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Patrick Moraz

Windows of Time

Review by Gary Hill
Patrick Moraz is every bit the keyboard powerhouse that Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman are, but he never seems to get the kind of respect they do. That’s a shame. I don’t know how to fix that inequity, but I will say that this disc will certainly go along way to showing that he does deserve to stand right next to those two artists. The instrumental compositions on the CD are masterfully envisioned and performed. My only complaint would be that the approach of nearly completely solo piano wears a bit thin by the end. The disc could have benefited from a bit of variety, but truly this monolithic feeling only really becomes overwhelming on one number. That makes this a great, but not perfect release that should appeal to fans of Moraz and those who enjoy solo piano but have yet to discover the man.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Archetypes: Movt. 1, Invocation
Odd rhythmic patterns lead things off here. Then we get a burst of dissonant piano. Rather than signaling the entry of more keys, though, this just drops back to the percussive modes to carry forward. Another burst of the piano shows up later, though. Eventually it moves out to a full-on jazz based piano solo sound that (while still showing off some dissonance) really rocks out quite nicely. It moves through a number of motifs and melodies in a frequently changing soundscape. I particularly enjoy the segment mid song where it drops to a rather classical music meets prog ballad approach for some stirring music. It finally moves back out to percussion to end.
Archetypes: Movt. 2, Soul Eternal
Starting with percussion that ended the last piece, Moraz doesn’t wait long to reintroduce the piano here, though. Pretty and tentative patterns of sound join this backdrop and begin building in a very definite classical music motif quite early on. This is far less jarring and dissonant as the number that preceded it, feeling pretty and gentle, but still quite evocative. Moraz pulls more jazz like structures and a bit more rocking attitude into play later in the piece.
Archetypes: Movt. 3, Initation
This time piano, in angry, nervous, classical music type tones, starts the number off. It works through in a rather dissonant manner before leading off into an almost playful classical music extended melody line. Then we go back into the dissonance and Moraz alternates between these techniques. It turns more dramatic and angry at times in the later points of the number.
Archetypes: Movt. 4, Lost Way
This one starts off more tentatively, but Moraz quickly begins to weave lines of melody and power all at the same time. This one turns the most like progressive rock of anything we’ve heard on the disc so far. Still, it also moves towards more traditional classical music at other points. We get a few themes that showed up on earlier parts of this suite.
Rite of Spring: Kaaru
While overall the piano solo approach here doesn’t differ a lot from the motif that made up the earlier suite, this one starts with some of the prettiest music that we’ve heard thus far. It shifts out into more jazzy approaches as it carries onward, but drops back to this exceptionally beautiful arrangement to carry on. Moraz alternates between these stylings as he moves the number forward, bringing them into newer and more powerful territory as he does so. This is one of my favorite pieces on the set.
Rite of Spring: Oral Contacts/Shout
This is just a shout – only five seconds in length.
Rite of Spring: Talisman
This angry, noisy piano solo reminds me a lot of something from Keith Emerson. It moves through a lot of varying territory and eventually ends with another shout.
Rite of Spring: Gaia Tea "Reflections"
Here we get another piano solo. This one doesn’t differ a lot from the other material on the CD, but it’s quite pretty and one of the more accessible pieces on the album.
Rite of Spring: Festival
By this point the similarity of the overall approach is getting just a little old for this reviewer. Still, the playful nature of this track sets it apart from some of the others as a bouncy, fun piece of music. It’s actually one of my favorites on the disc. Considering how close the lack of variety is to overpowering the disc by this point that’s actually quite an accomplishment.
Rite of Spring: Reflections, Too
This has a rather dramatic texture to it and is another of the cuts that falls closer to true progressive rock at times. Still, Moraz flirts with classical and jazz at varying points along the way.
Rite of Spring: The Best Years of Our Lives
This is another evocative cut and one of my favorites on the CD. I have to say that I like it when Moraz uses his piano to toy with my emotions.
Sanctuary: Isle of View
While the overall recipe might not be altered from the rest of the music here, this one is far more in a rock oriented, song based spirit, making it stand out a bit. This is actually one of the stronger compositions on show here. It’s dramatic and pretty.
Sanctuary: Liberation
This leads off in gentle ways, but quickly shifts out into something that, while strong, is too much like a lot of the other music on the disc. It’s just getting a bit old by this point. Presented earlier in the set this would most likely have worked quite well. In this position it’s just another serving of the same food that’s gotten you so filled up you don’t think you can eat again for a week.
Sanctuary: Ascend
Moraz changes things up with a percussion number to end things. It works well to lend variety and pull things back to a bookending (along with the opener’s percussive approach) conclusion.
 
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