9 Songs, 46 Minutes

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

Ethereal

somhawk2002

This is my seventh David Arkenstone album, second of 2018 (Parisian Nights).
A complete departure, touching on the imagination of free space travel.
Each song unique, yet cohesive to the central theme of time and space.
David Arkenstone never fails to nail his subject matter with imaginative songwriting and masterful music that helps to create, enhance and set a mood.
Within the electronic genre, a true artisan.

In the running for the top album of the year!

CandiceMichelle1

David Arkenstone is unquestionably one of the most important and versatile recording artists in “new age” and related genres of music – having released over 60 studio albums over three decades. Very few musicians have so profoundly mastered the plethora of styles that Arkenstone has – his musical endeavors encompassing everything from classic 80’s-style “new age” – to ambient, electronica, cinematic, neoclassical, world, pop and soundtrack music. If I were asked to name my favorite Arkenstone album, his 2010 magnum opus, Ambient World, would be in the top-running for that title. And that’s way I’m ecstatic to announce that his latest release, titled Colors of the Ambient Sky, is like Ambient World’s long-awaited sequel that I’d be yearning for, yet which I thought would never arrive. Comprised of 9 compositions spanning 47 minutes, Colors of the Ambient Sky is a stunning sonic venture into the best that ambient, downtempo and chill-trance music have to offer – all composed in Arkenstone’s unmistakably familiar style.

The spellbinding first track, “Parallel World”, opens with deep space drones before transitioning into signature Arkenstone ambient territory. A keyboard figure enters that feels equal parts Tangerine Dream and Patrick O’Hearn, followed by a bouncy chill-trance rhythm. Right away, this cut signals that Arkenstone has picked up – with ease – right where his landmark Ambient World album left off. “Red Sun” opens with sequenced bells over synth pads that soon lead into a serene meditation before a slow groove appears. There’s also a beautiful section in this piece where the rhythm disappears for a moment – hence, seemingly no one can create musical drama like Arkenstone. Although “Starlight, Starbright” may bring-to-mind a children’s nursery song, on this album, the third track that bears this title is a sensually gorgeous and moody composition, which encompasses different eras of electronic, ambient and space music. Throughout, lonely piano notes hover amid mesmerizing chords and a sexy downtempo rhythm, while a keyboard solo at the end of the piece is an exercise in beautiful restraint.

“Darkness Descending” majestically lives up to its title, as one can easily envision the stars appearing one-by-one in the encroaching night sky in tandem with the pulsating sequencer patterns that Arkenstone begins the song with. Blissfully reminiscent of the music of Carbon Based Lifeforms, this composition’s main pattern of notes never disappears, as additional layers are brought in, which are set to a hypnotic ambient-trance rhythm. Where this track has us looking upon descending darkness, the next one, “Rainbow Galaxy”, is a truly multi-colored piece of music. Here, synth figures move back-and-forth in the stereo field, as a slow groove supplies a beautiful backdrop for glittering, dance-like chords. “Blue Lightning” conveys a great mystery, as if one is contemplating the vastness of space and time. I can almost detect a touch of old-school Depeche Mode in this piece, as percolating bass brings us back to earth just in time for an instant chill-trance beat.

“Lonely Satellite” is perhaps the most visually evocative piece on the album and aptly conveys a solitary satellite floating high above earth while listening. Unlike the other tracks herein, there’s no rhythm on this free-floating composition – just beautifully drifting spaces and subtle melodic keyboards. The somewhat foreboding “Visitors” – of which its title might suggest extraterrestrial visitation – starts off with a most haunting synth pattern along with what sounds like gentle rain in the background. One of my favorites on the album, the strong element of mystery is certainly palpable in this song, as a hypnotic beat propels it into new territory. The final track, “Ascension”, begins with a classic new age choral feel – ala Constance Demby or Vangelis – before a sequenced series of notes introduces the main rhythm and melodic theme. As the title implies, it’s an uplifting song, yet nevertheless retains the mysterious mood that Arkenstone has created throughout the previous compositions. The song seemingly concludes with a musical question mark conveyed by its closing chords floating in the air, unresolved.

A brilliant sonic masterpiece from start to finish, Colors of the Ambient Sky easily places in the running for the top album of the year. Likewise, an essential traveling companion due to its addictive juxtaposition of simultaneously relaxing and rhythmic elements, I’ve found that not since the release of Enigma’s The Fall of a Rebel Angel have I listened to an album this often while driving. Not only is Colors of the Ambient Sky is an absolute must-have for fans of David Arkenstone, but fans of Enigma and Carbon Based Lifeforms – as well as ambient-electronica and chill-trance in general – are especially likely to relish this album!

About David Arkenstone

Grammy-nominated composer David Arkenstone blends global, cinematic, and rock elements into his version of new age music, which has appeared in film, television, and video game scores as well as dozens of his own albums. A music lover since age ten, when he moved to California from Chicago, Arkenstone immersed himself in all kinds of music and played keyboards and guitar in numerous bands as a youth. It was when he discovered the lush arrangements and exotic approach of Kitaro that Arkenstone ventured into new age music. The increasing synergy between computer technology and musical instruments also inspired him; most of his works were created partly or entirely on his Macintosh along with synthesizers and guitars. This blend of electro-acoustic textures was showcased on albums like 1998's The Celtic Book of Days and works from his band Troika, which released a series of albums from the mid-'90s to the early 2000s.

By that time, Arkenstone's solo career was thriving, with several Billboard hit albums and three Grammy nominations (for 1992's In the Wake of the Wind, 2000's Citizen of the World, and 2004's Atlantis) to his name. As the 2000s continued, Arkenstone branched out, incorporating Egyptian and tropical elements into his music, along with the sounds of the Earth in his Natural Wonders Collection series. He also worked on several acclaimed video game soundtracks, including 2007's World of Warcraft: Taverns of Azeroth and 2010's World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. His horizons continued to expand in the 2010s, and his work reflected the growing influence of ambient and chillout within the realm of new age music. By the time of 2016's Fairy Garden, Arkenstone also returned to the more vibrant, mystical approach of his early work along with forays into dark ambient sounds. In 2017, he paid homage to the romantic culture and cinematic history of Italy with Italian Nights. ~ Heather Phares

HOMETOWN
Chicago, IL
GENRE
New Age
BORN
July 1, 1952

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