Tim Wenzel is another one of those musicians I catch shit for among crustier crits than myself. I can see why. They want guitar bombast and mathematical Gordian knots ceaselessly while, myself also loving those things, I really get into classical architectures and the difficult art of mellifluous composition, where only several wrong notes or one poorly chosen incorrect chord change will ruin an entire song, tightrope walking an omnipresent must and, thus, superior demonstrations are very gratifying. Perhaps comparing Gentle Giant to Slayer provides a good example, or, much better and far more apposite, the influences David (now Dee) Palmer and John Evan-Evans had on Jethro Tull. But then there's Ralph McTell, Tom Newman, Gandalf, and an ilk very similar to Wenzel and his work.
As I mentioned in the review to his River Serene (here), Wenzel is the sort of composer (and player—he handles everything here except for a couple sessioneers in a couple of cuts) who floats in the first few top layers of comping, the simpler ones, but does it so well that he breaks through the strata and starts upflowing the depths. It's immediately apparent, perhaps more so than in his previous oeuvre, that Summon the Wind is novo-chamber music well distanced from too much of the trite noodling the New Age movement is still so heir to, was in fact its incarnatorial foundation. The interesting aspect is that Summon works so well as stately background soothing sonics and late afternoon / early evening pensivity simultaneously.
As said, much of what Tull swung towards in its baroquities, what Mannheim Steamroller indulged without hesitation, and what Penguin Cafe Orchestra did so well is present in Wenzel's catalogue but with his touch, not theirs. There's even, dare I say it?, more than a little of what's still incorrectly labelled as 'neo-prog' by bonehead progrock critics. What they were hearing was poorly done New Agey prog by amateurs with little in the way of backlog. Had those ensembles been listening to Wenzel and some of the bands I've mentioned, their musics would've greatly uplevelled, and the damnable genre term would never have arisen. Summon isn't Long Hello but it sure as hell ain't Steven Halpern either. Mistake any part of that, and you miss much.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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