2018 / PCM
Review by Michael Debbage
While new to this artist, Peter Calandra has been around for some time but largely in the past scoring for films and compositions for TV. As recently as 2013, this New York based composer and keyboard player has managed to find time to focus his efforts on releasing some of his own solo material. As a result over the last five years he has managed to create five titles with the sixth solo effort Carpe Noctem being his most spiritual and impressive title to date.
Calandra over the last few years has chosen to release either stripped down solo piano improvisations such as 2013’s Ashokan Memories contrasted by his most embellished and commercial 2017 recording The Road Home. However, Carpe Noctem defies falling into either category despite the fact that this album shy of Ken Freeman’s mixing and mastering, is a one man show. So much so that Carpe Noctem is a totally different creation that is suspended in choral and string arrangements that will have you floating effortlessly in the heavenly skies.
The arrangements are not of this world and the album is truly hard to define musically. Categorizing it as a choral album would be ineffective though the voices you will hear would strongly suggest this label. Categorizing it as orchestral would also be inaccurate though the album is lathered in strings, brass and woodwinds but it is never overindulging or overwhelming. Frankly, Calandra has focused on taking you to divine places where the music is not the focus but rather the mood. Needless to say the 50 minutes of blissful music does not result in any of the 11 compositions standing out over the other. In fact the entire album has the ability to allow for a soulful serene surrendering experience should you as the listener allow it to do so.
Those of you who were fans of his most commercial album The Road Home will need to prepare for a totally different musical adventure here. Being reviewed only 2 days before Christmas, the Holiday music might be wearing on you and you are looking for a peaceful, undistracted silent night. If so then Carpe Noctem just might be your ticket to escape from the overwrought Christmas commercialism. By no means is this a Christmas album but it could certainly assist in refocusing on those more serene and surrendering moments of the magical manger first Christmas Eve.
December 23, 2018