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David Wahler – Collection Review

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We humans are by nature collectors of memories and emotions. They tell us who we are and where we are in life. On his new album Collection, which is being released today, David Wahler describes ten memories from recent years, both from Covid19 isolation and life in general. Even though the album doesn’t have a unifying theme, Wahler’s unique sense of musical storytelling makes it all come together in ways that are easily recognizable and in tune with the time we live in. Both new and old fans will find the melodies both comforting and encouraging. Collection is, in short, an album with a heart and a soul.

You may get the album on HearNow

David Wahler began his musical career at the age of 7 playing the piano “by ear”. Early years of summer music clinics and academies at various universities culminated in his studying piano performance at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music; Mannes College of Music in New York; and Berklee College of Music, Boston. David released his first album, Antiquus, in the spring of 2009. Then followed A Star Danced (2010), Secret Dream (2012) and Spiritus (2015). His album Mosaic was honored with Zone Music Award’s Best Relaxation/Meditation album of 2018 at the award concert in New Orleans in May of 2019. His two most recent albums are Two Hearts (2019) and Currents (2021). Many of the tracks on Collection have this spring been released as singles, and Invictus is currently no. 3 on the New Age Music Chart.

Lost Coast
The album opener is called Lost Coast. It starts with the sounds of nature; seagulls, wind and waves immediately transport the listener to a seaside location. It is as if we can taste the salt and feel the wind in our hair. Then delicate synth pads and strings are heard, laying the foundation for everything that follows. Even though the atmosphere is laid-back, the melody is quite complex as it twists and turns between various sounding pianos and bell-like synth leads. It is, without a doubt, world-class sound design! The coast might be lost, but Wahler truly makes it come to life. Bravo!

Sample the album and find it on your favorite streaming service:

Next out is Lila. It doesn’t take long before we sense that this might be a portrait. If so, its primary color will be pink. The female vocalization further refines the idea that we are being introduced to a woman. Notice how Wahler makes Lila come to life; this must be the musical equivalent of painting with thin brushes. The sharp and quick sounds give the impression of movement. Yet again I’m amazed by one of Wahler’s carefully crafted soundscapes. It is delicate and light, yet highly expressive.

Noctorno
The album changes pace and atmosphere the moment Noctorno comes on. It gets a bit darker, it is as if the night is falling. Yet a sense of romanticism is also present, probably influenced by classical music. It is definitely a nocturne, romantic and emotional. Also notice the sharp and eerie strings in the mid section, and how the lead felt piano changes effortlessly to harpsichord. Noctorno is definitely a piece about changes. Nothing stays the same.

Blame It On The Moon continues where Noctorno left off. Suddenly a female soprano sings in the night, followed by an oboe. Some gentle textures are like pixie dust, tastefully sprinkled here and there. It is hauntingly beautiful, as it describes the moon’s effect on our phycology. Moonlit nights have, as you know, had an impact on people throughout history. Blaming the moon seems tempting sometimes, although it might not hold up in court.

Carried Away
The atmosphere gets warmer as Carried Away comes on. The piece is as light as a breeze. A somewhat distant piano plays scales, while a Rhodes keyboard and analog strings are center stage. It is breathtakingly beautiful, making me think that it is everything it has to be and nothing more. Perfect and thought-provoking at the same time, just like a poem. Talking about poems, next out is the mighty Invictus.

Inspired by the famous poem Invictus by British poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) and dedicated to the brave men, women and children of the Ukraine, the track with the same name sounds defiant, confident and reflective. You may read the poem here, but I will quote its conclusion whose atmosphere Wahler presents magnificently in his music:

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus’ beauty underlines the message; to remain courageous in the face of pain and unspeakable evil. That is still sadly a much-needed guiding star for many people in our world today – in Ukraine and too many other places. Here it is if you haven’t heard it yet:

As monumental as Invictus is, Easy Peasy does feel like a breath of fresh air. Its chilled vibe and soft rhythm instantly lift the mood. It is this kind of melodies Wahler does so well. It seems so laid-back, so easy peasy, yet there is a melancholy here too that makes it into a very rewarding listen.

Adagio àla Carlos is a soft-spoken and elegant piece with a hushed vocal synth as lead. It is refreshingly different, effortlessly combining new and old in a thought-provoking way. Rite is just as interesting. A gorgeous female opera vocal cuts in, overpowering the ultra-light synth arrangement. You might think that such different sounds would not fit together, but thanks to Wahler’s studio wizardry they really do. Just like any social custom, or rite, you will need to experience this piece it many times to “get it”.  The hopeful yet sad Peace On Earth rounds off the album. I like the way it starts like Lost Coast, binding the opening and closing together. The flute sounds brilliant.

Songs named Peace On Earth are usually jolly and a bit too confident about the happy outcome – but Wahler’s album closer does not sugar-coat the fact that lasting peace is hard, incredibly hard, hence the melancholy. Since it doesn’t (spoiler alert!) end on a high note, I always find myself going back to Lost Coast at this stage.

In conclusion: Songwriter Harlan Howard once said: “I’m always collecting emotions for future reference.” On his new release, David Wahler’s has taken this one step further; made ten collected memories into an album. Unpretentious and personal, light yet complex, Collection invites the listener to reflect and dream.

To me, the ten pieces have a lot in common with short stories. Their narrative is something that the listener immediately picks up on, even subconsciously. You don’t have to, as with Wahler’s previous albums, listen actively “to get it.” He is able to communicate on many different levels, often at the same time. That is, in my book, a hallmark of a great artist.

Thanks to its atmosphere and variation in sound, Collection by David Wahler has high replay value. I also believe it communicates the zeitgeist of our time wonderfully.

In other words; get the album! Your collection is not complete without it.

For more information and music samples, see davidwahler.com

Collection is now playing on New Age Stars Radio!