Gerardo Maza,
The Conscious Flow of Dreams
(Earth Wave, 2001)

The music in Gerardo Maza's The Conscious Flow of Dreams is very synthesizer-heavy, so if that's not your thing, you better move on. (On a movie-geek note, part of "New Land" sounds like the music performed by the Tri-Lambdas at the end of Revenge of the Nerds, especially with the heavy use of synthesizer keyboards and undulating crescendos.) Taking that in mind, the instrumental performances are adequate to pretty good, but fall short of leaving a lasting impression.

For example, "Inner Sanctum" is a mish-mash of musical sounds that makes me wonder if the sound editor didn't combine the wrong tracks. There's just too much going on with the drums and the keyboards, yet they don't seem to acknowledge each other. Think of it as an anarchy music jam session. As previously noted, "New Land" is so close to over-the-top that it's difficult to enjoy.

Plus, the addition of vocals in some tracks really takes away from the music. "Threshold" and "Sailing Away" have generic lackluster sounds that are pulled down by dreary vocals by Tokiko Desola. The songs have an uplifting tempo, but her low-ranging voice borders on depressing. "Ghost Town" strives for innovation by combining tribal-esque chanting with a Jew's harp, but the two concepts seem pasted together instead of complementing each other. In most of the songs that include vocals, there's a lack of coordination between the vocal and instrumental performances.

There are some good parts to this album. "Heartsong" is a nice mellow tune. "Graceful Healer" has some haunting syncopation and nice guitar picking. There is a nice performance by stringed instruments in "Mountain Jig." "Seven Doves" has a mariachi feel to it that almost adds groove to this album. (Believe me, it needs it!)

While a few examples save this album from being not-so-good, they don't save it from mediocrity. The problem with this album is that it doesn't really do much. It folds itself into a typical new age format and doesn't try to stretch its arms even within those limits. It's like a sampler pack with every flavor having vanilla (cherry vanilla, chocolate vanilla, strawberry vanilla, etc.) Just like vanilla, The Conscious Flow of Dreams is OK, sometimes pretty good, but just doesn't leave a strong flavor or impression.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 14 February 2004