David Wahler - Spiritus
Keyboardist David Wahler explores the softer side of chill-out, perhaps even the ethereal aspect of the genre, on his best album to date, Spiritus. The word itself means “spirit” or “breath” and your breathing will be nice and easy as you listen to the artist take you on a drifting yet gently syncopated and wholly relaxing musical journey executed with beauty and grace. Wahler had already established a firm foothold in chill-out notoriety with his earlier releases (Antiquus, A Star Danced, and Secret Dream) but here he raises the bar significantly on his mastery of both melodies and keyboard artistry. Sublime electronic keyboard melodies are accented by shimmering sonics, strings, reverbed bell tones, breathy chorals and many other expertly applied effects and textures. The inclusion of subtle rhythmic textures and gently chilled beats are expertly inserted among the fluid melodies. Sparse moments of understated drama (never intrusive) blend seamlessly with wave after wave of soothing soundscapes resulting in Wahler's most accomplished and enjoyable album to date.
There is a delicate lightness in Wahler’s main melodies, the musical equivalent of the softest rain falling, perceptible but never as anything but a gentle, comforting mist. Yet he finds a way of integrating beats and rhythms all the same without distracting from the overall warmth and softness of the music itself. A track such as “Metamorphose” dials up the intensity just a tad, with more pronounced hand drums and slight feeling of urgency (perhaps befitting its title), but even so, the mood is less frantic and more a subdued sensation of energizing freedom. More typical of the album is the opening title track—lush chorals which flow into a gently plucked guitar backed by a slowly paced bass rhythm. It’s immediately apparent that Wahler’s production quality is at its technical and creative peak; the album sounds heavenly (on this particular track, that description is both figurative and literal!). “Mystic Voyage” once again starts with chorals and a solo harp but a more pronounced keyboard sound takes the lead melody with just a hint of dramatic tension. However, the elements from the track’s beginning manage to keep everything well-grounded so that the chill element is solidly laid back and relaxed. You just kinda float away with it. “Bhakti Heart” kicks off with another superlative gentle chill-out rhythm, this time accompanied by reverbed bell tones that sound like the aural equivalent of ripples on a Zen pond, while “Whispers From Eternity” features harp arpeggios, bell tones, and more a languid lead melody that carries just a hint of Mediterranean influence. Synth strings and chorals introduced later transition the track into romantic territory, lush and also plaintive.
Each successive track on Spiritus continues to ease the listener into a state of contentment and subtle bliss with an element of enlightenment too (again, handled in a subdued way, i.e. this is not a heavy-handed slice of serious meditation backdrop, but is, instead, an entertaining web of instrumentals which can serve as both a pleasing background or listened to attentively in order to de-stress). Check out the glistening tones and twinkling textures on "Ananda" which are gently buoyed by a slow tempo semi-glitchy rhythm—oh so dreamy! "Devi" features a lovely lilting flute melody (switching over to a high pitched horn) backed by a soft bass line/harp sample. Reminiscent of classic electronic new age music from the '90s, the piece epitomizes a drifting soundscape. Low pitched flute, and later Liquid Mind-like male chorales, are set against a gently rocking bass and beat rhythm on "Veil of Maya" and enhanced with a sprinkling of retro synth effects in the background.
I have left a few tracks undescribed so that you can discover them for yourself, which I highly recommend you doing. Spiritus is not just David Wahler's best work, but it's one of the best albums in the genre of electronic new age music (fused with chill-out) in recent years. I have played it at least ten times (probably closer to twenty) before writing this review (which is late compared to when the album was released—my bad!), and each time the superbly soft, engaging melodies and low-key rhythms just made my cares float away. If you seek beguiling electronic keyboard music, look no further than this outstanding album.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 3/10/2016
Spiritus by David Wahler
From the opening notes, the listener is enveloped in a soft warm cocoon of heavenly choir sounds on the album’s title track. It’s a wonderful welcome that prepares you for the serene listening experience that is about to unfold. As the piece develops, light percussive touches are added. What is interesting, however, is that in a lot of music the beat or percussion is much more prominent in the mix driving the song, while the more atmospheric elements are in the background. Here it is the opposite, and the percussion adds a subtle sense of forward motion without overpowering the ambiance. It’s a lovely balance that brought to mind the music of English recording artist Medwyn Goodall, as a reference point. While the next track, “Mystic Voyage” doesn’t have percussion a gently percolating sequencer provides momentum. The keyboard melodies that David plays over his ethereal backgrounds are often understated and serve to maintain the meditative air.
On “Whispers from Eternity,” wind and sparkling harp glissandos create a timeless soundscape to drift away on. One of my favorite tunes was “Metamorphose,” which evolves from a dreamy formless state to a more upbeat, motion-driven composition. I particularly liked all the little spacey electronic sounds that weave in and out of the sonic tapestry. Another sound that added a refreshing new voice was the airy flute melody that graces a track called “Devi.” A number of terms from Eastern religion appear in David’s titles, reflecting the inspiration of his music. David’s commitment to creating music that fosters inner peace is part of what appeals to me about the album and gives the music its lofty ambience. While David is classically trained on piano, he is quite adept in the ambient electronic realms and has an excellent sense of the kind of sounds, and their arrangement, that will enhance the ethereal nature of his compositions.
Each song is distinctive yet they flow together in a beautifully cohesive listening experience that allows the listener to remain immersed in the soothing vibe they create from beginning to end. In addition to enjoying it for active listening, it also makes a perfect backdrop for meditation, yoga, massage, or just relaxing after a long day. With his latest release, David Wahler has crafted a spirit-filled soundtrack to serenity that could appeal to a wide audience.
- posted by Michael Diamond on 2/15/2015
Blessings to All
There are albums that you play when you are in a certain mood, and then their albums that create their own atmosphere. Keyboardist David Wahler's latest offering Spiritus is the latter. These eleven tracks of blissful ambient music are guaranteed to produce a warm, inviting environment no matter when you play them. There is something light and uplifting about the music that David creates with his keyboard and infuses itinerant sound. It will alter your disposition into something positive. That is what music is supposed to do.
The album opens with the title tune, Spiritus. It has a delicate reverence, almost like a musical invocation. The music is gentle, like a whispered prayer of gratitude. A murmur of voice introduces the track Mystic Voyage. The celestial horns invite you aboard a vessel of the imagination to wander and explore. This transport can go across oceans or galaxies or even dimensions. With the power of your mind, the boundaries are up to you.
The name Ananda means "bliss" and it describes the tune well. Inorganic voice and shimmering sounds coalesce to produce a song of weightlessness, a drifting tune without physical restrictions. This is what freedom sounds like. There is always some good in change and the song Metamorphose underscores the positive in this dynamic piano tune. This is a change of the heart, an acceptance that opens other avenues of emotion.
David delves deeper into the sublime and the metaphysical with the tune Devi. Devi is the Goddess of Energies, but she has many other manifestations. She is mother and protector, she is the One and the Many. The tune is sweetly melodic, a pleasing acknowledgement of the power of the Divine. In the same vein, Chela or disciple is a song of supplication. The tune is very subdued and serene as the guitar lead suggests a detached ambiance. The essence is mesmerizing and free.
The final cut, Ocean of Light is more traveling music for the soul. This particular ocean sparkles with an iridescent tone and is made up of electric waves. We are free to float, to plunge ahead or to let the music carry us along at its own unhurried tempo. The music of the light has promise and our destination will be well worth the journey.
Wahler's biography is sparse at best. He learned to play the keyboard by ear. He fortified his love of music at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music and Mannes College of Music in New York. Currently, he teaches music to students with challenges. Much can be overcome with the common bond of music. On Spiritus, a fusion of New Age and chill-out melodies David Wahler synthesizes an atmospheric album that defies time and distance and settles diaphanously on a theme of placid peace. The soothing celestial tracks promise to bestow calm on the harried psyche and energize the weariest of souls.
RJ Lannan - Zone Music Reporter
Review by Kathy Parsons
Spiritus is the follow-up to two very highly-acclaimed albums from pianist/keyboardist/composer David Wahler. Wahler was named “Best New Artist” by Zone Music Reporter for his 2009 debut, Antiquus, which was also nominated as “Best Album” of the year. His 2010 release, A Star Danced, was nominated by ZMR Awards as “Best Album,” “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album,” and went on to win “Best Meditation & Relaxation Album” of that year. Both albums were on my annual Favorites lists as well. By way of introduction to his new music, Wahler told me recently: “I have taken a bit more introspective approach, having moved to a spiritual community in Northern California.... The focus here is on yoga and meditation. Such a beautiful, peaceful place nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.” With exceptional production quality and flawless mastering by highly-respected studio engineer Bryan Carrigan, this music is very peaceful and serene, intended to ease the listener's mind from the strain and stress of modern life, and to hopefully provide both a respite and a pathway to peace.
Wahler was strongly drawn to the piano at the age of seven and studied classical piano from childhood through college. He then began working in theater and taught music appreciation to disadvantaged and handicapped children before embarking on a career in retail and design. Finding something missing in his life, Wahler enrolled in the Berklee College of Music’s Electronic Music Production program and a new world opened for him. Lucky us!
Spiritus opens with the title track, an ethereal piece for angelic voices, layers of ambient sound, and a beautiful acoustic guitar melody - a lovely beginning! “Mystic Voyage” has a gentle, dreamlike quality that erases the tensions of the day and takes the listener to a place of calm, shimmering beauty. “Bhakti Heart” features a very simple keyboard melody over washes of atmospheric sound and wordless vocals. By this point, you should be melting into whatever you are sitting on with a blissful smile on your face! Does music get any more soothing and peaceful than “Whispers from Eternity”? This is a musical shoulder rub and mind massage guaranteed to melt rocks. “Metamorphose” begins in a very ambient style, gradually becoming more rhythmic and melodic as it undergoes its own transformation. “Devi” returns us to a place of utter tranquility and beauty on the wings of a musical sigh. In the hands of another composer, “Spirit Dance” might be uptempo and swirling, but Wahler gives us a slow, diaphanous grace rather than heavy drums or chants - lovely! “Ocean of Light” brings this hour of musical heaven to a close with bright sparkles of sunshine dancing slowly on peaceful, shimmering waters. My only words of caution with this album are that it could become very habit-forming - but only in a very good way!
David Wahler has created another musical masterpiece! Spiritus is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
February 23, 2015