by Paul Schwartz



Paul Schwartz is one of those rare composer/producers whose unique musical impulses are blessedly hard to categorize, even as they engage the feet and seduce the soul. His first two recordings, his 1997 debut Aria and its sequel Aria, Vol. 2: New Horizen -- which spent a combined two years plus on Billboard's Classical Crossover chart -- blended ambient dance grooves with live orchestra and recomposed snippets from familiar operatic pieces. His 2000 hit, State of Grace -- Billboard's number 11 best-selling new age CD of 2001 -- featured more original material, combining some of these same elements with the influence of religious texts and hymns. Exploring the timeless themes of love and loss, his latest -- a mix of seven ethereal vocals and three instrumentals recorded at Abbey Road Studios -- offers a similarly enigmatic landscape featuring groove intensive trip-hop trances; full-blown, classically influenced orchestral sweeps; ambient seductions; and mystical new age/pop textures. Often in Schwartz's multi-faceted musical universe, many of these occur during the same song. The set is bookended by two non-vocal pieces that capture crucial elements of Schwartz's artistic growth. The opener, "Vol De Nuit," fuses moody and percussive synth textures with dramatic film score-like grandeur, reflecting his vast experience as a conductor and his keen eye toward studio experimentation. The closing tune, "Nocturnal," is a spacious, eloquent piano solo, recorded from a slight distance away from the instrument; it reminds one of his background and influence and the fact that he's grown far beyond that simple innocence. Five of the vocal tracks on Earthbound are showcases for the dreamy, sensuous vocals of Lisbeth Scott, who performed "Amazing Grace" on Schwartz's State of Grace to stunning effect. Schwartz fashioned the darkness-to-light musical story "La Gioca" from the libretto to a 17th century Italian opera; Scott's exotic Italian vocal -- sung over spacy synth effects and a thick bass groove -- affirm the value of the game of love, even in loss. The melancholy mood music for "River of Stars" was the first piece Schwartz wrote for the album, and Scott's own lyrics and performance offer optimism amidst the clouds. The other featured vocalists are Tara MacLean, who sings the somewhat obtuse Simon Crow lyrics to the title-track ballad; cleverly, the listener never told whether the song of lament is talking about approaching earth or being firmly grounded. Schwartz is currently producing a project for an Irish act led by Emily Aylmer and Ruth Cahill, and the tandem performs lead vocals on the sweeping, ethereal film score-flavored "Nevermore." As they listen, fans of religious history might enjoy reading St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul, Schwartz's springboard inspiration. New age, pop, ambient, trance, and classical fans will find layers of rich emotional meaning even without that seminal text.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/21/2002
Label: Windham Hill Records
UPC: 0019341160526
catalogNumber: 11605

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Paul Schwartz   Primary Artist,Piano,Conductor
Ben Chappell   Cello
Jonathan Williams   Cello
Peter Lale   Viola
Julian Tear   Violin
Paul Willey   Violin
Patrick Kiernan   Violin
Boguslaw Kostecki   Violin
Jackie Shave   Violin
Bruce White   Viola
Tara MacLean   Vocals
Rolf Wilson   Violin
Paul Gardham   Horn
Julian Leaper   Violin
Donald McVay   Viola
Lisbeth Scott   Vocals
Richard Watkins   Horn
Rebecca Hirsch   Violin
Nigel Black   Horn
Warren Zielinski   Violin
Simon Fischer   Violin
Richard Berry   Horn
Tony Lewis   Cello
Mark Berrow   Violin
Ben Cruft   Violin
Liz Edwards   Violin
Garfield Jackson   Viola
Chris Laurence   Bass
Martin Loveday   Cello
Rita Manning   Violin
Kate Musker   Viola
Chris Tombling   Violin
Dave Woodcock   Violin
Gavyn Wright   Leader
Jim Hanson   Bass
Katherine Shave   Violin
Helen Tunstall   Harp
David Daniels [cello]   Cello

Technical Credits

Carla Leighton   Art Direction
Peter Cobbin   Engineer
George Landress   Vocal Engineer
Paul Schwartz   Producer

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Earthbound 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD has some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. It's both soothing and uplifting, but it has more full-bodied music than most new age CD's.