|KOTO KEYS Mara Purl & Marilyn Harris|
Over 60 minutes of
Wholesalers contact Betty Richards
at Wrightwood Records
What people are saying about KOTO KEYS:
"The music makes me feel nostalgic,
at peace, dreamy... It has substance and a richness in the harmonies
that are contemporary, but with a timeless quality the koto brings
to it. So it's unique--unlike anything I've heard."
"You have a blend of jazz and New
Age sounds, which are so mellow; and the Eastern dissonances
give the music both liveliness and a calming effect.... it's
"I am a Reiki /massage practitioner
and this is exactly the music I've been seeking. Elegant, contemplative
and multi-dimensional. Brava!"
"Your beautiful CD - Koto Keys - arrived
yesterday, and I have been listening to it non-stop since then.
Wow!!! Thank you for finding me, and sharing your beautiful music...I'll
also be placing an order for two more copies...two friends of
mine have to own this CD. This is a 'must have'
CD for every collection.
"As a new mother, I'm always looking
for sounds that will both interest and soothe my daughter. 'Koto
Keys' provides a calm oasis amid the busy day for both mommy
and baby. We love it!"
"What a wonderful CD! I'm a physician
of Chinese medicine, and this is just the right sort of music
for my clinic. It's very calming. I have it playing in the clinic
reception all day. It's going into heavy rotation!"
"The first piece, "Train of Thought",
softens our track of inner thoughts promoting relaxation and
positivity. Our journey takes us through the stages for ego dissolution
to communion, within the "Ocean Blue", with our true
self - "Inn Side". An excellent vehicle for anyone
serious about learning to relax, meditation, and self-discovery."
"Congratulations on a great CD. The
music takes me to a special place. I go to sleep to your music
which enhances peace of mind. ALOHA NUI"
" I would not have imagined that piano and the Japanese string instrument, the koto, could ever sound so beautiful together as they do on this album. Even more remarkable is the overall meditative and quasi-ambient sound to the seven tracks on this release. Obviously, Mara Purl (the koto player) and Marilyn Harris (pianist) believed in backing up the liner notes (which refer to Koto Keys as "Japanese Harp and Acoustic Piano music for Meditation and Relaxation") with the real stuff. And that's what this sixty-three minute recording is full of - distinctly Zen-like minimal meditative soundscapes. I admit to cautiously expecting a more "mainstream" or Western style of music before I played the CD the first time. I was pleasantly surprised when "Train of Thought" unfolded slowly and gracefully through its seven-plus minutes, featuring non-structured melodies on both instruments (along with uncredited assistance on sparsely used but discretely applied flute and bass). Listening to this first song, I can almost imagine walking through a Japanese garden or sitting by a rock garden as the sun sets on a reflection pool. Yet, this is not too new agey as to be off-putting if you like more substantive music, either. While I use the term minimal to describe it above, the songs here are still firmly rooted in musical sensibility, owing mostly to the nature of the piano and koto themselves.
None of the tracks is less than six minutes long (two clock in at well over ten minutes), and each one paints a slightly different picture, although obviously the meditative effect requires a certain amount of continuity, track to track. Somehow, Purl and Harris accomplish this weaving of a common thread with "uncommon" ease. I have listened to this album about six times and I always marvel at how effortlessly they weave their pattern of relaxing yet challenging music. "Fluidity" has a languid pace to it, but I never felt the need to "hurry it up." The music on Koto Keys teaches the astute listener patience, as sitting and waiting for the compositions to reveal themselves is, in and of itself, a rewarding experience.
Harris' piano playing is as nuanced as any I've heard in years, where even the slightest sustain or reverb (or lack thereof) has an intent and elicits a reaction. Not to be outdone, Purl is an extremely gifted player on the "Japanese harp" switching from dancing over the strings to plucking them so gently as to barely produce sound.
The emotional tone of the music here is, at the least, neutral (as befits a meditative recording) and could even be construed (as I would on the song "On The Path") as somewhat somber, but the melodies and the artists' playing is so beautiful that the lack of "cheeriness" is not missed in the least. Tempos vary only a little bit, with both Purl and Harris sparingly elevating the innate rhythm of their playing from sedate to relaxed to mildly spirited. However, even at their most active, the two never lose sight of the goal of crafting music that invites the listener to "just breathe."
As I mentioned earlier, scattered throughout the CD are other instruments, always used with discretion to color the two main artists' work. Producer Mark Wolfram must get the nod for his perfect taste in choosing and engineering the accompaniment. Even the subtle use of environmental noise at the start of "Stream of Consciousness" is handled superbly. I don't know if the occasional shakuhachi flute, cello, bass or other recognizable instruments are played via sampled keyboards or are real, although they sound more than real enough. I also don't know who is playing them. I only wish I could properly give credit because the additions to selected songs is always excellent. The infrequent application of obvious synthesizer shadings (soft synth choruses on "Inn Side," for example) is also tasteful and blended in with the acoustic music perfectly.
Koto Keys is one of those albums that I
simply cannot recommend highly enough. Sure, the presence of
koto means that ethnocentric listeners will bemoan this as "world
music," but in reality, this not music that belongs to any
one region or country. It's universal and utterly beautiful,
as rewarding to sit and listen to as it is to play in the background
(I'll bet if you played this along with the sound of one of those
small table-top water fountains, the calming effect of the music
would be doubled or tripled!). Koto Keys represents what talented
musicians can do when they set their hearts and minds to a common
goal and reach it. If the pace of your life has you stressed
out and you find you're too hurried to enjoy the everyday pleasures,
give this album a try. Sit and drink it in. Sit and be still.
You'll be glad you did."
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an order form which you may print out and return via snail mail.