Lapse by Michael NealRelease date: May 10, 2019
Label: Blue Spiral Records
To begin I need to say that I am still just fledging in my exposure to the neo/modern classical side of music as a whole. Not being a musician myself, I can only listen through the filter of what moves me internally. My ears were recently opened by accident when I did no more than click on a link out of curiosity. At once, a whole new world was opened to me, one that includes a few millennia of history that I would be remiss to even begin to touch on. Or feel qualified to cite for that matter. Obviously, in one way or another, all music is derivative of what has come before.
My only experience, before this year, with music in a classical sense was when I was just an emotionally undeveloped 13 year old and I heard Kim Morrison’s Water Spirit. Which was an album composed for Solo French Harp. That and the full accompaniment found in the film score to The Last Of The Mohicans. I was completely stricken and in awe. Not knowing where my psyche would later lye in the emotional realm, I found myself asking “why is this making me cry?” For whatever reason, I did not explore this area of listening any further and my awareness would soon be overtaken by Metal. Later came Trance, and finally Post-Rock completely bewitched me.
Enter Contemporary/Neo/Modern-Classical. Or whichever label the purists prefer this week. To say that I am smitten would be a drastic understatement. The variance of styles is immense and overwhelming. Ranging from radio friendly to abstract and borderline weird. Just when I thought my search would end fruitless, Lapse by Michael Neal firmly secured my attention. Released by Blue Spiral Records in early May of this year, Lapse is a profound statement of beauty. I don’t believe in the concept of perfect, but Lapse comes pretty damn close.
The album begins powerfully with ‘Diminish’, but that does not properly set the stage for the album. Far from minimal and dynamic in every measure, Lapse has helped bring into focus what moves me most. Even on shuffle, which I rarely use as I’m such a moody listener, the album has a very even pace. Which is a nice change compared to other composers I have been listening to of late. That is not to say that it is repetitious. There is some unpredictability, almost fantastical in nature, in Neal’s arrangements which may just be due to my unfamiliarity with piano driven melodies.
In my somewhat exhaustive audible research I haven’t heard anyone translate what is within him to the piano quite like Michael Neal has. His music has an aire of innocence, yet is still peppered by fear and uncertainty where change is life’s only constant. There are also very bright and incredible detailed textures. Even in its more somber moments, as can be heard in ‘Angel Wings’ and ‘Glass Shards’, there is flickering hope to be heard in its underlying message, which through the filter of my ears appears to be that of nostalgia unburdened by longing or regret.
Overall Lapse is more of an enveloping calm that deceptively lulls you into submission and unreserved contentment, with the culmination of tracks settling in with a gentle rain of notes that can only result in serenity. Like the distant drone of a waterfall face that is also imbued with softly painted colors seen on the cover art. No lines to color within or rigid structures that restrain experience or natural flow that began at the crest of creative musicianship. I highly recommend this album for anyone who is willing to take a few moments away from the trappings of life and all it entails. Top shelf work Michael. Thank you!!!
Post Script: Expect an interview as soon as the aforementioned trappings allow.