I have been aware of Richard Dillon’s association with the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio community of artists for several years, but "The Land of Nod" is the first time I have actually heard his music. What a treat! Dillon started taking piano lessons in elementary school and continued through high school and college, earning under-graduate degrees and then a Master of Music degree. Based in the Seattle, WA area, Dillon composes and arranges music, teaches a select group of students, and volunteers his services to local churches.
"The Land of Nod" is a collection of fifteen original solo piano lullabies, a few obviously geared toward children (or the child within all of us) and others that are very peaceful but a bit more sophisticated. The music is wonderful for relaxation and to help with sleep, but I have found it to also be a very welcome and unobtrusive companion while working on the computer, fading into the background when I need to focus fully on what I’m doing, and beautifully expressive when I can zero in on the music. This quietly compelling music is played simply but very expressively, giving it plenty of substance. In other words, the music isn’t spare because of a lack of playing chops, but is intentionally designed to soothe and relax. I don’t advise putting it in your wake-up alarm!
"The Land of Nod" begins with “The Land Above the Sky,” a gentle piece that overflows with innocence and wonder, with a sweet version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” woven into it. “No More Tears” expresses the soothing warmth of a mother comforting an unhappy child, but it could also be the bond of understanding between adult friends - poignantly beautiful. It really is amazing how much emotion “Jouet Triste” (“Sad Toy”) conveys with such simplicity - a favorite. Who hasn’t ever fallen asleep in a favorite rocking chair? That gentle motion is captured in “Rocking Chair” - sometimes a little faster, sometimes almost stopping, and rocking at a steadier pace. “Kainehe” is another favorite with its changing themes, bittersweet spirit, and occasional outbursts of passion. “La Luna” is one of the more ambient of the fifteen tracks - very open, unstructured and peaceful. “Looking Glass River” makes wonderfully effective use of the damper pedal to create feelings of open space and a shimmering atmosphere. As the piece evolves, it becomes more majestic and then softens to a dreamier feeling - another favorite. I love the mysterious quality of “Shadows On the Wall” and the fantasies it evokes. It isn’t scary or threatening, but piques the imagination. “Papillion” is a very fitting nod to Erik Satie. I have played a lot of Satie’s music, and this could easily be attributed to him (or his ghost!) - love it! The title track is a dreamscape set to music, again effectively using the damper pedal to create a dreamy sense of open space and perhaps floating gently on a cloud. “Moonrise” perfectly describes the magic of watching the moon as it slowly ascends into the night sky - gorgeous!
I am very happy to have finally discovered the music of Richard Dillon and look forward to exploring more of his music. "The Land of Nod" is highly recommended!