Saturday, August 7, 2010

CD Review -- Good Sign, by Davol

1980s Billboard-charting New Age phenom Davol returns with a new collection of feel-good, instrumental electronic pop that, like the album’s title, is a Good Sign that synthesizer-based New Age music is alive and well and here to stay in the 2010s.

From beginning to end, the album is anchored down by infectious, rhythmic sampled bass and percussion grooves over which Davol adds multiple layers of keyboard melodies, textures, and flourishes. Accompanying Davol on this sonic journey is Peter Maunu, who adds his luminous guitars to the mix, resulting in pure aural delight.

The most stirring tracks on the CD are the opener “Scarborough Days,” which has a very laidback though propulsive, cinematic, and rich and velvety Pat Metheny Group feel to it (in fact, it sounds like something off of PMG’s storied Secret Story disc), and “Nautikos,” with its sparse but riveting keyboard melody.

The title track “Good Sign,” “Going There,” and “A Place Here” have nice, mellow, light jazz sensibilities to them; “Truth 2010” and “Stay” are more upbeat dance techno; “Goodnight” is a fitting end with Maunu’s acoustic guitar and Davol’s keyboard coming together for gentle balladry.

Through it all, Davol maintains cohesion and solidarity with a singular style that recalls such artists as Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Jan Hammer, Lyle Mays, Anthony Banks, David Wahler, and Michael Stribling. If you like those musicians, it’s a Good Sign that you’ll love this.

--Raj Manoharan

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