10 Songs, 59 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

windandwire ,

This CD is your Window to great electronic music

Electronic keyboard artist Bryan Carrigan apparently is out to master as many subgenres of contemporary electronic music as there currently exists. On Focus, he went after world fusion and on Passing Lights, he aimed for chill-out and electronica. Here, on Windows, Carrigan explores that netherworld where ambient and electronic new age intersect and coalesce. The result is a true revelation – an album that features rhythms but rhythms which are created not by beats but by the use of tones and melodic sounds as rhythmic elements unto themselves. It makes for a fascinating exploration of the fusion of melodic ambient/space/new age music with rhythmic elements composed of tones, pulses, and other interesting ways of introducing a "beat" into a song without relying on overt percussion or drums. In Bryan’s own words (from an email he sent to me), "…there are lots of tracks that have…tuned metal percussion and lots of manipulated metallic mallet instruments that do tend to sound a lot like gamelan. I use a lot of these low dark metallic instruments for ambience and to create rhythm and pulses on this album for when I need to give it some movement instead of relying on loops and drum beats which mask all the interesting sounds beneath. There are also several tracks with bowed metallic sounds for ambient texture and leads." I included this quote because it better describes the overall "oomph" of the music better than I ever could.

Windows is bookended by two tracks that fit more or less into the pure ambient/spacemusic genres as any conspicuous sense of rhythm is absent. "into light" opens the album with assorted waves and drones and washes of sound blending together in classic spacemusic fashion. Retro synth chords (organ-like in nature) hold center stage while whooshing effects and occasional semi-asynchronous bell tones fill out the sound field. The overall effect is of a vast expanse or a broad vista, a common evocation for spacemusic. The closing track is "solace" and it is even more ambient in execution and feel. Minimal bell/chime tones open the 13+ minute track (twice as long as anything else on the CD). Carrigan slowly introduces other sonic components, such as shape-shifting melodic elements and echoing tones (I was reminded somewhat of Kit Watkins’ Thought Tones Volume 1). The drama of the piece builds to a peak midway (the introduction of what sounds like people speaking is an interesting wrinkle) and then winds down again. The cut is a great execution of drifting formless ambience, yet using less drone and texture and more tone and sparse melody for execution.

That brings us to the core of Windows, tracks 2 through 9, where I think the true brilliance of the album is best exemplified. "seventh stone" is a gamelan-influenced piece that has a bright airiness to it, reminiscent of several tracks on Robert Rich’s Rainforest album. One can’t help but be impressed with how Carrigan so effortlessly blends all his various elements together into a cohesive whole. The mood here is both jubilant but also mysterious. "morning’s gift" is even more ebullient, featuring sampled harp, hang drum, bowed metallic synth and an orchestral string section (!). "passages" is more ambient in nature, with waves of all-enveloping retro synths. At the halfway point, bell tones emerge adding a shimmering sensation. "fields of poppy" re-introduces gamelan influences, even more pronounced than previously, and this time I was reminded of the album Bali from the group Jalan Jalan (an overlooked masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned). Carrigan mixes the gamelan sounds with retro-futuristic synth elements and the combination is a winner through and through – iridescent and sprightly in the best sense of the words.

I could go on describing every track on Windows in detail – and each one deserves that level of attention – but suffice it to say that over the course of just three albums, Bryan Carrigan has established himself as an electronic music maestro and someone of substantial importance to follow for any fan of the genre who wants to stay ahead of the curve. When I look back at his triptych of Focus, Passing Lights, and Windows, I'm more than a little startled that a seemingly unknown (who apparently has been toiling behind the scenes helping many others succeed all these years) is already at the quality level he has achieved. Where has Bryan Carrigan been all this time? Well, wherever he has been, he is here now and that is very good news for lovers of electronic keyboard music. I can’t even limit him to any one genre, because it would seem that Carrigan can pretty much conquer ‘em all. What’s he going to take on next? We can only wait and see.

Bill Binkelman
Zone Music Reporter

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

"Windows" is electronic artist Bryan Carrigan’s third album to date and a first for me. Carrigan has been involved in a multitude of award-winning recordings and film scores as well as his own music. He is also known for multiple roles in the recording studio as music editor, programmer, and sound designer. In 2011, Carrigan was a co-producer, co-writer, and engineer on Zone Music Reporter’s Music Awards’ Album of the Year, Surrender by Jeff Oster. On "Windows," Carrigan did all of the composing, performing, production, recording, mixing, and mastering, so this is truly a solo project! The music itself is more ambient than melodic, sometimes ethereal and sometimes earthy, sometimes rhythmic and sometimes atmospheric. It is very easy to listen to while working or driving, yet is fascinating to listen to with full attention. The ten tracks range from 2 1/2 minutes to over 13 minutes, giving the ears and mind a varied musical exploration that flows seamlessly.

“Into the Light” begins our journey with a dark and mysterious piece of space music that brightens as it evolves. Despite the feeling of vast and endless darkness, there is also the suggestion of peaceful, effortless floating that is very soothing. “Seventh Stone” picks up the energy level with a catchy rhythm played behind slower, more dramatic atmospheric sounds. I really like this one. “Morning’s Gift” is a favorite. Light and joyful, the swirling keyboard sounds dancing over gentle percussion is intoxicating. “Masquerade” is a fascinating combination of floating ambient sounds with an energetic rhythm that never stops moving. “Fields of Poppy” has a simple melody played on chimes with birds singing in the background. As the piece develops, more electronic instruments enter, creating a multi-layered ode to joy and beauty. “Horizon” takes us back to the feeling of deep space, this time with more urgency and intensity but no sense of danger or threat - I like this one a lot, too. My favorite track is “Pendulum,” which goes much darker and more mysterious. Also very intense and visual, this would be great in a film score in a scene where the director wants you on the edge of your seat! “Solace” concludes the album with 13+ minutes of slowly-floating space exploration that’s very relaxed and peaceful.

"Windows" is a great choice for fans of electronic and ambient music as well as for people who want to explore this genre a bit! Recommended!

George Miler ,

My room is small, but the "Windows" are large

"Into Light" is a dreamy and pensive intro to the album with the suggestion of a slow buildup as you embark on your journey. The organ-like notes, and what I'd swear was a glass harmonica and distant Tibetan bells fade and crystal chimes usher you into "Seventh Stone," a track suffused with flutes, synthesized steelpans (if you want my guess), and the horns of Alfheim (beyond a doubt.) Then comes "Morning's Gift," really classical with harp and violin, like a perfectly tuned Celtic orchestra. For lustrous textures, however, "Passages" is unsurpassed. This track is simply awesome. I was swept away the first time I heard it. The second time too, as the track progressed. I was prepared to listen critically this time, but I forgot about that stern resolve and lost myself in it again.

I wasn't sure initially why Bryan named this track "Masquerade" unless it's the engaging pixie-ish tempo which is actively in the foreground while the hint of a dreamy empyrean keeps reminding you that it's there. I must be right because of the sound of seagulls. Natural sounds greet you again in the well-named "Fields of Poppy." The gongs and bird songs made me feel as though I were visiting a lamasery. The comtemporary passage which ensues halfway through prepares me for the return journey -- the long way around, as revealed by the multiple Oriental influences in this track. "Horizon" is another awesome track, or else I'm biased. I do have a preference for epic subjects and sweeping themes. There's an urgency here that evokes significance without darkness. "First Steps" is uplifting and really feels like a series of moments of new discovery. And "Pendulum" -- I really enjoyed this track and wish there were a movie to go with it., Something dark and suspenseful without being edgy, like a conflict between opponents who understand each other and the fatefulness of the situation. Perhaps they know each other so well that they can predict the outcome together ("If I make this move, he will make that move") and at the end one adversary quits the field of combat without delivering a blow, his armor and weapons piled where he was standing after he departed. It was a fine finish to a rich aural experience.

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