“Sensuous Chill” is the eighteenth studio album from internationally-acclaimed and top-selling new age/contemporary instrumental composer Yanni. A lengthy album clocking in at seventy-eight minutes, its seventeen compositions are largely structured around electronic orchestration and programmed beats that lend a distinctive dance/club vibe throughout. Nevertheless, there’s certainly no shortage of acoustic and world instruments skillfully interwoven among the more synthetic textures. And interestingly enough, many of the melodies actually bear similar hallmarks to some of Yanni’s earlier works.

The sultry and summery “Thirst for Life” opens with a signature Yanni piano-motif. It is soon accompanied by wordless vocals, synthesized elements and a sprinkling of classical guitar atop a bass-laden groove. Infectious and upbeat, the festive mood continues on “Rapture” – kicking things up a notch with its chill-trance rhythm and soulful vocal snippets. Sparkling chimes, layered electronics and digitized elements add colorful energy to this lively, danceable number – all while retaining a semblance of sophistication and elegance. I’m especially fond of “Drive”, another groovalicious track that brings to mind images of the Mediterranean Sea – perhaps while driving along the coastline on a summer afternoon. It’s among the album’s finest examples that showcase Yanni’s inherent knack of weaving exotic themes and atmospheres into modern contemporary arrangements. Continuing in this mode is the likewise enjoyable “What You Get”, which incorporates otherworldly male vocals into a full and complex arrangement consisting of lush piano, flowing guitar and a steady, sultry groove. Another one of my favorite pieces is “1001” (an allusion to the book, “One Thousand and One Nights”). This composition (along with “Our Days”, “Dance for Me” and others) is spicily enhanced with Arabic flavors seasoned upon middle-eastern and electronic percussion. Yanni is particularly skilled at incorporating these elements into his soundscapes and imbuing them with an aura of enchantment and mystery – as such compositions seem to convey that of being on a magical carpet ride along a starry sky while gazing down upon an ancient and mythical city. “Orchid” is another worldbeat highlight which features an Asiatic chant along with Chinese instruments and flutes. The complexities of this song combined with the profound beauty and catchiness of its melody bears further testament to Yanni’s musical genius. Soulful female vocals lend touches of R&B and smooth jazz to a few of the compositions – including on “The Keeper”, “Seeing You Around”, “A Little Too Late” and “Test of Time – and although they steer these parts of the album in a more mainstream direction, their contributions are melodically enjoyable and professionally executed. Closing out the album is the sensual “I’m So”, a song that was also featured on Yanni’s 2011 release, “Truth of Touch”. I loved the piece then and it’s certainly fitting here – with its gorgeous piano melody and addictive rhythm perfectly concluding the album.

Although longtime Yanni fans are sure to have varying opinions regarding this album, “Sensuous Chill” arguably has the potential to bring new listeners into the fold. All of Yanni’s signature-motifs are present – especially his uniquely outstanding piano-centric melodies – while several of the compositions lingered in my mind just after a couple of listens. Much dedicated effort was put into this recording, with its complex arrangements spanning styles of electronica, worldbeat, dance-pop, neoclassical and new age piano music. Proving without a doubt that there is simply just one Yanni, “Sensuous Chill” is a soulfully-stirring album of ecstatic dance and global celebration! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Amazon, iTunes, Yanni

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