Sunday, October 16, 2011

CD Review – Deep Still Blue, by 2002

A reissue of an earlier release by the Billboard-charting New Age duo 2002, this CD, like their new album Damayanti, is a wondrous collection of some of the most breathtaking, exquisitely beautiful music ever recorded.

Husband-and-wife Randy and Pamela Copus have hit on a winning formula, combining Randy’s guitars and Pamela’s flute and harp along with keyboards and synthesizers to create a hypnotic sound that mesmerizes and enthralls. It’s no wonder that they consistently chart on Billboard – they have clearly connected with their audience by continually delivering pleasing melodies and luxurious arrangements.

Having recently reviewed Damayanti and now Deep Still Blue, I have noticed that 2002 has developed a consistent style that comprises deliberate, measured pacing. I haven’t heard a 2002 song so far that’s faster than mid-tempo. Each track takes its time, unfolding at its own leisure, allowing the listener to bask in all of its rich sonic intricacies. This is a refreshing change of pace from most albums of any genre, where tunes careen from one style to another, sometimes to jarring effect. Instead, 2002 stays true to its particular style or theme and is all the more successful for it.

This consistency of methodology is a major reason why Randy Copus is quickly becoming my favorite, strictly-New Age guitarist. Rather than a flashy display of virtuosity, his lead- and rhythm-guitar playing is as deliberate and measured as the expansive songs themselves. Each note he picks delivers precise and maximum impact, and his chords are as comforting as floating clouds. This is masterful technique in itself. The full effect of Randy’s approach can be heard on such stunning tracks as “An Ocean Apart,” “Little Angel,” and “The Voyage Home.”

Pamela Copus is equally impressive in her subtle flute and harp playing. I’m not a flute and harp fan, but she makes it very accessible and enjoyable. Again, like Randy, her musical goal with her instruments is not to dazzle but to help paint a vivid, sonic portrait. Sometimes the flute trades lines with the guitar and other times it harmonizes with it, while the harp provides unobtrusive, decorative fills here and there. The result is a sound that is very cinematic.

Vocals also play a part in the proceedings, although not in the traditional sense. For the most part, the occasional vocals are wordless (“vocalese”) and are very angelic and choir-like. The title track has actual lyrics written by Randy and Pamela’s daughter Sarah and has an entrancing, hypnotic sound that I can only describe as New Age hippie folk, and I mean that in a good way.

Deep Still Blue is another gem in 2002’s stellar catalogue, and as “Flight of the Swan” is to Damayanti, “An Ocean Apart” is the jewel in the crown here – although the entire album is a delight from start to finish. Deep Still Blue and Damayanti are definitely two of my desert island picks.

--Raj Manoharan

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