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Jeff Pearce - The Light Beyond



Hypnos is pleased to announce the latest by Jeff Pearce, The Light Beyond. His followup to the beloved & highly-acclaimed 2000 album To the Shores of Heaven, The Light Beyond shares its predecessor's basis of smooth, guitar-based atmospheric clouds, both dark and light. But The Light Beyond explores more abstract, open- ended and free-form compositions, with one track almost forty-four minutes in duration, in the midst of three shorter pieces.

This may be Pearce's most developed and sonically complex work yet, a fact that is truly amazing considering that THE LIGHT BEYOND was entirely improvised in the "Star's End" studios of WXPN radio in Philadelphia. One man with a guitar and some electronic processing boxes has created, in real time and for the benefit of a live listening audience, work of a substance and depth, not to mention sonic richness, that ranks with his finest studio-recorded works.

Listeners who loved Pearce's previous work -- in addition to TO THE SHORES OF HEAVEN there were DAYLIGHT SLOWLY (also on Hypnos), VESTIGES, TENDERNESS AND FATALITY and THE HIDDEN RIFT, as well as Pearce's collaboration with fellow Hypnos artist Vidna Obmana, TRUE STORIES -- will find in THE LIGHT BEYOND the next phase in Pearce's evolution.

Track listing, including mp3 sample clips:
01. Migration of Souls
02. Across the Infinite Sea
03. A Farther Shore
04. The Light Beyond


Purchase direct for $9.99

Reviews

".....tremendous, by far and away the finest "long form" recording I've ever heard."
--Gordon Danis

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"The new Pearce CD is fantastic!"
--Lloyd Barde, Backroads Music

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"Back in June of 2000, Jeff Pearce was in town to play as part of the Gatherings concert series. Afterwards, he was nice enough to stop by STAR'S END for a live set on the radio show. THE LIGHT BEYOND is the album that came out of his performance. Beyond this, it is difficult to acurately explain or quantify exactly what happened on the air that night.

The music on THE LIGHT BEYOND was drawn out through an extraordinary situation. The convergence of talent, the late hour and the immediacy of the moment acted upon Pearce as he produced gorgeous breathing waves of harmony with his guitar and assorted processing devices. Pearce attributes the rare fragility and intuitive contour of his performance to the space; the space he was physically playing in, the space his head was in and the space his music was being broadcasted out into.

The album is indexed at four points but the music flows continuously from beginning to end. The musical areas explored gradate from pastel cloud obscured sunsets to the soft velvet cloak of night. Pearce uses delicate timbres within sympathetic harmonies to convey his benevolent message. But with track titles like "Migration of Souls" and "A Farther Shore", one can easily deduce that this album is dealing with more than just sound and music. THE LIGHT BEYOND is Jeff Pearce's continuing attempt to comprehend his own relationship with the infinite."
--Chuck Van Zyl, Star's End Radio host, WXPN Philadelphia

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"I have been playing the two discs (The Light Beyond, and To the Shores of Heaven) for two weeks straight, It is so pure and organic and it never deviates from the set mood. Amazing music."
--Matthew Florianz, The Hague, NL

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"The latest from Jeff Pearce, a live improvised album, an ethereal soundscape brought to perfection. This is as good as it gets for me regarding Jeff Pearce. I never thought he could surpass the quality of albums such as Vestiges and The Hidden Rift, and having in mind that this is live improvised work makes it even more amazing."
--Vladimir Jovanovic, Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia

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"Following 2000's profoundly critical Hypnos Recordings release, To the Shores of Heaven, Jeff Pearce, to many, had made his mark as an artist and as an Ambient force to be reckoned with; with a half-dozen recordings under his belt, and as many compilation appearances and collaboration spots one could say that Pearce has quickly moved to the top of the Ambient genre. With The Light Beyond Pearce charts a new direction in his compositional style. Pearce's work has always been quite melodic and without drones, not usually representative of Ambient music, but with The Light Beyond Pearce has turned away a bit from the melodies and turned more towards the drones, creating profoundly Ambient recording. {^The Light Beyond} isn't a droney recording like classic Brian Eno or Steve Roach discs, but you're not going to hear Jeff's, gifted, melodic work as much on this recording either. The Light Beyond was recorded during a "live" broadcast at The Star's End studios in June of 2000, so essentially this is a "live" recording, but with Pearce's gifted production work you could never tell. Another point worth mentioning is that this recording was created entirely out of a single, solo, electric guitar; the sounds that Pearce manages to coax out of his guitar are amazing and it sounds like there's more going on than that, but there's not. This is a great starting point for fans of Ambient music, but if you're more interested in melodic music try checking out his 2000 To the Shores of Heaven release."
--Matt Borghi, All Music Guide

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"Jeff Pearce set out to perform a live "preview" of his new ambient guitar music for listeners at last year's Star's End gathering. Not surprisingly, it turns out that the resulting recording, The Light Beyond, was a keeper!

Subtly fluctuating radiance marks the Migration of Souls; faint textural touches are added with what sounds like little half-plucks... The track just spills over into Across the Infinite Sea, continuing its ever-expanding journeys.

In ethereal strands of high and low, streaming loveliness issues forth from A Farther Shore (43:46). Golden tones simply waft in big, slow movements... it's like a gleaming (but never glaring) sunset for your ears. Pop a cold one (or with this track length, maybe two), set back and enjoy the floatation. Giving one final taste, The Light Beyond (2:20) delivers more of the same lushness, though in a much more encapsulated version.

Trying to use mere words to describe Jeff Pearce's gorgeously gaseous soundclouds is akin to painting your ceiling blue and gluing cottonballs up there in an attempt to emulate an expansive skyscape; in either case it can't live up to the original... The Light Beyond is no exception, a 9.1-ranked keeper. Hypnos is the place (but you already know this!)"
--The AmbiEntrance, David Opdyke

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"Imagine...

All during one sultry summer night, attending a wondrously effected concert performance, an event anticipated for nearly a year's time, then living every sound as if in a dream. Imagine later meeting and shaking hands with the artist, while holding in your hand a CD created specifically with this night, this audience, in mind.

Imagine, then, an afterglow...

The same night, you are home, and you turn on the radio, and you learn that the artist has locked himself in a radio studio and is live, on the air. Through the music that explores the air waves, you hear him searching for and discovering a new soundworld, music somehow simplistic yet infinitely complex, and you wonder if what seems to be happening truly is.

If 'To the Shores of Heaven' represents the ultimate voyage to a lush celestial embankment, then 'The Light Beyond' depicts the afforded view at journey's end. Genius.

Jeff Pearce is magical."
--Bill Beck

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"The master of luminescent drifting sound, Jeff Pearce, returns with a sequel to his exquisite To the Shores of Heaven (Hypnos, 2000), in this real-time set recorded live at an all-night radio show. As with the earlier album, all Pearce's sounds are made on electric guitar, though they are very heavily modified. But unlike its predecessor, there are almost no openly recognizable guitar tones. It sounds like Pearce is using a synthesizer. The marvels of modern technology sustain the sound of a picked string, or transform a strummed chord into a soft shimmering wave that rises and falls out of nowhere. Pearce even gets soft, understated percussion sequences out of one of his electronic gadgets.

There are only four tracks on this album. The first and last are the shortest, more like an introduction and a finale. The second, "Across the Infinite Sea," is one of the most beautiful space- ambient tracks I have ever heard. Yes, ever. Lush seventh and ninth chords, passing like clouds, sound mysterious and remote, yet warm and inviting. There is a subtle, pattering percussion track in places, but it is mostly a smooth and stately voyage across that calm and audible sea.

The third track, "A Farther Shore," is a 43-minute tranced- out trip to a world of pure light. It's based on just one key signature, with long, sustained notes fading in and out, some on bass but most in the treble range. I don't recommend listening to this piece if you are working, driving, or doing anything that requires effort. After a few minutes, you'll feel as though you've gone to heaven, even if you aren't dead, and Heaven lasts a long, long, eternal, time…..uh, where was I? I'm still on earth? Well, this is a fine album, and I suppose I should be glad that the voyage to the light beyond is only virtual.

HMGS rating: 9 out of 10"
--Hannah M.G. Shapiro, EER

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"Jeff Pearce recorded The Light Beyond live on the Starsend radio broadcast, hosted by Chuck van Zyl, after a Gathering concert in Philadelphia during which Jeff introduced the "pickin' and processin'" technique. He listened to the tapes carefully and after much deliberation, left them exactly as recorded.

Jeff has been on some very worthy and credible journeys over the last eight years. In reviewing his album titles, the emergence of a new and brighter attitude comes forth. (Do not count the limited edition only available at the concert.) To wit: Tenderness and Fatality, The Hidden Rift, Daylight Slowly, Vestiges, To the Shores of Heaven and The Light Beyond. Jeff has stated that the progression of the meanings in the titles is purely coincidental. However, a coincidence is merely God's way of protecting His anonymity!

The progression of Jeff's music moves right along with the titles. Emerging from the throes of dark and dense minimalism, he has found that the preferred method of sharing the message is through bright, yet still very dense and deep, minimalism.

Such journeys of the heart, soul and spirit are indeed worthy and essential. Sometimes they are so subtle that even intense observers miss them.

Jeff's most noteworthy journey has been his journey to define the boundaries of the ambient guitar. With apologies to his peers and predecessors, HE HAS DONE SO! This CD should be required listening and studying for students, old and new, of the minimalist guitar! Even the most experienced guitarists could only dream of achieving this plateau! Track three, "A Farther Shore," is the most appropriately titled composition EVER! BAR NONE! There are not enough superlatives in Webster's to define the feelings received from intense listening. Nor are there enough superlatives to describe the feelings that Jeff puts into his music.

Thank you, Jeff, for this wonderful CD! "
--Jim Brenholts

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"It's kinda to believe that this new album by Jeff Pearce is recorded live. In front of a live audience, broadcasted on radio, Pearce plays his guitar and a bunch of sound effects, all in real time. Jeff Pearce could have fooled me, mind you. It's a highly synthetic (as in 'synthesizer') sound, in which I can't recognize by no means a guitar. Beautiful waving tones in an ultra relaxing mood. It floats by in one piece, and time doesn't exist."
--Vital E-Zine, Frans DeWaard

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"Jeff Pearce has made a name for himself with his own variety of "infinite guitar," heavily processed, reverberating echoes that seem to drift into eternity. In space music circles, particularly in the states, his 'To The Shores Of Heaven' was widely acclaimed. One might expect that his style of treated atmospheric guitar could only come across as a studio production. 'The Light Beyond' proves that is definitely not the case, as it is a live recording from the Star's End gathering in Philadelphia last June. This is as subtle and delicate as anything he has previously produced in the studio. Technically indexed into four tracks, it actually is almost a continuous hour of slow shifting, drifting and floating. 'Migration of Souls' features an unusual percussive sound. Since I know Jeff prides himself on using only guitar, and since I wasn't at the concert, I can only guess as to how this sound were created. It is distinctive, and adds colour and depth to the recording, my favourite track of the four. A subtle change in tone signals the beginning of 'Across the Infinite Sea,' an appropriate title for the sound picture that develops. This fades almost to silence before the centerpiece of nearly 45 minutes, 'A Farther Shore,' full of shadings of brightness and shimmers. SMD listeners looking for a sequencer slugfest will be itching for something more to happen, but for ambient fans this should satisfy. As it drifts away, the very brief title track brings similar soothing sounds to draw the disc to a close. Pearce has developed a signature sound, and he doesn't stray from that here, so it's a safe bet that if you liked his other recordings, you will want to pick this one up."
--Phil Derby, SMD

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"What can be said about Jeff's work that hasn't already been said? After last year's profoundly critical Hypnos release, To the Shores of Heaven, Jeff, to many, had made his mark as an artist and as an Ambient force to be reckoned with; With a half-dozen recordings under his belt, and, at least, as many compilation appearances and collaboration spots one could say that Jeff has quickly moved to the top of his game. But before I go any further I have to preface my review with some thoughts. Why was Jeff Pearce so critically acclaimed so early on? Some might argue that he just came around at the right time, but I don't think that's it. I think there's much more to it. I think Jeff is held in such a high place because he broke on the scene solely using an idiom (guitar) that, to many, had seen its day come and go. There's something in the U.S. about the guitar, it's like the national instrument or something. Even in the contemporary Ambient scene I would venture to say that the guitar as a means of self, and artistic expression is not accepted as much abroad as it is in the U.S.; I think that Jeff came along and quenched a thirst that many Ambient/ Space/ Atmospheric enthusiasts had for some new timbres, some new sounds, and of all instruments it was the guitar, "but that don't sound like no gee-tar!"

Guitar, with the exception of some Gilmore-esque noodling, never had much of a place in the Ambient/ Space tapestries; it always played more of melodic role rather than harmonic, Jeff came along and changed all that. These are some of the things that are important for me to mention before I go into the review of The Light Beyond.

When I first put this recording on I wasn't sure what to expect, because the best thing about Jeff's work is that he doesn't rest on past laurels, and he seems to be pushing the artistic envelope for himself…a true artist's artist.

So it begins. I think that some folks might have hoped for a sequel to Shores, but I don't think that The Light Beyond is the light beyond the shores of heaven, rather, I think, that this record goes into another realm and direction entirely. As a huge fan of droney, pure ambient-atmospheric, ala Exuviae, James Johson, and Stephen Philips, it's safe to say that Jeff has segued very nicely into light and beautiful atmospherics. I think one of the things that made Shores such a, seemingly, successful record was the fact that it had huge crossover power. It wasn't just an Ambient record, or a Hypnos record, it became somewhat of a New Age record as well, which is great for sales, but I don't know any Ambient artist that wants to be schlepped in with New Age. The Light Beyond takes a different approach; this is a very chill, very contemplative, very Jeff Pearce recording, but it's much more of an atmospheric Ambient recording. The Light Beyond isn't a droney recording, but you're not going to hear Jeff's, gifted, melodic work as much on this recording either. It's still hard for me to believe that Jeff makes all of these sounds with a guitar, but I've read things where he' s talked about his equipment and therefore I know it's totally possible.

The Light Beyond was recorded during a "live" broadcast at The Star's End studios in June of 2000; I'm assuming this was done shortly after his "Gathering" performance. Initially, Jeff meant for this recording to be a taste of what was to come for him compositionally, but later he listened back to the tapes of the radio performance, and decided that the magic was in these recordings, not in trying to re-record that magic that exists here. The Light Beyond is a step in a new direction for Pearce and one that I hope he continues to stay with for a while, or at least mix a bit with some of his melodic stuff. When I first started listening to Jeff's work a couple years ago I was heavy in the atmospheric drone mode, and it took me some time to warm up to Jeff's work, even Shores which took probably the longest, but once I did, once I heard the profundity of compositional thought in his work and it struck me I had no choice but be into what he was doing; and in typical Pearce style he's switched gears on me. I like where's he going here. The Light Beyond really has a holistic, and organic vibe to it. There' s something that just gives you a sense of well being when you listen to it, it's comforting. As I said above it's light, I guess, as opposed to heavy which is what I think of when I think of my own work, Stephen's (Philips), or Brooks' (Exuviae) atmospherics; but don't get me wrong by "light" I don't mean insubstantial, rather, quite the contrary. This recording has a sort of ambience that I don't think has been touched on before. Any way you look at it Jeff has created a fine recording and one that's most deserving of the highest accolades."
--Matt Borghi, The Organization of Sound

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"Jeff Pearce continues the quest he began with To The Shores Of Heaven on The Light Beyond, his latest release on Hypnos Recordings. As I stated in my review of that earlier disc, Jeff seems to have found a new sense of inner peace in his personal life. His music has slowly moved away from the more emotionally vague and melancholic soundworlds of earlier releases like Vestiges and the classic The Hidden Rift. What has replaced this previous dramatic tension is serenity, an overwhelming sense of acceptance and contentment. On The Light Beyondıs centerpiece, the almost forty-four minute-long ³A Farther Shore,² Jeffıs poetic soft-as-a-flannel-blanket guitar tones and sonic shimmerings put me in mind of Liquid Mindıs ultra-relaxation music. I mean that as a compliment, of course. The music here almost imperceptibly shifts on its (albeit somewhat limited) axis as it envelops the listener in a warm and friendly light, as if one were sitting on a hill watching the sun set, the sky melting from blue to pink to red to violet and finally to black as an endless number of stars greet the night.

Reviewing a song like ³A Farther Shore² is somewhat futile because thereıs only so much one can write about it from a musical perspective. Completely unrecognizable as being from a guitar, the music is non-rhythmic and consists of gentle tones, liquid textures and long patient washes of warm melody. I would guess a lot of people may program this cut for endless repeat on their CD players, since itıs perfectly suited for that (in fact, Hypnos releases lately have been geared to that kind of music).

However, the first two cuts (both much shorter at four and seven minutes), are, in my opinion, more ³interesting,² (but not necessarily ³better² as Iım addressing my personal preference here). While not as morose as the darker pieces from Vestiges or The Hidden Rift, ³Migration of Souls,² presents a sense of movement (witness the title) and even has an element of ³real² (yet subtle) guitar sounds (unlike the rest of the album on which the uninitiated Pearce-listener will swear Jeff is manning a bank of synthesizers). ³Across the Infinite Sea² has a somewhat-muted opening shadowy essence. The tint of classic spacemusic reminded me of the collaboration between Steve Roach and Michael Stearns on Desert Solitaire. This cut precedes ³A Farther Shore² and slowly leads the listener into the floating style of music that will dominate the remainder of the album. The recording ends with the short (two-minute long) title cut on which the music is gossamer thin and (as one would expect) quite ethereal, yet with no residue of sappy new age music sentimentality.

Does The Light Beyond break new ground? Yes and no. A better way of describing it is as a refinement of the statement from his previous release. While there are obvious religious connotations to the song titles, there is enough ambiguity that the titles could apply to any of the worldıs religions or faiths that contain a belief in an afterlife or the concept of a ³heaven². However, anyone who knows Jeff personally also knows heıs not into pontificating or preaching. The Light Beyond is Jeffıs personal path toward a more peaceful inner world, one suffused with beauty and tranquillity. The lack of darkness (or even a lesser negative emotion such as regret or longing) indicates to me that Jeff has journeyed still further down the road he began to walk on To The Shores Of Heaven. While I miss the complexity and occasional foray into more somber soundscapes from his previous albums, who can complain when someone has found such a wonderful place as it appears Jeff has? If you like your ambient music and spacemusic voyages to take you to serene soundscapes that are aglow in gentle shades of deepest blue and violet, then youıll love this recording. Itıs that simple."
--Wind and Wire, Bill Binkelman

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