2023 / Richard K Randlett
Review by Kathy Parsons
Requiem is the second album from Orchestra Indigo, an ambient music project created by Rick Randlett. Like many performing musicians whose live performances came to an abrupt halt with the Covid pandemic, Rick found that he had much more time to be creative. Also a blues and rock artist with five albums under his own name, Rick started exploring ambient and new age music styles in his home studio, combining piano melodies with synthesized strings, choral voices and other instrumentation. He chose the name Orchestra Indigo for this new music both because it sounds unique and mysterious and also to avoid confusion with his blues/rock recordings and performances. Rick released his first album as Orchestra Indigo, Farewell To Memories, in 2022. Quoting Rick:
"Requiem comes from a lifelong fascination with the form, growing out of college performances of both the Verdi and Mozart requiems. In my version, I've tried to create the same flow and emotions, without using any of the Latin text, but with piano, synthesizers, and vocal sounds. As I reach a stage in life where I begin to contemplate my own mortality, this just seemed like a natural project to undertake."
A requiem is usually defined as a Catholic mass for the dead or a piece composed to honor someone who has died, so they are usually very solemn and often mournful. The eleven original pieces in Orchestra Indigo's Requiem were given traditional titles, but the music is a neo-classical/ambient blend that expresses the emotions we experience when someone we care about passes/transitions.
The pieces on Requiem flow from one to the next so that the music plays like one continuous work with changing moods and emotions. It begins with "Introit," a piece that starts out with a deep bass drone that makes it feel very dark. A keyboard melody enters and lightens the feel while remaining respectful and hopeful (my interpretation). Synth strings and choral voices add washes of soft colors while setting the tone of the album. "Kyrie" is almost meditative with its gentle repeated pattern flowing through a variety of instrumental and vocal layers - very peaceful. "Dies Irie" begins with a simple piano melody that opens up into choral vocals (wordless) with layers of orchestral strings as well as keyboard/piano. "Lacrimosa" translates as "tearful" and the piece with that title is very sad and haunting. A simple, heartfelt piano melody, voices, a deep drum beat, and more orchestration later in the piece are deeply affecting and very emotional - my favorite track on the album! "Sanctus" ("Holy") has a peaceful, otherworldly feeling that is both comforting and soothing. Piano, keyboard, strings and ethereal voices combine beautifully and seamlessly to reassure and offer solace. The album closes with "Libra Me" ("Deliver Me"). Orchestrated with strings, choral voices, and other synth instrumentation, warmth and hope flow from the slowly-moving music, perhaps suggesting the soul of the deceased rising heavenward.
Requiem is a beautiful and very moving listening experience. It is available from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as streaming sites including Spotify.
March 9, 2023