2010 / Thera Records
Review by Michael Debbage
This is the second solo recording of composer-performer David Mauk whose music is firmly rooted in the ambient/electronica genre but with an extraordinary warmth and melody that the genre so frequently overlooks. Ground Swell only further supports the justification of the buzz that is surrounding the growing reputation of this impressive keyboard player resulting in an album that is far more than just swell.
Mauk began playing piano at the tender age of 6 and extended that talent to multiple instruments over the years. His first major exposure came courtesy of composing background music for four National Geographic travelling exhibits. However, David’s solo recordings are far from being purely supplementary music and in fact are creative and convincing musical concepts that demand your full attention. David’s debut recording 12 Months was released less than two years ago with a total of twelve tracks dedicated to each month of the year. Strangely David began with the month of March and closed out with the month of February but there was nothing peculiar about the music that was affectionate and inviting.
Fast forward to 2010 and Mauk has recorded his sophomore effort Ground Swell and instead of focusing on the months of Mother Nature this time his inspiration centers around the artwork of Edward Hopper. Much like the artist that he is paying tribute to, Mauk’s musical style is unique and instantly recognizable emphasizing an electronic versus organic keyboard sound. From the swirling synthesizers found on the opening track “Dawn In Pennsylvania” and “Ground Swell” to the contrasting unique plucked effects found on “Summertime” and “Queensburo Bridge”, Mauk’s musical style is far from predictable yet very distinct.
Tempo wise most of the music is in the middle range yet ornamented with the peppy and unusual “New York Movie” as well as the polarized spatial “Chain Car”. Despite this hodgepodge of musical styles Ground Swell is a cohesive and creative conceptual album. This theme is further embellished by adding five musical videos on a separate DVD which includes Mauk’s music sound tracking to old black and white footage of varying eras from the past.
David Mauk’s experimental and adventurous creative spirit has certainly paid huge dividends in creating one of the genres most ingenious and imaginative albums in many years. Needless to say Ground Swell is an utterly impressive body of work from this relatively new artist whose music is entirely visual and effervescence. Should he manage to continue creating music this good then one can only expect more exciting moments from this rising marquee musician.
December 24, 2010
Review by Kathy Parsons