Dancing in the Desert
'Dancing in the Desert' is the second album from modern British composer Richard Amos and was composed and produced in London during 2001/02 at Richard's Private Studio in London and mastered by Simon Heyworth at Sanctuary.
Listen to album samples;
- Track 1: Arrival *
- Track 2: Desert Flower
- Track 3: Survivor *
- Track 4: Falling for You *
- Track 5: Mirage
- Track 6: Embrace *
- Track 7: Breakdown
- Track 8: Fight Back
- Track 9: Sweet Dream
- Track 10: Home *
- Track 11: Arrival (remix 1) 156bpm
- Track 12: Fight Back (remix 1) 144 bpm
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The album is a collection of 10 instrumental pieces fusing mainly electronic, pop, dance, new age and classical influences. There are also two extra dance remixes on the album.
'The main musical concept of the album was to reflect back on the music which inspired me most as I was growing up (the 80s); Vangelis/ Jarre/ T.Dream etc and reinvent it with a slightly more modern as well as personal sound... Air did something similar (Moon Safari) but looked more to the 70’s for their inspiration...
To me this is more than nostalgia as I believe in many facets of life we sometimes have to go back a little in order to move forward...Also, all music moves forward with an appreciation of what came before, Mozart learned much from Bach/Hadyn and Beethoven learned from Mozart and so on...
Despite the title, the album is not a dance album although, there are two dance mixes and more rhythmic pieces than the last album. The album is more of a balance between chill out, film themes and techno ! The title 'Dancing in the Desert' is metaphorical - in many ways it's a statement about how we survive when we feel alone, lost, an outsider - not part of a fashion or club!
As with my first album, melody plays a very central part but this album has a more electronic production and has more of a pop sensibility. I always work hard to ensure I have what I think is a special, inspired or magical melody, one that is instantly memorable and one that you do not tire of easily...... In my opinion the really great melodies/themes are timeless and they can be reinvented for generations within the context of the latest production fashions or just left as they were!!!
On this album I've also opted for quite simple melodies and arrangements and have not shied away from repetition as I was seeking to serve the melodies in an optimum way.
The main progression from my first album is really in terms of the use of sound and production - more electronics but hopefully not any less human!
After some experimentation, I now look forward to new music and the future?'
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Reviewed by: JimmyD of www.instrumentalweekly.com
Light and Airy, Humble and Dramatic...
...The combination of simple (but catchy) piano melodies and smooth electronic elements make for a fun, uplifting listening experience from the Richard Amos recording Dancing in the Desert. At just shy of a full hour, the music on this album has a lot of heart and will appeal to traditional new age fans as well as more discerning EM enthusiasts. And though the title may indicate otherwise, this music is also about the human spirit, and how we manage to survive when things seem hopeless.
Citing artists such as Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre and a handful of classical (both old school and neo) composers as his influence, Richard Amos has one other album to his credit (Tears and Joy) which explored the gamut of ambient, new age, classical and electronic composition. In this his second release, Dancing in the Desert takes his musical explorations a step further by introducing pop into his repertoire. And the result is nothing short of wonderful.
Tipping his hat to his musical heroes, Richard has produced an album that certainly hints at acts such as Tangerine Dream and Jan Hammer, but expertly manages to keep the voice as his own. Some of the melodies found here are just perfect, asking the listener to play a few tracks over again and again. The undeniably catchy "Falling for You" is just so bright and optimistic, like an unexpected summer shower. I also appreciated Richard's more dramatic sensibilities, especially in pieces like "Sweet Dream" and "Home".
It's encouraging to know that there are artists making music that is straightforward and to the point, showcasing their talent but not going over the top in an effort to show how many different technologies they have access to. Richard Amos wanted to say thank you with Dancing in the Desert to his musical exemplars, and does so with grace and style.
This one will stay in my player for a long time.
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Review by Bill Binkelman of www.windandwire.com
British electronic keyboard player Richard Amos has recently released his second album, Dancing in the Desert, and, for me, the CD is a whole lotta fun - with a capitol "F!" If you can resist the bubbly synths, '80s synth-pop drum programming, and joyful piano of the opening track, "Arrival," you have more self-control than I do. Describing the music herein as grin-inducing is putting it mildly. Those percolating synths, the bumpa-bumpa-bumpa drums, the swirling keyboards, the ethereal choruses - well, damn! what else would you want from an EM song?
And that's just the beginning here. Varying from warmly nostaligc and romantic softer piano and synth "new age music" numbers to more uptempo, cheerful excursions into instrumental synth-pop (think Jarre but without his tendency to noodling) and even some forays into quasi-Berlin territory, Amos comforts himself with equal amounts of talent, heart, and skill. Frankly, I loved listening to this album many times before writing this review. I especially never tired of the more "bouncy" tunes, such as "Falling for You" with its simple yet pleasant piano/keyboard refrain, ethereal female choral effects, snappy drum programming, and assorted synths flying hither and yon, or "Fight Back" which builds slowly before erupting in a series of high-hats, bass beats, and piano amid the lush synths.
Of course, the slower tracks here include some beauts too. "Desert Flower" has a weirdly spacy start, but turns out to be a somewhat sad new age music, featuring delicate bells and synth strings (played with remarkable restraint, considering the genre and how most artists fall into overkill with their strings) and even some later moments of near Vangelis-like drama. "Mirage" begins by sounding like Larry Kucharz's ambient choral work, but eventually morphs into a jazzier midtempo beat-driven new age meets synth-pop vein with piano and synths working in good unison.
But it's the fast numbers here that make me hit the "repeat" button on my CD player most often. From the affirming percussion-and-synth fest of "Embrace" to "Survivor" and its happy-go-lucky twinkling bells, percolating Berlin beats, and melodic piano refrains, one track after the other on Dancing in the Desert is delightful - pure and simple. Nothing here is ostentatious, showy, pretentious, or heavy-handed. Yet, Amos does not just record superficial pap, either. The music is well-crafted, well-engineered and full of life and sincerity. Amos just happens to depend more on hooks, refrains, and catchiness than most ambient, new age, or Berlin school artists usually do. By the way, although this is actually not a "dance" CD, per se (except for two techno-paced remixes at the end of the album), my suggestion is to cut loose, play the hell out of this snazzy and positive-energy recording and do your own little dance in any "desert" you please. It's all about celebration on the faster cuts, so find something to be happy about, put this one in the player, and dance away! Highly recommended!
Review by Bill Binkelman
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Review by Dene Bebbington of www.windandwire.com
Dancing in the Desert is Richard's second album, apparently taking a more electronic approach than previously. He cites artists such as Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and Tangerine Dream as being influences, as well as classical and pop/dance. Thankfully this is not a derivative album though, it has a definite style of its own.
The short(ish) tracks are generally light and uplifting, with occasional shifts to a reflective mood. What strikes this reviewer is the emphasis on melodies which are often repeated to good effect. I like all kinds of electronic music from "out there" spacemusic to rip roaring Berlin school barnstormers, but what I probably appreciate above all else is a good melody that sticks in my mind - Dancing in the Desert delivers those. Listening to this album I was most reminded of John Kerr who is another musician that has a knack for creating relatively simple yet wonderful melodies.
In the opening track "Arrival" a breezy melody performs over percussion, and later on a beat too. Play this and you can imagine someone unselfconsciously dancing in the desert because they feel happy. Following on from this is an example of the switch to a reflective mood; in "Desert Flower" a gentle melody is complemented by various synth pads, then the mood becomes more expansive as though expressing the emergence of a flower, and finally we return to how it started and finish off with synth style wind effects.
For the next eight tracks the mood stays mainly upbeat with some new melodies, and some getting a reprise. The two final tracks are dance remixes of "Arrival" and "Fight Back". Having dance remixes is appropriate because of the pop and dance influences that can be felt throughout the album. Although these influences are there the album doesn't really cross over to pop music, rather it makes it accessible to a wider audience.
This is an album to play when you feel happy or want to lift your mood.
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Review by Serge Kozlovsky
This music is full of life! The Richard Amos album"Dancing in the Desert" is not a dying in a desolate wilderness but a celebrating of life in this so beautiful and majestic place. The composer joins a great many styles in his music. Right here one can find out dancing pop-rhythms, electronic, chill-out, ambient, the influence of classic music, and, no doubt, new age! Besides the Richard Amos music is rather cinematic! You find easily yourself in the sands, and this journey is very comfortable. The desert by Richard Amos is a place to celebrate a life, to be happy that you exist, and to bless the existence for everything.
A vague archaism available in the Richard Amos music does not in the least worsen the perception of his album, quite the contrary, it turns you back to the eighties, recurring to the memory such brilliants of the new age as "Deep Breakfast" or "No Blue Thing" by Ray Lynch. More than usual the influence of the eighties is felt in such compositions as "Desert Flower" and "Embrace".
When you are listening to the Richard Amos"Dancing in the Desert" you have a sensation that the compositions are performed all in the same breath. The entirety and the completeness of the plot feature this music. Especially nice, perfect in rhythm, inflaming and fascinating the composition “Falling for You” is. It merely subdues with its vigour and a positive energy. One might say the same concerning the Richard Amos album as a whole."Dancing in the Desert" is very positive and optimistic. And, moreover, the Richard Amos album is an actual one, the composer, arousing a light nostalgia, speaks a language you understand, uses the means of expressions existing at the present moment. In his keyboards a some baroque and techno rhythms get mixed up.
What is"Dancing in the Desert"? Is this the music for a body? Or, barely for the rest? Or, may be it is the music for the intellect? Richard Amos, joining a number of genres, gives life to the project suitable for the most various situations in life and states of mind. Inner liberty, flight of creativity which are running through"Dancing in the Desert" make the Richard Amos music such individual, natural and attractive!
Translated by Tatyana L. Permyakova
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Review by David J Opdyke www.ambientrance.org
Clean, pretty and energetic, the new age/dance hybrids of Dancing In The Desert remind me of an under-produced Robert Miles... (or perhaps Miles sounds like an overproduced Richard Amos?) The throbbing (though never threatening) e-beats and gently propelling bass of Arrival are caressed by gusting synthchoir streams and glinting pianonotes... very sweet. I particularly enjoy the textural breezes behind percussion-free Desert Flower, even more than the glowing vibes and tender electrorchestral tunefulness.
As eager rhythmics do their thing, the twink-twink-twinkling keys of Falling For You can burn their lilting refrain into your head in seconds. The roughest edges occur only briefly; in Breakdown (1:14) dark pulsations stomp across a swirling sci-fi-scape. Coming back for more, a revved-up Arrival (remix 1) ups the adrenaline ante at the pace of 146 bpm, and with darker digital undertones. Much better!
Some lovely stuff to be sure, but many of the "instruments" just sounds so "straight out of the box" even if they are (too?) prettily arranged. And to me, a desert should be a hot, dirty place... these pristine constructions belong in a fantasyland candy castle (with its own dancefloor, of course). I can't knock too hard on anyone who seems so sincere though, and Richard Amos definitely does... just not my thing.
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Review by Artur Lason (Polish Electronic Music Pioneer)
Albums by Richard Amos ('Dancing in the Desert' & 'Tears and Joy') bring music that combine classical structures with a new, fresh, original and adult performance. If you've thought electronic music died just listen to both albums by Richard Amos and you'll get reborn together with those tones. Even the most classical tracks are original enough to call them neoclassical beauty...
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Sound on Sound Magazine - demo doctor - review by John Harris
Inspired by the music of Vangelis, Jarre and Tangerine Dream, Richard is getting all the right sounds from his setup. I was particularly impressed by the Roland JV1080 and its vintage synth voices, which give a truly authentic 80's feel. Overall, the arrangements are light on percussion, letting the pulsing bass lines carry the rhythm. Indeed, there's not much sign of a sneezing snare drum until the fourth track. Where the kick drum is used on the opening track, it is too low in the mix to have much impact, although the choice of sound, plummy with an artificial-sounding attack, is just right for the era. The piano which carries the melody needs more reverb to help the notes both sustain and sit well in the mix. In contrast, the piano on the second track features too much reverb, especially on the bass notes. This makes it sound muddy and I'd suggest Richard record the reverb from his Lexicon MPX100 into Cubase, using a high-pass filter to roll off the bass. This would also free up the Lexicon for use elsewhere. One nice touch is the repeated rhythmic sweep which descends to the left of centre and is followed by an ascending sweep on the right. I think the ascending mix could be a bit higher in the mix, but otherwise it attracts and holds the listener's interest as the track progresses.
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The Synth-Pop that Richard Amos makes in this album counts with an important presence of melodies often with a transcendental air, or emotional in nature, as if they were narrating thrilling adventures in faraway lands or situations where the warmest emotions flow freely. An intense creative task can be appreciated throughout the entire album, as well as in the electronic orchestrations.
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