Wenzel has created another amazing journey with this latest release. When he openly states the basis behind the compositions is metaphoric and conceptual, as it is with a majority of his pieces, you know you are once again off on a journey that will, can and should, take you anywhere you choose to go.
Hauntingly beautiful the piano, overlayed with the demanding tones of the violin played by Josie Quick, immediately take you to a place or space where there is a great sense of nothingness, of empty , endless distances, of great, intense immensity; a time for reflection, rebirth, understanding.
Onto this canvas transpose deep space, desert, forgotten times and civilizations; of things yet to be discovered and marvelled upon; add the Horseman, a metaphor for the human, wandering, seeking, listening, absorbing, accepting and discovering much about the universe he lives in, the wonders unfolding, and yet to unfold before his eyes.
Each of the tracks pertains to a particular emotion or emotions, an all too human transposition of sentiment, which makes up the individual and the influences which mould the life of the person as they journey through their own personal time and space.
Note each title of the twelve pieces as they are all specific to a defining moment in any relationship; Turn and Walk Away, Forgiveness, Colours Dancing, a joyous piece, Walk with Me and finally Luminous Wake, Starlit Sea; perhaps a fitting finale, a gentle lullaby as we, at the end of our days, the end of a romance, the change of direction, time to say farewell, time to move on to whatever the universe, in its immensity holds next, learn to accept change.
The melodies intermingled throughout the album will remain with you, returning time and time and again to the mind to refresh and relax. Simply perfect!
When praising an exciting and well-written book, we often say that it “instantly connects with the reader” and that “you simply cannot put the book down”. Listening to Timothy Wenzel’s new album “Distant Horseman”, it is obvious to me that the same goes for music. From the very first note Wenzel creates a world of harmonies, stories and life. You just don’t want to turn it off. You have to find out how it ends, it is that good.
Timothy Wenzel debuted in 2012 with “Mountains Take Wing”. After this, “A Coalescence of Dreams” (October 2012) , “River Serene” (2013) and “Summon the Wind” (2014) followed. His fifth album, “Distant Horseman”, was released in February 2016.
A Bend in the River
First track is called “A Bend in the River”. The warm and cosy sounding piano is simply irresistible; the melody is impossible not to like. The album features Josie Quick on violin, and it was mastered by Corin Nelsen. When Josie starts playing, the bend in the river suddenly seems like the best place on earth. Or perhaps it the excitement of what lies beyond the bend? Timothy Wenzel is often inspired by Celtic and folk music, and this song is no exception.
Next song is the title track. It follows in the same style, but with a hint of melancholy. It makes you ask; who is this distant horseman? Is it a long lost relative? Or is it a messenger, bringing news of high importance? The cover gives no explanation, other than that fact that there’s a horseman out there, riding away. Talking about the cover; the wonderful artwork is made by Edson Moraes, especially for this album. The sci-fi/fantasy theme is an interesting contrast to album’s traditional sound. It also highlights the fact that this album’s theme is about journeys – either real or imaginary.
I love albums that have a consistent sound. That make them ideal for reading, studying or creative work. “Distant Horseman” is such an album. Timothy’s piano and carefully selected synths, plus Josie’s violin, make an unforgettable atmosphere. Listen to the songs “Turn and walk away” and “A Night so Cold” and you’ll understand what I mean.
The atmosphere is even more laid-back on “Moments in Years”. We are all travelers in time and space, and the flute and the gentle drum make time fly by fast. It is a simple and very nice melody. There’s a bit more drama on “No Tomorrow”, with a quite fast rhythm. The world might be ending, but before there’s lots of life and excitement. Perhaps there’s a tomorrow after all?
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Forgiven”. The orchestral arrangement is very well made, and the song has a great build-up. It has some truly epic qualities. It makes me think of The Lord of the Rings, which is a great match to the album’s journey theme.
“Colors Dancing” is, as the name implies, a bright and happy tune. There’s some really nice keyboards in the background, and the drums make a splashing sound. When colors are dancing, there’s obviously some clearing up to do…
For me the high point on the album is “Ecstasy Eyes”. The gentle melody, with piano, violin and a vocal synth, is balancing perfectly on the edge of melancholy. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and shows that Timothy Wenzel is on par with artists such as Medwyn Goodall, Llewellyn and Marc Enfroy. I also enjoy the Medieval feel of “Summer’s Dance” and the elegant “Walk with Me”.
Timothy has saved a great song for the ending. “Luminous Wake, Starlit Sea”. It has a larger-than-life feel, complete with heavenly voices and a steady marching rhythm. No doubt that the journey has been long and memorable.
I will end where I started; comparing “Distant Horseman” with literature. Its sound is so consistent that it feels like one story, one narrative. You just have to keep on listening to find out how it ends. “Distant Horseman” is Timothy Wenzel’s best album to date. Highly recommended!
Score: 93/100. See how I rate music here.
Receiving a new album by Timothy Wenzel is always something I look forward to. Having written previously about his Summon The Wind and River Serene albums, I’ve become a fan of his beautifully written compositions. I’ve learned that Timothy likes to center his music on a specific theme, and this one is no exception. As he described in our interview: “Comprising twelve instrumental selections, the album Distant Horseman is conceptually both a spiritual and a seasonal journey. The songs represent an introspective and allegorical journey, a pondering of what lies beyond the bend in the river. To me the emphasis is on transformation. The uncertainties, the resolution and strengthening of spirit, the journey through the darker parts of our lives and finally the emergence of spirit, cleansed and re-born. But each step along the way is necessary to create such a profound journey.”
Something I’ve always found intriguing is Timothy’s background as both a research scientist in organometallic chemistry and a new age musician/composer, which makes for an interesting balance of left and right brain, or yin and yang from an Eastern perspective. I’ll quote from a previous interview to share his thoughts on this seeming dichotomy: “Scientific exploration is full of creativity and is very much like writing a song. In both cases you start with an idea and then explore the possibilities of where it can lead. Part of the experience is based on education, training and knowledge, but the other part is intuition, experimentation and a touch of magical alchemy that makes things work out.”
However, in our recent interview he added: “I left my chemist job a few years ago and pursued writing full time. I had to. There was too much I had to say and an unknown amount of time in which to do it. It is the only way I have to communicate my story, my deepest feelings. Also, before my brother passed away, I promised him I would retire early and pursue music. I kept the promise. He taught me so much in life. I am always reminded of the fragility of life, its fleetingness, and how no day should be wasted. I feel my soul is brimming with music so releasing it for others to hear, for me to tell my story, is a passion I must follow.”
Getting back to the theme of this new release Timothy shared: “I wrote all the songs for the album during the period of December 2014 through about August 2015, so naturally they reflect the transition of winter through summer (as described at my website). I also arranged them as sort of a spiritual journey, but it parallels the seasonal journey well. What I didn’t put in my website was that many of the songs were written with the mindset of an older person, in their late 50s, who now sees the cycle of life more clearly and wonders how the cycles are connected.
So lets delve into these songs and cycles of life to go on a journey following the tracks of a Distant Horseman. I had mentioned above how part of the theme for this album is “a pondering of what lies beyond the bend in the river,” and this is where we begin with the opening song entitled “A Bend In The River.” Timothy’s music is diverse and can range from earthy to ethereal. This song definitely has both feet planted firmly on the ground with its blend of Appalachian-tinged folk influence and Contemporary Instrumental sounds. Joining Timothy as a special guest on the musical voyage, here and throughout the album, is violinist Josie Quick. I have previously written about Josie’s participation on an album that she played on with her husband Tom Carleno called Perfect Imperfection. I also had the pleasure of meeting Josie and Tom last year at the ZMR Awards in New Orleans and seeing them perform there. Josie is an exceptionally talented musician and an inspiring addition to Timothy’s imaginative album.
Next up is the title song that continues on the earthy end of the spectrum with its lilting Celtic influence. The song has that somewhat bittersweet feel that gives Celtic music such emotional resonance. I particularly liked Timothy’s piano playing, as well as the light orchestration he created around it. Evoking a bit of a similar vibe, although without the Celtic influence, is the next track, “Turn And Walk Away.”
In our interview, Timothy shared a bit about his creative process for the next track: “The song “A Night So Cold” is honestly wondering what happens after death. It represents the underworld. It was written on an extremely cold night so I cast it in terms of darkness and cold. Yet it has a path and it is a journey – a journey guided by flowing water on this freezing night. And by lights guiding one in the darkness. But I did not want to cast the song as one about death but rather as about transformation. The pathway is provided by the violin melody (the flowing water), the light that illuminates are the treble notes of the piano.” It’s a profound and moving piece, and Timothy’s flowing piano arpeggios add to the feeling of moving water.
As Timothy mentioned, thematically, the album starts with winter and moves into spring and summer. With track 7, we come to a place that Timothy calls “the emotional turning point in the journey,” with a song called “Forgiven.” It’s an upbeat and dramatic composition that I interpreted as the thawing of winter and the coming of spring, as well as personal re-birth and a cleansing of the soul. There is a cinematic air to it as it evolves through various moods and movements in what Timothy refers to as, “a deeply-inspired orchestral revelation.”
Flowers begin to bloom and vernal vibrations fill the air with the next song, a light-hearted piece called “Colors Dancing.” Sweet and soulful is how I would describe “Ecstasy Eyes.” Timothy’s lovely chord progression on piano reminded me a bit of “Pachelbel Canon,” and is embellished by the sound of angelic choirs and Josie’s emotive violin playing. There is something elegant about a song played in 3/4 time, and “Summer’s Dance,” with it’s waltz-like cadence certainly fits this description as it sweeps the listener away in it’s graceful rhythm. The album ends on a magical note with “Luminous Wake, Starlit Sea,” which is also quite cinematic in its ambience. As Timothy describes the significance of this piece in the flow of the album: “You have made it through the trials and darkness of winter, you have re-emerged as a new being, you have fallen in love once again. One blissful voyage awaits…”
Timothy’s music is very visually evocative. And along these lines, I like how on his website he included a beautiful picture for each song to accompany the liner notes. Some of these images grace this feature article as well. I also love the album’s striking cover art done by Edson Moraes, who did the other images as well. Another contributor to this project is a name well known in the new age music genre, recording engineer Corin Nelsen, who did the mastering for the album
In addition to composing and performing such interesting and original sounding music, Timothy has a wonderful sense as an arranger and a real talent for placing various instruments and elements in a mix that add interest and bring his compositions to life. I enjoy the diversity of his music and not knowing quite what to expect from one track to the next. And yet, within that diversity, the project as a whole feels like a unified body of work – like a book that is made up of different chapters. I also appreciate how Timothy builds his albums around well-defined themes that bring the listener into the world he has created. Distant Horseman is a visionary musical journey that will appeal to a wide listening audience.
Distant Horseman – Timothy Wenzel – Life, Living and the Universe
So if you are looking for a nice, quiet relaxing album, I have one for you – Distant Horseman the latest release from New Age Artist Timothy Wenzel. The album was released back in February and it has been in my music rotation since then. I also think that it has also been at the top of the Zone Music Reporter Charts for all those months. The album features the musical artistry of Wenzel coupled with the beautiful violin of Josie Quick.
One of the ways that I always put granddaughter Zoe to sleep when she was a baby was to rock her on my shoulder. When I did this I would turn on the Soundscapes channel on Comcast. Soundscapes plays New Age music. On one of the days when I was rocking her a track from Timothy Wenzel came on and I really liked it. Zoe did to, but she went to sleep and I went to Spotify to find the album. Since this would have been early 2015, the track was most likely from Timothy’s album Summon the Wind. I wrote about the album in March of 2015. You can read about the album and Timothy here.
About Timothy Wenzel
Timothy Wenzel was born and raised in South Haven, Michigan. His mother played piano and encouraged him to play. He started plunking the keys at the age of three and began taking lessons at the age of five. Initially Wenzel was into classical music at first and then those rock bands hit and he was influenced like many by the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Jethro Tull and the Moody Blues. As he got older he began to appreciate new age music and liking George Winston and the whole roster of artists on Windham ‘Hill and Narada labels.
Music is Wenzel’s second full-time career, Initially, he was research scientist for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. He has PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry from Cornell University. During his career he was issued about 50 U.S. Patents. Wenzel sees a correlation between his two main passions – science and music. He says.
“Music and Science have always been my two main passions. I see a correlation between them. Scientific research is very much like writing a song. In both cases you start with an idea and then explore the possibilities of where it can lead.”
Wenzel’s primary instrument is the piano. He is also a master of the synthesist and augments the piano parts with a wide variety of instrumental sounds including: violin, cello, flute, woodwinds, harp, guitars, bass, drums and percussion.Additionally, he uses wordless vocalizing of men’s and women’s choirs. And he does it all so well!
Distant Horseman – the cover
I enjoy album covers and the cover of Distant Horseman intrigues me. There is a human figure on a horse in the desert of an alien looking desert planet. It is actually an album I would listen to based on the cover, figuring that the artist is going to take me to far away places and tell me something about man’s place in th universe. From Wenzel…
“I wanted the album cover graphic that would make people think. The cover illustration was created specifically for this album by the Brazilian artist Edson Moraes, an Internet acquaintance who has provided me with art in the past for my website and videos
Distant Horseman – the music
Wenzel says this about the music on Distant Horseman.
“the music on the album was conceptualized with metaphors and allegories in mind. For example the “Distant Horseman” could stand for an alien life form, or any of life’s challenges. It’s about the unknown , the unknowable. If and when the horseman arrives, it is all about how we face it., whether we can leave our fear behind, and meet it with integrity The way we approach it is what is important. All you can do is prepare yourself the best you can, and go forward….”
” This album is about transformation, but also a seasonal journey as a metaphor for an entire life.It covers coming together and breaking apart., falling in love and looking back over our lives, having exciting hopes for the future and realizing at some point it will come to an end. There is music about dancing and being caught up in the moment, but I also wrote about heavier themes such as forgiveness and not being able to know the future. but primarily it s a positive journey of surviving becoming stronger because of hardships, and then breaking through and finding bliss.”
The Songs of Distant Horseman
Distant Horseman opens with probably my favorite track “Bend in the River” (“we never know what is around the bend, but we go forward anyway”) The title track is next “Distant Horseman” and continues those thoughts of the unknown. (“we don’t know if the horseman is a threat or not, friend or foe, but we must be ready”) .
I must admit that most of the time I am just along for the music and don’t really consider what the composer is really trying to convey with his music. So as I read the above and some of Wenzel’s comments about his thoughts as he composed the pieces I know that I have to go back and listen to the tracks again with his thoughts in mind. After I do I will post a more detailed discussion of the tracks, A Distant Horseman Part II.
All I know is that I like the music and after listening to Distant Horseman, I am in a happy camper. So check it out!!
While you are at it, you can also check out Wenzel’s previous albums, A Coalescence of Dreams, Mountains Take Wings, River Serene, and Summon the Wind. All of his albums climb to the top of the Zone Music Reporters Top 100 monthly airplay chart!
At the beginning of this post, so many words ago. I said that one of the things that I liked about the album was the violin of Josie Quick. I need to find more of her music. KI have discovered that she is a member of the progressive groups Perpetual Motion, The Coyote Poets of the Universe and the Frntnera String Quartet. She also is a teacher at the Shallow Hill Music Association in Colorado. So I am off to check out their music!!
BEST ALBUM YET FROM PIANIST AND KEYBOARDIST TIMOTHY WENZEL
If you like new age music you should definitely check out the new album from keyboard wiz Timothy Wenzel (it’s called Distant Horseman and it has a cool a sci-fi cover!). This popular new age multi-instrumentalist just keeps getting better and better. Not only is this a batch of killer new tunes, but he brought in an exceptional violinist to share the melodies with him. Especially check out “Moments Into Years” with its flute-violin duel, plus piano, acoustic guitar and drums. This is truly a magnificent new age recording, soft one moment (for relaxing and unwinding) but rhythmic and dynamic the next (for when you want to get stuff done, like cooking dinner, dusting the living room or polishing the car). Wenzel often starts one of these instrumental tunes featuring one instrument and then halfway through he might bring in a different instrument that adds flavor and interest as you go along.
Distant Horseman is the fifth release from Timothy Wenzel. A pianist from a very early age with a wide variety of musical influences, Wenzel employs keyboards and synthesizers to orchestrate his colorful musical stories. Violinist Josie Quick is featured on ten of the twelve tracks, giving the strings a much more natural sound than keyboards alone can provide. The album was mastered by Corin Nelsen, assuring a warm and clear sound. It is interesting to note that Wenzel has a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry from Cornell University and was a research scientist for many years, working primarily in making polymers using catalysts, before turning his focus back to music.
The cover artwork for Distant Horseman immediately grabbed my attention with its bold colors and stark, otherworldly landscape. A horseman rides toward a two-spired rock formation that has a large planet looming beyond it. The artwork was done by Edson Moraes, who has done some of Wenzel’s previous album covers as well as artwork for his website - very effectively done!
Wenzel says that “the music on this album was conceptualized with metaphors and allegories in mind. For example, the ‘Distant Horseman’ could stand for an alien life-form, or for any of life’s challenges. It’s about the unknown, the unknowable.... This album is about transformation, but also a seasonal journey as a metaphor for an entire life.... But primarily it is a positive journey of surviving and becoming stronger because of hardships, and then breaking through and finding bliss.” That’s a lot to cover in less than an hour, but Timothy Wenzel has created a fascinating journey told with beautiful music along with optional enhancements from poetry and a group of illustrations on his website to further stimulate the imagination.
Distant Horseman begins with “A Bend In the River,” a soothing piece that suggests images of a gently-flowing river in no hurry to go anywhere - a lovely start to our musical journey! The title track is somewhat mysterious and features violin, guitar, and piano in a simple folksong kind of style - a favorite. “Turn and Walk Away” is a haunting reflection on how sometimes relationships end and we are forced to do just that. “No Tomorrow” reminds that eventually time runs out for everyone. Primarily a duet for piano and violin, light percussion and a few other instrumental touches add color and texture. The second half of the album is lighter and less introspective, starting with the cinematic sweep of “Forgiven,” a turning point of sorts. “Ecstasy Eyes” is a gentle love song, pure and simple, expressing sweet wonder and deep emotion. “Summer’s Dance” has a shimmering quality, as things do with new love. “Luminous Wake, Starlit Sea” closes the album with “a lullaby to fall asleep to where you continue your journey in your dreams” - calming, magical and soothing all at the same time.
Distant Horseman is sure to follow Timothy Wenzel’s previous releases to the top of the charts! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
“Distant Horseman” is the fifth album from composer and keyboardist Timothy Wenzel. A former research scientist with a chemistry background, Timothy's music is inspired by his fascination with both the musings of life and the physical world around him. He is joined on this album on all but two of the twelve compositions by violinist Josie Quick, who is also a member of the groups Perpetual Motion, The Coyote Poets of the Universe and the Frontera String Quartet.
“A Bend in the River” opens the album like a morning sunrise first appearing on the horizon, conveyed by an optimistic piano melody and Josie’s violin, which are set to a soft drum machine. Following next is the title track, “Distant Horseman”, one of the album’s highlights; it bears the distinctive Celtic flavor that’s often present in Timothy’s music, combined with a Renaissance flare. Further enhanced by violin and acoustic guitar, they lend brief pause to an elegant piano interlude, conveying the feeling of dancing and twirling about in a pastoral meadow. The magical “A Night So Cold” is easily my favorite piece, characterized by cascading piano high-notes that surround accompanying violin, painting an image of a star-studded sky on a cold winter’s night. “Forgiven” is also especially noteworthy for its symphonic interplay of instruments, in which piano, flute and violin give way to thunderous drums at one point. Concluding the album is “Luminous Wake, Starlit Sea”, where choral voices towards the end of the piece impart a supernal quality, as our distant horseman quietly rides off into the night.
Brushed with many classical and symphonic overtones, “Distant Horseman” is perhaps Timothy Wenzel’s most impressive album to date. Although the compositions mostly adhere to a similar, signature template, every track is a delight on its own. Visually and sensationally, the music feels attuned to the cycle of the four seasons and a temperate climate. Drawing upon themes of nature, dreams, stories and films, “Distant Horseman” will appeal to fans of contemporary instrumental music that’s laced with Renaissance and Celtic nuances.
TIM WENZEL – Distant Horseman (Coyote Floe Music)
When I reviewed Tim Wenzel’s 2015 Summon the Wind, I mentioned any number of worthy correlates – Mannheim Steamroller, Gandalf, Ralph McTell, Penguin Café Orchestra, etc. – but the gent I neglected to insert was Brian Eno’s brother Roger, crafter of exquisite chamber musics…and I mean truly refined. With Distant Horseman, Wenzel now stands just behind him, from a very kindred but different direction I suspect would do many classicalists, progrockhedz, and World aficionados much good to heed.
The reason I mention Mr. Eno is because I think I finally recognized aspects of Chopin and Strauss, maybe Sibelius and Rachmaninoff as well, among others in his modernist craftsmanship upon elder ways and values. In the previous work, for reasons not quite discernable, I’d strained to define those luminous presences but never arrived at the station. Well, now the train’s pulled into an elegant depot, passengers have disembarked and become conversational, and among them I espy the estimable, the hoary, the serene, and the wise. For quite a while, Wenzel’s catalogue has been a matter of pastorales – what is chamber music if not that in the main? – and this release is no exception, but it does again boast slyly crafted modernisms, as in the repeating understructures and mounting eventual near-rock energy of “No Tomorrow”, the sort of thing I’ve only ever heard a premoniton of in particularly perceptive recitals along the line of, say, that transcendent recital in a long-past BBC disc of Rachmaninoff’s “Isle of the Dead”.
Josie Quick, violinist, is the only accompaniment in Horseman - Wenzel plays everything else in the form of one keyboard or another - and is featured on all but two tracks, adding a good deal of wind, sky, and skirling cloudwork to the compositions, not to mention rustic fragrances and memories. Edson Morais’ cover painting is intriguingly caught between worlds as well. An almost hyper-realist depiction of a lone Wild West rider in a striking rock vista in which one could only find correlates through Arches and other districts of the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, esp. Canyonlands. It harks back to the glory days of Metal Hurlant (in America: Heavy Metal and now a poor substitute in the hands of Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird) and its oft quasi-Pre-Raphaelite circus of imagination.
But there are no shoot-outs at the OK Corral here, no bucking broncos, nor bad guys sniggering up shirtsleeves whilst spitting terbacky, but instead a cavalcade of sitting rooms wherein mannerist modes lay out gorgeous tapestries a la Boucher…and you’re invited. Um, you DO know how to waltz, don’t you?
-- Mark Tucker
You have this magnificent gift and the best part of that gift is that you share it with us. I love listening to this CD; it helps me achieve the "mindless" state so I can hear and see what is really there beyond this realm; it is the vehicle that takes me where I want to go. I enjoy the ride, Thank you Timothy.
NEW TIMOTHY WENZEL ALBUM HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
IF YOU LIKE NEW AGE MUSIC
In every genre of music there are always new musicians coming along that debut, grow, develop and become established. In new age music Timothy Wenzel came along a few years ago, made some waves in this particular genre, and now has released his fifth full-length recording, Distant Horseman, with the cover illustration showing a humanoid-looking being riding on what we can assume is a horse (based on the album title), and here is the catch.....ON ANOTHER PLANET! That planet has strangely-formed spire mountains and has either two nearby sister planets or moons. We are a long way from home, Toto.
Now onto the music. Wenzel’s primary instrument is piano, and it appears in almost every instrumental piece he composes. But he also is an excellent synthesist and puts not only occasional synth sounds on his pieces, but also the sounds of traditional instruments such as acoustic guitar, flute, oboe, cello, harp, drums and percussion. He has had special guests on previous albums (a track here or there), but this time he works closely with violinist Josie Quick (she appears on ten of the twelve tunes), and she adds another melodic instrument to the mix in fine fashion.
“Colors Dancing” is one of the strongest tracks starting with plucked acoustic guitar or harp with piano, violin, flute and drums added as it goes along. It is one of those compositions that gets simple and then more complex, back and forth. “Ecstasy Eyes” has a pretty melody with both violin and a string section plus a wordless vocal choir in the background. This gives you the way the music goes which is every tune is a bit different than the others, but still sounds good as a cohesive whole. This one is highly recommended.