The Land of Nod
2014 / Richard Dillon
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have been aware of Richard Dillon’s association with the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio community of artists for several years, but The Land of Nod is the first time I have actually heard his music. What a treat! Dillon started taking piano lessons in elementary school and continued through high school and college, earning under-graduate degrees and then a Master of Music degree. Based in the Seattle, WA area, Dillon composes and arranges music, teaches a select group of students, and volunteers his services to local churches.
The Land of Nod is a collection of fifteen original solo piano lullabies, a few obviously geared toward children (or the child within all of us) and others that are very peaceful but a bit more sophisticated. The music is wonderful for relaxation and to help with sleep, but I have found it to also be a very welcome and unobtrusive companion while working on the computer, fading into the background when I need to focus fully on what I’m doing, and beautifully expressive when I can zero in on the music. This quietly compelling music is played simply but very expressively, giving it plenty of substance. In other words, the music isn’t spare because of a lack of playing chops, but is intentionally designed to soothe and relax. I don’t advise putting it in your wake-up alarm!
The Land of Nod begins with “The Land Above the Sky,” a gentle piece that overflows with innocence and wonder, with a sweet version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” woven into it. “No More Tears” expresses the soothing warmth of a mother comforting an unhappy child, but it could also be the bond of understanding between adult friends - poignantly beautiful. It really is amazing how much emotion “Jouet Triste” (“Sad Toy”) conveys with such simplicity - a favorite. Who hasn’t ever fallen asleep in a favorite rocking chair? That gentle motion is captured in “Rocking Chair” - sometimes a little faster, sometimes almost stopping, and rocking at a steadier pace. “Kainehe” is another favorite with its changing themes, bittersweet spirit, and occasional outbursts of passion. “La Luna” is one of the more ambient of the fifteen tracks - very open, unstructured and peaceful. “Looking Glass River” makes wonderfully effective use of the damper pedal to create feelings of open space and a shimmering atmosphere. As the piece evolves, it becomes more majestic and then softens to a dreamier feeling - another favorite. I love the mysterious quality of “Shadows On the Wall” and the fantasies it evokes. It isn’t scary or threatening, but piques the imagination. “Papillion” is a very fitting nod to Erik Satie. I have played a lot of Satie’s music, and this could easily be attributed to him (or his ghost!) - love it! The title track is a dreamscape set to music, again effectively using the damper pedal to create a dreamy sense of open space and perhaps floating gently on a cloud. “Moonrise” perfectly describes the magic of watching the moon as it slowly ascends into the night sky - gorgeous!
I am very happy to have finally discovered the music of Richard Dillon and look forward to exploring more of his music. The Land of Nod is available on Richard’s website, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Highly recommended!
August 8, 2016