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Light from Darkness

Erwilian

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Customer Reviews

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

Listening to and reading about the Seattle-based band, Erwilian, I’m reminded of the MTV series “Unplugged,” when the group proudly proclaims: “nothing synthesized, everything acoustic. There is nary an electronic blip, bleep, or filter sweep to be found in the music of this all-natural instrumental ensemble. What you will find, however, are guitars, drums, percussion, recorders, hammered dulcimer, harp, cello, marimba, a vintage celesta, and more. Their choice of material for this album has deep spiritual roots and an interesting philosophy behind it. The recording is comprised mainly of hymns and songs of worship, usually sung, but performed here instrumentally. I enjoyed the synergy of the various instruments playing together, and in particular the sparkling quality the harp, hammered dulcimer, and acoustic guitar brought to the mix. The intricate interweaving of the various stringed instruments and percussion create a beautiful background tapestry for Jordan to embellish with the melody on the recorder.

One of my favorites is a musical hybrid called “Radiance,” that integrates Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” with a modern composition, which reprises the original theme. I have to say that as I listen to this song as well as others, I am becoming more of a fan of the hammered dulcimer and its effervescent air that is both melodic and percussive. I also wanted to shine a light on the exceptional packaging, graphics, and 20-page booklet that accompanies the CD. The liner notes contain extensive information about the songs, their historical origins, and other relevant musical details. . While it is obvious that each member of the group is a highly accomplished instrumentalist, the magic that is created in their interaction is transcendent. Light From Darkness is a luminous collection of uplifting devotional melodies, heard by the heart as well as the ears of the listener. Although they use no synthesizers, compositionally, Erwilian have synthesized innovative amalgamations of traditional tunes from diverse periods in history, and contemporary influences. Fans of groups like Blackmore’s Night, as well as listeners wanting a spiritually uplifting acoustic musical experience would do well to check out the music of Erwilian.

From MainlyPiano

"Light From Darkness" is the third release from Seattle-based acoustic group Erwilian. What an extraordinary album it is, from the impressive artwork, extensive liner notes, and, of course, the superb music! Formed by Scott Melton and Jordan Buetow in 2000 (under a different name), the group became Erwilian in 2004. The current line-up is Melton (guitars, bass, bodhran, mountain dulcimer), Buetow (recorders, harp, percussion, accordion, hammered dulcimer, whistle, celesta, xylophone, etc!), Bill Bowser (guitars), Bethel Melton (hammered dulcimer), and Jeff Reed (drums and percussion).

The album is a collection of thirteen inspirational songs without words. “We have gathered songs whose associations powerfully evoke the act of worship, lifting the spirit closer to its Creator.” Some of the songs are presented in medleys while others appear singly, most of them adapted by Melton and Buetow. The style of the music is not easy to classify, but it has strong Celtic and folk influences that make it earthy and accessible. A very warm and uplifting background for other activities, this is music that deserves to be savored with full listening attention. The CD includes a 24-page booklet with the history of the songs, instrumentation, some of the lyrics, photos, and charming illustrations - an exceptionally nice package!

The album begins with Palestrina’s “Adoramus,” reinvented as an invocation (a Buetow solo) that segues into “St. Brendan’s,” a more contemporary hymn adapted for the group. Buetow leads with his soulful recorder and the group’s colorful instrumentation fleshes it out. Love it! “Agnus Dei” is based on “Lamb of God,” a medieval English carol performed on ancient as well as more contemporary instruments. “He Leadeth Me” is an introductory guitar duet that flows into a medley titled “Follower.” The arrangement includes “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” and “I Will Follow.” It is simple and heartfelt with a variety of instruments taking turns with the lead - gorgeous and very peaceful! I absolutely love “Radiance,” a carefree adaptation of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” combined with “Zweitefreude” by Melton and Buetow. “Atta Fossar” is a beautiful Buetow original for harp and cello that leads into “Ex Tenebris,” based on “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” Both pieces feature lovely cello work by Kathy Spampinato. I really love the simple, haunting beauty of “Williams,” a piece for recorder, guitars, hammered dulcimer, and percussion. “Vision” is a wonderful guitar prelude composed and performed by Bill Bowser. It becomes “Gehalgian,” a piece containing “Jesus, All For Jesus,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “I Surrender All” - another favorite! “Vespers” closes the album with a series of gentle, heartfelt songs that leave the soul at peace.

I’m hooked! "Light From Darkness" can be enjoyed on so many levels - simply for the joy of the music, as a spiritual experience, as a music history lesson, etc. Bravo to Erwilian for a truly exceptional musical journey. Very highly recommended!

Light from Darkness, Erwilian
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