Oscar Wilde once said that the “Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.” Most of this “diary” is filled with insignificant information, trivial notes from everyday life. Some memories though, are special. They represent defining moments in our lives. Alan Hanslik’s album “Precious Memory” deals with such important recollections. It is a wise and thought-provoking release that resonates on many levels, from times of “Abundance” to voyages “Back and Beyond” – to quote two of the song titles. It is not an album that will leave you untouched.
Alan Hanslik is an American composer, musician and producer. He began playing music growing up in Brooklyn, Ohio. Playing in local bands and eventually touring with Jon Washington of the British group, the Fortunes. Drawn to the electronic world of synthesizes, Alan wrote and produced his first electronic, techno and EDM singles and albums (see a complete list here). Alan has also composed soundtracks for features films and movies.
This episode of New Age Stars on Mixcloud is dedicated to “Precious Memory”:
The first piece is called “Abundance.” It truly is an “everything and more” kind of song; The warm sound of the hang drum is both welcoming and reassuring at the same time. If we think of the song as a memory, it tells of a period in one’s life when there’s an abundance of all that is good. The world feels new, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. It is refreshingly youthful. Each time you hit the replay button, you know that this song will great you like a cherished childhood memory. In short; A fabulous album opener!
To me, the title track is a small masterpiece! The sound of the classical guitar is wrapped in a rich reverb, creating a larger-than-life soundscape. Precious memories are just like this, shimmering, almost tangible, yet so fragile. The melody flows like a river. It is beautiful, but there’s an undercurrent here too that could swallow you whole. That’s the sting of precious memories, because they are, well, memories. They are about places you used to know, people long gone, a distant time. The piece makes me think of Michael Hedges’ music, it is that good.
Now the album shifts gear. “Chambers” takes us to a far-away place, sealed off with heavy doors. An angelic choir greets us. Deep down somewhere are also much darker voices, as if the Earth itself is talking. It is a place where your innermost feelings and thoughts are hidden, in an out-of-reach vault. Both gold and toxic goods are to be found here, and only you have the key to these chambers.
I very much enjoy how each song has a distinct atmosphere. Hanslik is right about how precious memories are just as much about emotions and perceptions, as they are detailed recollections of how things really happened. If you, for instance, think about when you graduated or had your first child, these memories are mostly about the feelings that washed over you as things unfolded – not the physical events themselves. At first, “Precious Memory” may seem a bit vague, but suddenly you realize that each piece is like a portal to some of your most cherished memories. That’s when you see the album’s true value.
Back and Beyond
Where there’s yin, there’s also yang. “Back and Beyond” takes us on a voyage to the underworld. It is a dark and foreboding place. The different layers of textures are nicely designed, and the strings sound wonderful. There’s also a heartbeat-like rhythm, highlighting the scary atmosphere. Not all precious memories are positive from start to end, which the song is a symbol of. A small spoiler; I’m happy to report that it ends on a high note.
“Rin Song” is a lovely meditative piece. The darkness of the previous song is forgotten. Now we have a warm and bright sphere of our own – far away from the troubles of everyday life. It is ideal for thinking and deep focus.
When listening to “Soft Wind”, you can almost feel a gentle breath on your hair. and face. It is a very physical song. If you are not relaxed at this point, the luxurious pads and ambient melody in “Soft Wind” will do the trick. It is my favorite song on “Precious Memory.”
The album closer is the guitar piece “Wading.” It has an intricate atmosphere with a subtle hint of melancholy. Sometimes in life, we feel as if we are wading in deep, dark water, it is so hard to move on. The song expresses this feeling brilliantly. Usually (and thankfully), it doesn’t last long – and we move on to something better, as illustrated by the somewhat abrupt ending. Even times of extreme hardship – for instance when you have small children keeping you up night after night – can in retrospect become fond memories.
In conclusion: “Precious Memory” by Alan Hanslik is a marvelous and in many ways remarkable album. It demands something from you – but when you give it a chance, it will reward you in abundance. Its magic is in the fact that it is about your most precious memories – not someone else’s. Don’t be surprised if “Precious Memory” suddenly is among the most cherished albums in your collection for this very reason. Highly recommended!
Score: 95/100 – See my music scoring policy