Not so long ago I reviewed a CD by Florida darkwavers Little Miss Conception. In the review I had lamented how promise was shown by this duo, but that frontman Eve had "a lot of musical learning to do before he can provide an arrangement worthy of pressing to CD." Recent newcomer to the ethereal/new age music scene from Calif., Jennifer Hope, embodies that vision of learning that I had hoped, and failed, to find within LMC and clearly shows what I meant.
Involved in music since her introduction to classical music in elementary school, Jennifer has in her time learned and played the violin (in my opinion, one of the harder instruments to master), flute, piano, clarinet, drums and vocals. She's studied music theory and song writing. She's attended the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) and the Vocal Institute of Technology (Los Angeles, CA). Surely this amount of study put into her career speaks volumes.
Appearing on compilations such as the lauded The Unquiet Grave (Cleopatra Records - 5/99), A Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe (not yet released) and Tribute to the Cocteau Twins (Cleopatra Records - scheduled for Fall 2000), Jennifer has also just released her first pro-pressed EP debut - Winds of Tomorrow. Including the highly-acclaimed The Sky is Blushing, a moody and permeating masterpiece of minimalist rhythm and dreamy vocals that first appeared on the aforementioned The Unquiet Grave, she also includes three more tracks all embodying the spiritual lyrics and minimalism arrangements that new age and ethereal aficionados have come to embrace against today's onset of "bigger faster more" in regards to beats per minute, synth-backgrounds and multiple guitar strains.
Jennifer Hope possesses a flair for varying rhythms within a track's arrangement. Rhythmically clashing lyrical and instrumental components against one another, she achieves an effect that, while strange, is in most instances soothed over by her ghostly voice and mastery of the instruments. What's Inside, for example, will pit her climbing vocals against a piano and bass strumming background that at once is harsh and striking, yet soothed by her soprano reaches.
In Passing of Our Worlds, by far my favorite on the EP, Jennifer's piano is mellow and soulful and the sighing chorales of the backing keyboards are just right, placed with her voice and supporting it. This track doesn't have as much of that rhythmic clash I mentioned earlier, though. It's a cleaner arrangement of music. The speaking areas of the song are quite nice, very poetic and remains rhythmic though it's done in a near-monotone while subtly subdued guitar strains create a lovely background. Somehow Passing of Our Worlds reminds me of one of the songs off of Thomas Dolby's Gate to the Mind's Eye video.
We'll end here because as everyone knows I always leave something for my readers to discover. That leaves only one track, as The Sky is Blushing has been enjoyed for a year now - Angels Alone is left for you to find.
In short, Jennifer Hope's debut EP is a soothing and permeating release, rhythmic nuances and all. Occasionally the lyrical versus instrumental clashing could have been toned down slightly, as interesting as the other-worldly flavor it produces may be. Jennifer's attempt to meld you with a new territory does, however, triumph. It makes me wonder what other moody landscapes her, producer Tomie Reeves and the Mystic Dreams Music outfit will dream up next.
Post: Mystic Dreams Music, P.O. Box 221624, Newhall, CA, 91322
Phone: (323) 769-5474