2023 / Galactic Playground Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Clouds Below is the twenty-first album from one of the best-loved "new age" bands, 2002. The core group is Pamela and Randy Copus and their 18-year-old daughter, Sarah. This album also includes a few guest musicians. Pamela Copus explained the origins of the album:
The seeds for the album, Clouds Below, were sown on Christmas day, 2021. I knew about Randy’s long time dream of learning to fly a plane and so for Christmas, I enrolled him in Private Pilot Ground School. For his birthday 3 1/2 months later, I surprised him with a “discovery flight”. A pilot took him up in a private plane, turned the controls over to him and Randy got to fly for about an hour. Looking down at the ocean of clouds below him, he knew that he had to capture that feeling with music.
The liner notes say, in part:
Clouds Below was inspired by opposites - contrary forces that depend upon each other to exist and evolve.....The songs on this album explore the beauty found all around us above and below. The music reveals unexpected paths inviting us to follow.
Clouds Below is the tenth album I've reviewed by 2002, dating back to their years on the Real Music label. Their music is always evolving yet maintains a distinctive, recognizable style that is peaceful, often ethereal, and always beautiful. Randy plays guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals; Pamela plays flutes, Celtic harp, keyboards and vocals; and Sarah plays Celtic harp, piano and vocals.
Clouds Below begins with "Soulmate," an expression of warmth and tenderness that features, piano, flutes, vocals and keyboards - a beautiful beginning! Sarah plays violin in a Celtic string ensemble led by Uzbekistan-born KeyReel Raskolenko. He plays five- string violin, so when Sarah composed "Glimmering Hope," she had his instrument in mind and created the violin part for him to perform on the album. Smooth, elegant and dreamy, it's one of my favorites and also prominently features the piano. "Landing" is much more ethereal and ambient, but also feels very dreamy. "City Blue" is an interesting surprise that features Ryan McCullough on sax in addition to synths/keyboards, vocals, and piano. Slow, free, and very expressive, it feels like how I imagine floating on a cloud would feel. "First Light of Dawn" is classic 2002 with harp, vocals, and keyboard - very beautiful! The title track is mostly piano with ethereal, atmospheric sounds. behind it. Very ambient and unstructured, the visuals it creates in my mind are of gliding effortlessly over a sea of fluffy white clouds with a bright blue sky all around - heavenly! "Riding the Current" is the most rhythmic of the tracks, but is still very relaxed and soothing. Guitar and flute are in the lead with backing vocals, harp, strings and keyboard washes - also classic 2002! The closing track, "Everyday Miracles," features James Song on violin in addition to harp, guitar, vocals and keyboard. Overflowing with wonder and sunshine, it's a sure to brighten any day.
Whether you are a longtime 2002 fan or new to their music, Clouds Below is a beautiful album that will leave you feeling more relaxed and optimistic. It is available digitally from Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and all streaming platforms. CDs are available from Amazon, Bandcamp and the 2002 website. Both thumbs up!
February 6, 2023