ambient classical composer instrumental jazz mood music music piano review

Peter Calandra – “Inner Circle” Review

An instrumental wander from dusk til dawn
Peter Calandra
Peter Calandra

New Age classical musician Peter Calandra’s latest album Inner Circle is one of those albums that requires candles, warm baths and the ability to actually enjoy the music in real-time. You can use the album as soft and beautiful backing music but then you’re missing most of the magic.

The new age artist begins with the piano jazz track “Clyde and the Pearl” which showcases the piano and some synth strings in the background. It playfully flits around and switches from acoustic piano to electric for different segments. It never strays into freeform thankfully and weaves a right web of excellent music. “Dine’s Waltz” is equally as crystalline as the opener but more sincere and reminds me of a female lead theme in an RPG from the last decade. It has buckets of sentiment and wonderbliss and is a favourite from the album. The light touch to the strings and the way they roll and bend behind the piano is sublime. “The Wayfarer” is more dramatic with its focus on movie soundtrack string arrangements that are then underpinned by Celtic chorale backing pieces that never take over and always support the strings and piano. It’s cinematic and grande unlike “Better Angels” which returns to subdued piano that over the course of the track conveys a sense of loss and confusion that then becomes clear towards the end with an upturn in tone and theme.

Title track “Inner Circle” is a symphonic jazz track that straddles all that came before it. It has a waterfall healing element to the way Peter softly plays off the strings, drums and piano against each other and the healing touch continues into “Faith” which showcases some woodwind instruments to create a peaceful and warm sunset in melody. However the track swaps the tranquil for the rousing as it launches into a string and piano climax and really goes for it. It’s here that your emotions boil and bubble over and it works perfectly. “So Much To Say” is much more of a retrospective piano piece and settles you back down again and fits hand in hand with “A Quiet Spark” which really does feel like mood music to curl up to with a glass of wine.

“Nightwatch” really does have a nocturnal feel to it. It’s jangling percussion and its celestial arrangements of synths and keyboards make it feel like you’re a small creature crawling around in the dead of night foraging for food. Maybe that’s just me though. It’s the kind of music that tinkers with the imagination and that bares fruit in “The Dreamer” which uses a beautiful echoing piano noise that reminds me of shooting stars. Warm synth pads flood in after each echo like a call and response. It genuinely feels like you are in a space telescope before the violins come in to take things into a more classical ambient direction. It feels verse Norse like with a lone violin screaming out what it can over a foreboding drone. It’s certainly the most striking track on the album and one that really spoke to me. “Whispers in the Dark” is the most melodic piano track on the album and is one of the most solemn. What was cute in the piano flitting expressions before is now given to us as an internal plight. No longer is it strong, it now feels full of sorrow and it’s clever to reinvent the same technique in a new way. “Reflections in the Sky” continues the same path and head space. It’s more chirping but only just. It then leaves the ethereal and somewhat eerie in places “Chorale” to lead out the album. It’s haunting chorale samples fading in and out much like a piece to fade into the night with or into the clouds on.

Peter Calandra’s “Inner Circle” is an interesting and complex album. It sways from jazz to piano memento’s to some classical ambient pieces. It’s difficult to classify in a specific genre but I think that’s part of its charm.  There’s some lovely music here and some heartfelt moments that Peter really pushes to the front of the album. Definitely one for the wee hours of night, under a blanket and in the arms of someone you love.

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