I've been long acquainted with cellist David Darling's name and work. He was a member of the justly enlegended Paul Winter Consort when Oregon yet dwelt there. Then he and they went over to the finest music label on the planet, ECM. To dwell in that rarifed atmosphere, one most be among the best musicians on the planet, and Darling proved it with solo LPs (Cycles, Journal October, etc.), session work on John Clark's stunning Faces, and various other releases. He then went the way of New Age, and I fell away from his work, not being the biggest admirer of the form.
However, many were highly enthralled with the change, and Darling has, to this point, released a highly impressive 36 CDs. This release returns him to his old ways, a beautifully moody threnody on the state of the planet, and thus recaptures my interest. In fact, I was struck by how much the first cut seemed informed by Eberhard Weber's compositional hand. More, however, the cellist performs everything save for the inclusion of a choir, a flute, a kalimba, and a vocal part (all enjoy one cut each). The atmospheres of classicalism are evident everywhere and enter in solidly no later than the sophomore track, a very contemplative piece that Ravel himself would have liked.
This is post-New Age in many ways, and it's heartening to see a number of practitioners treading back to their roots while advancing in technique, now fully rounded, able to develop subtle new vocabularies. Prayer for Compassion is night music, a long interconnected suite for savoring when the frantic day has quieted down and a good intelligent sonic environment is desired. Admirers of his ECM days will be as pleased as I am, and I daresay his concentration on the spiritual and environmental will force a bit more sober regard in listeners than they might already possess. So, clear away the day's cares and troubles, light a few candles, sit in a comfortable chair, and wade into this CD. It's a meditation unto itself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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