Timothy Cooper’s new album is called «Global Skies». The album is both beautiful and poetic, illustrating the fact that as seen from above our world is truly without artificial borders. «Global Skies» is one of 2017’s finest solo piano albums.
Timothy Cooper’s two previous solo piano releases are «Light on the Water» and «East Wind». Currently he leads a consortium of major international companies in an effort to help low-lying nations in Asia mitigate the devastating impact of sea level rise through the use of sensible environmental practices. From 2002-2010, Timothy Cooper served as executive director of World Rights, a non-governmental organization specializing in human rights and environmental issues. In 2016, he published a major article in the Global Policy Journal about a new strategy for achieving a lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace.
Listening to «Global Skies» makes me think of Matthias Claudius’ classical German quote: «Wenn jemand eine Reise tut, so kann er was erzahlen», loosely translated to «Travelling gives you plenty of stories to tell». So is also the case with Timothy Cooper. «Global Skies» is a collection of memories and atmospheres from his many travels. Each song is like a well-written postcard from someone you trust and respect.
The album starts with the sound of nature, namely distant thunder, wind and rain. Gently Timothy’s piano fills the audio canvas with life and expression. A bright new day emerges, and the rain is soon nothing but a fading memory. It is a very visual melody; you can see, feel and sense that this day holds a promise of happiness. I love the dramatic ending; notice how the dark notes fade into silence. It is beautiful beyond words.
Then we change continents in a flash. We find ourselves in Prague, gazing at the ancient horizon. It is a positive and optimistic song, and it is impossible to feel down while listening to it. The fact that Timothy is a master pianist gives the song an extra edge. Next track, «Geneva Moonlight Rainbow», is more thoughtful. Darkness has fallen, yet moonlight and rain (or perhaps a fountain) is able to create a rainbow. Under such circumstances Geneva must look like a magical place. I like how the song evolves. There’s a wonderful verve to it, which makes it a very satisfying listen.
When we land in Bangkok, the clouds are grey and there is a fresh rain in the air. But that doesn’t put a damper on our mood. «Bangkok Rains» is a fantastic piano melody! Rain is falling, but it is warm and merely a side note to an otherwise gorgeous day. The song is quite complex. There’re many twists and turns to enjoy, and the ending is played with force and passion. Then there’s a quiet change in scenery. Night is falling in Warsaw, and Timothy takes us there to witness it. The Polish capital is illuminated by artificial light, and above that is nothing but darkness. «Warsaw Nights» is a breathtakingly beautiful song, and the 8 minutes and 30 seconds are gone before you know it.
I very much like the recording. In an age where ultra-high definition recordings give a perfect digital result, much of the warmth seems to disappear. That is not the case with «Global Skies». It is a very dynamical recording. The piano has a rich, deep and lush sound.
Listening to the title track makes me think of time-lapse videos of our planet. Here we can see how clouds travel unhindered clear across the planet. Timothy is right; the skies above are truly global. «Global Skies» is positive song with a great flow. Timothy uses some nice piano techniques to make rolling, seemingly endless sounds, illustrating the majesty of the heavens.
One of the great things about travel is that you have the time to think, to reflect. Even on a busy business trip, you constantly find yourself waiting for something or someone. I think «Jerusalem Dreamings» is about waiting and just letting your mind wander, while you take in the foreign landscapes around you.
Then we get a 14 minutes long reprise of the wonderful «Geneva Moonlight Rainbow». The song is like an EP in itself, and can be played as a standalone release. I like how selected parts have been enlarged and refined, while the atmosphere is the same as the original song. It has a great meditative quality. The last song on the album is «The Light After». It might be the best song here, especially since it has two parts with entirely different sounds. Notice how the first part flows effortlessly over into the next. «The Light After» makes sure that the album ends on a high, operatic note.
In conclusion: «Global Skies» by Timothy Cooper is a fantastic release! It is one of those albums that makes you think. When we travel, we tend to look for everything new and different. But unless you are living on the international space station, we are all living under the same sky. It’s a powerful and important thought. This, and its melodic qualities, makes «Global Skies» into an unforgettable album.
Score; 94/100 – See how I rate music here.