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Album Review: Blue Landscapes: The Seas EP
Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic
Cover image of the album Blue Landscapes: The Seas EP by Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic
Blue Landscapes: The Seas EP
Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic
2021 / Synesthesia Media
22 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Blue Landscapes: The Seas EP is the fourth in a series of Blue Landscape collaborations with American concert pianist Robert Thies and Croatian flutist Damjan Krajacic. The album is also their contribution to The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, an amazing project inspired by Ian Urbina's best-selling book The Outlaw Ocean. Urbina spent about four years traveling the oceans of the world, chronicling lawlessness that ranges from illegal fishing to human trafficking, slavery, environmental horrors and so much more. I was stunned as I read about the terrible things occurring on a daily basis on the vast bodies of water I've always found so soothing and inspiring. For The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, hundreds of musical artists from all over the world and in virtually all genres of music have created music, often incorporating field recordings Urbina made while at sea, into the music. Needless to say, the music is as moving and as emotional to listen to as the book is to read.

Thies and Krajacic explain their approach to their project: "Nature - whether it’s mountainscapes or seascapes — has always been a huge inspiration behind our work. But the stories of human slavery, piracy, illegal fishing and rescues provide a human element to this music that is visceral. Typically our artistic process involves being in the same space and improvising musical ideas together. Due to the pandemic, we were compelled to stay apart and record separately from our individual recording studios. We tend to thrive with collaborative projects, and Ian has provided an incredibly inspiring backdrop for musical creativity, both dramatically and emotionally."

Blue Landscapes: The Seas begins with "Adrift at Sea," a dramatic piece that is sometimes turbulent and sometimes more peaceful. Thies' piano keeps a quickly rolling broken chord pattern going in the bass of the piano, adding a very spare melody on the right. Krajacic's flute is freer and is sometimes haunting and sometimes very intense - an incredible piece of music! "Another Rescue" is much calmer and more ambient and includes a recording of a rescue at sea. As its title suggests, "Hopelessness" is very dark and somber. Having read the book, it brings back many of the book's more painful passages and makes them even more vivid. "Piracy" is the most intense of the five tracks on the album, evoking feelings of fear, chaos, danger and helplessness - incredible! "Song of the Forgotten" begins with the sounds of men marching and chanting before the plaintive flute plays a passage of desperation and loss. The piano is really mournful on this one, as are the wordless vocalizations.

Blue Landscapes: The Seas is an incredible work of art. It is available digitally from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Learn more about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project at https://www.theoutlawoceanmusic.com/about. You can also explore the vast library of music there, sample the music by hundreds of artists, and watch a wide array of videos about each album. And by all means, if you haven't already, read the book!
September 24, 2021
Contributing artists:
The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
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