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Album Review: Oracle of Delphi
Rusty Crutcher
Cover image of the album Oracle of Delphi by Rusty Crutcher
Oracle of Delphi
Rusty Crutcher
2022 / Emerald Green Sound
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Ten years in the making, Oracle of Delphi is the seventh album in Rusty Crutcher's "Sacred Sites Series." The album originated with a trip to Greece and Turkey in 2012: "Many days were spent walking and sitting quietly and reverently in the ruins of Delphi. I attempt to capture the sonic feel of a place; taking notes, doodling images, or singing into a recorder. I think of myself like a Barbizon painter of the 19th century. I go into the field to gather and then come home to my studio to do the finishing work." The ten tracks range from very ambient to more melodic and rhythmic, and the instrumentation includes duduk, pan pipes, kithara, drums, bells, choirs, synthesizers, and sampling.

Rusty Crutcher began the "Sacred Sites Series" in 1987 with Machu Pichu Impressions and has since traveled to sacred sites throughout the world sketching his musical ideas in the stillness of nature and recording environmental sound samples that are incorporated into the music. A multi-instrumentalist, Crutcher began his music career studying and performing woodwinds. In the 1980's, he was one of the first to enter the field of sound sampling technology, which opened a whole new world of musical possibilities. Crutcher's music career has included performing with an impressive list of artists and groups in a variety of genres, creating music for films, television and commercials as well as doing sound design, producing other artists and teaching. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in Music Theory.

As the legend goes, the god, Zeus, sent two eagles in opposite directions to come together at the center of the world, and Delphi is where the eagles landed. From c. 575 BCE until c. 375 AD, people from the Mediterranean region and beyond came to Delphi seeking answers to their questions, problems and concerns. Delphi was also a meeting place for people from various areas of the ancient world to share knowledge and perceptions as well as a communion of spirit, sport and theater. Quoting Rusty Crutcher: "One’s imagination is easily stimulated on the hills of Mt. Parnassus. Each day I would walk and sit on the ruins, notating a melody or part of a melody, recording environmental sounds, or sketching out how a piece of music would progress. It’s really just opening one’s self to the place. Some sacred places sing, and some are quiet. Delphi had a lot to say to me."

Oracle of Delphi begins with "Miriam's Wish," an atmospheric and mysterious bit of musical storytelling with a musical line that suggests feelings of solitude. Near the end, other instruments enter and the mood lightens - an intriguing start! "Itea Bound" is one of the more melodic pieces and has a very peaceful, drifting tempo. "Aegean Reflections" is a favorite. Flute, strings, voices, bells and ocean sounds combine to create a dreamy atmosphere that is very easy to get lost in. The hypnotic "Song of the Muses" is dark and mysterious yet also feels warm and inviting. More ambient than melodic, it moves slowly and with grace. "Center of the World" beautifully expresses the peace and tranquility of possibly sitting on a hillside overlooking the sea and being mesmerized by the easy ebb and flow of the water. Another favorite, "Castalian Breeze" refers to the spring at Delphi where Pythia and the priests bathed before the oracle-giving process. This is also where Apollo is supposed to have killed Python, who was guarding the spring and why the area was considered to be sacred. Water, flutes, and a variety of other instruments create a sound that's both calming and mysterious. "Know Thyself" is one of the Delphic maxims and was the first of three maxims inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The piece with that title includes the sound of birds, choral voices, bells, hand percussion and various electronic elements. Both ancient and contemporary, the piece seems to suggest that some truths are eternal - a profound ending to an amazing album.

Oracle of Delphi will be released on April 11, 2022 and will be available for pre-release orders on ________. Historical, mythological, beautiful and haunting, I fully expect The Oracle of Delphi to be in the running for a whole slew of awards! Don't miss it!
March 3, 2023
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