Blue Wolf Reviews

River Serene

The cover of the album depicts a man in a boat paddling on a river at moonrise, which, metaphorically speaking establishes the mood for this latest release from Timothy Wenzel.

As you drift though the music there is the distinct feeing of a man at peace, at one with his music: the notes flowing from his fingers through the medium of the keyboard. Fascinating, evocative, drifting to the level where it becomes difficult to separate the creator from the music – all is one, one is all.

Using the river as a metaphor for life, that of a stream or force constantly moving onward, his new creation reflects so much more about the man involved in the creation of the music than ever before.

Captured is a sense of peace, of harmony in his surrounding and the mellow almost hypnotic essence of the timelessness of the river, ever flowing onward to the sea.

Each piece has been composed with a specific emotion in mind: that of freedom of spirit, love, joy, reflection and intimacy and each will appeal in the same manner. The music wraps around you as if in a dream, soft and silken to the touch but always transitory, illusive and mysterious.

As a creator, Wenzel sees his career as scientist at the cutting edge of technology and his passion for creating music both as similar disciplines; in that taking an idea and creating and developing it into thing of use or beauty.

Somewhere in the developmental process, the touch of alchemy is added giving it that touch of magic, creation of form and shape. That is certainly the case with River Serene, his best release to date.

Mount Shasta Magazine

I've confessed in other contexts to my bias for organic/acoustic instruments over their electronic imitations. However, this collection of tracks won me over. The melodies and arrangements here were infused with a spacious warmth and friendliness that made up for what is usually lacking in electronic compositions for me. I could make favorable comparisons to Vangelis or Ray Lynch, but that would be limiting.

The promotional material makes many references to the water theme, to serenity and peace. I won't dispute that; but I would emphasize the qualities of ease and grounded welcome: like unconditional welcome of a peripatetic friend into the clean, light, grounded home of his trusted, sane, smiling and settled equal. It isn't warm and over-stuffed cozy like grandma's, but that ease of heart is there. This is the welcome of ever-nourishing, ever-cleansing River Serene.

Music and Media Focus

River Serene

I must say that I’ve always had a fondness for “concept albums,” or recordings that weave a thread throughout. Such is the case with keyboardist Timothy Wenzel’s new release entitled River Serene. This album follows in the wake of his previous highly successful album, A Coalescence Of Dreams, which was ranked in the number 5 spot on the international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 radio airplay chart. River Sereneis Timothy’s third release, and I have every reason to believe that it will be as popular, if not more so, than his earlier ones.

Timothy Wenzel has quite an interesting background, which I’ll share a bit of to set the stage for a discussion of his new music. Growing up in South Haven, Michigan, the piano was always a big part of his family life. In fact, his grandfather who worked in a piano factory built the one in their home. As a youngster, Timothy became enamored with it as he watched his mother playing, and he started getting into it around the age of three. Lessons soon followed and he performed a recital when he was only six years old– an original piece, no less. Although his earliest interest was in classical music, Timothy later became influenced by the rock music of the 60’s and 70’s. The arts, however, were not his only interest, and he eventually went from the metal music of Led Zeppelin to organometallic chemistry as a research scientist. His education includes a BS degree in Chemistry, a Masters and PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry, as well as post-doctoral research. While Timothy has spent many years working in this field, his musical exploration is more active than ever and he actually sees a correlation between the two. In his words: “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.”

 

As mentioned, the album has a conceptual flow, and is interestingly divided into four thematic sections: water, love, light, and dreams. Each section is a trilogy consisting of three separate compositions. Just as our physical world is based on the chemical elements, according to Timothy: “There are certain essential elements that make up our lives, and I decided to create music that puts a magnifying glass on some of them.  Water is what makes our planet habitable and different than just about every other rock in the sky.  One of the highlights of our humanity is the ability to love.  Every day of our lives is divided into sunlight and darkness, and that serves as a symbol of the eternal conflict in our soul.  Dreaming is universal and serves as way to explore our inner-psyche.” This last element is particularly appropriate given the dreamy quality of Timothy’s soundscapes, which he creates with synthesizers, electronics, and the instrumental sounds of violin, cello, flute, harp, guitars, drums, percussion, and piano.

 

The first trilogy, water, begins with “Rain Coming Down.” In the album notes, Timothy describes the scene in this way: “It is a cold November evening and rain is falling in the city. Lights reflect off the wet streets, passersby hurry along the sidewalk, their multicolored umbrellas a rainbow in the night. The sound of splashing: Rain Coming Down.” Piano and synthesizers create a perfectly moody ambience for the opening track. I particularly liked the way the percussion was low in the mix and provided a sense of subtle movement without locking the piece into a strict rhythmic structure. There were also percussive accents treated with reverb giving a far away effect, reminiscent of the style of Patrick O’Hearn – a nice atmospheric touch. This is followed by the title track with its harp-like arpeggios and lush orchestral background. According to Timothy, “A river is often used as a metaphor for the passage of time, always moving forward, never staying in the same place. I particularly like the imagery of a serene river because I like to enter a place of stillness with few distractions when I work on my music.” Delicate bell tones and soft flute sounds help capture the gentle flow that the piece portrays. This first trilogy draws to a close with the upbeat “Before the Rain,” which carries a musical message about renewal of both the land and the spirit.

 

Moving on, we come to a track called “First Dance,” which begins the “love” trilogy. This was an interesting piece that combines a formal waltz-like cadence with electronic touches for an intriguing blend of classic and modern. It has been written that there is a “visual element” within Timothy’s music, and that is certainly present in this song, which conjures an image of the dance of new lovers who only have eyes for each other as they glide across the floor. A track entitled “Such a Long Time,” draws inspiration, in part, from the story of Hamlet and Ophelia. While this version is instrumental, Timothy has also recorded a vocal rendition elsewhere.

 

The trio of songs about light begins with “Winter’s Light,” which I found fascinating in the way it captures a feeling of both coldness and warmth at the same time. Interestingly, I first listened to this album as night was falling in the wake of a gorgeous sunset, and the track entitled “A Twilight Pause,” made the perfect soundtrack to accompany the scene. One of my favorite pieces was a song called “The Night Train.” I liked the way Timothy used the rhythmic sequence to provide a feeling of momentum and forward motion while ethereal choir sounds added a surreal quality. In his words: “The instrumentation in this song mimics a train journey, the clacking of the wheels on the tracks, the rhythm of the engine, the lonely whine of the train whistle far away. The journey is through the darkness of night, when dreams sweep across your soul.” I also liked the change up in the middle that reminded me a bit of Indonesian Gamelan music.

 

The last three tracks represent the “dream” trilogy, although as mentioned, a dreamlike ambience pervades much of Timothy’s music. On “The Bridge to Our Dreams,” I was especially aware of Timothy’s skills as a composer and appreciated the orchestral touches like the roll of timpani drums followed by a cymbal crash to highlight musical transitions. A lullaby-like feel characterizes the album’s final track, “The Child.” Elements of Timothy’s classical background, such as cello and pizzicato strings are woven into a new age musical context with perfect harmony. As Timothy shares: “On River Serene, I purposely selected specific instrumentation and created arrangements to form music that I feel resembles each song’s theme so that then the music imparts the meaning through the sounds.”

 

I greatly enjoyed this album, and was impressed with the musical craftsmanship and attention to detail Timothy brought to each composition. River Serene is an album I could listen to many times over and hear new things in each time. The recording is well produced and I enjoyed the great variety of instrumental sounds found within. Clearly, Timothy brings the skills he has in combining chemicals in the laboratory as he does with blending sounds in the studio. I’ll certainly look forward to hearing more of his sonic alchemy in the future.

 

 

 

 

Improvijazzation Nation

Timothy Wenzel – RIVER SERENE:  I’ve reviewed Timothy’s beautiful piano works before, but this one is, without question, better than all the rest… as you listen to the opener, “Rain Coming Down“, you’ll hear why I say that…. simple, but very powerful!  The gentle yet vigorous “First Dance” reflects a calm with life and the living of it that doesn’t come about unless one has “been there” before.  His synth/string work on “Such A Long Time” will have you listening to the track over and over again… perfect for jogging, too!  It was the undercurrent of movement on “The Night Train” that made if my favorite of the dozen beautifully done tracks, though.  I give Timothy a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who want something “more” in their music.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Timothy’s website.

Lunch.com

Top-Notch New Age Music From Synthesist Timothy Wenzel

  • Feb 26, 2014
Exclusive to the Lunch Network
Rating:
+5

Nowadays there is such a wide variety of new age music that it makes your head spin (solo piano, solo guitar, Native flute, modern-classical, avant-garde, gentle jazz, Celtic, world-fusion, soft vocals, wordless vocals and chants, ambient, full-ensemble with drums, soft prog-rock and on and on).  We almost forget about traditional new age music.  You know the sounds that really started it all (like Vangelis and early Suzanne Ciani) -- full-on synthesizer with occasional other instrumentation like piano or flute mixed in.  Well, Timothy Wenzel has not forgotten this legacy.  He is a synth-wiz who knows his stuff.  As you will hear if you check out his new album, River Serene (his third CD), he creates dreamy, ethereal, but still melodic swirls-of-sound...just great new age stuff.
 
A couple of tracks make you hear what the title implies.  “Rain Coming Down” does capture the sound and feeling of rain (without sticking a microphone outside during a thunder shower).  “The Night Train” encapsulates the sound and feeling of riding on a train (the rhythm of the tracks and the rolling along).  “First Dance” waltzes along with that effervescent feel of when the guy gets his nerve up to ask the girl to dance and she says yes and they start to fall in love on the dance floor.  “A Twilight Pause” is a bit more nebulous, but somehow still seems to mimic that quiet, special moment at dusk when the day falls away to night and you often ponder either those little questions such as “How did the day go” or the big ones such as “Is my life on the right path?”  This music is excellent for pondering or simply relaxing to.  That is the great thing about new age music, and one reason it has hung around so long.  It is the perfect backdrop for so many activities (dining, making love, exercising, reading, couch potatoing, whatever), not so very intrusive, but interesting enough if you choose to listen or dissect.  And if you need a new CD for some of these activities, consider this one by keyboardist Timothy Wenzel.  Top-notch all the way.

8Notes.com

Timothy Wenzel Conjures up a Potent Potion of New Age Music

Timothy Wenzel is a musician who used to be a scientist working for decades in a laboratory with chemicals, microscopes, test tubes and all that stuff. He was inventing new forms of plastics for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. Heck, someone had to do it. Apparently he finally gave it up and turned his attentions fulltime to music. Thank you, Mr. Wenzel.

And while all that scientific mumbo-jumbo seems like alchemy to us lay people, we tend to understand good music (Does it make us feel good or not?). So these days Wenzel puts on his pointy Merlin hat and conjures up a CD full of multi-textured, multi-colored, multi-dimensional sounds. This is straight-forward new age instrumental music done extremely well. It is a mix of synth and piano up-front with other instruments like violin or flute mixed in.

His third album, River Serene, has been released and it seems to have been inspired by the concepts of water, love and dreams because he writes tunes about rain, slow-dancing, a midnight rendezvous, walking over the sleepy-time bridge to dreamland, and, looking at the composition’s titles, others that tie-in.

So now instead of mixing chemicals to see what new sort of beast can be unleashed, Wenzel mixes sounds and notes to come up with a strangely potent collection of new music, a sort of wizard-brew of perfectly-crafted new age music. Take a taste and let the rabbit out of the hat. There is magic in these tracks.

Journeyscapes Radio

5.0 out of 5 stars From Journeyscapes Radio, January 23, 2014
This review is from: River Serene (Audio CD)
"River Serene" is the third studio album by keyboardist Timothy Wenzel - his prior releases include "A Coalescence of Dreams" and "Mountains Take Wing". The album consists of twelve tracks which are divided into four themes (Water, Love, Light and Dreams) and flows like a river of sound carrying the listener on a peaceful journey throughout. What could be accurately described as New Age instrumental music with Celtic overtones, the album is mostly lead by melodic piano which is often accompanied by harp, flute, cello and violin with very subtle backing rhythms on some of the tracks. These combined elements make for a soothing, gentle album which is suitable for relaxation and spa therapies.

Four notable highlights particularly stood out to me - interestingly, one corresponding to each theme. The title track, "River Serene", opens with a celestial harp accompanied by flutes, bells and gossamer textures - I can envision a ballerina dancing to this delicate, airy piece. "First Dance" moves like a couple's waltz with a romantic melody lead by piano and guitar. "Winter's Light" is perhaps the most mysterious, nocturnal piece on the album with its windy musical effects and strong Celtic flavors, bringing to mind cold, northern terrain under a night sky. "The Bridge to Our Dreams" is another one of the album's more atmospheric, introspective pieces featuring piano, flute, cello and synthesized choir.

I particularly enjoyed the Celtic bent present on many parts of this album and would love to see more of that influence showcased on future recordings. Overall, "River Serene" is a wonderfully pleasant album worth checking out.

Morpheus Music Reviews

River Serene

Electro-acoustic new age instrumentals.
River Serene is a delicate collection of restful, understated themes that bring together subtle electronic synths and a variety of gentle acoustic instruments: piano, guitar, flutes, drums and strings. For the most part the music is beatless, the melodies carrying the rhythmic side of the music; however there are light sequences and percussive flourishes that highlight the movement and one or two passages of downplayed programmed grooves. The mood is mostly one of natural tranquillity and introspective warmth, however, there are a few sections where the tone follows the themes into a more crepuscular zone: A Twilight Pause and The Night Train being the most obvious. River Serene has hints of classical sensitivity in the development of its emotive themes and choice of instrumentation. This is music that will be appreciated by anyone wanting a kindly uplifting soundtrack to their day or something to act as a serene and unobtrusive backdrop to one's flow of thoughts.

Package

Arriving in a gatefold, two-panel digipack with a gloss finish, River Serene is drenched in golden-amber hues throughout. The front cover sees a lone figure on a broad, smooth watercourse paddling a simple canoe in the final rays of a setting sun; black silhouettes against gold light. The rear cover homes in on the bright disc of the sun with track titles and their timings hanging in the air. A single paragraph at the foot here describes the artist and his musical background. Opening up the package, both panels here flow with the ripples and silken polish of the water from the cover imagery. Four elements crucial to the music are highlighted on the left: Water, Love, Light and Dreams. Brief credits and website details are also here.

Overall

This is the third album from American-born Timothy Wenzel and follow-up to his 2012 release A Coalescence of Dreams. Sleeve note explain that Wenzel herein explores "certain essential elements that make up our lives" creating music that "puts a magnifying glass on some of them": Water, Love, Light and Dreams. The twelve tracks are divided into four sections one for each of the four chosen elements; three pieces therefore explore each thematic element. The tracks are relatively short in length mostly around the three or four minute mark. You can explore more of this music via the artist's website where there are track by track notes for River Serene as well as a wealth of listening opportunities, downloads and biographical details.

Hypnagogue

If good instrumental music is intended to paint a scene within the listener’s mind, then Timothy Wenzel’s River Serene is most definitely good instrumental music. In 12 pieces spread over a scant 49 minutes, Wenzel presents tone poems based around the themes of water, love, light and dreams. Each theme is represented by three pieces, and the mood overall is soft and reflective. Wenzel’s piano is the star of the show here, but it’s surrounded by a superb electro-acoustic supporting cast. Harps and flutes, strings and drums, all come together to tell the stories. I have promised myself I’d try to step around the term “New Age” going forward in favor of the term “contemporary instrumental,” but River Serene slots easily into that sleeve. Crisp and romantic, quietly paced, and packed with musical optimism. This is music you’ve heard before, but it’s all quite beautifully made. The title track, which comes in early on, is something of a soul-cleanser. Piano and pizzicato harp notes blossom out into full orchestration, with flute coursing high above. The sound imagery here is perfect, the mood encapsulated in the notes. Wenzel’s piano swells in big, neo-classical fashion, packing shades of Richard Clayderman, on “A Midnight Rose.” (A little roll of the tympani adds drama.) There is something going on in “A Twilight Pause” that resonates in me as a listener, and I cannot adequately describe what it is. Soft string pads wash beneath the piano as it takes a slow walk–perhaps that’s it; there’s a slight sense of melancholy here, of a departure being made. Sax-like synth sounds wail a melody with just a hint of 80s flair. The moody tone carries into “Night Train,” which also picks up a little bit of a syncopated groove as it winds toward its close.

River Serene is going to be a big winner with New Age fans. It’s firmly rooted in that style. It’s light without being wispy, a lovely end-of-day album. Wenzel is getting better with each new release. Keep an ear on him. (A new release is slated for December ’14.)

The Review Centre

★★★★★

“WATER, LOVE, LIGHT AND DREAMS INFUSE TIMOTHY...”


There are some universal concepts that form our lives. For example, on the new album, RIVER SERENE, by keyboardist Timothy Wenzel, he explores four themes -- water, love, light and dreams. Some might argue that all are necessary for our well-being.

Within those four themes he has written three compositions about each theme. My favorite is the water element which includes the title track and two tunes about rain that really capture the sound, mood and feeling of rain coming down. You can find out more about him at his website which is a dotcom following his name.

Wenzel is a top airplay instrumental artist who is a master at whipping up haunting melody lines, creative multi-instrument arrangements and deep textures. If you have not already become familiar with Wenzel’s music, seek it out, explore this new age album, and you will find some excellent modern instrumental music (excerpts available online at some sales sites).

Facing North

Keyboardist Tim Wenzel explores four themes on this CD: water, love, light, and dreams. There are three songs for each thematic topic. Wenzel uses a synthesizer, sequencer and computer to fabricate a wide spectrum of instrumental sounds including piano, strings, woodwinds, harp, guitar, and percussion.

In this CD, Wenzel unifies sound with meaning. Sometimes this is overt, by including water and rain sound effects in the water tracks, but through more subtle connections in the other tracks. The composer maintains fidelity to the feelings and inspirations for each song.

The CD contents include:

WATER
1. Rain Coming Down
2. River Serene
3. Before the Rain
LOVE
4. First Dance
5. A Midnight Rose
6. Such a Long Time
LIGHT
7. Winter’s Light
8. A Twilight Pause
9. The Night Train
DREAMS
10. The Bridge to Our Dreams
11. Passage
12. The Child

The first track gives a sense of suspension and anticipation as it hovers around a minor key. The title track, “River Serene” is especially luscious, with a mix of flute, a plucked-type keyboard, bells, and strings. “Before the Rain” resembles a Celtic dance song. “First Dance” follows this pseudo-Celtic theme with a mix of guitar, chorus, string, and keyboard voices. “A Midnight Rose” is a romantic musical gesture that centers on piano and keyboards. “Such a Long Time” has a more orchestral texture. Some light percussion gives more energy to the track. Various instrumental voices take the lead over a descending (or alternatively ascending) two-bar, three-chord riff.

“Winter’s Light” is reminiscent of a Tangerine Dream song, with overtly electronic-sounding voices blended with a traditional flute and strings. “A Twilight Pause” leans more toward a slow-jazz sound with a strong bass line. It’s one of the most creative pieces on the CD. “The Night Train” moves toward a contemporary adult jazz sound, with variations on the melodic and harmonic material from previous songs. “Bridge to Our Dreams” is a stranger, more otherworldly song with an ambient-space synth background accompaniment. “Passage” is more dramatic and driven. Thematic and textural changes bookend a central melodic passage. “The Child” is a lighter song with guitar, piano and flute.

Wenzel’s previous CD “A Coalescence of Dreams” was well-received and got  went to #6 on the New Age charts. “River Serene” is perhaps not, as a whole, quite as varied or original as “Coalescence,” but the tracks are pleasant and easy to enjoy.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Timothy Wenzel
Timothy Wenzel, 2013, Coyote Floe
twelve tracks, approximately 49 minutes
Available at CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, etc.
Check out Tim’s Facebook page: Timothy Wenzel: New Age Music Visions.
www.timothywenzel.com

Electro-Music.com

There is something about floating down a big, broad, slow-moving river on a summer day a la Huck Finn. What a way to fill a lazy day, letting your thoughts float along as you do the same on the water. It can be serenity unparalleled unless, of course, you round the bend and discover rapids up ahead. On his new album, River Serene, Timothy Wenzel used his keyboards and synthesizers to paint a serene scene of Monet pastels and sunlight flickering through the trees. Only occasionally do gentle rapids appear where he shakes up the meditation with nature a bit.

This is Wenzel’s third album and this musician seems to be on an upward path in the field of new age music. His last album, A Coalescence of Dreams, apparently got tons of airplay and went to #6 on the new age airplay chart called Zone Music Reporter. This new album, River Serene, is a hauntingly-lovely, generally-calm, reflective, meditative trip down a musical river. He utilizes not only a keyboard synth for all the whooshes, washes, zings and strings, as you would expect, but also nicely reproduces and mixes in a variety of other instrumentation from piano to violin.

This is instrumental pastoral new age music meant to relax you, ease that tension headache, and give you something very pleasant to listen to at the end of a long hard day when you sit back and put your feet up. Or put it on when you are driving the commute home to reduce road rage. Or play it at your next dinner party to keep the talk off of politics. This music, as its title implies, has a calming effect. According to the tune titles and some categorical sections, there is music here about rain, love, sunlight, dancing, trains in the night and dreaming -- all fruitful subject matter for musical interpretations.

Find a place online where you can listen to samples (such as CDbaby) and hear for yourself. It is always good to have some quality new age music CDs on your music shelf for those appropriate times when you simply really need it.

Keys and Chords

Translated from Dutch by Google:

Keyboard Player Timothy Wenzel was born on the shores of Lake Michigan , and marveled as a child of the lake , the surrounding sand dunes etc. At age five he began taking piano lessons. He graduated from the University of Missouri later in St. Louis , received his Ph.D. Cornell University and made ​​his academic training session at the University of California at Berkeley. Then he went to work for two of the largest chemical companies in the world . During this time he wrote songs on piano and keyboards . But the last four years, this was a serious business , a passion even , with nearly 100 unreleased songs that were waiting . His first CD " Mountains Take Wing 'was released in 2012 , and was awarded as" Best New Age Album of 2012 " by New Age Music World . The sequel to " A Coalescence of Dreams' I discussed last year , and came up to No. 6 in the New Age charts . Now the third CD arrived here , and explores four themes , which are: water , love, light and dreams . The title reflects both his composure as a flowing river as an analogy for life. The twelve tracks are also divided into four sections , the above themes . Timothy left a subtle way the music sounds to the song title . Thus the first trilogy symbolizes the essential movement of water on our planet (rain runs into the rivers , which flow to the sea , and the humidity rises to the clouds for the next cycle ) . The two main trilogy is love and that is an essential emotion between people ( the first blush , through mutual discovery , to quiet intimacy that brings infinite joy in the darkness) . At light , he explores how light and darkness, our moods and feelings can symbolize ( the darkness of winter , through introspection , to travel aboard an overnight train ) . The last three songs are about dreams ( to a magical place , through the known to the unknown, to a sense of childishness to discover our dreams) . The music is calm , serene , with piano , guitar , flute , drums and strings . Ideal to unwind!

Patrick Van de Wiele ( 3 ½ )

    
Acoustic & electronic instrumentals that transport the listener to new realms , and bring a sense of calmness .

Midwest Record

You have to hand it to this new age cat. He starts out with something that should invoke yawns even before you play it, but delivers something wonderful that defies expectations. A new age record using rivers as a sonic, impressionistic metaphor? Quit rolling your eyes! Knowing his way around electronics and acoustics quite nicely, Wenzel shows the way here that you just have to let the river take you where it will. A peaceful, enchanting set, Huck Finn never had it so good when the river took him along. Well done.

Natural Healing News

Wenzel, who has played piano all his life, primarily makes his recordings with a synthesizer (including a sequencer and computer), and his albums feature a wide array of instrumental sounds, including piano, violin, cello, flute, harp, guitars, drums and percussion.

His music has great appeal in the New Age genre because of the haunting melodies and dreamy arrangements that create a sense of peacefulness and relaxation.