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I Ching
Of The Marsh And The Moon

Review By Karl Lozier
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I Ching Of the Marsh And The Moon

SACD Stock: Chesky Hybrid SACD 265


  This is a quite beautiful and almost lushly melodic recording particularly when listened to at low to moderate levels. At reasonably loud levels, overall the character of the music seems to change. I mean that it changes more dramatically than does most recordings. At louder levels the music becomes rhythmically forceful and almost pulsating on many of the tracks. Keep that in mind and at least one time put this disc on your player and give it a long spin just before going to bed.

Some background is needed for you to understand what is going on, by whom and what is attempting to be accomplished. The goal is for World (Chinese/Asian) music to assimilate New Age music. This goal is to be consummated by using three Chinese musicians trained in the traditional art of ancient Chinese music making and have them join with Joel Goodman and his synthesizer. Joining him are Sisi Chen playing the Chinese hammered dulcimer (Yanggin), Tao Chen on the Chinese flute and Bao Li Zhang on the two stringed Chinese fiddle (Erhu). The fusion of these four musicians with three ancient oriental instruments and a synthesizer add up to the group I Ching.

I have no idea why but a number of these varied selections start off with ambient "street" noises as if in a market place or similar location. The first selection, "Ticket" is written by Joel Goodman, as are four others. Here the aforementioned "street" noises not only begin the track but end it as well. In between all is rhythmically beautiful and atmospheric. If you have seen some movies where an idyllic beautiful scene is in the background and the setting was in or near China much of this music performed by I Ching will be familiar to you though the synthesizer is intimately integrated with the Chinese musicians and instruments. "Silk Road" features the Chinese hammered dulcimer and some percussion effects. Both "Running Water" and "Three Rivers" start with the sound of a gently flowing creek. "Three Rivers" has a distinct change in overall atmosphere with a weighty foreboding mainly created by Joel Goodman's use of his synthesizer. "Gadamaylin", an inner Mongolian folk song, after starting with those outdoor market place sounds also gives forth some heavy and unusual percussive sound effects with the synthesizer. "Beauty is Everywhere," adds vocal passages, some with lyrics and some seemingly wordless sounding like another instrument. "Prayer" is lushly melodic, dream-like and mystical almost all at the same time, particularly when played softly. The traditional Chinese folk song, "Birds Flying in the Sky", beautifully and rather subtly ends the album.

I believe I surprised myself by really "falling" for this album. Yes, I played it a relatively low sound level more often than at a higher level. Sound quality is fine, full range, detailed, clean and presenting an atmosphere reminding me of the acoustics of a church. As expected, it was recorded in New York City's St. Peter's church. The regular CD layer does a surprisingly fine job reproducing that setting even though the SACD surround sound layer effortlessly manages to take it to an even higher level and adds an even more natural three-dimensional effect, which the basic sound and tonality does not change. Way to go Chesky. I request some leeway here as it is tough to accurately evaluate songs I and probably you have never heard, played on instruments we may not have ever heard and so on. No matter, I enjoyed this uniquely atmospheric new release and so may you.





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