William Close is a musician and inventor who has created over 50 musical instruments, including the Earth Harp — a magnificent instrument extending over 1000 feet in length, utilizing architecture and landscape. William Close and the Earth Harp Collective have just released a beautiful holiday compilation. Get your copy here: http://www.williamcloseholidays.com/
Below, Little Drummer Boy – William Close and the Earth Harp Collective featuring Laura Vall & Thomas Hjorth
Fourculture’s Kathy Creighton reviews the compilation:
Probably one of my favorite holiday songs, The Carol of the Bells, takes on another personality with this MASS Ensemble arrangement. In this track The Harp is a support instrument to traditional strings, drums and vocals. All together the song has a symphonic grandeur and fills one with the magnificence of this holiday season.
Track two takes on Ave Maria, a piece that takes us into the quiet place, on the dark, cold night that The Divine enters the world and peace, sadness, joy and love of the mother. Of course the song is written from the Christian perspective but it really knows no affiliation other than sacred and holy so it can be appreciated by many who celebrate this season. The vocalist on this recording has the perfect sweet, sadness to her voice and interprets the song beautifully.
The Little Drummer Boy features Laura Vall and Thomas Hjort. It combines The Harp, guitar and of course the amazing drums of the Ensemble. The grand sound of this arrangement brings a sense of reverie and yet a great gift given not only to the Christ child but to all who hear it. The final notes on The Harp speak to one’s spirit.
Silent Night, even though I tend to be a bit of a snob and a purist with the song knowing its history, this arrangement takes one outside, standing on a hill and looking into the starfield to see that one star…everything around you is quiet, maybe just a breeze stirring a few leaves left on the trees. Snow on the ground allows the animals to move about without a sound. One just knows something very important has happened. The Earth Harp and the vocalist are the stars of this arrangement.
We Three Kings, an arrangement that only includes a background chorus of vocal with no lyrics being sung until the chorus. With only males singing at this point, my mind painted pictures of the servants walking ahead of the Maji with their boxes, bags and baskets of treasures for the baby king. This version of the song is rich and majestic.
William and the Ensemble take a moment at this point in the album to just celebrate Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The song is called Snowfall and it is The Harp’s moment to shine. Close skillfully crafts each crystal flake on these long strings and recreates a brief flurry.
Back to Christmas, The Ensemble visits the celebration in 16th Century England with Greensleeves. The song is traditional a folk tune but when put into the talented hands of William Close and his amazing array of instruments, this song takes on a pop-rock voice. Unfortunately I need to use an over-used word here…awesome.
Oh Holy Night, the song every church choir member wants to solo on or be part of the quartet. It is usually the victim of heavy-duty belters that beat this song into submission. This version features two women with voices as gentle as strands of silk. The instrumental arrangement, again creates that combination of the warm, low-lit space of the stable, the open quiet hillside and wraps it in the magnitude of the event. Very pretty. It honors the song rather than commandeers it.
Earth Prayer is a lyrical version of St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer. “Make me an instrument of thy peace”. When accompanied by The Harp this prayer wraps around you and works its way inside you. William then uses the Harp to send that prayer into the Universe. This is a track one should definitely use for holiday meditation. It is incredibly spiritually powerful.
Noche De Paz, Night of Peace. As one who walks a pagan and celebrates The Solstice and Yule, peace is one of the core points of this season for me. Silent Night in Italian with the Harp in all its glory speaks, mourns, groans, cries for humanity and our need for peace. This track is the perfect closure for this album. I highly recommend that whatever Holy Days you are celebrating, play this at the end of your ritual whether Sabbat, lighting the last Channukah candle, or extinguishing your Christmas Eve candles. It will send you away with a very deep sense of peace and love.