KOTO KEYS   Mara Purl  &  Marilyn Harris

Over 60 minutes of
Japanese Harp and
Acoustic Piano Music
Meditation and Relaxation

: $12.99

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Wholesalers contact Betty Richards
at Wrightwood Records


 Check out these sound clips for KOTO KEYS:

1) Train of Thought   MP3
2) Fluidity   MP3
3) On The Path   MP3
4) Stream of Consciousness   MP3
5) Silk Threads   MP3
6) Ocean Blue   MP3
7) Inn Side   MP3

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."
                                                    - Helen Kopec, Musician & Author

"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 so uplifting"
                                               - Paul Dolinksy, Poet & Web Publisher - Searing Sun Press

"I am a Reiki /massage practitioner and this is exactly the music I've been seeking. Elegant, contemplative and multi-dimensional. Brava!"
                                               - Shea Breaux Wells, Healing Arts Professional, Musician & Poet

"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.
                                                   - Stardancer

"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!"
                                                   - Lynette Norfleet

"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!"
                                                   - Marcy McFee

"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."
                                                  - Bernie Nelson ­ Mindquest

"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"
                                                   - Richie Pratt, Musician

" 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."
                                                - Bill Binkelman, WIND and WIRE

Please send YOUR comments on KOTO KEYS to
Betty Richards at wrightwoodrecords.com
and we'll post them here.

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