An out-of-body experience!
I love the instrumentation, each reminds me of a different element: Cello of fire, piano of earth, the bells of water and the flute of air. For example, the harmonic progression and melody line in OPENING is supported by the same bass note in the piano – grounding and firm, like the earth. The cello in THE ETHERS explores some intense, impassioned timbres and sounds, especially in the beginning. I love the mysticism of the augmented second interval. IN THE LOVING has a beautiful sonorous, ringing quality to it, especially the fluidity of the bells. Such transcendence!
Review from Journeyscapes Radio
Having dedicated her life to music since the age of four, New Jersey native Merrill Collins grew up to eventually earn her Bachelor’s Degree in piano with a minor in composition, and then a Master’s of Music Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory. Combing her classical music training with contemporary improvisation, Merrill plays grand piano on her latest album, ‘Echappees Etheriques’, where she is also joined by Laura Halladay on flute and Maksim Velichkin on cello. Spanning forty-seven minutes in length, the album is comprised of fifteen compositions, which when read in track order, form one long poetic quote.
“We floated” opens with the sound of a singing bowl followed by a harmonious trio of piano, cello and flute. Subtly melodic, each instrument lends a supporting role to the other, frequently taking turns as the lead instrument on various compositions. Imbued with an inherent mysticism, the piano typically provides an ethereal quality that’s evocative of clouds and skies, while the flute imparts an earthier element which conveys images of leaves and trees. The classical nature of the cello lends an often reverent and solemn tone to the pieces, as well as an essence of centeredness and grounding. Musical experimentation and improvisation define the compositions overall, subtly varying from soothing and major-key to somewhat disquieted and minor-key. The middle part of the album is notably exemplary of the latter tone, with the slightly poignant “the ethers” being one such example. This enchanting piece is characterized by an exotic piano melody and suspended cello notes with eerie effects that mimic the sound of distant cries. “Greens led us to purple” is another particular highlight that accurately conveys the peaceful and chamber-like quality inherent in many of the compositions. Shaped by ever-changing patterns and subtly unpredictable nuances, our three main instruments of cello, piano and flute are softly brushed by subtle chimes along its course. Guided by a gently uplifting melody, the aptly-named “We awoke to the Sun” is perhaps the album’s brightest moment. Evocative of a sunny day, this mood continues on the final piece, “Celebrating the Light” – where our instrumental trio culminates in a blissful and reverent celebration, as sparkling bells mirror scintillating beams of light.
Uniquely defying strict genre classification, the album’s lovely musical ensemble continually evolves and unfolds throughout, as one instrument often seems to transmute into another. Essentially meditative with a defined experimental edge, ‘Echappees Etheriques’ is sure to appeal to many fans of new age, neoclassical and improvisational instrumental music!