“Another great way to discover the beautiful universe of David Wright”
1 Reconnected 3:49
2 The Sound of Waves 4:44
3 Transylvanian Lullaby 4:44
4 Ghost Dancer 3:58
5 Deeper 5:28
6 Momentum, Pt. 3 4:30
7 Shine On Cassini, Shine On 2:13
8 Echoes of Air 3:23
9 Another Life 3:58
10 Sun Dust 5:24
11 Cassini 5:46
12 Just An Illusion 4:48
13 Calmer Waters 5:06
14 A Solitary Moment 4:40
15 Light Source 4:42
16 Desert Theme 4:02
17 Call to Me - with Carys 4:10
18 Stars Dream On 3:22
(CD/DDL 79:32) (V.F.)
(E-Rock, New Age, England School)
There are several interesting things in this latest David Wright compilation. First of all, the 18 tracks that compose this second compilation of the English musician and founder of the label AD Music have all been remastered according to the new standards and requirements of the streaming music industry. The structures are shorter and designed with a more commercial vision, more for FM radios. Don't worry, each track is recognizable in a stronger, more accentuated musical envelope. We can safely say that this is the best way to discover the beautiful universe of David Wright. If the first compilation, entitled Returning Tides 1991-2004, focused on his early years up to 2004, RETURNING TIDES Vol. 2 highlights the years 2005 to 2021, including his last album The Lost Colony with the title Desert Theme on it. The album is offered on a manufactured CD and goes on a distance of 80 minutes. What is interesting is that the purchase gives you the right to a Deluxe version that includes 18 additional tracks. Among these tracks are some unreleased tracks, rarities, collaborations and/or other well-known tracks that have also been remastered according to the standards established for the CD version. And there are some very nice surprises in these tracks that AD Music offers in download format only. But before going further, let's start this review with the manufactured CD.
Reconnected, from the album Stranger Days, displays the new tonal colors that David Wright adds to his compositions. The musical envelope is richer, and the details are clearer. While the piano melody remains strongly hammered, the bass has more edge, giving the impression that the rhythm is heavier. The same phenomenon applies to the shortened version of Momentum, Pt. 3 and to some other tracks that are propelled by a more active bass. In addition to subtle vocal effects, vocal layers are added, at the 1:50 minute mark, while the orchestrations and arrangements are more luxuriant. They pigment our soul with a legion of chills. Ditto for The Sound of Waves, from the Deeper album, which literally sounds like it comes from the same album. This will be the case on the majority of the tracks that fill RETURNING TIDES Vol. 2. I even feel that some of the rhythm structures, such as the one on Transylvanian Lullaby, are more lively, more catchy. Each track is also shortened and arranged in a way that can be played on commercial radio. The choice of tracks and the way they follow each other are thought to separate the styles of the English musician with rhythms close to electronic rock and others more carrying New Age melodies as well as good ballads all well reworked in sound textures that make the music more troubling, more emotional. There are some good segments of a livelier music where New Age creeps in, like Ghost Dancer where it seems to me that Lee Morant's guitar is more polarizing here. While Deeper, which has a livelier envelope here than on the original version, is one of those ethereal ballads that are legion in this compilation. The second tender part of the album comes after the heavy e-rock of Momentum, Pt. 3 with the beautiful Shine On Cassini, Shine On, Echoes of Air, again here it sounds like these two tracks come from the same album, and the saxophone that makes the soul melting of Another Life. After the meditative Sun Dust, Cassini offers a short live excerpt, where the fiery rhythm melts with silky orchestrations, of a 22 minutes long track from the album Continuum. After the lively version of Just An Illusion, romance returns to the agenda with the oriental flavors of Calmer Waters, another track from the album In Search of Silence that had a more New Age vision than David's other albums. A Solitary Moment brings me back to the ambiences of Walking with Ghosts. Driving in rhythm with a strong bass, Light Source offers a much better version of Light Source Part 2 from Stranger Days. Even a track like Desert Theme offers a reworked sound envelope, which is more textured with a strength of rhythm that flirts with the version edited for radio. It shows the commercial potential of this AD Music compilation. Ditto for Call to Me, with Carys on vocals, which here has an endearing texture of melody that haunts, that obsesses the senses. I didn't particularly like this track in Beyond the Airwaves Vol. 2, but here it comes across better. If you don't own the E-Scape 2020 album, you don't know Stars Dream On, of which the short excerpt chosen is quite well done, ends RETURNING TIDES Vol. 2 the way Reconnected started it.
As mentioned at the beginning of the review, this second David Wright compilation comes with 16 bonus tracks over a distance of nearly 82 minutes of additional music. And it starts with Halcyon from the 2009 album Shifting Sands made with Ian Boddy. The music is a bit complex and still maintains a melodic vision unique to David Wright. Android Caravan is a nice surprise that develops into a hyper syncopated tribal anthem. Good rhythm that welcomes nervous and agile fingers on the keyboard. Subconscious Matter & Other Indiginous Lifeforms is another unreleased track that has an atmospheric edge which is propelled by a slyly bouncy rhythmic structure. We can hear some Middle-Eastern flavors in the arrangements, testifying of this always hyper-melodious vision that surrounds the music of the AD Music boss. Another unreleased track, Laniakea is performed with Carys. A slow and melodious track that does justice to this superb sensual and astral voice. China Calling offers an oriental texture and shows that David Wright is not always in the easy way while being able to create delicious earworms. A track made with DJ Mass that appeared on the Beyond Paradise compilation in 2010, Chilled Naid offers a good melodic rhythm. The Sound of Light is typical Wright, ditto for the rhythmic ballad that is Always Tomorrow which is also a track rich of its arrangements. Among the known tracks that are slightly revamped we hear As Far As The Eye Can See (South), from The Reflecting Sky, Constant Perceptions from Connected, Forward Motion, surprisingly I prefer the original that nestles on Beyond the Airwaves, Vol. 1, unlike the concert version of Sea of Dreams, Pt. 3 also from Deeper. Another track performed live, State of Bliss stretches over 12 minutes with the presence of Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock on guitar and mellotron. This track from the album Dreams and Distant Moonlight is simply unrecognizable here. One of the highlights in this compilation! All Good Things, the evocative title that ends this Deluxe compilation, offers a shortened and more refined version of this track that appears on Sines of Life. It's melodious and catchy David Wright with chorus and arrangements on a tribal rhythm structured to give a good dose of chills.
That's it for this very good and melodious RETURNING TIDES Vol. 2! It is nearly 3 hours of melodious, playful, catchy, accessible and sometimes complex EM that David Wright offers with the Deluxe version. If the music is revamped, it's not enough to alter its essence. What we have here is an incursion into the most accessible universe of the English musician-synthesist who has no equal to tickle our emotions with tunes that run between the ears several minutes after hearing them. This is David Wright at his most melodious, moving and romantic. For fans and those who want romance in music at any time of day!
Sylvain Lupari (September 21st, 2022) *****
Available at AD Music