The second collaboration between Deborah Martin and Jill
Haley represents the fulfillment of the promise of their earlier release, The
Silence of Grace, although it’s also a marked departure from it. Into The Quiet is one of the purest blends of acoustic and electronic ambience
I’ve heard in a long time. The first time I played it, I realized how special
this hybrid of chamber music aesthetic, pastoral elegance, and soothing fluid
atmospheres was. Look up the word sublime in a dictionary and you might see
the cover of this album. Admittedly, I have praised both Martin and Haley many
times over the years, especially with Deborah as far back as the late ‘90s when
I reviewed her Spotted Peccary debut, Under the Moon, so it shouldn’t
have surprised me that Into the Quiet would be outstanding. After all,
the duo’s previous release, The Silence of Grace, elicited praise from
me (“I hope that The Silence of Grace finds the huge and appreciative
audience it deserves. To say I was blown away by this collaboration between two
artists whose careers I have followed for years…”). However, even as
well-traveled a reviewer as I am, I was shocked at the sheer beauty of this
album as it unfolded with a flowing sense of serenity to which many aspire, but
Concretely describing ambient releases like this album can be incredibly difficult if one wants to paint an accurate “written” picture of the music itself. So, this review may be less detail-oriented than some of my others. Into The Quiet presents a lush, gorgeous, and meticulously recorded/produced series of soundscapes that, as mentioned earlier, I feel are pastoral in nature, contemplative in emotional response, and neutral in mood, i.e., neither dark nor bright or cheery.
Instrument credits are not separated between the two, but I think it’s obvious that Haley is playing the oboe and English horn, while Martin plays concert flute, and Taos drum. As far as percussion, it’s anyone’s guess. And synthesizers and electronics are firmly rooted in Martin’s wheelhouse, I’d wager. Haley’s woodwinds carry the bulk of the melodies except when Martin’s flute takes the helm. However, Martin’s creative, artistic, and technically perfect use of the synths/electronic textures and effects are exceptional. Into The Quiet is one of those perfect symbiotic recordings that only happen now and then (another much older example is the landmark album, Soma, from Steve Roach and Robert Rich). The way the oboe/English horn and synths intertwine is nothing less than musical magic.
In some ways, Into The Quiet also represents a brilliant mixture of the cerebral and the sensual (in a non-sexual context). The album also excels at creating a wonderful day-dreaming/self-reflective atmosphere, instilling an almost tangible sensation of floating through a variety of both natural and surreal landscapes. The song titles alone indicate the beauty that lies within these digital “grooves” such as “Falling Away From The Earth,” “Refuge,” “Hall of Whispers,” and “Violet Night.” Granted, finding a great title for a song does not automatically mean the song will be as great, but on Into The Quiet, title and song each merit the other.
I can’t go into concrete song-by-song details without resorting to several thousand words and even then, my words could never do justice to these remarkable songs. But, to sum up, this is the pinnacle of warm flowing ambient music; it washes over you like a soft breeze, leaving you content and at peace even in these turbulent times. It’s a landmark recording for both artists, as well as for the Spotted Peccary label.
All music composed and performed by Deborah Martin and Jill Haley
Arrangements by Deborah Martin
Produced and recorded by Deborah Martin at Dreaming Edge Studios, Vancouver, WA
Album mixed by Deborah Martin and Matthew Stewart
Album mastered by Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary Studio NW, Portland, OR
Album design by Daniel Pipitone at Spotted Peccary Studio NE, Ligonier, PA
Oboe, English horn, concert flute, Taos drums, various percussion
SYNTHS AND ELECTRONICS
Yamaha Motif, Roland V-synth, T Roland Integra, Spectrasonics Omnisphere