Timothy Wenzel wears two hats. One tall and pointy with a lot of stars and planets on it and another one with, well...a lot of stars and planets on it. He is a composer and a chemist, which in this review may be interchangeable. He combines acoustic and other instruments like a modern day musical alchemist which results in very pleasing audio concoctions. On the chemistry side, he is a specialist in homogeneous catalysis. A homogeneous catalysis is a chemical process where the catalyst and the reactants have similar phase. The result makes things happen just as the addition of notes in Timothy's compositions played into the airs makes music happen. I have simplified this theory for my own mental well-being. His album, Mountains Take Wing, is twelve tracks of Nordic/Celtic music that allows the listeners to climb to the apex, take the cold chill of despair away and allows our minds to journey far and beyond the limits of the physical.
Any album that has mountains as a theme usually catches my attention as I live at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Timothy's music finds inspiration from a much higher plane, places to the north that have a long history of mythology and faith. But I still understand his intentions.
Birka , was, historically a gate to the northern access of the Vikings. All that wanted to trade visited Birka on the island of Bjorko and paid dues and made contacts. But it was also an island of mystery and religious fervor. Timothy's tune Birka which opens the album, is a song that is welcoming. Piano and violin flow in a tune that audibly smiles at you, but there is a story behind every smile.
Snow Falling Softly is something I know about. One of my favorites things to do is to gaze out the window and watch as snow falls and covers everything with a clean, white coverlet. Even though I am familiar with every tree and every peak in the distance, I am always amazed at how everything quickly becomes an outline. Even things that are not as enjoyable in sunlight become something soft, white and amazing. It is magical I tell you.
Fallow Fields had tremendous Celtic overtones. I could imagine the rutted earth as far as my eye could see. I could picture the brown, bent stalks of the past harvest the stood like broken lines of soldiers in a unearthly battle. The cold wind blows and rattles the stalks as the earth finally rests.
The sandhill crane is a migratory beauty that calls North America and Siberia as its home. Flight of the Sandhill Cranes is background music for a journey that takes us up into the tundra and vast expanses of the cold, northern climes. But for all its range, no characteristic of the sandhill crane is as beautiful as its trumpeting call. Its avian music is haunting; a cry of earthly melancholy that delights the listener as does this particular tune.
Christopher's Dream was a favorite on the album. It had the presence of a Renaissance rondo without the repetition. The flute was a strong conductor as the fantasy unfolded with a background of warmth and whimsy. The feel was as if a character, a young person to be exact, went about an old world bazaar and became delighted with each new discovery of character or talent. The music was the eye opening smiles of each new encounter.
Soft piano builds in the tune Mountains Take Wing. It is a song of strength and glory. Yes, a mountain is just a fold of earth and rock jutting up to the sky, but what mystery, what power does the lofty mount hold? A place of trees, ice and snow and craggy buttresses is one of the most common things revered in many religious and histories. Everything and anything happens on a mountain. Moreover, mountains have always been a spiritual place. What? You think people climb Mount Everest for the view?
This is my first encounter with Timothy Wenzel and I like it. His music is gentle, but there is a quiet power behind his compositions. It made me want to hear much more from this audio alchemist. Perhaps he will change more notes into gold.