2020 / Myndstream
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have been a fan of Bernward Koch’s music for many years and have reviewed most of his albums, but I think his latest, Becoming, is his most beautiful and evocative release yet. The award-winning multi-instrumentalist from Germany released his first album, Flowing, in 1989 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent artists in the so-called “new age” genre. Koch’s music is a warm and relaxing blend of piano, keyboards, flute (performed by Koch’s wife, Christiane Böhm), guitar and strings. It is easy and oh so pleasant to get lost in his music, yet it is substantial enough for more focused listening. The first time I listened to Becoming, I was stunned at how beautiful and magical all thirteen tracks are, and the more I listen to it, the more strongly I feel that way. I predict that this will be considered to be one of the very best albums of 2020 - it will certainly be one of my favorites!
Becoming begins with “A Magical Dream,” an ethereal piece that envelops the listener in a calming warmth. Piano, synth strings and flute set the peaceful tone of the entire album. The slow and graceful flow of “Lavender Fields” is as soothing and intoxicating as the colors and scents of lavender plants in bloom. “Moments of Love” is one of my favorites. A simple broken chord pattern on the left hand supports the poignant but equally simple melody on the right while strings create soft washes of color in the background - blissful! “Alone On The Way” is another favorite. A bit darker and more introspective, deep emotion flows from every note. The title track is gently optimistic and suggests the warmth and promise of a spring breeze. “The Bright Spring” is much more ambient but is just as magical as the other pieces. Keyboard, guitar, flute and angelic voices blend together to express the purity and beauty of new life and renewal. This piece would be absolutely perfect behind time-lapse photography of flowers coming to life! “The Harvest” reminds me a bit of Erik Satie, but just a bit. A slow, graceful waltz, it brings images to my mind of a spectacular sunrise - another favorite! I really like “Floating Leaves,” too. More rhythmic than the other tracks, the guitar suggests the steady but constant movement of a creek or river while the piano expresses the freedom of the leaves, moving this way and that, according to the whim of the current. “Long Long Time Ago” brings this outstanding album to a close with a pensive, nostalgic look back in time. Piano, keyboard and guitar take turns with the dreamy, bittersweet melody as string washes shimmer in the background. I love it!
Becoming is a perfect escape from the current turmoil of the world - at least for a sweet, peaceful hour. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. I very highly recommend it!
May 25, 2020
Review by Michael Debbage