Listening to the fascinating eclectic mix of dreamy, ambient spiritual minded new age instrumentals and romantic, anthemic indie pop tracks Peter Day presents on his dynamic new album Live in the Peace, it’s hard to imagine that the multi-talented composer, guitarist and keyboardist launched his career with novelty songs about a giant munchkin dwarf and an over- the-top TV evangelist on the legendary Dr. Demento radio show.
In recent years, his transition into ambient and melodic instrumental music included several dual projects with longtime friend and band mate, flutist Ben Brooks, starting with Mystic Messages (2019). Though this compelling duo is still recording – check out their most recent mystical single “Oneness” – Day sees Live in the Peace as a relaunch of his unique solo recording career.
The title of the eight song collection came to Day as he was recording the sweeping orchestral driven title track, whose lush strings he created via a Spitfire Audio orchestra plug-in. By vocally incorporating the phrase as a mantra, and then adding drums and other instruments, he has created a powerful, inspiring and emotionally and spiritually necessary anthem for this post-Covid era. “It’s been a rough couple of years for us,” he says. “Even with the pandemic now behind us, I feel that people need to start seeking positive thoughts. If possible, we need to mend relationships, take a breather and embrace peace.”
Though Day is the first to admit his own struggles with finding serenity and inner peace, in line with the theme of the title track, the collection reflects the hope he has for the world. The bold, refreshing genre-hopping from ambient new age to colorful indie pop is his way of reflecting his decision to focus on the positive. In his view, it’s not always an easy way to think, and it takes daily renewal, but it’s worth embracing that mindset – taking it one day at a time.
In light of that insight, we can not only enjoy the free-flowing journey from the meditative and atmospheric electric guitar piece “Kiss from a Goddess” through the soaring and hypnotic, hopeful and otherworldly mid-tempo pop rock ballad “Our Galaxy” (featuring powerhouse vocalist Parker Fontaine) not only as an adventurous musical experience, but as something of a soundtrack to our own journey to live in the peace in our own lives.
Day provides many fascinating guideposts in song along the way. He calls his uber-romantic piano/vocal/sax driven ballad “sort of a blend of Michael Franks meets ‘Old Man River,’ most likely because the song’s poetic, whimsical lyrics (which mention Ferris Bueller!) are sung so intimately by the deep-voiced UK singer Miles Elliot. “Highlands Hideaway” (a stately, image-rich title which will surely spark the listener’s imagination) is classic ambient and melodically lyrical Day, his emphatic guitar strums enhanced by the operatic wordless vocals of a female singer from Wales. He says, “I imagine hiding from the elements on a verdant hill with some Stonehenge stones placed poetically.” Day also features this wonderful singer on the following tune, a lushly ambient 90 second “Dance in Twilight.”
Though more of a thoughtful and passionate R&B influenced indie pop ballad than anthem, the emotions Day expresses on “Love, Peace and Acceptance” artfully tap into the notion that we all have to find some middle ground, even with people we don’t always agree with. Day bring his musical vision to life via his crisp, edgy guitar lines, a simmering sax solo by Ilia Skibinsky and the searing lead vocals of another phenomenal Euro singer named Mr. Maph. Following that inspiring gem with “Hopeful, Still” – a caressing instrumental featuring Ben Brooks that beautifully embodies their intuitive creative partnership – is Day’s way of saying, even cautiously, if we can accept one another’s differences, there may be hope for this world yet.
In addition to those already mentioned, two other key contributors to Live in the Peace should also be acknowledged for their great work. The album’s most complex production, “Our Galaxy,” started out much differently than what was finally recorded for release. To ensure a smooth transition to creating a new vibe, Day tapped renowned jazz keyboardist Rob Mullins (music director for, among others, Hubert Laws), to come up with fresh synth and bass tracks. Three songs on the album – “In Our Pontoon,” “Love, Peace and Acceptance” and “Our Galaxy” – were mixed by Rich Mouser, whose credits include Dream Theater, Weezer, Transatlantic, Rivers Cuomo, Spock’s Beard and others.