Asher Quinn – Mystic Heart
2010, Singing Stone Music
Asher Quinn is a world renowned composer, performer and Jungian Psychotherapist. Writing and recording under the names Denis Quinn and Asha, Qunn has sold over half a million records since breaking onto the New Age music scene in 1987. Over the last several years Quinn has become more of a lyric ballad singer with spiritual undertones. Comparisons have been made over the years to the likes of Ennio Morricone, Phillip Glass, Peter Gabriel and Leonard Cohen, but there’s no disputing that Asher Quinn is 100% an original. His latest album, Mystic Heart, continues in the other-worldly folk-troubadour tradition that has become Quinn’s mien over the past half-decade.
Mystic Heart opens with “Canzone Angelica”, showing a strong Baroque influence ala Johan Pachelbel. The brief vocal fugue three minutes in is quite lovely, but the electronic orchestration is tinny and less than the perfect instrumental sound for the composition. “Missa Greca” (Greek Mass) is pretty and uplifting while maintaining the darker tone you might expect from a Harold Darke mass if her were writing today. There is a contemplative beauty here that is striking, one that rises up to an apex in the form of the “Kyrie”. “Song Of The Cross” is full of reverence and a quiet grace; a biblically solid interpretation with license. “Shepherdess’s Lament” is a mournful instrumental written for violin backed with orchestra. Quinn’s use of the electronic medium serves to mute the beauty and impact of this piece, which really deserves the touch of a live orchestra.
“Allah, Hallelujah, Elohim” is a song of praise to God done in a simple folk/Celtic arrangement. Quinn uses a simple, repetitive structure here similar to a Rondeau, but allows the vocal line to remain unfettered and distinct. The result is a lovely melody line that takes on an almost chant-like quality. “In Search Of The Miraculous” is six-and-a-half minutes of a John Tesh-meets-Windham Hill style of new age composition. The somber tone of the piece mixes with a pacing that speaks of pragmatism or perhaps even hope. “The Longing” returns to the contemplative compositional style that seems to be one of Asher Quinn’s specialties. At over seven minutes, “The Longing” never even introduces a vocal until four minutes in, relying on a cyclic composition to build a chant like feel; one maintained in the rhythmically repetitive vocal line. Mystic Heart closes with “To My One True Love” is a love song/prayer to God with a gentle, wave-like feel. Quinn cries out from the midst of heartbreak to the one true thing he knows.
No one will doubt the esoteric beauty of the compositions presented on Mystic Heart. Asher Quinn has a distinct ability to inhabit the nexus between new age, classical, pop and folk music. The styles and sounds of all four blend throughout Mystic Heart. Quinn’s more orchestral compositions suffer from the use of an electronic orchestra rather a live one. Quinn’s voice as a writer is infused with a quiet power, one that is not best served in the cool depths of the electronic realm.
Nevertheless, Mystic Heart has much going for it musically. Even when not in the ideal setting, Quinn’s compositional style and musical choices border on the exceptional, and his willingness to cross genres and even musical periods brings greater depth and breadth to his work. Asher Quinn distinguishes himself once again with Mystic Heart.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)