Jeff Pearce: To the Shores of Heaven

pea-ttsoh.jpg (12k) Jeff Pearce: To the Shores of Heaven
(Hypnos - 2000)

Our favorite ambient guitarist is at it again... this time Jeff Pearce's liquid streams of processed Stratocaster lead directly To the Shores of Heaven. Gorgeous stuff!

I asked Jeff about his goals with "Shores " and he shared this: (Thanks, Jeff!)

"With Shores, I had the same "goals" as I do with my other recordings- and that's to put out the best music I can. But there are some "criteria", for lack of a better word, that I have in determining what is "good" music. The first one has to be that the music I write produce SOME type of emotional response in myself while I'm writing it. That's the main thing. Secondly, I need to make sure that it doesn't sound TOO much like things I've done in the past. No use repeating yourself, in my opinion. Thirdly, with each song I write, I try to make sure that I am coming up with actual new "sounds". One thing I pride myself on is that Vestiges does NOT sound just like The Hidden Rift, and Shores DOESN'T sound just like Vestiges.

"In order to do this, it takes a LOT of work on my part, since, for the most part, there isn't a "sound set" for ambient guitar sounds. With synths, you've got a lot of pre-set sounds that you can scroll through, and then find one that is "sort of" what you like, and then tweak it. With the sounds that comes on guitar equipment, you start off with a sound that is similar to Jimi Hendrix! I love him, but that's not my style! So it involves a LOT of starting from scratch and working the effects until something comes through.

"But pertaining specifically to Shores, my goal was to produce "light" ambient music. Not light as in "lightweight", but light as in "opposite of dark". It seems that everyopne and his brother is doing the dark, murky, scary sounding ambient stuff at this point in time. I think that's because it's a bit easier to do, musically and emotionally- again, my opinion. Chaos is something that is fairly easy for a musician to access, and it seems that all someone has to do is find a spooky synth patch and play a few drones, and they're done with the piece- just be sure to label it "dark ambient".

"But with Shores, I wanted to make something that was unappollogetically pretty (when necessary) without being insubstantial. I wanted to convey feelings of awe and wonder and fragility, things that aren't currently in vogue with those who are trying to portray "dark cavernous spaces" and "psychologically altered" states of consciousness. I believe that we as listeners and musicians do ourselves a disservice when we center our compositions and listening around ONLY those pieces of music that supposedly explore the nether regions of the tortured soul."

Your soul will feel anything BUT tortured after this radiant sonic getaway... Our journey begins with A Fading (3:41), actual guitar notes slowly flutter with a sweetly sad resonance. You can almost visualize the angelic choirs whose harmoniously entwined voices stir a glow of Sudden Light, a beautiful (and amazing) example of Pearce's guitar filtration skills. Similarly, the sound sources of From Cliffs of Departure are thoroughly transformed into lush veils of overlapping satin, rising and falling in soft breezes, with just a hint of tinkling strings.

Another shapeless stunner, The Emergence, too, swirls in those ethereal soundwashes. The sonic clouds around Rain as a Metaphor (11:46) are darker, billowing in grayness. From them though, cleansing currents flow and occasional shimmering rays of light break through to illuminate their silver lining. Symphonically brassy tones seem to emanate from Beyond and Within, a churning mass of smooth tonal chords and occasional darker strands hypnotically intertwine.

A hushed sprinkling of plucked notes falls over the faintly thrumming backdrop of Veil of Lake Snow, an exercise in extreme peacefulness. From the lake to the ocean... vast, expanding waves ebb and flow, following the serenely seductive voices of the Angels of the Ocean Calm. Hovering soundstrata passes over Doubt on Dark Waters where gauzey electric streams twist in the air and an almost-tribal rhythm (yes, generated by guitar) stirs in primal patterns.

A steamy mist rises when we get To the Shores of Heaven, where it mingles with the rainbow-like swirls overhead. Spacious notes and elastically spiraling sustains gather for final Reunions, concluding with a reflectively happy ending.

And check it out... positive mainstream exposure for our own ambient guitar guy... Billboard likes him too!

Jeff Pearce has accomplished exactly what he set out to do... taking his listeners To the Shores of Heaven on luxurious floating carpets of hyperprocessed guitar strings. Simply lovely soundwaves earn a9.2 for their amorphously emotional renditions of lightness.

Yet another top-notch release from the mighty Hypnos label...

This review posted May 29, 2000

AmbiEntrance © 2000-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).