Observations in the Woods
2004 / Wayne Kelling
Review by Kathy Parsons
Observations in the Woods is a gorgeous collection of fifteen original pieces by multi-instrumentalist Wayne Kelling. The liner notes describe it as “a heartfelt, musical journey through the beauty, the sadness, the magic, and the majesty that exist within the depths and boundaries of the forest.... this music unfolds the wonder of the innermost intimacy between nature and one’s soul that will surely stir feelings deep within you.” The music is more ambient than melodic, creating a musical place to retreat to for peace and renewal. This is a keyboard album more than a piano album, and Kelling also plays acoustic guitar on several tracks to lovely effect. Many of the pieces are ethereal and elegant while some have a more expansive “soundtrack” feeling. The mood stays mostly consistent, but never repetitive or boring. Along with the music, the CD liner notes contain poetic vignettes describing the inspiration for the music and lovely reproductions of Kelling’s aunt’s paintings that beautifully illustrate the musical scenes. It’s a really nice package!
The CD opens with “At the Edge of the Forest,” a piece that evokes the mystery and majesty of entering a forest and the pull one feels from within the self as well as the forest to become a small part of it. “Dance of the Dewdrops” is a magical piece that sparkles like reflected light dancing off the morning dew. The use of bells and angelic voices make this piece a delight. “Sunrise on North Face” is cinematic, allowing you to really sense the changing light and colors as they move up the mountain at dawn - still and yet profound. “Morning Flowers” is an orchestrated piano and guitar piece that soothes with its delicate beauty. String washes and wordless vocals enhance the gentle mood. “Faces On the Pond I-IV” is a group of short pieces that show how the “face” of a forest pond changes depending on what or who it is reflecting. I especially like #2, which has the feeling of a gentle breeze blowing through it. “An Eagle Soars By” also has the sweep of a film soundtrack, conveying the awe of seeing one of these magnificent birds in the air and the freedom the eagle itself must feel as it glides through the air. “Last Flight of the Butterfly” is one of the only truly sad songs on the album, and Kelling keeps it simple and compelling with minimal accompaniment to his guitar. Composed in memory of a close friend, this piece is deeply touching, as is “I Must Say Goodbye,” the other sad one. “Movin’ On” closes out the set with a bittersweet guitar piece that is both soothing and poignant. What a satisfying musical journey!
Observations in the Woods is like a gentle massage for the mind. Seven years in the making, it has obviously been a labor of love for Wayne Kelling. The CD is available for sale at cdbaby.com and amazon.com. Very highly recommended
June 25, 2005