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Bill Wren | Road to Chiang Mai

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New Age: Contemporary Instrumental World: Asian Moods: Type: Soundtrack
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Road to Chiang Mai

by Bill Wren

With elements of new age, contemporary instrumental, and world music, these lavishly orchestrated compositions evoke stunning sonic vistas that stir the imagination in their unique synergy of East and West.
Genre: New Age: Contemporary Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Enchanted Kingdom (feat. Frank Ralls)
3:57 $0.99
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2. The Other Side (feat. Aubrey Logan)
4:29 $0.99
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3. Ponder Dust (feat. Ann Marie Calhoun)
3:23 $0.99
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4. The Beginning
4:34 $0.99
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5. Road to Chiang Mai (feat. Micah Gilliam)
3:38 $0.99
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6. Harmonia
3:25 $0.99
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7. Journey Around the Sun (feat. Frank Ralls)
4:43 $0.99
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8. Longing (feat. Ben Lash)
1:08 $0.99
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9. Memories (feat. Frank Ralls)
4:01 $0.99
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10. The Way It Was (feat. Jim Farrelly)
3:51 $0.99
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11. Land of Smiles
3:23 $0.99
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12. Today in Paradise
3:44 $0.99
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13. Ebb and Flow
3:01 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The combined efforts of Bill Wren and Frank Ralls, along with a number of world-class accompanists, have produced an album that ranks with some of the finest I’ve ever heard in this genre. Road To Chiang Mai explores new musical terrain that is as exotic as it is eclectic. - Michael Diamond Music and Media

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Reviews


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BT Fasmer

Non-Stop Adventure
Bill Wren’s new album “The Road to Chiang Mai” is a tribute to his travels. Here we get to experience some truly amazing places, cultures and atmospheres.
“The Road to Chiang Mai” is Bill Wren’s third album. His previous albums are “One day in A Life” and “Journey Around The Sun”. In 2012, during a break from composing music, Wren met his second wife (his first wife died earlier that year), Tamara and wound up joining her on her travels to Thailand and Cambodia, part of which were spent in an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is the inspiration behind this album.
First track out is “Enchanted Kingdom”. The song all about discovery, excitement and non-stop adventure. The song has speed and quite a few interesting twist and turns. It is impossible to tell where this is going to end. I especially like the flute part.
All travels have a beginning, and so is also the case with this one. Track four track is called “The Beginning”. From the very first notes it seems clear that this trip bound for somewhere in Asia. The song has a wonderful build-up, and it makes me think of both Vangelis and Kitaro.
When we reach “The Road to Chiang Mai” it is like we are at the destination, this expedition’s goal. This is what we came for. I’m happy to say that it was well worth the trip. The guitar has a lovely acoustic feel, backed by carefully crafted strings. Mike Oldfield would have been proud if he made this song. It truly is a jewel. It makes me want to check out the «real» road to Chiang Mai.
“The Road to Chiang Mai” is in many ways like a collection of short stories. Each part is a concluded narrative. “Longing” is an ultra short and quite sad story with Ben Lash on cello. The 1 minute song is gone in an instant. It is in a way like a prelude to “Memories”. When looking back on good memories, we tend to get a bit melancholic. It is a story about life that has passed. I love the combination of piano and cello, and it makes “Memories” into a wonderful, neo-classical song.
“The Way it Was” is also about looking back. When remembering past travels, we don’t think about how a place is now, but how it was at the time we came to visit. There are always changes. That’s perhaps why the song has a dose of melancholy? But the lonely sounding flute makes sure that the song ends on a high note. On “Land of Smiles” we are definitely still in Thailand. The selection of traditional instruments is enough to make me smile. The song has quite a simple melody. Yet at the same time there’s a complexity here, both in the expression and the build-up. It is Thailand in a nutshell I guess. The paradise in “Today on Paradise” is for sure somewhere in Asia. It is like we are enjoying some amazing scenery.
“Ebb and Flow” is a great album closer. Here strings accompany a gentle piano. The ending is surprisingly powerful, rising and falling with the force of a giant wave. The atmosphere is interesting, like there’s a storm coming. We cannot control the forces of nature, and can do little but hide when the elements conspire against us. It truly is a beautiful song.
“The Road to Chiang Mai” is yet another great release by Bill Wren. Travel always makes a great topic for an album, and it is easy to tell that Wren has had some amazing experiences on his journeys. Now we can follow his footsteps simply by listening.
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Steve Sheppard

Review for One World Music Radio (www.oneworldmusic.co.uk)
The last time I spent some musical time with Bill Wren, he and Frank Ralls took me on a Journey Around the Sun. this time the air miles are slightly less, as we’re travelling to the east for an expedition of a musical extravaganza so far as of yet unrivalled this year in its brilliance.
Road to Chiang Mai opens with the colourful and passionate song Enchanted Kingdom and features the talents of Frank Ralls. This is a track that has all the hallmarks of a film score, it has a beautiful powerful sense of energy, one really feels like the very beginnings of a journey to some exotic wonderland of colour and rhythm is taking place.
Ralls also joins Wren on this next piece as well, called The Other Side, utilising vocalisations and adding in light strings and a segment of percussive handclaps, really gave this track that extra something special feeling.
The beautiful Violin of Ann Marie Calhoun features on this next piece called, Ponder Dust. There was something so very dreamy about this composition, the fluency of Wrens arrangement retained a latent sense of percussive brilliance that maintained the foundation of the track, but at all times the piece held its delightful composure.
The Beginning is sublime, the acoustic guitar work that started the piece gave it real colour and manifested a really smooth platform for the song to grow on, and the gentle, but layered energy of this piece was really picturesque and contained a lush sense of symphonic flow here too.
The real Asian essence of this album is really brought to the fore when you gaze upon the title track Road to Chiang Mai, we have indeed been on a journey to the east dear reader and listener, but the very deep musical influence can really be felt here on this piece. The whole arrangement of Bill Wren drew us a really amazing vista of far off lands and a sparkling Asian realm.
Harmonia raised the bar further, there was something so very David Arkenstone about this piece, it had that real lord of the rings dramatic ethic about its construction that made it so very appealing. Perhaps I am saying this should be used in a film soundtrack? The answer would be a most emphatic yes; it’s a breath-taking moment of genius and my personal favourite off the album.
It’s time to take a trip back to the title track of the last album Journey Around the Sun and here Bill Wren once more joins energies with partner Frank Ralls to pay homage to what was a real classic offering back in 2011, musically this is blissful and so very good to bathe in sonically once more.
There is something about the sound of a Cello that is so mournful, it inspires so many visions, it is a wonderful instrument to create mood and ambience and here on this short form piece called Longing, it is amazing, a piece that once again features the talents of Frank Ralls.
Ralls is also featured on the emotive, but beautiful track Memories. This is so deeply moving; you will find it hard to not feel a tear form in your eye as you begin to allow the music to touch your very soul. This is without doubt the most expressive and sensitive piece you will have heard for some time, the use of strings on this composition that partner the narrating piano are simply gorgeous.
The Way It Was contains a little Celtic ethic, that’s highlighted quite brilliantly with the penny whistle, if ever there was a piece of music to stop you in your tracks and make you listen countless times, this is the one, the subtle use of symphonic crescendo here was just perfect, this is a track of amazing quality, that has a superb melody and once more deeply powerful and poignant and another favourite of mine.
Each and every track off this album is so brilliantly arranged and produced, that can of course be said about the youthful and happy composition entitled Land of Smiles.
Our penultimate piece dear reader and listener is called Today in Paradise, no this is not the much awaited follow up to a former Phil Collins single, this is a little instrumental magic that has a real Asian feel that one might expect from a Ricky Kej production. The tempo here lifts ones energies and inspires the soul to explore the track in more depth; this is one that I think I will have to return to many times over.
The last port of call before we leave this realm created by Bill Wren is called Ebb and Flow and contains some of the most soothing, but melodic music I have heard for a while, the whole track only lasts just over two minutes, but in that time we can really appreciate the whole project and take some time to look back over our shoulder at our wonderful musical journey of great colour and texture.
Road to Chiang Mai is one of those rare and outstanding works of natural beauty you come across now and again as a reviewer, in every single way it is simply perfect, I hope Bill Wren and his team (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin and Banjo: Micah Gilliam, Bass Guitar: John Gibson. Stings: String Mob LA: Penny Whistle: Jim Farrelly. Drums, Keyboard. Orchestral Programming: Frank Ralls. Voice: Aubrey Logan, Ben Bram & Tim Davis. Cello Solo: Ben Lash and Nick Curry. Violin Solo: Ann Marie Calhoun) get their positive just rewards for this album, it is truthfully one of the best I have heard for quite a few years and I urge you seriously to make Road to Chiang Mai part of your collection, trust me, this is what we call in the trade, Quality!
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Dick Metcalf

Special review by Zzaj
Bill Wren – Road To Chiang Mai: This is Bill’s third release, & I’ve reviewed each one with increasing anticipation for the next. After some personal tragedies hit him hard, he wound up (as artist-types often do) re-thinking where he was at & what he was doing! After re-marrying around 2012 (I believe), he went on a honeymoon trip to various places ’round the Pacific, and a part of that was an extended trip to Thailand. As I listen to compositions like the beautiful “Harmonia“, it’s very easy for me to picture some of the lush scenery in Thailand, and it brings back memories for me of long motorcycle treks through the entire northern part of the country (some simple, but lush, vocals are absolutely grand). What most sets Bill’s work apart from other composers is his innate ability to use the sonic to enhance the listener’s images of what Bill was seeing when this music was first conceived. From a personal perspective, Bill said he felt that the 2:59 “Ebb and Flow” came close to signifying his personal transitions during the difficult times after his first wife’s passage, and as you listen to it, you’ll hear (in most intimate detail) the sadness/joy/emotion he was feeling when the piece was realized… I just loved the keyboard and harp/string interplay on this piece. Of course, he wasn’t alone in putting this marvelous music together, either… his musical partner Frank Ralls (who has been with him on each of his three releases) produced this one & so had a great amount of influence on the finished album. The title track, Bill’s composition of “Road To Chiang Mai“, is both powerful and subtle at the same time (something I experienced a great deal when I lived in Thailand)… strong influence of the Orient shines through (I can easily visualize those elephant trains carrying the opium south to Bangkok as I listen to this – whoops – that’s another story, lol).

Bill Wren – Road To Chiang Mai: This is Bill’s third release, & I’ve reviewed each one with increasing anticipation for the next. After some personal tragedies hit him hard, he wound up (as artist-types often do) re-thinking where he was at & what he was doing! After re-marrying around 2012 (I believe), he went on a honeymoon trip to various places ’round the Pacific, and a part of that was an extended trip to Thailand. As I listen to compositions like the beautiful “Harmonia“, it’s very easy for me to picture some of the lush scenery in Thailand, and it brings back memories for me of long motorcycle treks through the entire northern part of the country (some simple, but lush, vocals are absolutely grand). What most sets Bill’s work apart from other composers is his innate ability to use the sonic to enhance the listener’s images of what Bill was seeing when this music was first conceived. From a personal perspective, Bill said he felt that the 2:59 “Ebb and Flow” came close to signifying his personal transitions during the difficult times after his first wife’s passage, and as you listen to it, you’ll hear (in most intimate detail) the sadness/joy/emotion he was feeling when the piece was realized… I just loved the keyboard and harp/string interplay on this piece. Of course, he wasn’t alone in putting this marvelous music together, either… his musical partner Frank Ralls (who has been with him on each of his three releases) produced this one & so had a great amount of influence on the finished album. The title track, Bill’s composition of “Road To Chiang Mai“, is both powerful and subtle at the same time (something I experienced a great deal when I lived in Thailand)… strong influence of the Orient shines through (I can easily visualize those elephant trains carrying the opium south to Bangkok as I listen to this – whoops – that’s another story, lol).



One of the things that was most impressive for me during my own travels between Pattya Beach, Korat and all the towns in between was the friendly spirit of the people in the country, and my personal favorite song of the thirteen offered up for your aural pleasure captured that friendliness in a most amazing way – “Enchanted Kingdom” will lift you out of whatever “bad place” you may be (or have been) in, and make you realize with full-string orchestral airiness and abounding POWER that a life well-lived, especially through the times of darkness, is truly what you’ve always been after. Bill, Frank and the whole crew of players who did the music (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo: Micah Gilliam; Electric Guitar: Judson Crane; Bass Guitar: John Gibson; Live Strings: String Mob LA; Penny Whistle: Jim Farrelly; Drums, Piano, & Orchestral Programming: Frank Ralls; Voice: Aubrey Logan, Ben Bram, Tim Davis; Violin Solo: Ann Marie Calhoun; Cello Solos: Ben Lash, Judy Kang, & Nick Curry) turn in a performance that you won’t soon forget! I’m more than “just impressed” with the music created here, and give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that it also gets the “PICK” for “best and most inspiring orchestral work”. Get more information at Bill’s website. Rotcod Zzaj

One of the things that was most impressive for me during my own travels between Pattya Beach, Korat and all the towns in between was the friendly spirit of the people in the country, and my personal favorite song of the thirteen offered up for your aural pleasure captured that friendliness in a most amazing way – “Enchanted Kingdom” will lift you out of whatever “bad place” you may be (or have been) in, and make you realize with full-string orchestral airiness and abounding POWER that a life well-lived, especially through the times of darkness, is truly what you’ve always been after. Bill, Frank and the whole crew of players who did the music (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo: Micah Gilliam; Electric Guitar: Judson Crane; Bass Guitar: John Gibson; Live Strings: String Mob LA; Penny Whistle: Jim Farrelly; Drums, Piano, & Orchestral Programming: Frank Ralls; Voice: Aubrey Logan, Ben Bram, Tim Davis; Violin Solo: Ann Marie Calhoun; Cello Solos: Ben Lash, Judy Kang, & Nick Curry) turn in a performance that you won’t soon forget! I’m more than “just impressed” with the music created here, and give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that it also gets the “PICK” for “best and most inspiring orchestral work”. Get more information at Bill’s website. Rotcod Zzaj
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Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
Bill Wren’s “Road To Chiang Mai” explores new musical terrain that is as exotic as it is eclectic. With elements of new age, contemporary instrumental, and world music, these lavishly orchestrated compositions evoke stunning sonic vistas that stir the imagination in their unique synergy of East and West. If I were asked to write a one-word review that word would probably be ‘wow!’ And perhaps followed by another exclamation point or two if space permitted.” The Road To Chiang Mai” is a truly epic production on every level.

While this is a deeply personal album about events in Bill’s life and it is his name that is on the cover, he is very quick to point out the major role and absolutely indispensable contributions that his long time collaborator and friend Frank Ralls played in the production. On this new release, Frank arranged, orchestrated, and programmed all of the pieces using the best that sample libraries have to offer today. In addition to the dynamic duo of Bill and Frank, a number of exceptional accompanists lent their talents in the studio.

On the opening track, “Enchanted Kingdom,” Indonesian instruments and wooden flutes blend with lavish string arrangements, driving drum beats, electronic elements, and more to produce an elaborate cinematic production that brought to mind the grandeur of music from Yanni or David Arkenstone. The following song, “The Other Side,” is no less impressive, and also features the addition of ambient vocals from an all-star cast. Interestingly, album’s title song is one of the more sparse and laid back tunes on the album. I particularly liked the blend of Micah Gilliam's mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar with the ethnic instruments on the track. On “The Way It Was,” the distinctly Celtic sound of pennywhistle and harp that open the song evokes images of the Emerald Isle, far from the steamy tropical jungles of Thailand. But whatever its’ geographical or musical influences, the song is absolutely gorgeous, with strings adding to the emotional energy. The album draws to a lovely conclusion with “Today In Paradise,” which leaves the listener in a peacefully fulfilled state of being.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in writing this review is to do justice in describing the level of excellence of the composition, arranging, orchestration, and performance I experienced in listening to this album. And I cannot emphasize enough how impressive the intricacy and detail of each song is. The combined efforts of Bill Wren and Frank Ralls, along with a number of world-class accompanists, have produced an album that ranks with some of the finest I’ve ever heard in this genre.

To read a full-length feature article on this album, as well as others, please visit: MichaelDiamondMusic.com
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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Road to Chiang Mai" is the third album from award-winning composer Bill Wren. Inspired by a recent trip to Thailand and Cambodia where Wren and his new bride volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai (Thailand) this album is a fascinating combination of electronic and acoustic instrumentation plus Asian and other world music influences. Frank Ralls is once again onboard as producer, co-composer on several tracks, and performs on drums and keyboard, as well as providing orchestral programming. Some of the music expresses a joyful sense of adventure, but most of it is more peaceful and calming. The album was recorded in Hans Zimmer’s studio and includes some of his string players plus violinist Anna Marie Calhoun who has toured with Yanni. The music has a very full sound, much like a movie soundtrack, that evokes images of far away places. This magical album is likely to top the charts, as Wren’s two predecessors did: "One Day In a Life" (2009) and "Journey Around the Sun" (2011).

"Road To Chiang Mai" begins with “Enchanted Kingdom,” a spirited symphonic piece that sets the mood with soaring strings, driving percussion and feelings of excitement and joy. “The Other Side” leans a little more toward smooth jazz and includes wordless vocals, piano (keyboard), a catchy beat, and strings. “Ponder Dust” features Ann Marie Calhoun on violin and other exotic sounds that are sometimes almost otherworldly. “The Beginning” has an East meets West feeling about it, combining orchestral strings with instruments that are not so familiar - I don’t think we’re in Texas anymore! The title track is upbeat and adventurous with a much more Asian sound again blended with strings. “Longing” is a gorgeous cello solo performed by Ben Lash. Perfect in its brevity, it goes right to the heart. “Memories” (originally titled “Eternal Hope”) won a Song of the Year award in 2011 and is my favorite track on the album. A soulful duet for piano and cello, the piece is uncomplicated but expresses very deep emotions! I also really like “The Way It Was,” which features Jim Farrelly on penny whistle. Wistful and nostalgic, it overflows with longing - beautiful! The buoyant “Land of Smiles” swings the mood all the way back up again with flutes and full orchestration. “Ebb and Flow” brings the album to a peaceful close, reflecting on a wonderful excursion yet glad to be home.

If you missed Bill Wren’s previous epic musical adventures, "Road To Chiang Mai" is a great introduction to his music. If you enjoyed his first two albums, you’ll love this one, too! Recommended!
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Serge Kozlovsky

Writings by Serge Kozlovsky / http://sergekozlovsky.com
Open your heart and you will find
Our whole world consists of love
What makes the music of Bill Wren so special and interesting? The artist masterfully interweaves various ethnic motifs into his instrumental music. His compositions are very melodious and full of inspiration. All of them are listened to in one breath. Besides, you can easily start an exciting journey to beautiful unknown lands.
All these features of the creative work of Bill Wren are significant, but the main important peculiarity of his music is that it is filled with a big love which comes from the bottom of the artist’s heart and brings the special aroma of serenity and beauty. And one wants to listen to these wonderful melodies time and again…
These characteristics don’t fully describe the newest album “Road To Chiang Mai” of Bill Wren. Inner dynamism is inherent in the music of the talented artist. All compositions of the newest release are cinematic and full of vivid images. They have a strong impact on the listener.
You want to forget all worries of your past day and move together with this exciting music. Your travel will lead you into the core of your own essence. You will realize yourself as the true center and the source of the whole existence. You’ll find the silent place within your inner being and you’ll be refreshed after this journey. You will see that the surrounding world is filled with a beauty and will feel subtle vibrations. All things around are penetrated with them. These are vibrations of love…
I can add about the new album of Bill Wren only a little. All compositions of “Road To Chiang Mai” are carefully composed and performed. The manner of Bill’s performing has a rare quality of clarity. The artist unfolds before the audience an epic canvas.
Sincerity is one more very important feature of the Bill Wren’s music. He is not afraid to show the listeners his true life experiences. The music of the artist is very emotional.
I am sure that this album can remain with you for a long time. Listen to “Road To Chiang Mai”. Savor this music. It has a taste that is not like anything. This is the taste of love…
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Candice Michelle

Review from Journeyscapesradio.com
Bill Wren is a Texas-based musician and composer who’s released a couple of critically acclaimed albums. His third release, ‘Road to Chiang Mai’ (named for the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand), was inspired by a trip to the Southeast Asian country and the start of a new life. Four of the album’s thirteen compositions were composed by Frank Ralls (whom also arranged, orchestrated and mixed the album) as well as provides drums and keyboard – while the rest of the tracks were composed by both Bill Wren and Frank Ralls. Also joining the musician line-up is Micha Gilliam on both electric and acoustic guitar as well as mandolin and banjo, John Gibson on bass guitar, Jim Farrelly on penny whistle, Aubrey Logan, Ben Bram and Tim Davis on vocals, Ben Lash and Nick Curry on cello, Ann Marie Calhoun on violin, and strings courtesy of String Mob LA.

“Enchanted Kingdom” (featuring Frank Ralls) is a sweeping and cinematic opener that boasts a full orchestra led by powerful drums with interspersed digital effects. Hovering somewhere between the realm of neoclassical and symphonic rock music, this lively and colorful piece immediately signals the embarking on a fantastic voyage. Frank Ralls also lends both his arranging and instrumental talents to the next piece, titled “The Other Side”. One of my favorites, this amazing fusion of neoclassical and electronica features piano, strings and keyboards set to an infectious staccato rhythm, with female vocals providing airy ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ throughout. “The Beginning” is another highlight initially led by a beautiful mandolin instrument amidst sparking chimes, soothing electronics and lush orchestration, which collectively unfold into a colorfully sonic arrangement. However, “Journey around the Sun” (also featuring Frank Ralls) is perhaps the album’s most prestigious moment. Guided by encircling textures of dreamy synths and cascading guitars, which are underscored by hypnotic percussion, it exemplifies an exquisite fusion of acoustic and ambient music. A more solemn tone is conveyed on a couple of tracks – including the solo cello piece, “Longing” (featuring Ben Lash), as well as “Memories” (once again featuring Frank Ralls), which consists of both piano and cello – before the gently uplifting mood returns on “The Way It Was”, a Celtic-flavored piece featuring Jim Farrelly on penny whistle. “Ebb and Flow” closes out the album with mandolin, light bells and gentle orchestration, signifying that our enchanting celebration is quietly winding down. A childlike wonder is conveyed on this piece, evoking images of a beautiful city beneath a starry sky, as if to honor the magical memory of an enchanted land somewhere far away.

A successful blend of east-meets-west, ‘Road to Chiang Mai’ incorporates neoclassical, contemporary instrumental, electronica and world music into a thoroughly rewarding musical experience. Those who possess a love of geography will additionally appreciate the CD’s inside cover artwork depicting what appears to be an old map of Thailand and surrounding area. Unfolding like a cinematic story full of twists, turns and dramatic pauses injected at all the right moments, ‘Road to Chiang Mai’ perfectly captures the sights and sounds of a country rich with beauty, culture and fascinating history!
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