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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ORCHARD: Riverboat (2011)

''If you like New Age and meditative music you will like Riverboat''

1 Kingfisher Falls 3:39 2 Poachers Dawn 5:23 3 Ducks and Drakes 4:18 4 Night Moorings 5:47 5 Buttercup Necklace 4:43 6 Summer Storm 5:24 7 Priddy Fair 5:21 8 Abbey Fountain 5:18 9 Downstream 4:30 10 River Lullaby 6:33 AD MUSIC: AD98CD

(CD/DDL 51:12) (New Age)

Steve Orchad is a newcomer on AD Music label and its New Age division. If he is new on David Wright's label he is on the other hand very active as shows his 8 albums realized since 2006. Prolific musician who is inspired by medieval and folk atmospheres as well as by Mike Oldfield minimalist structures and recording techniques, Steve Orchard composes a soft meditative music from a minimalist embryo to which he adds a multitude of adjacent acoustic layers which crisscross into beautiful structures as melancholic as melodious. RIVERBOAT is his 9th album. An album fed by a soundscapes sound fauna with samplings of birds chirpings, delicate currents of brooks and a lot of sounds coming from a nature buried in our child's dreams which flows with the same peace of mind as a book of poetry on torments of every day's life.

Winds shake the soft rustle of leaves and make shiver the wavelets of a narrow brook, guiding the first hesitating notes of a fine acoustic guitar. Meditative and dreamy, Kingfisher Falls floods our ears with a 2nd line of more melodious guitar. A melancholic guitar which draws a beautiful tune fed by regrets and which looks for refuge in the fluty breaths of a soft mellotron kind synth. Delicate and meditative, Kingfisher Falls is also the soft reflection of inner feelings which surround the delicate music of Steve Orchard. It’s a music which leans on a lead guitar line to which other guitar recordings stream to forge beautiful melodies of which the background is filled by samplings of England countryside. This way we have the feeling to hear a trio of guitarists whose agile fingers knit beautiful acoustic melodies. And this is the core and premises of RIVERBOAT which flows in our ears like a collection of 9 beautiful and easy listening melodic structures. If Poachers Dawn, Ducks and Drakes and Night Moorings are similar to Kingfisher Falls, Buttercup Necklace offers a more cheerful and lively canvas where harmonies dance and cavort innocently on a fluty synth and nice orchestral arrangements. Besides, this title opens a new chapter in Riverboat with a series of more cheerful titles of which melancholy is split among more lively rhythms. A multitude of guitar strings are giving rendezvous to feed the very beautiful Summer Storm. Notes which structure crisscrossed melodies, tumbling down and singing with innocence under rumbling thunders. And the more we go deeper into RIVERBOAT and the more we let ourselves invaded by this oniric meditative sweetness. Priddy Fair is a marvel which capsizes us unmistakably with an approach as melancholic as melodious. By far my preferred title with the very beautiful River Lullaby which is stunningly enchanting with this skilful mixture of harmonies floating on the back of a nostalgia fed by ethereal vocals which are melting to nice fanciful violins. Abbey Fountain is not outdone with its scattered notes which shape suspended harmonies and revolve around a fluty approach worthily the Knights of the Round Table eras while Downstream flows with an avalanche of notes pinching a solitary melody.

If you like New Age and meditative music, you will like Steve Orchad's RIVERBOAT. New Age not being my favorite musical tendancy I had to wait the ideal occasion before letting Steve Orchad's last feed my ears. And I was agreeably surprised by so much fluidity and harmonies on musical structures as much contemplative as melodic. I found on it this soft acoustic essence that had charmed me with Checkfield and their Water, Wilnd and Stone released in 1987 on the Mannheim Steamroller’s American Gramaphone label. There are very poignant titles there such as Buttercup Necklace, Priddy Fair and River Lullaby which deserve to be heard. I agree that this is not EM but it’s a nice relaxing and meditative music which will please certainly the American market. The reason to be of this New Age division of David Wright label which, as usual, produced high quality music and this whatever the kinds.

Sylvain Lupari (November 22nd, 2011)

Available at AD Music

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