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Artist: James Freeman
Title: Echoes of Nature II
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: The Orchard
Rated: 3 1/2 Stars

Wait..there’s a sequel to James Freeman’s “Echoes of Nature”? And – spoiler alert – there’s also an “Echoes of Nature III”??!! Still coming to all five senses from listening to the first, along comes a sequel with equally juxtaposed synthetics, natural ‘field recordings’ (owls, streams, etc.), and acoustic instruments/live musicians improvising atop it all. The result is surprisingly intriguing yet pastoral.

I was impressed with Freeman’s first “Echoes of Nature”, and this is more of the same, albeit more synthetic-sounding and nimble than the prior. Twenty-minute opener ‘Frog Pond’ features dexterous synth arpeggios, a frog-like ascending motif that functions almost like a bassline, and animated interplay amongst the soloists ranging in instrumentation from reed to wind to string. Mad Tolling and Yehudit return on violin/viola, as does Nika Rejto on flute and piccolo.

In an almost disconcerting way, the inorganic drum that opens the final track ‘Jungle Flute’ was so synthetic that, for a moment, it took me away from what had been nearly 50 minutes of balanced auditory potpourri. I thought, “that is a very unnatural-sounding drum to imagine either being or hearing in the jungle”. Like everything on both of Freeman’s “Echoes of Nature” albums, however, it somehow finds its relative place in the atmosphere, merrily plodding along.

Recommended for first-thing AM/last-thing PM listening for maximum enjoyment.

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