Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Harmony in Disarray

Elijah Bossenbroek

A Matter of Substance Records

2004

www.elijahbossenbroek.com

 

 

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"Harmony in Disarray" is Elijah Bossenbroek's debut CD. One might, therefore, expect an album full of flaws- but nothing could be further from the truth. Elijah has created an outstanding first album which will blow away the listener. Fresh, original and tremendous fun are words I would use to describe the music of this young Arizona-based pianist.

Having begged for and then intensely disliked piano lessons due to their rigidness, for some time Elijah abandoned the piano even though those around him would constantly lavish praise upon him. An offer from his mother to stay at home and record his music by supporting him financially (thus enabling him to give up his "dead-end" job) was the final piece in the complicated jigsaw puzzle that eventually saw the release of this superb album.

Readers who have read the Piano-Heaven review of Elijah's other CD, ‘Carpe Lumen’ or those already familiar with this artist, will not be surprised to read that this album takes much the same shape as his other stellar work. Introduce a delicate and pretty little melody, develop it, increase the tempo and dynamics, and then return to the original starting point- is basically the structure Elijah follows. It is one that works incredibly well for him.

The CD opens with ‘On the Wings’. As expected a quiet, reflective opening- but it does not take long for his trademark sound to surface. In keeping with every track on this (and his other) CD, the music is very easy to listen to- and immediately engaging. Although it would work perfectly well as background music, these tracks deserve the listener's full attention.

Elijah's ear for melody is again evident in the second track, ‘The Calm Before’. It has a hymn-like opening, and I know God has been a great influence on this composer. Soon enough, the ‘Elijah-effect’ takes hold and the composition becomes recognisable as one of his. Elijah has a very distinct style. I'd like to think that given a hundred tracks from a hundred different composers, I'd be able to pick out his. Great technique is displayed as the "Calm Before" section clearly ends and the fun begins!

Track three is entitled, ‘Harmony in Disarray’. The title would suggest a disjointed affair, but this is most pleasing to the ear. This is actually one of Elijah's slower pieces, so perhaps the title refers more to a difficult time in the composer's life. The music is well structured and very melodic.

The next track, ‘Spinning Nowhere’ starts off innocently enough. That soon changes, as I am sure the reader has come to realise. Does this track represent Elijah feeling that his life was going no where? The music is far from depressing. In fact, my fingers dance as I listen. The track's final form must be of great pleasure to the composer. Earlier in his life, he was frustrated by his inability to perform the music he had in his head- he felt his hands just weren't up to the fast-tempo that the music demanded. Well, I am pleased to report his fingers hit all the right notes and in World-Record time too. This composition reminds me of the style of Philip Aaberg (‘Live from Montana’, ‘Blue-West’) and a little of George Winston at his most playful.

My favourite Elijah Bossenbroek track is number five- ‘A Song of Simplicity’. There is nothing simple about his playing, but the song has a fairly straight-forward melody line. It is simply gorgeous, and a quick read of all the reviews at CD Baby (can any other CD have so many positive customer comments at this web-site?) show that this is indeed a very popular track. In fact, Elijah remixed it for his follow-up album, Carpe Lumen. Listen to the sample by clicking the Piano-Heaven logo at the bottom of this review.

I'm also in love with ‘Promises’. How Elijah comes up with these gorgeous melodies time after time is beyond me. Make no mistake, this man has a gift in music. The track is another favourite in an album full of favourites.

‘Humble Beginnings’ is a significant track, for a more stripped-down version of this was actually the musician's first composition, and the one that made his mother realise that her son had a special gift that she couldn't see going to waste. Needless to say, it is lovely and it is not difficult to envisage- even in its more basic form- why Mrs. Bossenbroek saw so much potential in the music she was hearing.

Track eight is entitled ‘Ignorance’. A more delightful opening to a track you'd be hard-pressed to hear. Who is ignorant and about what remains unclear, perhaps rather appropriately so. Whilst this track does develop, it's definitely one of the slower works to come out out of the Elijah stable. And that is part of its appeal- the melody comes through very clearly. There are parts of this track that remind me of a little ballerina dancing.

The slow-tempo pattern continues with the opening of ‘Please’ and is almost minimalist in form. The tempo picks up, as do the dynamics. This track reminds me very much of something that Michael Allen Harrison might create. Again, it's a faultless composition.

If, as I suspect, the music on this CD is basically a biography of the life of the composer, his life took a turn for the better as we reach the penultimate track. New-found love and marriage, a CD release imminent- all is well with life. Not surprisingly this is a happy, feel-good track.

The final track, ‘Leaps and Bounds’ came as quite a shock. From what is basically a solo-piano album, the listener is suddenly introduced to sustained synthesiser embellishments, with the piano occasionally coming in with a handful of notes in parts. Gradually, the piano takes the lead with the synthesisers relegated to the background. If I hadn't heard Elijah's follow-up album, I'd have suggested that the composer was experimenting with a possible change in direction. I think the music the listener hears in the final track is Elijah at play, having some fun. ‘Leaps and Bounds’ is a happy title, and this is an upbeat and refreshing track. It's different, and ends the CD in an entertaining way. Expect the unexpected with Elijah!

I enjoyed the brief notes within the CD insert. I'm not sure whether he's joking or being serious (more than likely a combination of both!) when he says, "First, I would like to thank you for purchasing this CD; I can now eat tonight.’ I think a statement like this actually reveals Elijah's personality, and his energy for life comes through very clearly in the compositions that he creates. Another thing I particularly liked about this CD was the clarity of the piano playing. I think that on ‘Carpe Lumen’, Elijah uses a combination of piano / digital piano / keyboards, but to this novice's ears, it is the sound only of a piano that comes through.

An excellent album from start to finish. I thoroughly recommend ‘Harmony in Disarray’, together with ‘Carpe Lumen’. I think this artist has big things ahead of him. He is a real talent and can go only go from strength to strength. Bravo, Elijah!

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELIJAH BOSSENBROEK: Harmony In Disarray

Harmony in Disarray

Elijah Bossenbroek

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah Bossenbroek

Elijah Bossenbroek

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to

A Song of Simplicity

Click the piano