2000. Those who have heard previous Jeff Pearce masterworks such as Vestiges,
Daylight Slowly and The Hidden Rift may find it hard to believe
that on his latest album, Pearce has taken a quantum leap. Still working entirely
with processed electric guitar, and still fusing a delicately expressive musicality
with a lustrous trademark smoothness unsurpassed in ambient music, Pearce has
refined his art to yet a greater clarity. Deep and yet radiant with light,
melancholy yet optimistic, achingly sad yet eurphoric, To the Shores of Heaven
unquestionably earns Pearce a spot among the great names of ambient & atmospheric
This recent description on on the Space Music mailing list by Bill Beck
gives some sense of the rare beauty of this recording:
"I've also been blessed with the fortune of having
been able to hear a substantial amount of Jeff's latest material before he
officially releases the CD on Hypnos next week. I promise you, as lovely as
all Jeff's previous releases have been, with 'The Shores...' he has
envisioned and created themes that have gone a step beyond anything he has
ever produced before. Melancholic, ethereal, stunningly poignant; 'The
Shores...' transcends hearing, enshrouding all senses, creating feelings of
sadness and joy, beauty and celestial ascension.... The music of Jeff Pearce
shimmers like sunshine through rain."
To the Shores of Heaven tracks include:
01. A Fading
02. Sudden Light
03. From Cliffs of Departure
04. The Emergence
05. Rain as a Metaphor
06. Beyond and Within
07. Veil of Lake Snow
08. Angels of Ocean Calm
09. Doubt on Dark Waters
10. To the Shores of Heaven
"...a no-doubt-abouter here. A clean shot over the left field fence right off the bat. An all-time-
lister. Desert island material. The most beautiful spacemusic CD ever released. 'Nuff said."
--Bill Beck on the Space Music mailing list
"All-time 10 favorite CDs list."
--Matt Jacques on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Significant Releases of 2000 list."
--Star's End Radio host Chuck VanZyl
"Top 30 all-time recordings."
--David Bass on the Ambient Music internet mailing list
"A warm, kindly, sometimes melancholy journey through spiritual states, a
narrative from sadness to heavenly light. And he does it all with just an
electric guitar! Top 4 of 2000 (#2)."
--Hannah M.G. Shapero on rec.music.newage
"Haunting.... Best CDs of 2000 List."
--Jamie McNair, Ambient Music mailing list
"Best of 2000 List."
David Beardsley on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Best CDs of 2000 list."
--Jim Brenholts on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Best of 2000 list (#07)."
--Eric Meece, Mystic Music, KKUP Radio
"Top 10 of 2000....Three Hypnos releases in my top ten... any question
what label is releasing the best ambient music these days?"
--David Bass on the Ambient Music mailing list
"Top 25 Essential CDs of 2000 (#6)."
--Echoes syndicated radio
"What hasn't already been said about this luscious work? Jeff continues his
heavenly climb; his albums keep improving. Topping perfection isn't easy,
but somehow Jeff has outdone himself."
--Cliff Tuel, on the Space Music mailing list
"...a strong contender for cd of the year, Y2K!"
--Jim Brenholts on the Ambient Music mailing list
"...his best yet."
Mystic Music, KKUP Radio
"... a beautiful CD... I could imagine being in Heaven and
on the Space Music mailing list
"... a latter day classic... "
--Steve Feldman, on the Space Music mailing list
"... his best to date."
--Jamie McNair, on the Ambient Music mailing list
"To the Shores of Heaven is exquisite. I have been
playing it all week at work and can attest that it is a bit of heaven on
on the Space Music mailing list
"Mr. Pearce gets the very most out of his guitar. Most of the tracks have only the barest of substance, choosing instead to
drift on for miles. Long lazy chords, echoing voices, and drones flowing out to the horizon. But when the mood strikes him,
he can also provide a catchy precession of stanzas, or even just a dreamy undulation to an otherwise calm smooth surface.
His stylings strike a very good balance between the dark and the sweet. A very contentful work. It was released on the
Hypnos label, and they're generous with the quantities they produce."
"Jeff Pearce's last album of new compositions, Vestiges, was, for the most part, a journey into pure abstract atmosphere. To the Shores of Heaven, on the other hand, is more varied, some of it sounding more like traditional guitar music.
The album's title provides a very fitting interpretive context for the music contained within. Many of the compositions evoke the sounds of the seashore. Others have an airier, floating feel. And throughout the album, there is a sense of gentle awe projected. Perhaps this could be best described as music to be played in almost-deserted seaside cathedrals.
Of course, it's also a treat to listen to the types of things Pearce is capable of making his instrument do, particularly on "Doubt on Dark Waters," on which wailing notes are backed up by a steady, thumping beat. More innovation that should please those who have enjoyed Pearce's other works."
"There are quite a few artists in the ambient field who use electric guitar
as part or all of their musical instrumentation, but none does it so well as
Jeff Pearce. In this solemn but beautiful album there are timbres and
sound-effects, and even percussion sounds, which you would think were done
on a synthesizer - but all of it is done with electric guitar. That does not
mean that there is no actual guitar-playing on the album; it does show up,
contemplative and smoothly slow, at times reminiscent of Will Ackerman's
work for Windham Hill and Imaginary Roads.
Indeed this is a slow-paced album, but that hardly means that it is dull or
boring. The motion of this music is drifting and cloud-like, often circling
around a single motif, a minimalist meditation on a few notes or even one or
two chord changes; in this it is similar to the work of Tim Story (Beguiled,
The Perfect Flaw) who does similar things with piano. Because Pearce chooses
to work with conventional tonality most of the time, he chooses harmonies
which stand up and become enriched by this minimalist treatment, blended by
the "infinite reverb" which is so characteristic of the best ambient. The
sound-material dissolves into a magical shimmer that glows and fades at just
the right moments.
At times, this soundscape dips into the realm of dark ambient (as in cut 5,
"Rain as a Metaphor,") but it never stays there very long. This is an album
I would classify as "ambience of light;" even though it sometimes has a
melancholy undertone, it is created to bring out feelings of hope, beauty,
and even exaltation. Towards the end of the album, with cut 10, "To the
Shores of Heaven," Pearce unleashes swells of soundwaves which reach toward
a vision of glory, then follows with a pastoral guitar epilogue, no. 11,
"Reunions," where the "country" evoked is that of the far country beyond the
gates of this world.
Pearce has put this album together beautifully, the succession of pieces
creating moods which form a kind of ambient narrative leading from darkness
to light, from sadness to hope. It is an exquisite album which should be
numbered among this year's best.
HMGS rating: 10 out of 10"
"Fellow ambient citizens,
I got a new car yesterday. Your first response to this news should surely be "so what? What does a car have to do with ambient music?" Well, I'll tell you. I purchased a Mazda Protege ES, which is the topline Protege. It has a nice CD player in it, which excited me greatly because now I could listen to all my favorite music while driving (which I couldn't before). But here's the ambient part of this. A design feature of the dashboard in this car, which I didn't notice until driving it at night, is the soft red light emanating from the dash panels. It's like nothing I've ever seen in a car before. I was amazed! I'm talking about beautiful, mesmerizing, "ambient" red light that creates a lulling vista inside the car while still leaving the speedometer, etc. quite readable. When combined with the fine sound of my stereo, I have sort of a "chill-out" room in my new car! It's very exciting, and I expect to enjoy all kinds of wonderful music in the days to come.
And speaking of wonderful music, I received some excellent new CDs recently that I want to comment on. Among the selections: Greinke's "Lost Terrain," the Johnson/Philips opus "Lost at Dunn's Lake," and Jeff Pearce's miraculous "To the Shores of Heaven." I just have to say how blown away I am by these discs. I feel like I was in a rainstorm of sheer beauty. Great ambient music has to be "organic" and totally surrounding, IMO, and these discs certainly are. "Dunn's Lake" is a superb, long-form work that absolutely does justice to the blueprint Eno established years ago with "On Land." I was in awe listening to it, realizing how far ambient music has come, and how, in a sense, I was rediscovering it in many ways. I've sought out some new stuff after having recovered from a personal crisis, and almost everything I've gotten has been amazing. These works are not just recycling the same ideas, they are expanding on and seeking new variations of the "ambient ideal," whatever that is. It's been so inspiring to hear. And the Jeff Pearce disc, oh lordy. I had this unwarranted skepticism before hearing the disc that a recording using only processed guitar couldn't possibly be as beautiful and organic as other discs in my collection. Boy was I wrong! This is a stunning, overwhelming release that blew me away. The sounds took over every cell in my body when I listened. I don't know how Mr. Pearce mixed or recorded this disc, but it's a landmark ambient CD, one that all should have. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
When I say that "my cup runneth over" when it comes to modern ambient music, I'm stating it accurately. We should be thankful there is so much excellent music in this genre. Once upon a time, this music was scorned, consider an anomaly in the industry, and not really seen as a creative basis for experimentation except for a few pioneers like Eno, Budd, etc. Now, it is more apparent to me than ever that many, many individuals have taken the genre to heart and have helped it achieve the potential that Eno thought it had long ago. Works like the above and many more are stunning gems, and I truly feel fortunate to have them in my collection. I feel it affecting my life in ways I can't fully express..."
--Kevin Renick on the Ambient Music internet mailing list
"In these 11 themes of Ambient and Atmospheric Music, the artist
takes the audience through a musical voyage along the heavenly
shores, as indicated by the title of the CD. By using
electronically processed guitar sounds, the music flows softly
onwards, floating towards otherwordly soundscapes, at times with
melancholy touches, at times optimistic, always delicately
expressive, communicating a wide range of feelings and emotions,
with ethereal sounds, cosmic textures and a careful musical
sensitivity that make of this album an ideal vehicle for
relaxation and meditation. No doubt this CD will appeal to the
fans of Jeff Pearce's music as well as the lovers of Ambient and
Atmospheric Music in general. Jeff Pearce shows once again his
expertise as a musician, continuing with the work he initiated in
his previous albums, among which we find Tenderness and
Fatality, the Hidden Rift, True Stories ( a collaboration
with Vidna Obmana), Vestiges, and Daylight Slowly."
--Amazing Sounds, ARIELLE MALREAUX
"As the more careful readers will know, I love guitar music, in its many
facets. Either drony, noisy, glitchy (Zammutto!!) or like this on the new
Hypnos CD. Jeff Pearce's fourth CD is one of simple, very simple beauty!
Spacy as hell (this should be heaven of course) giving that endless waving
of sand in the dessert. I imagine Jeff sitting on the Grand Canyon with a
cowboy hat, the sun hot in the air, and Jeff plucking is guitar. I know,
all of this is studio techniques, using the right amount of reverb and
other small devices to treat your music. But the careful readers will also
know that I really don't care about technique nor do I wish to know
anything how it was made. I care how it sounds and what it creates sitting
for my speakers. The blurb raves about Jeff sitting next to Robert Fripp,
but I have lost track of our 21st Century Schizoid guitar player, so I
can't argue about that. But should it be true, I should definetly dig for
Fripp, as Pearce's work is simply hauntingly beautiful."
--Reviewed by Frans DeWaard, Vital Ezine
"Using a spare palette of electric guitars and electronica, Jeff Pearce paints
silvery soundscapes of light. Pulses carry the time more than any distinct
rhythms as Pearce's e-bowed notes reach up to the heavens -- it's the closest
thing in the auditory world to seeing the shimmering splendor of the northern
lights. Sonic dramas play out through waves of discordant harmonies on the
title track, which gives a sense of the impending arrival of a very large
"something" while still remaining peaceful and cleansing. Are you floating on
a cloud or across the water? Are you air or metal or beams of starlight? Are
the sounds breathing you, or are you breathing them? The well-sculpted To
the Shores of Heaven allows for any number of imaginative mind trips."
--Carol Wright, Barnes & Noble (bn.com)
"Ambient artist Jeff Pearce continues his adventure into spacy music
with To the Shores of Heaven. Similar almost to previous Pearce
albums, Heaven is another leap for Pearce's music. Though some might
consider the album to be the perfect backdrop to a planetarium show,
Pearce's sound is distinct. Known for his use of a processed electric
guitar, the songs on the early 2000 album are even more emotional and
layered than Pearce's prior works."
--Diana Potts, All Music Guide
"Perhaps the best of all the ambient composers, Jeff Pearce uses only multi-tracked
electric guitars for incredible effects and harmonics. By plucking the strings
just before recording begins or with the volume low and then catching the sustained
notes, he creates a shimmering glaze of ethereal musical vapors. This is space
music at its most ingenious and transportational best.
Throughout each piece, the music continually transforms into new chords that
appear and fade in gradual sublime succession. Only on "A Fading" and "Veil of
Lake Snow" is it discernible that Pearce is using electric guitars, since the
notes have finite beginnings. For a magnificent journey to the depths of inner
and outer space, this is one of the most enjoyable ambient albums of the year."
--New Age Retailer, reviewed by Ted Cox
"TO THE SHORES OF HEAVEN, the fifth solo CD by Jeff Pearce is his latest
on the Hypnos label, which also released Pearce's fourth CD, DAYLIGHT SLOWLY.
An image that comes to me while listening to this album is of being on a
small airplane looking out to the west after a beautiful sunset, absorbed in
the deepening tones on the horizon, looking through the clouds, imagining the
"shores of heaven" in some metaphoric state.
This new music by Jeff Pearce has just that feel of vast and spreading spaces
underlaid with steady, organic textures; chords that move from major to minor
to 9ths and back again in the billowing pads of a contemporary work; hushed
and breathy shimmers of sound moving through an ocean of light; ominous bass
rumblings that resolve peacefully. Pearce is a musician that concisely wields
his sonic paint brushes to create delicate aural landscapes of elegant simplicity.
This is a tranquil, expertly crafted album that gets richer with each hearing.
The mysteries and complexities of this album are endless, engaging, and as
enigmatic as the tones Pearce is capable of coaxing from his treated guitars.
Pearce has succeeded in taking the guitar to new dimensions. Unless you read
about the guitar in the liner notes, you would find it difficult to recognize the
guitar , as most people know it, in the compositions. Pearce creates layers of
loops and textures which result in the infinite sustain of endless waveforms.
The eleven songs on TO THE SHORES OF HEAVEN, easily achieve what many musicians
strive for their during their entire career: a moving, yet restrained work that
can simultaneously reveal artful sensitivity and technical accomplishment. From
the opening, melancholy textures of "A Fading" (that could serve well as the
opening title soundtrack of a motion picture) to the resplendent tones of "Reunions,"
Pearce leads the listener through a variety of well crafted soundscapes. TO THE
SHORES OF HEAVEN, is one of Pearce's finest albums to date. Highly recommended."
--Alternate Music Press
reviewed by Ben Kettlewell
"Jeff Pearce once again proves that he is the master of atmospheric guitar
music with his latest release To the Shores of Heaven on the Hypnos label.
More transcendent and ethereal than his previous work, Pearce has succeeded
in creating a world of serene tranquility whose foundations consist of
floating synth-like guitar textures which ebb and flow as if guiding one on
a pilgrimage into an ether-world. The title is certainly not mis-leading
as one cannot escape the feeling of ascending through clouds and witnessing
Heaven's celestial plain in all its perfection. Pearce's technique of
manipulating the electric guitar is fully brought to light (even more than
usual) on "Doubt on Dark Waters" as what audibly appears to be tribal
percussion is from his guitar (the guitar and its enhanced effects is the
only source material that Pearce has ever used). Very few artists widen
the spectrum of their individual instruments like Pearce does and still
maintain a sonic purity that not only remains undiminished, but improves
with every release. The albums compositions all have a common denominator
in that each work seems to create a view of the celestial realms from a
different vantage point, but still sharing the experience of spiritual
revelation. Soaring guitar notes create slow, drifting, expansive
atmospheres, which for sixty-one minutes at least, lets one leave this
--New Age Voice Magazine,
reviewed by Allen Bogle
"In the early 1970's, King Crimson's Robert Fripp broached the
concept of the solo electric guitarist, layering and looping
his instrument into expansive, textured paintings in the air.
Since then, many guitarists have followed that model, and one
of the best is Jeff Pearce. On To the Shores of Heaven,
his fifth solo release, he continues creating a serene ballet,
a balance of windswept designs and delicately laced pirouettes.
A purist, he generates all sounds on To the Shores of Heaven
from his electric guitar, albeit processed, looped and layered
in a fragile airbrushed orchestra. Even the percussion on
the quietly tribal "Doubt on Dark Waters" is from a guitar.
Pearce's music literally shimmers, with violin-like guitar
layers dotted with delicate, finger-picked melodies. On
pieces like "Sudden Light," he reaches a majestic contemplation.
(A Critics Choice selection)"
reviewed by John Diliberto (host of Echoes radio)
"Jeff Pearce uses his electric guitar and outboard processing gear to
conjure up awe inspiring sonic landscapes, consistantly demonstrating
confidence and a seasoned command of instrument and technology. Pearce's
latest CD, "To The Shores Of Heaven", is a successful and enduring album
filled with the mystery and grandeur that first drew this artist to the
genre. A master of the soundscape guitar, Pearce is enabled by insight
gained through years of commitment, contemplation and experimentation. By
blending technology, spirit and craft, Pearce has earned the respect of his
peers and the admiration of his audience.
On "To The Shores Of Heaven", Pearce presents definitive studio versions of
pieces first unveiled live at the 03.06.99 Gathering in Philadelphia. The
music is compelling, honest and emotional. Slow melodies glide in the ether
above the shifting chord motion below. Complex timbres resolve with
sobering dignity. The listener is left with a sense of wonder, pondering
eternal truths... Can this musical manifestation be an inkling of, after a
lifetime of navigating the rough waters of mortality, being welcomed to the
shores of heaven?
--Star's End Radio host Chuck VanZyl
"Hypnos are developing something of a name for producing strong,
melodic ambient albums - very pleasant but with an edge and intensity
that takes them beyond new age and into a more interesting field.
Pearce uses guitars to create his works, adding treatments that
provide depth and variety. The track titles give an idea of the
history he is working within: 'A fading', 'From cliffs of departure'
or 'Doubt on dark waters' fall very easily with Eno and other moody,
atmospheric names for music which does just that, create moods and
While the guitar is the source of the sounds, very few tracks have
immediately obvious guitar parts - 'A fading' which opens the album
has some keening guitar melody with the extended looped and stretched
drone notes behind, and as you progress through the album other
pieces such as 'Veil of snow lake' or 'Reunions' feature Pearce's
haunting guitar. In some tracks elements or components can be sourced
such as the melody at the end of 'From cliffs of departure' or notes
drifting through 'Rain as metaphor'
But mainly this is gently unfolding tonal ambience, taking us on
softly supporting journeys through slowly evolving and turning
soundscapes. Many of the notes have voiced-qualities, all are subtle
and suggestive. Moods vary between a lightness such as 'Sudden light'
to more dense and mysterious as in the title track or the dreaming
'Angels of the ocean calms'. And as a surprise, 'Doubt on dark
waters' actually includes a percussive component - the only one to do
This is a delightful melodic album, but which also has some darker
edges and intensity. In the hands of a skilled manipulator, the
guitar can create some wonderful sounds."
"I was about to write a review of the new Vidna Obmana (The Surreal
Sanctuary) released on the same label, when Postman Pong popped his head
through the window and said "More CD's for you, big fella." As I'm in the
mood to have a quick listen to hear how it measures up to a lot of other
fine Hypnos releases, I find myself gob smacked by what I am hearing. Very
few recordings make me put pen to paper almost immediately, as it does take
time to almost develop a relationship with the music you are hearing for
the first time. This is emotionally / spiritually charged guitartronics
reminiscent of the works of someone like Robert Fripp (without the dramas),
mixed in with the drone sensibilities of a Robert Rich. There's are
wonderful celestial overtones, which take him up there into the stratos
with the David Hykes' and Laaraji's of the world; Jeff Pearce choosing to
explore the possibilities of being 'in the light' as opposed to the dark
end of the ambient spectrum. It's basically guitars and treatments, the
guitar processed and stretched into long sheets of sonic beauty, depth and
power. The other aspect of this recording I really enjoy is the wonderful
sense of warmth that emanates out of the recording. It makes a welcome
change from some of the stuff I have been listening to as of late which
though challenging and rewarding in ways, comes across as cold and
alienating to the listener. Not the case here, thank goodness. These are
soundscapes which are quite sensual in nature, atmospheres clouded in
secrecy and memories. You want this to never end. Well I guess that's what
the repeat function is for on the CD player. It would have worked just as
well as one continuous piece, as all eleven tracks tend to merge
effortlessly into one another. This is without doubt one of the finest
release on Hypnos ever. Mike Griffin needs to be congratulated for having
the vision and courage to release this and Jeff Pearce should be given an
honorary seat in the ambient hall of fame. Writing and rewriting this
review brings up two words time and time again; amazingly beautiful. That's
a nice way of summing this up. Timeless stuff."
PowerSpot Radio, NSW, Australia
Existing adjectives fail to do justice to Jeff Pearce's
latest release. Having said that, I'll give it a go.
The body of Pearce's work to date consistently stands out in
its ethereal beauty and emotional impact. To the Shores of Heaven is
clearly his masterstroke.
The opening track, "A Fading," goes straight for the
heartstrings with Pearce's sublime guitar work. Electronic
enhancement is (perhaps deceptively) feather-light. The pristine and
languid acoustic melancholy of the instrument shines through.
As "The Shores" progresses, Pearce exquisitely intertwines
this lyrical quality with lushly layered soundscapes to create music
that glistens with a haunting radiance.
The "shores" aspect of the title comes into play
(particularly on the fifth track) as the music gently hints at an
aural seascape of the surf repetitively crashing against a sandy
shore, with the faint call of gulls echoing overhead.
In this reviewer's humble opinion, To the Shores of Heaven
reaches its apex with track #7- "Veil of Lake Snow." The piece
illustrates what sets Pearce apart from other ambient artists- that
heavenly guitar work. Pensive, plaintive, and achingly poignant;
space music with a soul...the quintessential Jeff.
"Doubt on Dark waters" beguiles the listener, as a sensual,
tribal beat percolates under a gossamer veil of soaring sustained
chords. The effect is exotic and tantalizing.
The title track provides a dramatic climax to the record.
Overlapping crescendos of richly layered sound wash over the
listener, enveloping all senses. Majestic and elegant, the piece is
As "Shores" comes to a conclusion with the wistful and
introspective "Reunions," one thing becomes clear: With this release,
Jeff Pearce deftly attains the moniker of "Space Musician." He
sublimely sets the listener somewhere far above the
stratosphere...perhaps, one might say, at the shores of heaven."
--Cindy Lyn, on the Space Music mailing list
"Jeff continues to amaze me in every aspect of his work.
His craft and expertise in handling and processing
guitar sounds is becoming more apparent with every album.
Tracks like 'Sudden Light,' a miniature of wonderful
radiant sustained tones or 'Rain as a Metaphor'
really take me places and alllowe me to share his remarkable vision.
Artists like him should get more widespread recognition
for their enthusiasm, passion and dedication to their work.
This is definitelly one of the best of the year so far
and worth repeated listenings which can reveal new qualities every time."
Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia
"There aren't many artists working with the sonic purity of Jeff Pearce.
After five solo albums, he's still recording with just electric guitar, albeit an
electric guitar run through a lot of electronic processing, loops and
over-dubs. Even the percussion on the quietly tribal "Doubt on Dark
Waters" is from a guitar. On "To the Shores of Heaven" Jeff continues his
quietly ecstatic sound, full of shimmering guitar textures and delicately
plucked melodies refracted through loops and delays. Jeff gets an
orchestra of sound from his guitar, with layered swells, gentle pizzicatos
and soaring sustains. On pieces like "Sudden Light" he reaches the kind of
of majestic contemplation that hasn't been heard since Robert Fripp's early
Frippertronics. Fripp is an obvious touchstone for Jeff, but he doesn't have
the need to flash his virtuosity, letting the compositions and mood dictate
his sound. To the Shores of Heaven finds Jeff Pearce still pointed in the
--John Dilberto, Echoes Radio Host
"Jeff Pearce reaches far beyond the flatlands of his native Indiana on
this latest CD (appropriately titled) To the Shores of Heaven. This is
far and away his most ambitious work as he uses his studio wizardry to
create space music that is warm, wondrous and deeply spiritual (again,
reflecting the title). Absent from this CD are the reflective and darker
textures of his masterpieces The Hidden Rift and Vestiges. Instead, the
music, whether overt guitar songs like the album opener, "A Fading," or
the more synthesizer-like next song, "Sudden Light" reveal an almost
cathedral-like ambiance of reverence and awe. Without resorting to
melodrama or bombast, Jeff paints portraits that speak of...well, the
shores of heaven, I suppose.
At times, this recording reminded me of Liquid Mind's music, in that it
likewise involves the layering of washes of sounds that swirl together
ever so slowly, forming music that is beautiful and lush. Fans of Jeff's
earlier work will doubtless love this; however, people who might have
considered his earlier releases cold or dark (although I can't imagine
many did) should find To the Shores of Heaven refreshingly warm and
A soft glow seems to be coming from the music on this CD. Comforting in
the same way that a nightlight is to a child as she or he drifts off to
sleep, the waves of music that subtly move through the air seem to
penetrate past any cynical defenses a listener might have and work their
magic on the most jaded mind. While that description makes this sound
like some namby-pamby neo-new age recording, it's far from being that.
Instead, what differentiates this CD from the pack is the utter lack of
schmaltz despite all this positive energy and inviting beauty. Listen to
the opening of "The Emergence" and tell me it doesn't sound like the
music one might hear during a religious epiphany! In fact, this
particular song, for me, brings to mind parts of the "Atmospheres" cut
on the 2001 soundtrack (the softer parts about 2/3 of the way through).
Unlike previous albums, where Jeff almost always ended the recording
with the longest cut (or placed it towards the end ), here it's placed
right in the middle. Track five, "Rain as a Metaphor," stretches out
over nearly twelve minutes. The song offers shimmering cascades of
synth-like guitar textures over what sound like high soprano choral
textures (from a guitar, no less - and not a midi, mind you!). This
piece alone illustrates that Jeff has done two things with this
recording. One, his technique (which was already spectacular) has grown
exponentially. Two, he is experiencing something either in his approach
to his art or in his life that is contributing incredible positive
energy. The almost tangible spirituality that flows through this
recording is undeniable.
Of course, this wouldn't be a Jeff Pearce album without some sterling
guitar-oriented pieces as well, amongst the ambiance/ambience. "Veil of
Lake Snow" is loveliness incarnate - solitary notes peal off into an
unknown distance, while underneath strummed notes lay a groundwork of
peace and serenity. Underneath it all is a subtle shading that softens
any possible hard edges. No one that I have heard so far handles a song
like this in the same way Jeff does. His control of nuance and texture
is unmatched in this arena.
The title cut (second to last on the album) features what may be the
most lush and most powerful music Jeff has ever recorded. The drama
comes at the listener in waves, buoyed by lead guitar lines that climb
higher and higher, as if the notes were seeking the literal "shores of
heaven" themselves. The album closes with "Reunions," which may be the
closest the recording comes to either melancholy or even emotional
ambiguity. But even here the overwhelming sense from the music is one of
well-being and calm.
Whatever has caused Jeff Pearce to re-invent his sound to such a degree,
I don't know. But, whatever it was, it must have been a powerful force.
Because that's a word that's easy to over-use when reviewing To the
Shores of Heaven - powerful. Like a mighty river, beautiful and peaceful
yet whose strength and purpose is undeniable, the music on this CD will
take you to a place far away, effortlessly, yet you will never feel
threatened or scared. Fans of flowing and dramatic space and ambient
music will be deeply moved by this extraordinary album."
Wind and Wire on the Web
"Not having heard Pearce’s work -- outside of his
collaborative effort with vidnaObmana -- this latest release
from Hypnos was a bit of a surprise. One tends to associate
Hypnos mostly with keyboard dominated program material.
This work, comprised entirely of (heavily treated) guitar,
is one of long drifting notes that trail off into
perpetuity. Although the CD is mostly one of Light (well,
gee - the title sort of) tracks, there are the darker,
more mysterious as well. These darker moments are only
hinted at and never quite extend into full-blown Lull
territory however. Obviously that is not the point and
actually the exact reason that makes this a special
Pearce’s presentation is one of understated splendor.
Comparisons to other so-called ambient guitarists are
practically impossible as while listening to the CD the
only like recordings that sprang to mind were the new Steve
Roach, Midnight Moon and Crossing the Trail, which, of
course, Pearce performs on.
Again, Hypnos provides those looking for true, beat less
Ambient with a perfect addition to their collected works.
There are a few, very subtle moments which feature gently
patterned sound as on track nine, "Doubt on Dark Waters,"
yet these resonate as rain dripping into an already full
bucket of water lasting but a few minutes.
Fact is that Hypnos’ roster has many of the best musicians
working in true Ambient today. Hypnos makes a concerted
effort to give the listener a nice package, natural sonics
and great music. What more could one ask for?"
The Raging Consciousness Desk
"Jeff Pearce's latest release almost literally does take you
To the Shores of Heaven. Surreal ambient guitarscapes ebb and
flow in a very liquid, ethereal manner. With rare exceptions,
it is difficult to tell that the guitar is the instrument of
choice. Though plucked strings are evident on "A Fading," they
seem to reverberate forever, and they are surrounded by soft, delicate layers
which are themselves guitar-based, though one can scarcely believe it upon
listening. Most of the remainder of the disc is even more formless, such as
the beautiful "Sudden Light." Ambient music rarely if ever gets better, or
more purely relaxing, than this.
Giving a track-by-track description in words really would not do Pearce's
music justice. The CD is excellent throughout, never deviating from the outer
realms of ambient space. As with prior Jeff Pearce releases, this is
top-notch music for floating. Generally, each track explores a light ambient
space for just a few minutes. "The Emergence" shimmers brightly, with soaring
guitars and plenty of atmospherics. Virtually all of the CD shines, rarely
straying into darker realms. A real standout is the 11-minute "Rain as a
Metaphor," which is about as dark as the disc gets, but even this has
beautiful effects which sound quite heavenly. The opening minutes seem to
have lovely female choirs, but no doubt this is again accomplished with
guitar - amazing. There is an incredible passage at the 3:40 mark which
really caught my attention, threatening to totally sweep me away into
oblivion. My favorite memorable musical moment on this disc, but only one of
many. Simply brilliant."
--Phil Derby, SMD
"At its best, space music is like magic. It created a whole new world
alongside the one we're familiar with. It takes you places you've never been
before that you've always known must surely exist. Great space music can
also give you a new perspective on planet earth by giving you a different
What if this is heaven?
Some artists make a pretty good case for that, Jeff Pearce being one of
them. There are audio clips for his new CD at www.hypnos.com. Those clips
are helpful, but the effect of the music is incomplete without the
continuity of the music as it evolves over time. This music really takes
Pyramid Sound, on the Space Music mailing list