Wouter Kellerman and David Arkenstone
2021 / Next Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
New music from either David Arkenstone or Wouter Kellerman is always an event, but together? In a year of truly amazing new music, I'm sure the duo's Pangaea is going to get a lot of very well-deserved attention as well as many accolades! Two years in the making, the album was named for the super continent that existed before it broke apart to form the existing continents. From the liner notes of the CD: "The music calls for unity in these divided times and for a culture of valuing the earth and nature. We look forward to taking your imagination on an adventure." And that they do! With Kellerman on a variety of flutes and Arkenstone on keyboards and guitar, the two have created a musical world where everyone stands and works together, feels valued, and where everyone's interests are equally important. A few tracks include guest artists, but this album is mostly two musical legends doing what they do best. Sometimes bright and lively, sometimes warm and tropical, and always beautiful and magical, I'm sure this album will be mentioned in a lot of "best of" lists for 2021.
Pangaea begins with "Desert Moon," a piece that imagines an exotic trip crossing the desert on camels. Guest artists on this one include Aeone (vocals), Bill Hare (bass) and Daniel Chase (drums). Sultry with a strong, intoxicating rhythm, it immediately draws you in and never lets go. "A New World" visualizes mankind as united and working together for the betterment of everything and everyone. Warm and very peaceful, it's a wonderful expression of hope! "Ungana" is a Swahili word that means "unite" or "get together." On this song, South African roots singer Mbuso Khoza adds his vocals to the flutes, keyboards, guitar and handpans (Arkenstone). The gentle tempo and beauty of the song wash over you in waves of peaceful sound. Created as a "pure expression of joy," I dare you to sit still while listening to "Dance of Joy"! I really love the way this one swirls and laughs in its own musical language! In addition to Kellerman and Arkenstone, Daniel Berkman joins in on kora, a West African 21-string instrument that combines the features of the lute and harp. "The Sun's Reflection" was composed by Kellerman and Paul Carlos, who also plays guitar on the track. Guest artists on this one include Seay (vocals) and Melissa van der Spuy (piano and accordion). Slow, ambient, and serene, it expresses the peaceful feeling of sitting by the ocean and watching the sun's rays reflecting off the water. Originally composed as a solo piece for contrabass flute, "First Rain" includes Berkman on kora as well as Arkenstone's keyboards. Strongly rhythmic and hypnotic, it's a fascinating piece! "Across Land and Sea" imagines an epic journey and includes Jordan Buetow (hammered dulcimer), Rodolfo Zanetti (bandoneon), George Varghese (bass) and Daniel Chase (drums). High spirited and adventurous, it brings this excellent album to a close.
Pangaea is a unique and highly recommended musical experience! It is available from sites including Amazon, Apple Music/ iTunes, and Spotify. Don't miss it!
November 4, 2021
Review by Kathy Parsons