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Album Review: Underwater Whisperer
Cover image of the album Underwater Whisperer by Masako
Underwater Whisperer
2019 / Masako
53 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Underwater Whisperer is the fourth album from pianist/composer Masako. Like her previous releases, this album was co-produced by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Masako, and was recorded at Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. There are many really good pianists in the new age and contemporary classical genres, but Masako is one of a handful of artists who really stands out from the others. Whether playing solo or with other artists, Masako imbues her music with simple grace and truth. In her exploration of the musical qualities of the sea and some of the creatures that live there, Masako has created a pianistic masterpiece in Underwater Whisperer. Her previous album, Piano Sanctuary, was solo piano, but this one is a collection of four piano solos and seven ensemble works where she is joined by the stellar artists who often appear on Ackerman’s productions. Masako’s previous albums have won and been nominated for an impressive group of awards, and I have no doubt that Underwater Whisperer will add more to her collection. Masako started piano lessons in Japan at the age of four and is an artist who seems to be the most at home with a piano at the ends of her fingertips while expressing music from the depths of her soul.

Underwater Whisperer begins with the gently-flowing “Three Talkative Brooks in Spring Meadow,” a piece with three distinct voices that are light, sparkling and very soothing - much like sitting by a stream and being mesmerized by the movement of the water. “Sea Pearls” is a trio for piano, cello (Eugene Friesen), and alto flute (Premik Russel Tubbs). While the piano creates the feeling of the motion of a body of water, the low tones of the cello and alto flute suggest the depths of the sea - hypnotic and magical! “The Deep” features Masako on synth, Jeff Pearce on Chapman Stick, and the vocalizations of Noah Wilding. Dark and mysterious without being frightening, this one also creates its own kind of magic. “Coral Reef Blues” is the second piano solo and refers much more to the colors of around a reef than to a style of music! Smooth and very calming, it’s another beauty! “Monologue,” also a piano solo, has the graceful intimacy of a close friend speaking from her heart. “Moonlit Iceberg and Its Whereabouts” is another trio for Masako, Friesen and Tubbs with Tubbs on wind synthesizer this time. Moving slowly and completely at peace, it enchants as it tells its story. The title track is performed by one of the larger ensembles - piano and synth (Masako), bass (Tom Eaton), cello (Friesen), Jeff Haynes (percussion), and Chapman Stick (Pearce) - and is the perfect music for an underwater video of deep sea life. Gorgeous! “Dim Light” is the fourth piano solo and is tranquility set to music. The slow, undulating movement feels like floating effortlessly on calm water with the sun warming your skin (no sunburn allowed!). “Time Indefinite” quietly closes the album with a third piece for piano, cello and wind synth. If you haven’t melted into a puddle of happy bliss by now, hit the repeat button and listen to this album again!

Underwater Whisperer is one of the stand-out albums of 2019 and is an exceptionally pleasurable listening experience! It is available from Masako-Music.com, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and many streaming sites. Don’t miss it!
July 7, 2019
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