Frank van Essen has brought the yin and yang of percussion and melody together in a breathtaking musical alchemy that produces sound-pictures for the contemplative heart…
Frank van Essen
7 tracks / 55:46
From the first haunting strains of “Labyrinth” you know you’re listening to something special. Frank van Essen’s Sanctum is well-titled. The word has several meanings but most importantly implies a private place, a sacred area – a shrine, a temple, a church. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is ‘ambient’ music meant to fill background spaces – far from it. The music is well-suited to bring you to contemplation but is also full of fire, passion, and melodic exploration. It’s as if van Essen has brought the yin and yang of percussion and melody together in a breathtaking musical alchemy that produces sound-pictures for the contemplative heart.
To try to describe the songs would be futile – each song is a wordless journey with melody, tempo, and textural changes designed to speak to the soul. This is music designed to communicate on levels beyond hooks, choruses, and musical excesses. Some will call it prog, others, yes – ambient, some perhaps New Age. What does need to be understood about this music, though, is that it’s thoughtfully composed and magnificently performed.
That Frank van Essen can be both thunder (drums) and flowing water (violin) is amazing enough – but the power of his percussion and the sweetness of his tone on violin are almost startling. No less eloquent and masterful are his supporting players: former Iona bandmate Dave Bainbridge gives his usual transcendent performance on acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, mandolin and keyboards; Jimmy Johnson and Mark Dekkers trade off on various tracks playing bass; Jan Peter Beijersbergen adds additional guitar work; Jonas Pap plays cello, Sjoerd Visser plays soprano and alto sax, whistles and duclar, and Troy Donockley contributes low and high whistles, uilleann pipes and bouzouki.
All tracks composed and arranged by Frank van Essen except “Introspection” and “A Million Stars,” which are written by Frank van Essen and Dave Bainbridge.
We all need sanctum in our lives. May I strongly suggest that you consider buying a copy of Frank van Essen’s Sanctum – especially if you’re one that loves instrumental music that touches your spirit without neglecting to stimulate your mind and soul. When music is truly inspired, it shows – and this is a project where I believe the artist is trying to let you know what God has whispered into his heart. There can be little else as important for an artist to communicate as that.
- Bert Saraco
- 4 1/2 Tocks