Kate Winslet once said: “The countryside, particularly, is very good for my head.” I believe most people feel this way, in an age dominated by city life and everything that entails. Still, we cannot all escape to the country. Here Dan Palladino comes to our rescue. His new album “Pastoral Memory” is a collection of nature sounds with music. Each of the seven soundscapes offers a unique, easily perceived panorama. Close your eyes, and you’ll find yourself immersed by nature. Palladino has, without a doubt, delivered one of 2019’s finest meditation albums.
Dan Palladino is a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and music instructor based in Central New Jersey. He began his journey on guitar at the age of seven, played his first gig at the age of 12, and has continually performed in public for the past 45 years. Along the way, he has backed Broadway stars (Cady Huffman, Tamra Hayden), opened for comedians (Joan Rivers, David Brenner), appeared with contemporary jazz groups (Todd Collins Trio, Offramp), and performed live and in the studio, with various singer/songwriters, jazz ensembles, and R&B groups. “Pastoral Memory” is his first soundscape release.
This episode of Chill Guru is dedicated to Dan Palladino and “Pastoral Memory”:
The album opener is called “Rising.” We are greeted by the sound of rain, water, wind, and distant thunder. Carefully, Palladino adds a few layers of deep and rich synth pads. The sound is powerful. We can sense how the day is dawning around us. Then we hear a guitar, sharp as the day’s first ray of light. I very much enjoy the textures and how they fit the sounds of nature perfectly. It is premium sound design. All in all, “Rising” is a fantastic opening!
“Pastoral Memory” is meant to be played as one continuous piece of music. That said, the album is divided into parts for our convenience. Next out is “Thankful.” The rain and thunder have passed, and it is a warm and bright day. We hear the guitar, playing a positive and gentle melody, or perhaps fractions of a melody is a better description. There are also layers of well-made textures. The piece brings with it a strong sense of gratitude.
It took Palladino six years to complete “Pastoral Memory.” There’s a noticeable attention to details here. That said, the soundscapes are wonderfully uncomplicated, and the ambient melodies have a nice touch of improvisation. I guess he had to search long and hard to find just the right expression.
“Thankful” fades into “Joyous Cleansing.” Now warm and positive sounds wash over us; It is as if our souls are being cleansed. What an incredible experience! Again it rains and thunderstorms add atmosphere and distance to the soundscape. It is beautiful beyond words.
The short “Passing Storm” guides us into the most excellent part of the album; “Aftermath.” It has the atmosphere and sound (and quality, I might add) of Andreas Vollenweider’s “Dancing with the Leon” (1989). Palladino has done a fantastic job creating a sound that’s both relaxing and energizing at the same time. I very much enjoy the chilled guitar too.
A dream can contain a memory, in some form or another. “Yesterday’s Dream” is a meditative piece, showing a dream-like landscape that’s almost too beautiful to be real. I love how Palladino manages to give the tableau a sense of color and magic. “Counting Stars” closes the album on a high note with the sound of running water and something that sounds like a sitar, far in the distance. In the foreground is a divine sounding synth, illuminating it all. There sure are a lot of stars to count!
In conclusion: I’ll end where I started; with the Winslet quote: “The countryside, particularly, is very good for my head.” Simply thinking about it, visualizing it, is also highly relaxing for us who don’t have access to nature every day. Dan Palladino’s “Pastoral Memory” is a phenomenal soundscape album! The sounds of nature are recorded with skill and love, and the arrangement is inspired. It is easy to overproduce such delicate sounds, but Palladino has done a terrific job in extending the atmosphere that was already there, in nature. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait six years for another soundscape release from Palladino, because “Pastoral Memories” is exquisite, a real treat.
Score: 95/100 – See our scoring policy
For more music samples and information, visit danpalladinomusic.com