Album Review of "Dividing the Darkness" by Steve Rivera

“Dividing the Darkness” is pianist and composer Steve Rivera’s second album, this one having been produced by Windham Hill founder and guitarist Will Ackerman, and recorded at Will’s Imaginary Road Studios. Tom Eaton also co-produced and mastered the album, as well as plays keyboards, percussion, electric guitar and bass on various tracks. In addition to Steve’s dynamic and poised piano playing throughout, he is also joined by other musicians who lend varying instruments to eight of the nine tracks total, including Charlie Bisharat on violin, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jill Haley on English horn, Gus Sebring on French horn, Tony Levin on bass and Jeff Haynes on percussion. Noah Wilding’s ethereal wordless vocals also grace many of the compositions.

“My Way Home” opens the album with piano, followed by violin, cello, bass and subdued percussion. One can almost envision a lissome couple dancing in a spacious room to this serene yet uplifting tune. A particular highlight is “This Ancient Road”, with its steady, focused melody accompanied by horn, cello, percussion and electric bass and guitar. I’m especially fond of the slower-paced “So Quickly Gone”, as Will Ackerman’s acoustic guitar adds perfect warmth to this piece, bringing to mind the comfort of cozying up by a fireplace. Another lovely, interesting tune is the appropriately named “Delicate Force”. Its piano sequence reminds me of a rainstorm that slowly intensifies, offering an intriguing contrast between the rich and flowing upper-key melody with the more staccato lower-key notes and percussion, as Noah’s airy voice whirls about the composition like wind through the rain. The closing number, “Skyward Coda”, is the album’s only solo-piano piece, initially beginning with a straight-forward and bright melody. It is then followed by a twenty-three second pause towards the middle of the track, before switching to a different improvised tune with distant nature sounds and a delicate quality.

Queuing up “Dividing the Darkness” is like pulling back the curtains of a window and letting in the morning sunlight. The compositions mostly exude a similar mood throughout, possessing a soothing, gentle aura and a light touch of innocence. Steve has crafted a superb album of elegant, melodic piano music which is complimented by an array of likewise engaging instruments. “Dividing the Darkness” will surely appeal to many listeners who particularly enjoy new age piano, neoclassical and contemporary instrumental music. ~Candice Michelle

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby


Gary Price March 28, 2016 @02:50 pm
Listened to your CD on sound cloud Beautiful really sounds nice and going to buy the CD . You likely don't remember me because you and your brothers were young ages. Was and still a good friend of your dad and mom and you boys. Nice that your dad & I & many of us have reunited from Orangewood & Haster area on facebook. Will tell all on FB about your CD.
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