Whispers From Earth
2022 / Cul de Sac Mystic Productions
Review by Kathy Parsons
Ann Licater's Whispers From Earth is the sixth solo album on her independent record label, Cul de Sac Mystic Productions, a beautiful body of work that began with her 2007 debut, Following the Call. Subtitled Flute Passages for Meditation and Inspiration, the album is comprised of twelve original tracks - many of them flute solos - that evoke the stillness and peace inspired by walks in the natural world. The music was designed for mindfulness practices, meditation, well-being, yoga, spa, healing arts, creativity, study, sleep and stress reduction. As I'm writing this review, I keep finding myself staring out the windows to watch the trees swaying in the breeze, so I can fully attest to this album's relaxing and soothing qualities!
Quoting Licater: "Walking in nature experiencing the subtle and bold beauty of rose gardens, bamboo forests, crashing waves and sunlit pathways colored the sound, texture and feeling tone of the collection of tracks I created. Each one expresses something I felt in that quietude and connection. Recalling visits to the Sequoia National Forest and performing in the forests of Lake Tahoe — both in California — were influences, too."
In addition to her extensive classical flute training, Ann Licater studied with master Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai. On this album, she plays a variety of flutes that include Native American and Native American-style, folk, and silver alto flutes; she also plays the piano on one track. Most of the pieces are flute solos, but three other artists appear on a few tracks: Peter Phippen plays shakuhachi flute, electric bass, and Moyo drum; Ivar Lunde, Jr. and Troy Arnett appear on synthesizer on different tracks.
Whispers From Earth begins with the title track, a gently hypnotic piece that includes shakuhachi (Phippen) and washes of synth tonal colors (Lunde). "Echoes From a Glass Pond" is even more still, with two alto flutes playing in something of a layered "call and response" style - enchanting! "Peaceful Prayer" is a Native American flute piece that moves slowly and freely, creating feelings of inner stillness and calm. "Luminous Morning" is a duet for piano and Native flute, and Licater plays both. Again quoting Licater:
“I revisited the piano and my love for improvising on it. I perform both instruments in this piece, so this combination will be something new for my listeners. I named it “Luminous Morning” as it feels so joyful to me — reminiscent of fluttering wings in a garden or sunlight bouncing off of ocean waves."
This is my favorite piece on the album! Phippen returns on electric bass and Moyo drum on "Star Stream Dreamer," adding a gentle rhythm and a quiet contrast to the smooth, velvety flute - mesmerizing, and I find myself staring out the window again! If you still have any tension, "Mirror Lake Reflection" will take care of that! An alto flute solo, it is pure listening bliss - slow, open, and incredibly beautiful! "Silver Soliloquy" is another favorite with its deep reflection and purity - solo flute at its finest! "Following the Call (Horizons)" is a nod to Licater's debut album and features Troy Arnett on synthesizer, adding colorful background instrumentation to the haunting Native American-style flute.
Ann Licater's albums are always a treat, and Whispers From Earth is no exception. We are living in stressful times, and music like this is such a gift - a place to reflect, regroup and relax for 45 minutes or so. The album is available as a download and a physical CD from Amazon. It is also available from Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
March 20, 2023