Terra Incognito: The Space Between
2018 / Richard Dillon
Review by Kathy Parsons
And now for something a little different. “From what?” you might ask. Well, probably just about anything else you’ve ever heard. The title of Richard Dillon’s Terra Incognito translates as “a place, subject, or situation that you are not familiar with” (Cambridge English Dictionary) and explores two of Dillon’s life journeys into unfamiliar territory - orchestration and licensing. These two paths emerged in 1984 and continue to the present. Known primarily as a pianist, Dillon has also been been composing music for placement in movies and television commercials. The twenty-four tracks on Terra Incognito are an amazing compilation of work from the past 34 years, and what a wildly divergent collection it is! Most are instrumental pieces, but there are a few vocals as well. Some are beautifully melodic, some are whimsical, some are dramatic, some are poignant, and others are just about everything in between. What is consistent from one piece to the next is the exceptional quality of both the music and the recording. More than anything, this album allows us to experience the incredible range of music Richard Dillon is capable of creating. I’ve reviewed several of his earlier albums, but I was not at all prepared for the diversity of this one - what a thrilling discovery!
I don’t have room to tell you about all twenty-four tracks, but I can give you an idea of the musical variety on this album. Terra Incognito begins with “Whalesong Redux,” a lovely orchestrated piece that includes the “songs” of at least two whales. That grabbed my attention very quickly! “Green Flash Redux” is an almost eight-minute piece for electric guitar, ocean sounds and keyboard. Slow, hypnotic and very relaxing, I could listen to this one all day. “The Space Between” is dark, edgy space music that is almost magical. “Dust Devil” is Dillon’s most recent orchestration and has a mysterious, otherworldly quality that creates a powerful sense of atmosphere. “Ice Dancer” was Dillon’s first orchestration and sounds very 1980’s - a fun trip back in time. “Color Me” is a playful vocal that could be a children’s song with its catchy rhythm, spirited whistling and sense of lighthearted fun - “be a rainbow!” I love the title “In Search of Chocolate”! The piece itself is much more serious than the title implies, with a poignance that expresses great loss and sadness, perhaps during wartime. “Leonardo’s Flying Machine” is a haunting little piece with a magical quality. “Papillon Redux” must have been inspired by Erik Satie - simple and very sweet. “It’s All Right Redux” is a heartbreaking country song with vocals. “Cars” is a short electronica piece with a driving bass that will have you dancing in your seat. “Into the Mines” was on Dillon’s 2017 release, Irish Mist and includes the sounds of antiquated mining equipment dating back to the days when mining was done by hand. “Goodbye For Now” begins as a tender, heartfelt piano solo with occasional string washes. The album ends with an ironic little song called “I Could Care Less,” which features vocals with ukulele.
Okay, that should give you a pretty good idea of what Terra Incognito is like, but don’t just take my word for it. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby and is very likely to be a Favorite for 2018. I highly recommend it!
May 8, 2018