Thomas Peters – Lamentations Review


Thomas Peters’ new album “Lamentations” might seem sad and mournful at first, but right under the surface is a life force that is struggling to break free. The release is both comforting and therapeutical, especially now when dealing with the effects of Covid19. I’m especially impressed by the way “Lamentations” creates “a room of sound”, a safe zone if you will, that makes it possible to process difficult emotions. There is also something uncompromising in its sound and production that gives the album high replay value. Take “Lamentations” for a spin, and you might realize – like I did – that you need it more than you could ever possibly imagine.

Thomas Peters is a composer renowned for creating multimedia works for classic silent films. He is an avid performer and collaborator, having contributed to the 2014 GRAMMY(R) Nominated Best Small Ensemble Performance for John Cage: The 10,000 Things on MicroFest Records; participated on the 2015 GRAMMY(R)-winning album in Best Small Ensemble Performance for PARTCH: Plectrum and Percussion Dances, on Bridge Records; and performed on the 2016 GRAMMY(R)-nominated Best Instrumental Album for flutist Wouter Kellerman’s “Love Language“. In 2020, Peters released the album “Sleep Music: Rain“.

Out of the Depths
The album starts with reference to Psalm 130: “From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord.” The instrument used sounds like a church bell. It is a sad and reflective melody that instantly adjusts the listener’s mind. But already at this stage, we can sense the duality that is “Lamentations”; it is not about drowning in sorrows, but about recognizing pain and suffering’s place in life, and find the ability to move on.

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Next out is “Drifting”. It is a complex piece that, according to Thomas Peters, “uses three strata of looped musical phrases of unequal length, played at the same time, and the result creates 30 different chord combinations.” It also features a bowed electric double bass. True to its name, the piece seems to move or go with the current. The ambient melody connects with the listener almost immediately. “Drifting” is breathtakingly beautiful and definitely a track that makes me want to listen to the album again and again. I especially enjoy the atmosphere and the complex mix of emotions. It is sad, happy, worried, carefree, all simultaneously – and a statement of Peters’ abilities as a composer. Bravo!

A Million Pieces
The way “Drifting” fades into the next piece is magnificent! The guitar comes out of nothing and creates the foundation for “A Million Pieces”. Yet again, I’m amazed by the melody, composition, and how the piece evolves. The angelic vocal synth takes it right into heaven itself. There is poetry here, too, telling us how our world is constructed and the myriad of pieces that go into that structure. It is existential in every sense of the word. “A Million Pieces” is yet another winner!

“Lamentations” is an ambient album, but it is filled to the brim with classical inspirations. “Remembrance (Canon)” follows the rhythmic canon structure. It is a playful and positive piece. Notice how it makes the mind wander; it is quite extraordinary.

Without You
When “Without You” comes on, the heartwrenching lamentations are back in full. It is a bottomless, hopeless sorrow Peters describes – and it is a key track when you want to understand what “Lamentations” is all about. The church bell-like instrument is the only indicator that something other than grief exists. It is not easy listening, but it has its own kind of fragile beauty – like a lifelike painting of Christ on the cross.

How to go on after “Without You”? The quiet and hesitant “Still” is the answer. Slowly a melody forms. Sadness and grief are replaced by an emptiness that you can feel with every fiber of your body. I’m happy to report that the 10 minutes long piece ends on a high note.

Thomas Peters

“Tenderness” has a thought-provoking atmosphere. I found myself listening to it over and over, trying to decipher its meaning. I think it is about how tenderness always balances between what is comfortable and what is too close. That is especially relevant after experiences of loss. Needless to say, it is a fascinating piece.

The album’s conclusion is in the realm of religion and faith. I don’t know if the “Prayer” will be answered, but it is a fantastic musical interpretation of what it means to pray (notice how certain elements seem to be repeated). “De Profundis” is a different and shorter version of the album-opening “Out of the Depths”.

In conclusion: We live in a culture that values progress, technology, and self-realization. We believe in science and our ability to “fix it”, no matter the problem. That is perhaps one of the reasons Covid19 shocked us all. For this problem, there was no quick fix. In such a situation, we need to find a way to process difficult emotions, especially since religion has lost its grip on Western culture. Here an album like Thomas Peters’ “Lamentations” has something important to offer. Its sound seems to carry centuries of wisdom concerning suffering, both of a physical and mental nature. It is so much more than an hour and six minutes of music. It is a state of mind, a sphere of sound and meditation, that you can revisit in your time of need. There is both comfort and beauty in that.

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