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Album Review: Carpe Lumen
Elijah Bossenbroek
Cover image of the album Carpe Lumen by Elijah Bossenbroek
Carpe Lumen
Elijah Bossenbroek
2007 / A Matter of Substance Records
60 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Carpe Lumen is the second release from young Arizona pianist Elijah Bossenbroek. Fiercely original, Bossenbroek’s music is a combination of piano with digital accompaniment and sound effects. The music is strong, powerful, and full of emotion. My only real criticism of this CD is the piano itself, which sometimes has a brittle, metallic sound that electronic pianos often have. It isn’t as noticeable when there are layers of other instruments or sounds, but when the piano comes to the forefront, these ears wish for the resonance of a good acoustic instrument. That being said, this is a CD that deserves to be widely heard. The music is too “big” for new age, too contemporary for classical, and not jazz or pop either; Bossenbroek seems to be headed in the unclassifiable direction where art happens. At a time when so many recordings are in a cookie-cutter mold, this is an exciting find! The CD liner notes and Bossenbroek’s website give very little information about the music or the artist, but this CD seems to be telling a very personal story. Three poems with the same titles as three of the pieces are included (not written by Bossenbroek), telling part of the story, but making it even a bit more mysterious.

“I Give Up” opens the collection on a rather dark note, as the title implies. Intense and swirling, this piece has a huge emotional range. “Prism” is much gentler and more playful, much like colored sparkles dancing in the light. “Rest” is one of my favorite tracks. A minor key waltz with an infectious energy and a beautiful melody, it is both melancholy and hopeful. “Life’s a Stage Play” is an incredible piano solo that would be so much better served by a “real” piano. Emotionally compelling and powerful, this one reminds me a little bit of Dax Johnson (one of my favorite artists). “Assault” is very dark and anguished yet extremely beautiful - a real powerhouse of a piece (also a favorite). “Always Faithful” has several sonic references to the military, undoubtedly a reference to the composer’s time in the Marines. “Deserted” is agitated and in turmoil while “Wonder” becomes much calmer and more innocent. “Reality Begins” is introspective, but much more hopeful and optimistic, coming from a place of darkness and pain. “Falling Away” seems to be continuing to move toward a lighter and happier place, a transformation of sorts. The closing track is a lovely arrangement of “Amazing Grace” that begins very quietly with just the melody line and then several variations that conclude this fascinating musical journey on a lighter note.

I’m very impressed with Carpe Lumen and the music of Elijah Bossenbroek, and think we have a artist to really keep an eye (and ear!) on! His music is available from cdbaby.com and iTunes. Very highly recommended for a powerful musical experience.
January 20, 2008