Electric Diamond at Federal Hall. NYC

Electric Diamond in
NEW AGE VOICE

by Carol Wright

Several years ago, I researched an article about the golden oldies of New Age music, but one of my favorite olde time composers, Don Slepian ("Ocean of Peace"), had dropped from sight. Then out of the blue, he called asking if I would review his new album. When it arrived, the album cover, with its airbrushed ED monogram and diamond (Stuart Diamond plays the Lyricon Wind Synthesizer on the album), offered scant clues to its exquisite inner treasures. ELECTRIC DIAMOND opens with a suite of five "Dances from the Middle Ages." These short tunes take advantage of Diamond's Lyricon, an instrument that electronically transforms the player's breath into Medieval shawms, long trumpets, and other ancient horns. The melodies are played straight, but electronic wizardry of Don Sleppian makes them snappy and resplendent with the pagentry and frolic of centuries past. 
Violinist Karen Bently joins for the second suite, "Arcadia." Two are modern chamber music pieces (Ravel's music might be a close comparison) that conjure tree groves and midwinter frosts, while "The Furnace" blasts with electric horns and whirlpools of sparks. The third suite, "The Shades of Light," progresses from the calm (Bentley's violin flutters on warm currents of vibraphone and string bass like a butterfly's first flight) to a piece that races at the greyhound speed. "Sirens" and "Painted Clouds" moved me even farther into the realms of spirit, sensuousness, and drama. I don't think I'll ever tire of listening to ELECTRIC DIAMOND, but if I had to pick a favorite piece, it would be "The Way In" with its haunting trumpet theme.