1998 / Real Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Sapphire Dreams was quite a lovely surprise for me. I have been familiar with Mars Lasar’s name for quite sometime, but this is the first of his albums that I have heard from beginning to end. Gentle and ethereal throughout, Lasar mixes solo piano with synth - all played by himself. Despite the dreamy theme and feel to most of the album, this is far from a fluff piece. The pieces are beautifully developed and, while very accessible, hold up to many listenings. Classical roots are obvious, but this album is very much in the present, mixing the wonders of the grand piano with the technology of synthesized sounds. What is so remarkable is the emotional content. So many albums that mix piano and synth end up sounding a little thin and flat. The gentle, sweet emotions of each of these pieces come through, and only a couple of the cuts failed to grab me and beg me to listen without any distractions.
“Belongings” opens the album with a wash of strings, and then the piano enters with a simple, charming melody; as the piece builds, it is easy to imagine it behind a great movie. “Garden of Eden” is both gently melodic and stirring - simple, but ever so elegant. The sound of windchimes opens the title song - a haunting, mysterious piece that builds ever so gently, inviting us to pause to share the dream. “Fear and Tenderness” seems to be much more about tenderness than fear, and is so achingly beautiful it can invoke tears. “Amy’s Lullaby” begins with the sound of a toy piano, but evolves into piano and synth - a sweet lullaby to a much-loved child. “The Haunted” is a mysterious little piece - possibly to accompany a child’s ghost story. “Oasis” shimmers - a much more ambient and free-floating piece for solo piano. “A Hurricane Named Desire” is much gentler than the title implies - passionate but tender. “10 Thousand Miles Between Us” is a musical love letter needing no words.
Listeners who enjoy a gentle album with plenty of substance will thoroughly enjoy Sapphire Dreams. I look forward to exploring some of Mars Lasar’s earlier works as well.
August 8, 1998
Review by Michael Debbage