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Rick Wakeman

Aspirant Sunset

Review by Gary Hill

This is one of a series of three discs Rick Wakeman did in 1990 as a restful relaxing type of experience. Remember, this was the era of New Age music. While you won’t find anything too energized here (by definition) there is a lot of pretty sounds on show. I think I probably like this one better than the other two discs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Floating Clouds
Especially intricate and beautiful, this is one of the best tracks on all three CD’s. The mode and tones Wakeman captures are wonderful here and he puts in some of his most signature keyboard work of the whole series.

Still Waters
This starts with a sound that is actually rather dramatic. Rather than moving in that direction, though, Wakeman shifts this towards more pretty and melodic sedate sounds.  While this has a lot of beauty within it’s not as potent a piece as the one that opened things up.
The Dream
Gentle and intricate, this is another piece of sedate beauty. It’s a step up from the one that preceded it, but doesn’t quite rise to the level of the opener. It becomes more lush as it carries forward.
The Sleeping Village
Based on piano, this one has a rather classical approach in some ways. It’s got layers of keys that bring in synthesized voices. This is another solid one.

Sea of Tranquility
This is one of the more ambient pieces on show here. It’s pretty, but a bit too understated.
Synthesized, delicate and rather classical in approach, this one is another that’s pretty. It doesn’t suffer from the lack of energy that hampers the piece before. That’s not to say that this is anything close to lively, it just means that it’s upped a notch or two.

Here we get synthesizer and choral like vocals in an angelic arrangement. It’s not bad, it’s just that by this point it’s starting to relax me too much. Of course, that’s the point of the CD, but it makes it a bit hard to review in a track by track format.
Dying Embers
Somehow this one, textural as it is, really gets me. The melody is extremely pretty and I like the instrumental textures on it a lot.
This one starts off quite a bit like the rest of the tracks, but it grows a bit more upwards. We’re still no where near breaking the spirit of relaxation, but this one has a little more going on with it than some of the rest do.
I like the melodies on this one quite a bit. It goes a long way towards reminding me of some of Wakeman’s more rocking themes. Again, don’t expect the arrangement to climb upwards, but some of the melodies and tones have a familiar tone to them.
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