that somewhat reminds me of the classic nursery song, “Lullaby”, albeit more elegant, flowing and sophisticated in what perhaps can be likened to a lullaby for adults.

The next three compositions are comparatively moodier, beginning with the aptly-titled “Almost Touching Heaven”, which imparts a beautifully mysterious and contemplative atmosphere of spacious piano notes that seemingly echo among protracted halls. Equally stunning is “The Prayer Box”, which feels both nocturnal and solitary. Characterized by a perfectly understated melody, this gorgeous composition enthrallingly lingers on with each affecting note. Likewise outstanding is “No More Secrets”, which ensues with churning ambient textures accompanied by reverberating piano notes that are both dramatic yet minimalist.

Another favorite composition of mine is the second-to-last track, “Hush the Night”, which conveys both a pensive and somewhat foreboding atmosphere with its shadowy encompassing tones and somber piano chords. The mood perks up a bit with the final piece, “Ever Closer, Ever Nearer, Ever Sooner”, which seemingly relays a gentle sense of hope and optimism brushed with a subtle touch of longing.

Seeming to relate a story of closely-guarded secrets, Michael Whalen has crafted a supremely beautiful album that simultaneously conveys an overall affecting yet reticent mood throughout. Certain to have vast appeal among fans of both minimal piano and ambient music, Kiss the Quiet is easily on track to be one of the most outstanding piano albums of the year! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available from Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.