Think of your
favourite indulgent meal. Does a glass of the finest
wine to accompany your chosen dish enhance the
dining experience? For many the answer to this
question would be "yes"- and, if this is the case,
the reader may begin to appreciate why Visionsound's
inaugural CD, "The Path of Peace" is a special and,
indeed, quite unique experience.
name- Visionsound- is most befitting, for this
CD/DVD package created by pianist Ben Dowling and
artist Mark Wagner is exactly that: a compelling
visual experience, through the imagery created by
Mark, and the auditory bliss resonating from Ben's
Put the two
together, and you have a magical combination; a
cocktail from heaven. Let's explore further.
Although it is
Mark Wagner who is the recognised artist, pianist
Ben Dowling clearly has artistic juices bubbling
away inside him. He explains how he doesn't just
imagine how a composition should sound, he carefully
considers how it should be represented visually. "I
think in terms of space, of colour, of dimension,"
explains Ben, so perhaps it is only natural that he
should collaborate with Mark on this project.
music has all the characteristics expected by
Piano-Heaven. It is very relaxing, compelling and-
at times- achingly beautiful. It is perfectly
possible to listen to the music by itself, and I
have done this on numerous occasions. As a
stand-alone CD, it fairs very well. However, for the
ultimate listening experience, one should flip over
the CD and listen to the heavenly music whilst
becoming entranced in the visual treat created by
technology has been used to make this possible, both
in terms of the process by which the CD was made,
and the ability to have a double-sided disc- a CD on
one side and a DVD on the other. European readers
should note that the DVD is in NTSC format as
opposed to PAL, and therefore the DVD might not work
properly on some DVD players. I simply played mine
on the PC, and there were no problems at all.
there are four musical highlights on this CD / DVD.
Track one, "Alone" gets the album off to a perfect
start. Mark's abstract pastel work brings the music
to life. The result is utterly captivating. I found
myself spellbound towards the imagery that lay
before me. In the accompanying notes, Mark explains
how this was a completely new experience for him as
an artist, having never before used music as a
stimuli for instantaneous art-work. The process,
curiously, is the precise opposite to how well-known
Greek composer Vangelis works. He creates music in
response to the frames of a film, and this is how he
feels he works best. Here, Mark is responding
directly to the musical notes from the hands of Ben,
and he can be extremely pleased with the end
"Exploration", which is the album's seventh track.
Very minimalist, it is also the album's most melodic
piece. The surreal paintings which accompany the
music are very hypnotising. They are staggeringly
beautiful. One never tires of them, as they are
constantly evolving with the music; as the musical
composition develops, so the art changes with it. A
change in direction here, a new focus there. The
music is a delight; each note is just perfect.
really does mean perfect.
favourite is Track 11, "Awakening". It's back to the
pastels / chalks again, and Ben's busy left hand is
represented by some quite frantic visual images from
Mark. I love the variety in the artwork; there is
never a dull moment. The music and the art
complement each other so well; each is enhanced by
the other's presence.
impressive package closes with "Emergence". Once
again, the music is heavenly. Upon seeing the
accompanying imagery for the first time, I
immediately thought of arteries and veins, to be
quickly followed by a baby in its mother's womb.
There is no explanation about the artwork, and I
think this is a good thing, because it allows the
listener to "lose them self" in the project, and to
let their imagination drift in whichever direction
it feels like going.
The music on
the CD is consistently soporific. It is ambient,
minimalist in form, and never "showy". There are
some elements of light jazz to one or two of the
compositions, but these are few and far between. The
artwork is fascinating. It is interesting to note
that Mark found Ben's compositions inspiring,
offering him a new approach to his work. He explains
how the music slowed him down, opening up a new
creative side to him.
Both Ben and
Mark deserve great credit for their work here. As a
reviewer, and piano lover, I can only applaud the
way they have successfully integrated two different
mediums. I would be interested if at some time in
the future, they try some role-reversal- i.e. Ben
improvises with his piano in response to the images
meantime, enjoy this very special package. It opens
up many possibilities in terms of its usage. For
instance, I envisage it being perfect for Spas and
for therapeutic purposes. How wonderful it would be
to enter into a room in a gallery with
surround-sound and the imagery projected onto a
recommend "The Path of Peace". Put on the DVD and
savour the moment.
The wine is