2016 / Harp Magic Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Sacred Visions is the sixteenth album in twenty-three years from master harpist/composer Peter Sterling. The music for the album was created during a two-year period of intense creative exploration. Sterling has been a visual artist for most of his life, working largely in stained glass since the age of sixteen. He recently discovered a unique way to photograph his mandala- and yantra-like windows with a special kaleidoscopic effect, calling the project the Portals of Light Series. One of these beautiful and colorful creations graces the cover of the album as well as the CD itself. Sterling sees Sacred Visions as “a synthesis of sound, geometry, color and the patterns that open ones soul to the beauty and brilliance of the divine cosmos!” In addition to electric and acoustic harp, Sterling performs on keyboards, guzeng, recorder, ocarina and percussion as well as vocals. Guest artists include Bruce Becvar and Robin Miller on guitar, Hans Christian on cello and sarangi, Richard Hardy on soprano sax and native flute, and William Aura and Craig Dobin of 3RD Force on bass and piano - longtime friends that Sterling has worked with on other projects over the years. Sterling describes the process: “This music was built upon some world beat percussion grooves of tabla, conga, and marimba in order to give the music a unique and right rhythmic line. Further explorations with samples and loops helped to bring in some amazing voices to this music which ranges from sanskrit mantra, african chant and a touch of RnB! A interesting mix for sure!!” For sure!
Sacred Visions begins with “Sedona Sunset,” a gently rhythmic piece that sets the mood of the album. It is also the first piece in the opening trilogy, which was inspired by the red rock and spiritual traditions of that area. The mystical “Shaman’s Cave” follows, blending harp, guitar, native flutes, bass, chanting voices, and ethnic percussion. “Starlight and Moonbeams” completes the trilogy with harp, vocals, an easy-going beat, and some hand-percussion that imbues the piece with a sense of fun. While we’re on the subject of fun, “Bombay Boogie” combines chanting voices with a danceable rhythm and East-Meets-West instrumentation. “Eclipse” slows the tempo a bit with a gorgeous slow-dance that borders on smooth jazz. Sterling refers to this piece as a “mid-record deep groove exploration” and it’s my favorite on the album. “Thru the Valley and Over the Hills” is a warm and tender piece with a sweet, simple native flute melody the flows over gentle harp rhythms and harmonies - also a favorite. “Remembrance” closes the album with an obviously very personal piece that combines harp and cello with grace and deep emotion.
Sacred Visions is a stirring and inspiring musical experience that soothes the spirit while it uplifts and relaxes. It is available from Amazon and CD Baby. Recommended!
July 7, 2016