The Blue Light
2023 / PCM
Review by Kathy Parsons
Although Peter Calandra has been releasing at least two singles a month for the past few years, The Blue Light is his first full-length album since his 2021 Ambient Tuesdays. Peter is an incredibly versatile composer, pianist, keyboardist, conductor, teacher and much more, and he has won a very impressive list of awards for his music in a wide variety of media. The eleven original pieces on The Blue Light are on the quieter, more soothing side, but there is plenty of substance for deeper, focused listening. Stylistically, the pieces range from ambient to melodic, providing a wonderful variety in the music while maintaining a calming, uplifting atmosphere. Some of the pieces are solo piano, some are piano with keyboard, and some are keyboard/synth. Six of the tracks on the album were released as singles over the past year, but the other five are new. As always, the sound quality of the album is outstanding, as is all of the music. No wonder Pete Calandra has been one of my favorite pianist/composers over the past ten years!
The Blue Light begins with "The Gambit," a quiet piano solo with a melancholy tone that feels very honest, personal and conversational. "The Highlands" is much lighter and more joyful, perhaps expressing the exhilaration of being in a beautiful place. This one is piano with keyboard/synth washes that add tonal colors and ambiance. The title track is a soothing, relaxed piano solo that feels improvised and spontaneous - much like an open and honest conversation with a close friend. Some of the passages are very quiet and simple, while others are more embellished, never distracting from the overall mood of quiet contentment and ease. "Lost Island" is quite different from the first three tracks in that it is keyboard/synth and much more ambient. Mysterious with a compelling rhythm, it's one of my favorites. "The Softest Touch" is a delicate piano solo that brings to mind the gentlest of breezes and the sweet innocence of kittens - love it! "Morning Light" is performed with piano and synth. Peaceful, warm and relaxing, the piano keeps the easy-going lead throughout the piece while the synth repeats an atmospheric ambient pattern that is both hypnotic and soothing. "Bremen" is one of the more melodic pieces on the album. An elegant piano solo, it seems to be telling a story without words, perhaps describing a memorable place or experience. Much of the piece has the left hand in the deep bass of the piano, giving it a feeling of depth and weight - another favorite! Rainy days are very common here on the Oregon Coast, and "Rainy Autumn" captures the feeling very accurately with a compelling mix of dreaminess, melancholy and optimism. "Dark Starlight" is a magical synth creation that juxtaposes flashes of bright light on a dark, ambient background - an incredible piece and another favorite! "The Talking Poet" returns to solo piano with a simple, heartfelt expression of gentleness and kindness (my interpretation!). The album comes to a close with "The Seance," a mysterious and mesmerizing ambient synth and piano work that is by far the longest piece on the album (over 8 1/2 minutes). Suggesting the presence of an otherworldly being, it's a fascinating listening experience that I'm sure people will interpret in a variety of different ways.
Peter Calandra has created another musical masterpiece with The Blue Light! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and the various streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended with an enthusiastic both thumbs up!
June 14, 2023