One would think that a genre like New Age music, with its free-flowing nature and few restrictions, would motivate artists to improvisation – but that is not the case. It is a shame since improvisation done right can be magical. One such inspired release is Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic’s third installment in the “Blue Landscapes – Music from a Quieter Place” series, called “Frontiers”. The songs’ ultra-light structure and meditative atmosphere make the album perfect for dreaming and creative work. It is a visit to the frontiers you don’t want to miss.
Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers will be released on January 24, 2020. Listen to samples from the album below.
Beginning their history as friends and collaborators in 2006, Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic eventually released a crossover improvisatory album, “Difference”, in 2012. “Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries” followed in 2016. Damjan’s background spans Jazz and Latin Jazz with a touch of his central European heritage and Classical training. Robert, an internationally renowned classical pianist, began improvising and composing at an early age – influenced by ECM label’s “European jazz” artists as well as the pioneering sound of the Windham Hill label. “Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers” was improvised over the span of five days, except for two previously composed works, “Le Musicien” and “Goodbye.”
The album opener is called “Drifting”. The piano and flute have a lonely sound. Still, it is a good kind of loneliness. It is a time for yourself, to think and dream, far away from the troubles of everyday life. “Drifting” is a nice intro to “Forest Path”, which this reviewer thinks is very close to a masterpiece. In the background is a rapid pluck sound – a loop that Robert created on the piano using puttied strings. This rhythmic sound is our guide along the path, as the flute and piano fill in nicely. I love the song’s atmosphere; It has a sense of adventure and excitement.
The forest path leads to “The Abandoned Monastery”. There’s a hollow emptiness hanging over the place. This was once a place of worship, and now it is only ruins left. Thies and Krajacic’s music is highly visual, making it all come to life before our inner eye. The flute sounds fantastic, wonderfully backed by piano.
“Le Musicien” is a tribute to the musician. There’s a heavy melancholy hanging in the air, affecting the artist’s mind. No amount of success can cure that. It is a classical portrait of unhappy, creative genius – with a hint of Debussy or Ravel. “The Lighthouse” clears the air. The deep flute is amazing. Here it is a symbol of the lighthouse’s solid construction, as it guides sailors safely through storm and rain.
“Goodbye” is a jewel of a song. The six and a half minutes seem to fly as we take part in this tearful farewell. It is a hopeful song, telling of all the exciting things that will unfold while apart. Still, it is goodbye, and nothing can change that. Next out is the title track. It is a superb example of this duo’s improvisation. It is impossible to say where it is going to end, and it develops in a highly “organic” manner. Dramatic and poetical, we are taken to the very limits of spontaneous creativity. Robert and Damjan also like to experiment with instruments, which you can hear on “Tranquility”.
Take My Hand
“Take My Hand” is a powerful and romantic piece, while “Infinity” has some fascinating sound effects. Talking about effects; on “Distant Waterfall” the piano sounds like running water. It is beautiful beyond words.
The last part of the album is perfect for deep contemplation or meditation. “Waves on a Moonlit Sea”, “The Valley of Echoes” and “Forgotten Memories” make time seem irrelevant. I love how this music is both complex and light at the same time; it is everything you want it to be. It is a soundscape you can spend your day in. “Letting Go” is the album closer. It rounds off the album so beautifully that I found myself looking for the replay button, unable to let go.
In conclusion: “Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers“ by Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic is a superb new installment in the series. Improvisation is notoriously hard, but with skilled artists such as Thies and Krajacic, it is a way to achieve artistic freedom. It makes the music free and unbound as “Waves on a Moonlit Sea”, to quote one of the titles. Songs such as “Forest Path”, “Goodbye” and “The Valley of Echoes” will last long in any meditation playlist. “Blue Landscapes III: Frontiers“ sets the bar incredibly high for the 2020s.
Score: 95/100 – See our scoring policy