All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Kori Linae Carothers - Trillium

Kori Linae Carothers - Trillium
2009, iRonkNod Records

When William Ackerman signs on to produce for an artist it creates an expectation of quality and musicianship that can be hard to match. Apparently that wasn't a problem for Kori Linae Carothers. Her third album, Trillium is a breath of fresh air, taking modern instrumental music out of the office and off the phone queue and establishing a high watermark for other artists to follow. A fan of music from the first time she heard The Beatles, Kori was entered into piano lessons by her parents as a young age. Carothers showed love of a compelling mix of musical styles, everything from Beethoven and Mozart to Shadowfax, Will Ackerman and John Williams; even Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and Herb Alpert. The result is an incredibly balanced and nuanced ear; a touch for melody and song construction that goes well beyond her classical training. Playing piano, synth and Native American flute, Carothers weaves magic on her musical loom.

Trillium opens with Crystal Fields, a haunting theme on cinematic scope. There are pianists who are mechanics and then there are artists who can put more emotion into a single stave than the mechanics could put into an entire symphony. Carothers is an artist, bending melody to her will with the subtle touch of finger to key, and when violin or flute come to dance around the piano the sound is magical. From the classical strains of Crystal Fields are born the modern sounds of Blue Ice. Carothers here sounds more like a purveyor of 1980's soundtrack electronica (think Tangerine Dream), creating a pleasing if simplistic sonic landscape for the listener. A Rose's Tale is a gorgeous piece that makes me think of the sort of music Tori Amos might have written if she'd stayed at conservatory. Carothers' subtlety is balanced with bursts of energetic expression at the piano that is shadowed by the dream-like tincture of harpsichord in my personal favorite composition on Trillium.

Midnight follows an interesting path, mixing a pop sounding theme with nearly classical construction. The result sounds like something from a movie score; able to wind in and out of the scenery as an essential component of the picture without drawing too much exposure to itself. The same quality can be found in Nez Perce, with Carothers stepping forward with the Native American Flute. The theme here is haunting and dreamlike, sounding like Carlos Nakai playing with Edgar Froese, as the acoustic and electric blend in mystical ways. Carothers goes a decidedly more modern route on Tangled Up and Dancing In The Clouds. Tangled Up ends up sounding more stereotypical of the new age piano crowd, which Dancing In The Clouds takes an interesting Latin detour, complete with Herb Alpert style trumpet. Carothers offers up a settee piece in The Long View. This is a track that could be a background track but is too busy and full of life to stay there. Rather than blending into the scenery and informing the flow of conversation, The Long View will threaten to become part of the conversation. It's not an overly complicated piece, but exudes its own energy and liveliness that simply can't be put aside easily. Carpe Diem travels in similar circles as Delirium; a Celtic feel pervades over a trippy beat and a Sarah McLachlan-esque vocal part. Carothers says goodnight with 3 Degrees, returning the Classical/Pop hybrid that seems to be her forte (and again sparking thoughts of a young Tori Amos at the keys). It is a fitting end, as often Carothers seems to shine brightest when it's just her and the piano, although the acoustic guitar is a nice touch here.

Trillium is full of magic, ranging from Classical composition to Pop/Easy Listening and even skating onto the ice of Trip-Hop. Kori Linae Carothers writes and plays what she feels, and it's strongly evident from opening notes of Trillium to its last majestic fade. Will Ackerman once again gets stellar marks on production, although he should be lauded also for his ability to select artists who are really a cut or two above the average. Trillium is full of magic and wonder and haunting reverie; sample the fragile yet beautiful magic within.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Kori Linae Carothers at or You can purchase a copy of Trillium through Trillium is available as a download through iTunes.

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