Phil Thornton

New World Music, 2002


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


I tend to have an inborn aversion to New Age music; there's a definite reason as to why 'New Age' and 'sewage' are spelled similarly. Nevertheless, in my twin writing gigs, I get a lot of it, and I do listen to it. Surprisingly, sometimes, I get something good. Phil Thornton's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dreamscapes surprised me; it is pretty damn good.

First off, it's well produced and engineered, which is a major issue with small label New Age music. (I have heard stuff that sounded like it was recorded in a phone booth.) The instrumentation is excellent; Thornton is a pretty fair flautist and keyboard player, and the backing musicians are all good. (I particularly like Hossam Ramzy's work on alternative percussion, Egyptian drums and the like.)

More importantly, it strikes the perfect New Age balance. When I listen to this style of music, I want it to ride the razor's edge between 'obtrusive and annoying' and 'so background and boring I forget it's playing'. Dreamscapes is great in that regard; it's listenable without being either forgettable or omnipresent. I will also say that this CD is a great tool for meditation; it calms the mind and relaxes one, which is, after all, what this musical form is supposed to be about.

Tracks of note include the gentle piano of "A Lover's Dream"; the wistfulness of "Arcadia"; and the soaring "Eagle Dream". There isn't a bad track on the CD, though I had a little trouble enjoying "Desert Dream".

Overall, Phil Thornton's work on Dreamscapes does exactly what a New Age CD should do. It's pleasant, it's relaxing, and it's not quaint, tinkling, or tacky. One can't really ask more, can one?

Rating: A-

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© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of New World Music, and is used for informational purposes only.