All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Valerie Mih - Meridians

Valerie Mih - Meridians
2008, Circular Dreaming

Valerie Mih is a musician's musician. The Pullman, Washington native spends time on both coasts; well known in both the San Francisco and New York City scenes as a solo performer, ensemble player, classical and jazz pianist, and practitioner of the healing arts. Mih blends elements of classical, jazz and new age into a musical tapestry that is part story and part dream. Her second album, Meridians, mixes four solo piano pieces with five multi-textured sound experiments to provide an ambient space for musical enjoyment, relaxation and perhaps even healing. With a virtuoso reputation and influences as diverse as Brian Eno, McCoy Tyner, Steve Reich, Monk and John Coltrane, you know it's got to be at least interesting.

I've heard a ton of CDs that fall into the new age/easy listening category that purport to be healing or instructive in some way, and it's the rare disk that doesn't disqualify its own claims. Valerie Mih's Meridians hasn't proved its healing qualities, but does nothing in the course of its thirty-nine minutes to make you think otherwise. What's most striking about Mih's music is the sense of movement. Classical-style piano pieces that are ambient in nature give the feel of the push and pull you might find on a body of water. This is not musical drifting in the sense of purely ambient fluff, but more like the deep and mystifying currents running beneath a wide river. There is no inertial violence here, just the relentlessly obstinate pull of the current.

Mih tells stories in the course of this flow, although they are perhaps too subliminal to be heard by the ear. Meridians is refreshing the way a good swim is on a hot day. Themes come and go throughout the album but do not crash about. New ideas seem to suggest themselves into your consciousness before they arrive. Highlights include Little One, Saturn's Rings, Flow and Interwoven.

Valerie Mih creates some magic on Meridians. The music flows like time flows around us. Never pushing too hard but always pushing, pulling and cajoling us to where we need to be. Valerie Mih provides us with a Master Class in the ability of a classical/new age musician with a tendency toward ambience can still find art and nuance and beauty within the subtle fabric of her song.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Valerie Mih at You can purchase a copy of Meridians at

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