Review of the Album “Equilibrium” by Kerani

June 29, 2015 by Admin

imageKerani, who was born in Belgium, currently lives in the south of Holland near the Belgian border and close to where she grew up. As a composer and musician, her influences are numerous and varied. She has stated that “…as a child I listened to the great classical composers like Mozart, Liszt, Schumann and many others…however, the rise of electronic music in the late seventies and eighties was a revelation to me — Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Electric Light Orchestra and Mike Oldfield. These new sounds also boosted my inspiration.”

Kerani also lived in Italy for a short time where she taught English courses (she speaks English, Dutch, French, Italian, Hungarian and German). She also wrote and published a book of children’s stories called Cherub (it tells the story of a little angel who helps children), and re-orchestrated 15 children’s songs for an instructional DVD for disabled children. She has also composed and scored the soundtrack for several documentary films and has performed in concert with numerous other well-known and exceptional musicians, including Terry Oldfield.

Kerani released her first album, “Wings of Comfort,” in 2011, and then “The Journey” in 2012. Both were very well received.

“Arctic Sunrise,” her third album, released in 2014, was more “thematic” than previous works and was inspired by “the austere beauty of the desolate Arctic – the long awaited Arctic sunrise, the majestic Aurora Borealis, the legends and culture of the native Inuit peoples, and the spirit, bravery and unimaginable sacrifices of the great polar explorers…” The music on “Arctic Sunrise” is simply outstanding and the album was easily one of our overall favorites of 2014. In fact, “Arctic Sunrise” recently won the Zone Music Reporter Neo-Classical Album of the Year Award.

With her fourth album, “Equilibrium,” Kerani uses her music to honor the women of the world, as well as feminine energy, important women in history, and female traits and talents. She states: “With this album I wish to bring homage to all women who took it upon themselves throughout history to go against the tide…I pay tribute to those who showed intellect, vision and courage, especially when they defended their causes, followed their calling irrevocably, and were persecuted or even killed for their exceptional knowledge and perseverance. May their spirit shine brightly forever!”

Generally, Kerani’s music can be described as complex, sophisticated, and carefully crafted, with classical influences. The music on “Equilibrium” is no exception. And while the music on “Arctic Sunrise” nearly always featured Kerani’s captivating piano as the lead voice, the nine tracks on “Equilibrium” are more varied in style and expression. The music is also a bit more “electronic” than on previous albums. Several tracks feature a synthesizer, either as the lead voice or as background orchestration. And nearly all of the tracks include synthesized sounds as accents or secondary accompaniment. However, the electronic elements are not overdone, and as usual, Kerani adds warmth and depth to the music with her signature – delicate, down tempo, creative, and emotional – piano segments, as well as support from other musicians playing a variety of acoustic instruments (violins, violas, cellos, flutes, horns, guitars, shakuhachi, guzheng, and percussion). Ethereal, whispering, and sometimes whimsical voices also enhance the mysterious and contemplative aspects of the music.

imageTwo of the tracks, “Equilibrium” and “Boudicca, Heart on Fire” feature more prominent electronic elements. The title track, which is inspired by “the natural, but long since lost, balance between the female and male spirits,” has Kerani’s breathtaking piano as the primary voice, with a moderate tempo and a background of lush electronic orchestration, electronic accents, light percussion, and angelic voices. In contrast, “Boudicca, Heart on Fire” (honoring a Celtic warrior queen who fought against the Romans) opens with synthesizer as the lead voice, accompanied by male voices speaking “warlike” chants and female angelic voices, eventually giving way to more prominent, strong, poignant, and inspired piano elements, building gradually to a rather dramatic ending.

For the track “Fragrant Mountain,” the primary voice is a flute, with light electronics and piano in the background. At times, the only words that come to mind to describe this track are “exquisitely beautiful”. It is also more down-tempo and contemplative, with a powerful melody, strong evolution, and a distinctly East Asian quality. This song honors Quan Yin, an East Asian deity of mercy and compassion, and was inspired by the legend of Miaoshan. Miaoshan was the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy and uncaring man. She refused to obey and so her father forced her into hard labor and even attempted to kill her. Miaoshan survived and in her endless love she forgave her father. As she transformed and began her journey to heaven, she turned and saw humans suffering on Earth. So she decided to stay on Earth and vowed to stay until all human suffering had ended. The temple where she meditated – Putuo Shan – still stands on “Fragrant Mountain.”

“Anchoress” features violins, violas, and light piano alternating as lead voice, with cello and angelic voices as backing. It is also slow and contemplative with gentle swaying qualities. In medieval Christianity, an anchoress was a deeply religious woman who chose to live a largely solitary life of prayer and mortification.

“O, Aeterne Deus,” which is clearly the most distinctive track on the album, honors Hildegarde von Bingen, who was a medieval mystic, visionary, abbess, and the first female composer in history – and who also wrote books on spirituality, medicine, nature, health, and nutrition. It begins with a female choir singing von Bingen inspired Latin chants that eventually give way to synthesized organ and dramatic piano segments.

“Hypatia’s Universe” also goes in a somewhat different direction, with a steady rhythm, and synthesized organ and acoustic piano trading off as the lead voice, accompanied by electronic rhythmic sound effects, ethereal voices, synthesizer, and electric and acoustic guitars. This track was inspired Hypatia, who was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, in Alexandria, Egypt. She was said to have made such attainments in literature and science that they far surpassed all other (male) philosophers of her time. Hypatia was eventually murdered by an angry Christian mob.

“Lady’s Grace,” which is perhaps the best track on the album, features more layering of a varied array of instruments and voices, and a strong, and at times, astonishingly beautiful melody.

“Avane,” also one of our favorite tracks, has a darker and more mysterious tone, with pulsating rhythms, light piano, and soaring, floating and rotating qualities. As we listened to this track, we were reminded of the music of Philip Glass.

The final track, “The Wyse Witch,” has a creative melody with Kerani’s acoustic piano as the lead voice, accompanied by classically inspired flute, strings, and occasional brass. It is distinctly more “up-tempo” than the other tracks, with somewhat whimsical female vocalizations by Kerani herself, and a rather whimsical ending.

In summary, while somewhat different in style and instrumentation from previous Kerani albums, “Equilibrium” is nonetheless an outstanding album, with exceptional music that is, as we have come to expect, innovative, poignant, expressive, beautiful, inspired, and at times even magical. In Kerani’s own words:

“As I created the music for Equilibrium, I felt the power, passion and presence of all the women who have populated our planet through the millenniums. I felt Hildegarde’s faith and vision, Bouddica’s strength and determination to save her people, Quan Yin’s love and compassion, Hypatia’s intellect and fascination for science and the universe, and the religious devotion and solitude of the anchoresses. The male-female equilibrium was in perfect harmony at the time of Creation. I hope and pray for its return.”

We very highly recommend this album.

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