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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: Bill Canty - Elysian Peace

Bill Canty – Elysian Peace
2007, Bill Canty

Australian musician/composer Bill Canty is out to get you. His musical experience runs the gamut from orchestras to Rock N Roll bands. A classical pianist by training, Canty has a profound talent for musical subtlety and grace. On Elysian Peace, Canty practices both in an ambient environment. Twelve five minute compositions inspire relaxation and peace while encouraging active listening through the use of stepped variation and subtle gradation of themes.

Bill Canty's Elysian Peace is among the most difficult types of albums to review. There is no specific song structure; there aren't even any songs, per se. Elysian Peace is 60 minutes of gentle musical breezes that blow gently across a nearly still body of water. The breeze here doesn't so much touch the water as kiss it gently from time to time as it rolls and wheels across the horizon. Canty uses electronic instrumentation and ambient settings to create movement that isn't so much inertial as spatial. Twelve five-minute tracks are not so much differentiated from one another as they are extensions of one to another.

Canty uses undulations of sound, brief glances of melody, random notes and a dawdling sense of development to craft the ultimate relaxation/meditation disc. I'm not talking the cheap and terminal recordings you find in new age boutiques or mall havens like Brookstone, but a vibrant, ambient new age recording that has life and movement within it. Elysian Peace holds the listener's interest because within the still calm of the music is another world that beckons the listener: A world full of energy and currents you can't see but which pull at you all the same.

Canty mixes up the "instruments" and sounds throughout the sixty minute recording to display a gradual change in effects over time. You might hear the electronic equivalent of glockenspiel, guitar, synth, water bells, orchestras and most anything else you can imagine. All of these sounds and effects are woven into the textures of Elysian Peace so as to become practically indistinct. Canty seems to have a real talent for creating these musical tableaus in four dimensions. Nothing is ever flat or concrete.

Bill Canty is an unusually talented composer in the realm of electronic music. Elysian Peace is perfect for relaxation or meditation, but also provides ample musical nutrition for the active listener. Like the deep and powerful currents that often lay far below the still surface of water, Elysian Peace moves with its own inner power and grace. There is too much energy here and too much raw potential for change to not listen closely. Bravo.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Bill Canty at, where Canty offers several options for purchasing Elysian Peace.

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