With the release of his majestic new collection Two Hearts, award winning composer, pianist and synthesist David Wahler celebrates a decade of stellar new age recordings, keeping the rapturous musical conversation and heart/soul immersion flowing with the emotionally subtle yet spiritually majestic Two Hearts.
While contemplating every inviting musical nuance of the current work, something occurred to me that bears sharing. As a fan of new age and ambient music who also writes about many of its artists as part of my work life, I should have been hip to composer, pianist and synthesis David Wahler much sooner. Say back in 2009, when he released his debut Antiquus, which got the classically trained musician off to a great start in the genre, setting a record for the highest charting debut album on the Zone Music Reporter chart.
Making up for too much lost time, I caught up with the classically trained musician’s work with one of his most critically acclaimed projects, Mosaic. My glowing review of this deeply relaxing, sensually flowing project was matched by hundreds of others and was honored with ZMR’s Best Relaxation/Meditation album of 2018, while also earning a nomination for Album of the Year. It was also inspiring to learn about his unique background, serving as a musical director off Broadway before earning a design degree and pursuing a successful career as an interior designer. He also owned retail shops in his hometown of Chicago, Boulder, San Diego and Palm Springs.
In that review, I used descriptive terms like “crystalline drops,” “mysterious moods,” “gossamer elegance,” “soft spoken meditation” and “deeply massaging flow.” I made note of Wahler’s compelling trance-inducing chords and subtle synth ambiences. And then there was what became my favorite phrase that I used, “dreamy, sensual swim through levitational ambience.” Sometimes when I look back at words like these, I wonder just how they emerged from my mind. Then I realize that they’re part of the divine connection we all have, this transcendence we can all tap into – and when I fully immerse and connect on a soul level with the music of a deeply thoughtful artist like Wahler, it’s almost telepathy, music coming out as words.
All these phrases apply well to different passages and elements of Two Hearts. The reason they do so is that even though it’s a totally distinctive project, his kind of musical expression doesn’t truly stop and start from one track (or album) to the next. It’s like one gorgeous stream of beauty, with ebbs, flows, dynamic highs and lows, varying intricate textures and different thematic focus. But there’s a seamlessness that makes every album (now that I’m caught up!) essential.
While revisiting my earlier review as I began listening to the 11 new songs, I realized that “Fou d’amour” from Mosaic – which I pegged as a “powerfully atmospheric expression of sensuality and romance” – serves now as the open door to a full blown culmination on Two Hearts of what Wahler calls his “unabashed love affair with the notion of love.” In his thoughtful liner notes, he gives us clues as to his expansive intentions.
“Love takes on as many forms as there are people and animals to express it,” he says, before mentioning the many kinds of love – romantic, young, spiritual, love of places, disappointments, family, marriage, and the divine love coursing through the universe. He lists those almost as a dare – to see if we can match up the type of love with each tune.
That can be a fun exercise, guessing that the delicate string melody and subtle ambient caress of “You and Me” is about romance, while the mystical hypnosis and electronic pitter patter groove of “Night Sky of Orion (Remix)” points towards the eternal divine blessings of the cosmos. Likewise, we can guess that the melancholy moods, sonic “winds” and soft spoken lull of “Love Lost” taps into heartbreak, and the darkness meets light, cello and flute-enhanced contemplations of “I Remember You” reflect a wistful blend of joy and regret.
These are in contrast, of course to the cautious, contemplative bliss and lightly percussive movement of “Bloom” and the joyful, buoyant drama of the synth driven “One Fine Day.” Other titles lead us towards the possibility of love going either way.
We can experience the mystical, murky drops of “Paris Rain” as if romance is about to draw sunshine after the dispersing clouds, or a love gone wrong, hope washed away slowly by a delicate downpour. “Always,” truly the ultimate hypnotic-melodic chill track that opens the set, reminds us that true love is eternal, but while on earth, it can also break our hearts, leaving a permanent scar for “always” as well. It’s hard to say if anyone who tries the pairing of titles/tunes with types of love is right or wrong, but if we listen to it as a heartstream of consciousness, everything comes clear: the greatest lessons we can learn in life lie between these Two Hearts David Wahler shares with us.
Listen to Two Hearts here: https://open.spotify.com/album/39LyAxotjI8lZ4a7jf3TW5