2016 / New Earth Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianist/composer Peter Kater recently received his twelfth Grammy nomination for his duet album with cellist Tina Guo, Inner Passion. One of the most prolific musicians in the business, Resonance is Kater’s second 2016 release. Recorded at Point of Light Records in Los Angeles, Kater produced, composed, performed, engineered, and mixed the album, making it something of a one-man show. The instrumentation is piano, synthesizers, gongs, chimes and sampled strings. Kater has a long history of recording music for relaxation, healing and meditation in addition to his work on a very impressive number of film and television soundtracks as well as stage productions. He has collaborated with a wide variety of musicians in a career that has spanned more than three decades and has produced more than sixty albums (this is the 32nd review of Kater’s work on MainlyPiano.com!). Despite his rapid output, the very high standard of quality never wavers and the sound is always clean, clear and very warm.
Resonance has eight new instrumental tracks that “emerged within a three-month period of deep inquiry and reflection. It was born of the fire and ashes of self-dissolution and self-discovery, of a deep longing for connection and sustained intimacy, and a powerful surrender into and acceptance of what ‘is’. ….Throughout our life’s experience, within ourselves and each other, we share a deep ‘resonance’ with all that exists.” (excerpted from the liner notes of the CD)
Resonance begins with the title track, a piece that starts out very quietly with atmospheric sounds, chimes, and occasional piano. After about a minute, a poignant piano melody emerges with smooth strings in the background. Although the piece builds in passion as it evolves, Kater keeps it heartfelt and emotionally powerful without getting flashy. I think this is one of his most beautiful pieces ever. With only a very slight pause between the pieces, “Twilight Star” continues the soothing atmospheric sounds and a piano part that fits somewhere between ambient and melodic - very relaxing! Now I understand why it didn’t wake me up in the morning! “Echo Inside” seems a bit more distant and remote with the atmospheric keyboard sounds even more prominent than the very spare piano. I have to say that I really don’t like the gongs in the first and third sections of “Night’s Cavern.” The piano takes the lead in the middle of the piece, and that passage is gorgeous, but then the gongs return to the end. Not my favorite! “One Flame” returns to the atmospheric keyboards and peaceful, very spare piano. Similar to watching a candle flame, this piece is hypnotic and very still. “Venus in Pisces” is the most ambient piece on the album. The tranquil keyboard washes and sparkling bells accompany the peaceful and very gentle piano as it continues to soothe and relax. “Rebirth” continues in a similar style and mood, without the bells - ethereal and very tranquil. The album closes with a shortened reprise of the title track - a beautiful ending!
Resonance clearly indicates why Peter Kater’s music is always at the forefront of healing, meditative piano music.
January 17, 2017
Review by Michael Debbage