Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

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Russel Walder: The World Goes Through My Mind
Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

Walder was the producer/arranger and oboe player on Whirimako Black's exceptional Kura Huna album of two years ago, and if there had been any justice it would have appeared in "best of the year" lists.

My guess was too few critics heard it, some were put off by Black singing in te reo (the Maori language), and even fewer understood just what a breakthrough album it was.

For it Walder placed Black's exceptional voice in a quasi-ambient context and wove his oboe around it in an almost liturgical manner. The album wouldn't have sounded out of place in the ECM catalogue.

This new, instrumental album by Walder (with guitarist Nigel Gavin on one track) takes some of Kura Huna as its starting point but with Walder on electronic keyboards, percussion, programming, oboe, recorder and duduk (an Armenian woodwind instrument, I looked it up) it is more richly textured.

But that ambient, meditative feel is still ever-present and long tracks such as Gift of Fire, The World Goes Through My Mind and Long Revealing, each eight minutes or more) are musical and cosmic journeys.

There is a lovely ethereal quality to the ballads here (Standing-Falling is hypnotic) but Walder -- who recorded for the new age label Windham Hill -- has an ambitious reach, and while some may dismiss this as a bit amorphous that criticism doesn't acknowledge what he has achieved.

But after Kura Huna I suspect Walder is used to people not getting what it is he is doing.

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