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Michelle Renia

Captured Moments

Review by Gary Hill

Instrumental albums can be a difficult task. While one instrumental piece here or there can work, to create a group of instrumental pieces that have enough variety to keep from becoming one long boring event and still maintain a cohesiveness isn’t easy. When only keyboards provide that music, it’s an even more daunting task. Somehow Michelle Renia has pulled it off with Captured Moments.

This is a disc that will entertain, but perhaps it’s better as background music than for an intense listening experience. Differentiating the tracks can be a little difficult, but they do each have unique identities. Comparisons to a lot of the progressive rock keyboard solo works of the 1970s are certainly appropriate. In fact, it seems that the prog rock fans of music like Rick Wakeman would be a likely fan base for this. In addition, anyone who enjoys keyboard instrumental work with classical leanings would find this album a welcome addition to his or her collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Beloved

The first track, “Beloved”, starts with piano that feels a bit sad. As it continues, though, synthesizer joins and the track becomes more “happy.” It’s a pretty one, and one of the most unusual of the set because of the synthesizer presence.

Mood Number 8

This is a complex piano journey that is quite classical in nature. It’s delicate and beautiful.

Into the Night
Where “Mood Number 8” felt a bit airy and bright, the piano solo that follows, “Into the Night” seems more contemplative. It loses none of the beauty and majesty, but feels just a little sorrowful.
The Night Dance
“The Night Dance” gets added layers of sound from the synthesizer introduced in the middle of the track, but is still dominated by the piano. It’s another intricate and delicate piece. This one, in particular, calls to mind some of Rick Wakeman’s work just a bit. That reference is particularly ballad in the later portions of the number.
Replicate 1
Mellow keyboard sounds lead off “Replicate 1.” In some ways it seems similar to the previous piece in terms of the melody. The arrangement, though, isn’t as involved as its predecessor with the major impact remaining with the piano.
My Love 1
This has a far more classical arrangement. There is more force and passion in a lot of the piano lines.
Tonal Two
“Tonal Two” is much mellower at the onset. From there, though, it begins to reflect that classical approach, but there is also a bit of a feeling of something Tori Amos might do, of course here with no vocals.
Insanity August 28th
Gentle piano opens the next number and moves it forward melodically. That seems a bit contradictory since the cut is entitled “Insanity August 28th.
Lovers
More energy comes with the next piece, “Lovers.” It’s another where some of the flourishes call to mind Rick Wakeman’s music quite a bit. It’s a very short composition.
Dancers
“Dancers” has a more pounding effect on the piano at times, but overall the general concept of near-classical sounds carries this.
Melodic Sequence 6
Appropriately, “Melodic Sequence 6” begins with melodic piano that’s quite classical in nature. It’s a pretty piece of music with some complex playing. It is another point where the Rick Wakeman reference is more valid. There are more changes and there’s an extended dynamic range here. It even wanders towards jazz at times.
Breath Of Air
Synthesizer opens “Breath Of Air,” but the piano takes command fairly quickly. Still, that synth returns for flavoring throughout much of the piece. If there’s a number that feels more like a progressive rock ballad, this is it. There really isn’t a lot of classical music here. Of course, there’s not a lot of rock here, either, but this is more “song” based.
Passion
The opening passages of “Passion” feel like something Beethoven might have done. As the track works out from there, though, it takes on more jazz and even pop music sounds. Still, the classical elements swirl around it. There is even a bit of dissonance brought in later.
 
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