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Album Review: Leaving Terra Firma
Stephen Peppos
Cover image of the album Leaving Terra Firma by Stephen Peppos
Leaving Terra Firma
Stephen Peppos
2017 / Sonic Bear Music
72 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Leaving Terra Firma is the fifth full-length release from Stephen Peppos and his first in the ambient genre. MainlyPiano.com’s Michael Debbage has referred to Peppos as “the Indiana Jones of New Age Music” because of his adventurous nature, and that nickname still seems appropriate. Not that this album moves into dangerous territory, but it is a mix of dark ambient, space music, and electronica plus a few other genres that may not yet be named. One track features the ethereal vocals of Seay, an artist Peppos has collaborated with before. In the liner notes of the CD, Peppos says, “My heartfelt desire is that my music brings you enjoyment and contentment, as well as an insight into the joy that awaits us in our next place.” Trying to express in music the reality that our time on earth is short and creating a musical depiction of what awaits beyond this life seems daunting and overwhelming, but Peppos has done a beautiful job of doing just that. Listening to the album for only its musical qualities is also a very rewarding experience, so I would expect that Leaving Terra Firma could be one of the most talked-about albums of the year. Peppos composed the twelve main tracks as well as the bonus 13th track and also arranged, performed and produced all of the music. The album artwork by Stephen and Barbara Peppos is also exceptional!

Stephen Peppos is a well-seasoned musician who started playing the piano as a young child. In addition to his five albums, he has produced more than 2000 tracks for his original music libraries, composed national television jingles, and has been a sound designer for a wide variety of projects. His music has earned six Telly and Rim awards and his Follow the Mist album received the “Best Instrumental Album - Piano” award from Zone Music Reporter for 2008.

Leaving Terra Firma begins with the title track, a soothing, ambient piece with bits of a melody weaving in and out of the other sounds. “Magnetic Fields” is much darker and more atmospheric, creating feelings of floating into deep space. I really like the energy of “Vita Secundom Vita,” a rhythmic piece that seems to swirl and dance with complete freedom. “Everlast” is a beautiful, somewhat mournful piece with electronic strings floating over a bed of atmospheric effects. Even though it feels sad, there is comfort in the peacefulness and openness of the sounds. “Praesentia Animi” is one of two tracks that Peppos calls “Epic Ambient.” More orchestrated and melodic, these beautiful soundscapes easily transport the mind to places it has never been before. “Amor Dei” is the other “Epic Ambient” track and features what sounds like a cathedral choir, but is Seay’s voice in many layers - an amazing effect! “To See” is ethereal and seems imbued with hope and light. “Finalis” returns to deep space while retaining feelings of timelessness and peaceful comfort. The “hidden” bonus track, “Cold But Warm Peace,” is very light and airy, but still fits in with the rest of the album.

Stephen Peppos has created another work of art with Leaving Terra Firma. It is available from StephenPeppos.com, Amazon and iTunes. Recommended!
January 30, 2017
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