The fury and rage of unseen forces manifests itself in the first song, The Gale. Composer Timothy Wenzel’s blusterous music, a very bold theme indeed, imagines the crashing waves on a lake shore with waters every bit as angry as any ocean, a vast sky the color of pewter, and an unforgiving Arctic driven wind that knows no bounds. The Great Lakes are filled with the skeletons of iron ships that took chances and failed, their crews lost, their vessels demolished, and their memories written in poetry. Wenzel’s tune tells these tales in sharp, contrasting black notes on white paper with endless shades of passionate gray. Living near the shore of Lake Michigan has its influences.
Immerse, the title tune opens with a warm, acoustic guitar with a balance of some sincere piano riffs that act as an invitation to the listener. A welcoming violin joins in and the theme is like an open door to a sanctuary of sound. Please enter and no need to knock. Timothy’s refuge is a world of flowing sound that offers peace where none existed before. The allurement to sit back, close your eyes, and forget about the troubles of the day is subliminal, but it should not go unheeded.
One of the songs that I continually revisit when listening is called Ice. It has an eerie Ludovico Einaudi vibe to it that I admire very much with its strong piano melody and its bold accompanying strings. Each year, from freezing cold waves in the fall to strange frozen shapes in winter, the lake ice creates a fascinating story. Timothy’s music chronicles the winter season as layer upon layer of ice covers all with a thick, impervious frosty coating casting all it touches into hoary frozen shapes that remain until spring. Wenzel’s icy theme is so cold it cannot be touched, only heard and admired as it sparkles like diamonds on a winter’s day. One of my favorites on Immerse.
Like some mythical phoenix of stone and wood, one of the most notable creations of architect Frank Lloyd Wright is the thrice burned building called Taliesin. Situated in a sunny place in Wisconsin, it is a boxy structure steeped in tragedy and noted for housing a number of victims of a deranged mind. As the subject of Wenzel’s woeful tune Taliesin, it is a lamentation over the tragedy. Sad English horn and dolorous violin sing along with poignant piano over the terrible loss.
Timothy becomes the balladeer on the next two cuts River, Hills, and Sky and A Man on the Run. River, Hills, and Sky is a great example of what has become known as Americana. A little folksy, a little homespun with elements of new world Appalachia woven in the fabric. Predominately piano and guitar, A Man on the Run incongruously shows a distinct lack of urgency. The tune does have serious movement and a sense of relentlessness, but with a destination unknown.
There is Celtic fare within the tune Nightfall at Avebury. A lofty stone edifice in the middle of an English field has sparked the imagination of millions over centuries. Wenzel’s alluring mythical tune suggesting starry nights and clandestine celebrations is just what the spirit needs. His combination of faraway voices, earnest piano, and enchanted violin will make you believe that Merlin, out of stones and magic, really did build this towering tribute to King Arthur.
With the help of a kind brass horn and gentle guitar, a bright piano melody blends together in the final tune Thank You For Your Smile It seems that Mr. Wenzel managed to include just about all of the players on the last cut so I list them all now. Jill Haley on English horn, Electric guitar by David Cullen and violin by Jose Quick. Cello is by Graham Cullen, acoustic guitar by Tom Carleno, percussion by Jeff Haynes, and of course, all piano and synth by Timothy Wenzel.
What composer Timothy Wenzel manages to do, within a dozen cohesive contemporary/New Age instrumentals is create an album of inspiring music that allows you to take the definitive sound bath. Every note, every vibration, every wave of sound will touch, tingle, and ultimately cleanse your weary spirit of the layers of anger, exhaustion, and despair precipitated by a modern world. In other words, Immerse will refresh your soul. Very highly listenable.
- R J Lannan, ArtisanMusicReviews.com
Immerse is the ninth album from composer/pianist/keyboardist Timothy Wenzel and the fifth of his albums that I've reviewed - something I always look forward to! Timothy explains some of his motivations for the music on the album: "I often write in winter, when I can walk the countryside alone, especially at night and then return to the warm studio. So being alone is one theme: solitude, time to think and all those things a card-carrying introvert needs for happiness and productivity." A stellar cast of supporting musicians includes Josie Quick on violin (10 tracks), Tom Carleno on acoustic guitar (9 tracks), David Cullen on electric guitar (2 tracks), Graham Cullen on cello (11 tracks), Jill Haley on English horn (2 tracks) and Jeff Haynes on percussion (5 tracks). Corin Nelsen produced, mixed, mastered, and did some of the recording. In addition to composing the twelve tracks and playing keyboards and synthesizers, Timothy took the album photographs and designed the cover artwork. It's a beautiful package as well as an outstanding album!
Immerse begins with "The Gale," an intense piece with quite a backstory. In short, the music was composed as the soundtrack to a video Timothy took recently of a major storm on Lake Michigan with gale-force winds and a temperature near freezing. With careful planning, he was able to film the huge waves as they slammed against a lighthouse. It's well-worth watching the video to fully understand where the music came from. "Hello My Friend" is much lighter and happier with kind of a Celtic feeling. The title track begins with an acoustic guitar solo before becoming a trio (mostly) for guitar, violin and piano with wordless choral vocals. The cover photo is taken close to where the video for "The Gale" was shot, but shows the lake in a totally different light - literally - as does the music. Warm, calm and very peaceful, it's a beauty! Timothy has been fascinated with ice for most of his life, and the piece called "Ice" delivers a very definite chill yet remains peaceful and magical. "Far From Here" recalls a trip to Bolivia: "Never have we had an experience like that: at once so physically demanding yet so indescribably rewarding." Guitar, cello and violin team up with the piano to tell the peaceful story. "Taliesin" refers to the home Frank Lloyd Wright built for his family in Wisconsin. Tragically, the home was destroyed by arson, but Wright rebuilt it - twice. The piece is mournful yet reflects strength and determination. Jill Haley's English horn is haunting, as is the cello. "Rivers, Hills and Sky" has a beautiful Celtic, "folkie" spirit and is an ode to Timothy's second home in West Virginia. "Water, Light and Joy" was inspired by the International Fountain in Seattle. Performed with a quartet of piano/keyboards, guitar, cello and violin, the music expresses peace, optimism and a sense freedom - gorgeous! The album closes with "Thank You for Your Smile," which Timothy calls "Simply a love song..." The full ensemble except Jeff Haynes (percussion) plays on this heartwarming piece that is sure to bring a smile to your own face!
Immerse is another wonderful musical experience from Timothy Wenzel! It is available as CDs, downloads and streaming on Amazon, streaming and downloads from Apple Music/iTunes and from many streaming platforms including Spotify. Highly recommended!
– Kathy Parsons “Mainly Piano” https://mainlypiano.com/reviews/timothy-wenzel-immerse