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Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 7 

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Tony Levin blends jazz and new age in Waters


Waters of Eden

Tony Levin
Narada Records

*** 1/2 stars


By Joshua Klein
Daily Cougar Staff

Whether you've realized it or not, you've heard Tony Levin hammer the bass before. 

Levin has played with a variety of artists including Peter Gabriel and Alice Cooper. He's been delighting listeners for decades with his unique talent on bass.

In his latest musical quest, Levin explores melodic elements that will engage listeners' ears and minds. Using an assortment of instruments, from cello to bansuri flute, Levin attempts to hypnotize his audience with nine tracks of harmonious play.

Waters of Eden is an entirely instrumental combination of jazz and new age blend. On "Boulevard of Dreams" Levin composes a soft, elegant piano ballad that complements his subtle brand of bass play.

The easy listening doesn't rear its head on all of the tracks. "Pillar of Fire" thrusts heavy guitar riffs fused with a dazzling synthesizer rhythm over a tight drum beat.

At times the album plays like an ode to elevator music, as is evident in "Belle," a noninspiring run-of-the-mill instrumental. However, Levin dares to be inventive on other tracks like "Gecko Walk," combining several instruments laid over his bass to accomplish beautiful harmony.

"Bone and Flesh" is the most melodic cut of the album, cleverly mixing Levin's stylish play to the cello, flute and synthesizers. It contains various musical changes that can keep any listener utterly enthralled. As in most pieces on Waters of Eden, Levin stitches together the track with a sublime bassline.

The album offers Levin's conceptual view of the way instrumental music should be approached. Levin doesn't want his music played to fill space in our lives, but to be examined and understood. 

His insight into the listener's needs for stimulation make his brand of instrumental music enjoyable and inspiring. 

Though Waters of Eden is instrumental, it's simple to grasp the meaning through the music. One is able to understand Levin's innovative motive. 

Instrumental albums aren't for everyone, and this one, although very well done, is no exception. It's a buyer-beware album for most. Those who require vocals in order to enjoy music should steer away, but for those who enjoy reeling in the instruments, Levin is worth checking out.
 

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