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Album Review: Biosphere
Mark Freshwater
Cover image of the album Biosphere by Mark Freshwater
Mark Freshwater
2013 / Mark Freshwater
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Biosphere is Mark Freshwater’s second 2013 release, following Nuevo Piano. Paying homage to the creation and elements of our universe, Biosphere utilizes keyboards, piano, hand percussion, and vocals to tell a variety of stories and to provide the listener with relaxation, reflection, and a sense of spirituality. The styles of the eleven pieces vary and several of the songs contain nature sounds such as bird calls, rain and the surf. Some of the keyboard sounds are rather unsophisticated (especially the strings) and detract a bit from the music, but this is an ambitious project and the sound quality of most of the tracks is fine.

Biosphere begins with “Aurora,” my favorite track. A combination of synth instrumentation and piano, the title reflects on the dawn of time and the universe itself. There is a feeling of freshness and innocence in the music that pairs well with this theme. “Earth and Stars” is a more orchestral piece that conveys vast open space. Better string sounds would send this one over the moon! A “big bang” at the beginning of “Genesis” symbolizes the beginning of life on earth. Much more ambient than the first two tracks, a variety of sounds and rhythms come and go, representing the evolution of life up to the present time, where human voices can be heard. “Space and Time” asks, “Who kept time a million or billion years ago?” and expresses the timelessness of our existence. The beginning of the piece gives the feeling of vast space, gradually becoming more rhythmic as the piece evolves. “Rain Prayer” is a rain dance that incorporates Native American chanting, howling, and whistling while pleading for rain. “Red Rocks Monsoon” follows as an answer to the prayer of the rain dance. A slow but catchy rhythm accompanies the sound of rain and a lone harmonica, offering thanks for the life-giving water. “Progress of Man” has a harder-driving rhythm with percussion and sound effects taking the roles of machines. It asks: “Given our forward progress and growing intelligence, can we protect our earth or not?” The closing track, “Musica Consilio,” “emphasizes man’s efforts to produce ‘order’ out of chaos and in so doing making our biosphere one with intelligent life.” Dark and dramatic, it leaves us with much to think about.

Biosphere is an interesting second effort and quite different from Nuevo Piano. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
December 28, 2013
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