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Fleeman, Al: The Water is Wide Variations

Composer Al Fleeman certainly displays a lot of ambition on his newest record, The Water is Wide Variations. Conceived as, well, a series of variations on the 17th century Celtic folk song "The Water is Wide," Fleeman's interpretation is only the newest addition to countless other versions. With its uplifting arrangements, diverse array of timbres, and smooth flow, it's a short but sweet instrumental marvel.

Fleeman was raised in the West Midlands and initially took an interest in viola and trumpet before focusing on piano and keyboards. He describes The Water is Wide Variations as "an instrumental 'soundtrack' inspired by events, people and the stunning landscapes of Argyll and the Hebrides." Indeed, there is the sense of indigenous exploration and mystical wonder; one could argue that he channels the more organic and serene traits of Mike Oldfield with this record.

Because the record is constructed as one continuous piece, it's probably unfair to single out standout moments. Rest assured, though, that Fleeman incorporates plenty of optimistic sounds and intriguing dynamics throughout. From motivational horns and endearing flutes to drums of destiny and synths of sublime fantasy, it moves throughout its sections with great purpose and even greater reward. Moments of dreamy solitude are juxtaposed with heavy disarray, and overall, it's an album that can change your outlook on life if you listen to it in the right setting.

The Water is Wide Variations is an exceptional example of new-age instrumental magic. Designed more to express the intangible joys and mysteries of life than to captivate with catchy hooks and flashy musicianship, Fleeman has crafted an expertly composed suite. While it may not appeal to all (some may find it too safe and tranquil), it will definitely leave its mark on listener's who are prepared to venture into it without reservation or prejudice.

Track Listing
1. The Water is Wide 5:08
2. A Final Glimpse 2:56
3. Looking Up 5:44
4. Maybe This Year... 7:13
5. Lady's Rock 2:41
6. In Ruins 4:17
7. Contact 2:14
8. Far Away Remembered 4:37
9. Stars

Added: February 14th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 2167
Language: english

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