“Evensong” by Kevin Keller

Album Review by New Age CD and New Age Notes Radio Staff

At some point or another we all have contemplated profound questions like, “What are we doing here?” Or “Where did we come from?” Or “What does it all mean?” And “Where are we going?”

Kevin Keller, a well-known, award-winning New York based composer and electronic artist ponders these big questions of life, death, and how we fit into this place, while sitting in his Manhattan studio gazing at his computer screen. One might say he’s on a personal odyssey, but through his music, perhaps it’s a bigger picture than that.

With an illustrious recording career that has spanned three decades and has even brought him into composing music for films, Kevin taught himself to read music at an early age so he could play Debussy. He was influenced early on by the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Brian Eno. He was also deeply impressed with epic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Altered States. These led him to contemplate the meaning of dreams, life, and death, and to wonder if our existence here is but a dream or illusion. Part of Kevin’s philosophy is that we need both the dark elements of our existence as well as the light. He incorporates both into his music. And that’s part of what makes it so interesting and different. He’s not afraid to push the envelope.

His new album, “Evensong,” incorporates the vocals of four different sopranos (Danya Katok, Elisa Singer Strom, Katherine Wessinger, and Wendy Baker), sometimes performing as a chorus of voices in unison, which gives beautiful texture to the pieces, live strings (Sarah Zun, violin, Angela Pickett, viola, and Laura Metcalf, cello), organ, piano, and keyboards. As well, four of the eight tracks (1, 3, 4, and 7) incorporate the plainchant melodies written by Hildegard of Bingen (Saint Hildegard) in the 12th century and even include her Latin texts. When combined with Keller’s artistry, we have music that transcends the ages.

This is a beautiful and contemplative album. The best way to describe it is that it is multi-layered, complex, deep, and tells a story. It’s a voyage. Each of the eight songs represent canonical hours of the day and are therefore titled “Evensong 1,” “Evensong 2,” “Evensong 3,” and so on. The album is a journey that moves from conception, birth, early childhood and adolescence, into adulthood, maturity, and then death and on into the universal mystery of what comes next.

The album opens very softly with “Evensong 1,” the ethereal voices speaking to a certain innocence. The piece gets progressively more complex with organ, percolating synth, and keyboard, all creating a hauntingly beautiful tapestry.

“Evensong 2” is faster paced with percolating synth underneath and those gorgeous voices interspersed. Ditto for “Evensong 3” which is also very hypnotic. “Evensong 4” is quite beautiful with richly layered strings and has an overall chant-like vibe to it. “Evensong 5” is exciting and has wonderful ebb and flow. “Evensong 6” is slow and gentle. This is very relaxing, and I like it very much. “Evensong 7” has a quite heavenly and reverent vibe to it. This is just gorgeous all through and is another favorite. And with “Evensong 8” we have reached the end of our “day” and the end of our journey. This is effortlessly ethereal and otherworldly, and it is the perfect ending to this thoroughly enjoyable, ultra-creative, transportive, and thought-provoking album.

Available as a physical CD or on your favorite digital service.

Get it here: https://kevinkeller.bandcamp.com/album/evensong

Official artist website: https://www.kevinkeller.com/