Monday, November 18, 2019

Album Review: Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers by Robert Thies & Damjan Krajacic

The collaborative duo of classically-trained American pianist Robert Thies and Croatian-born flutist Damjan Krajacic return for a third installment in their musically mesmerizing Blue Landscapes saga. Aptly-titled Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers (Music from a Quieter Place), this all-instrumental fifteen-track album draws its inspiration from natural vistas while possessing a recurring theme of water throughout. As I’ve noted in other reviews of the creative pair’s previous albums, Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers is similarly minimal and improvisational in nature while simultaneously expressive and melodic in composition.

Immediately upon hearing the opening piece, “Drifting”, the song’s simple and aptly-named title came to mind. Comprised of minimal flute and piano, this softly-swaying composition evokes peaceful scenery of a lone sailboat riding on gentle waves amid a vast blue seascape. One of my favorite pieces is “The Abandoned Monastery”, a somewhat poignant and contemplative number accentuated with a lovely Celtic touch. Subtle yet affecting, this minimal passage paints misty images of a pastoral and sacred site, which is audio-visually conveyed by a solemn arrangement of bass flute choir and sparse piano notes.

Other notable pieces such as “The Lighthouse” beautifully highlight the softly contrasting balance of the flute’s earthy resonance and the piano’s sparkling airiness. Likewise especially lovely, “Frontiers” is dreamily carried along by a flowing piano figure that seemingly mimics a winding river current. Similarly breathtaking is the mysterious “Infinity”, with its crystalline flute timbres set against glistening piano strokes that effectively bring-to-mind enchanting scenery of a nocturnal breeze and moonlight sky. Also especially mesmerizing is the somewhat pensive and shadowy “Waves on a Moonlit Sea”, which imparts a cascading piano undercurrent that's perfectly paired with sensuous flute intonations.

Ever-impressive as before, as well as possibly the duo’s best work to date, Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers paints slow-moving images with its gracefully improvised melodies of serenity and solitude. Undisputed adepts at creating flawlessly understated yet expressive compositions, Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic convey musical observation of surrounding stillness that's evocative of being in nature's wondrous and transformative presence.

Delightfully recalling past iconic works by Bill Douglas, Paul Winter and Mark Isham, Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers exemplifies some of the best contemporary new age instrumental music on the scene today! ~Candice Michelle

This album is available at Amazon and other retail & streaming platforms.