Fresh Aire 4

Fresh Aire 4

by Mannheim Steamroller
     
 

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This fourth album completes the season-themed portion of the Fresh Aire series, and Winter does indeed have some chilly elements. Here, composer and performer Chip Davis expands Mannheim Steamroller's scope by bringing in the behemoth of all keyboards, the pipe organ. Played by Jackson Berkey, this king of instruments starts off the antics with "G Major Toccata

Overview

This fourth album completes the season-themed portion of the Fresh Aire series, and Winter does indeed have some chilly elements. Here, composer and performer Chip Davis expands Mannheim Steamroller's scope by bringing in the behemoth of all keyboards, the pipe organ. Played by Jackson Berkey, this king of instruments starts off the antics with "G Major Toccata." Davis adds his rock drum riffs, and the organ bends to sound slightly more hip, until the final statement finds the two dueting in perfect synchronicity -- one rock, one Bach -- culminating in a final blast of fanfares. The wintry "Crystal" is the key cold cut on the album, and it's surely one of the trippiest pieces to emerge up to this point in the Fresh Aire series. Cool synth winds sweep through with eerie outer space atmospherics provided by Theremins (the odd woo-woo sound as heard on old sci-fi flicks), hypnotically sparkling celesta patterns, and cosmos-bound keyboard tones. Another tour de force is the rambunctious, harpsichord-led "Four Rows of Jacks," lavished with layers of drums, synth blurps, piano chords, strings, and French horns. The final four-track suite begins with "Red Wine," a stately Renaissance dance for recorder ensemble, harpsichord, lute, and strings. One is reminded of the perennial "Greensleeves" and of roaring fires in the dens of great old halls, which aptly leads us right into "Dancing Flames." Here, sparks fly with intriguing polyrhythmic layers of electronica, piano, bass, rock drums, strings, and jingle bells. "Embers" shakes it all off with an airy melody that echoes bits of "Scarborough Fair," complete with folk vocalise.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Dave Connolly
Winter had a polarizing effect on the band, drawing them toward a more severe, economical sound that favored clarity over sentimentality. Gone were the overly romantic piano pieces and giddy medieval romps. This is music tinged with a certain sadness (as on "Red Wine"), at times alien and foreboding ("Crystal"). It's not a complete departure from their formula, but it does succeed at matching that formula to a specific season, moreso than the first three Fresh Aire records anyway. The album was originally split between outside (the first four tracks) and inside (the last four tracks), a point lost on the subsequent CD reissue. There's not a huge difference between the two; the medieval "Four Rows of Jacks" isn't so much different in spirit from the modern "Dancing Flames," and neither evokes the outdoors or indoors in particular. If Fresh Aire 4 is a better record than its predecessors, much of it depends on the listener's appreciation of synthesizers. Jackson Berkey uses them more here than on previous albums, and the music seems to sparkle as a result. It is their most modern record, embracing the world of electronic music on "Crystal" and "The Dream" (based on Johannes Kepler's work, which would serve as the launching point for Fresh Aire 5). The opening "G Major Toccata," as much fun as it is, almost sets the listener up to expect the same fare as the first three Fresh Aires. But the band quickly turns introspective, and by the closing "Embers" the mood has changed 180 degrees. Fresh Aire 4 remains their most effective evocation of a season, even if they are indoors for half of it. More importantly, it proves that the band could compete with modern musicians on their own turf.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/12/2000
Label:
American Gramaphone
UPC:
0012805500425
Rank:
121775

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mannheim Steamroller   Primary Artist
Jackson Berkey   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Celeste,Harpsichord,Electric Piano,Pipe organ,fender rhodes
Chip Davis   Synthesizer,Percussion,Drums,Recorder
Bob Jenkins   Oboe
Hugh Brown   Strings
Eric Hansen   Bass,Lute
Dorothy Brown   Strings
Miriam Duffelmeyer   Strings
James Hammond   Strings
Joe Landes   Strings
Beth McCollum   Strings
Merton Shatzkin   Strings
Steve Shipps   Strings
John Boden   Horn
Charles W. Cronkhite   Strings
Chris Farber   Strings
Lou Newman   Strings
Sue Robinson   Strings

Technical Credits

Chip Davis   Arranger,Producer
Don Sears   Producer,Engineer
Jim Wheeler   Engineer
Louis Davis   Contributor
Ed Wilson   Liner Notes
John Svoboda   Art Direction

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