NEW YORK TIMES
Knvul Sheikh November 09, 2019
On Oct. 29, a composition by The ClimateMusic Project — a jazz and spoken-word piece called “What If We…?” — was performed by the band COPUS in front of an audience of about 250 people at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the opening of the World Bank’s Art of Resilience exhibition.
To create the piece, Wendy Loomis, the composer for ClimateMusic, and Alison Marklein, an environmental researcher at the University of California, Riverside, began with data on sea-level rise published in the journal Earth’s Future in 2018 and often cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A computer algorithm then converted each foot of potential sea-level rise into an audio frequency, each frequency slightly higher than the last. The result was the aural equivalent of a graph.
The composition begins with audio representing the current-day sea level. As the piece progresses, it tracks the data into the future, like the time axis on a graph. The music becomes increasingly distorted and intense, and a battle ensues between the bass (representing diminishing land area) and the drums (rising sea level) that is emotionally jarring.
Video by the Climate Music Project of the COPUS World Bank performance can be seen here:
Spoken over the composition are fictional (but plausible) news headlines from the future, envisaging how rising sea levels may affect the globe, such as “The Arctic Ocean is ice free for the first time” and “the Marshall Islands are almost completely swallowed by the Pacific Ocean.”
ZONE MUSIC REPORTER
RJ Lannan October 11, 2018
At your fingertips.
Pianist and composer Wendy Loomis does double duty on her latest release, High Tech. High Touch. The 2-disc CD contains sixteen tracks of pleasing, energizing music. Eight tracks are acoustic and the other eight are electronic. Loomis has achieved a very good balance between two worlds. The acoustic side has some classical elements mixed with contemporary themes. The electronic side has space music and ambient components that offer a variety and a great listening experience. Overall, the music is contemporary amiability.
Wendy Loomis hails from San Francisco with a plethora of releases to her credit, more than fifteen additional recordings. She is noted for her contributions to film music and she also plays with a jazz band called Copus. Wendy is very active in the Indie music scene and has performed around the country and in other parts of the world.
Using synthesizer, pan flutes, and violin throughout the High Tech disc, side one begins with Omar Sosa. Wendy pays tribute to the Cuban composer and jazz pianist. It is obvious that in a galaxy not too far away, Sosa is a star that lights up the jazz firmament. Bouncy rhythms and synth backgrounds highlight Wendy's spacey xylophone. Inorganic chorus chimes in on this upbeat electronic incursion beyond the planets.
A deep resonant bass voice, maybe electronic cello, opens the spatial tune Rings. Four distinct planets in our own galaxy have rings, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. In the music we touch on all of them, where travel is instant and the journey, albeit a sometimes discordant one, is the thrill of a lifetime. The complex work is quite monumental.
We encounter a strong violin lead courtesy of Michele Walther on the driving tune Pleiades. Popping percussion and a dramatic metal drum background vie for aural attention, but it is the violin that wins out. The musical encounter with the Seven Sisters is a heart racing foray into the Taurus system where five hundred stars abide, but the Sisters outshine them all.
Disc 2 opens with a very dramatic, somewhat muted score called Cumulus Cloud. Yes, those big puffy white clouds are the stuff that dreams are made of. Just above us, they move like animated pictures that fire up the imagination. They dredge up dragons, create castles, and produce pretty maid-in-waiting for the fairy princess to fashion stories. All ages need apply.
A dark Spanish night, a sky full of stars and a rendezvous in the making. You can hear that in more in Loomis' ballad, Julio where her solo piano tempers the mood very well. There is a sound of romance in the notes, and a dance that will never end. This turned out to be a favorite for its emotional drama.
One Snowy Night reminded me of an old John Tesh tune called 3 Seabury Road. It is based off of one of Erik Satie's works and I loved Wendy's tune for its hidden classical parlance. Her music is so very definite that I could imagine a cold winter's night where I turned on the floodlights outside and just watched as the big flakes of snow piled up on everything outside, creating a miraculous white landscape.
There is a great deal of creativity on High Tech. High Touch, but there is also a wonderful amount of variety. I never got tired of changing from one disc to another as the mood changed along with the music. All of it good.
Keith Hannaleck October 11, 2018
Wendy Loomis is a San Francisco-based composer who has won the ASCAP award for composition 4 times, released 16 CDs, and has performed with various ensembles nationally and internationally. That is one impressive resume. Would her latest release High Tech High Touch continue to build on that consistency or keep setting the bar higher for this talented lady?
High Tech High Touch served as my introduction to Wendy. It would prove to be a fascinating juxtaposition. Going from the High Tech (CD 1) to High Touch (CD 2) was like listening to two different artists; this is the entire point of naming each CD something entirely different so indeed it comes as advertised.
High Tech is spacey ambient electronic music, done very well. Wendy explores the varying degrees of tone, layers, and volume that a synth can create. The technology at the disposal of artists today is phenomenal, but believe me it takes intelligence and pure talent to create something that makes sense to an audience. When you hear music like this you desire something with substance and meaning and Wendy is able to get just that to a prospective listener.
Music such as this is easily applicable to movie soundtracks or commercials, but again, it has to be good! Wendy’s talent is apparent right from the start as the curtain opens with “Omar Sosa” (a Cuban -born composer, bandleader, and jazz pianist). Based on that first track I found it interesting that it was on the tech CD, not the touch CD. So, with that thought in mind, this is where an artist uses their improvisational techniques and musical talent to create something new and fresh and still be able to acknowledge the artist they are honoring. A tricky thing to pull off at times, but again, Wendy comes through with flying colors, or should I say “with colors flying.”
Keep in mind this is two EP configured discs, 8 tracks each, so what you get is like sitting and listening to one 60+ minute CD. Because the music is so dissimilar it has to stand on its own as one single entity of work that showcases the artists' affinity for offering a listener polar opposite of musical styles within the realm of keyboards.
High Touch is all acoustic piano instrumentals that are rooted in classical and new age. This is music I am accustomed to hearing quite often so it has to be done very well. Again, Wendy proves that she was not taking any chances by putting out something so different in style and sound. The piano playing is elegant, tasteful and very soothing. The 8 tracks are sheer beauty flowing seamlessly, as it should be with this type of music.
High Tech High Touch hits the mark for a wide range of listeners and it is all done very well by Wendy Loomis. So, to answer my own question, yes, she sets the bar very high for herself and any other artist to attain simply on variety alone, for one musical package. Wendy gets an A+ for talent and overall musical satisfaction from this listener’s chair.
NO HANDS RECORDS
"Artistic director, pianist and composer Wendy Loomis paints with a broad palette of jazz, classical, new age, avant garde and world colors, fusing styles ranging from Debussy to Thelonius Monk. Her dynamic performance at the piano throughout 'Later Than You Think' by turns floats through the soundscape, supports the other instrumentalists, vamps under poet Royal's voice, then drives the ensemble with funky rhythms and jabbing, percussive chords."
Kathy Parsons August 10, 2018
High Tech, High Touch
2018 / Wendy Loomis
High Tech, High Touch is a 2-EP collection of original compositions by Bay Area composer/pianist/ producer/ educator, Wendy Loomis. The High Touch disc is eight original piano solos and High Tech is eight works for synthesizers (and a few guest artists). Reading Wendy Loomis' bio and the information on her website is amazing. There isn't much in the music field that she hasn't done, and her current activities include this album, teaching in her home studio in San Francisco, composing for and playing with spoken word jazz band COPUS, composing for film, and the list goes on. She was the composer/pianist of piano/flute duo, Phoenix Rising, and has won the ASCAP award for composition four times. HighTech, High Touch is Wendy Loomis' seventeenth album and is very likely to be one of my Favorites of 2018.
The two 32-minute discs are very different from each other, and I certainly wouldn't have guessed they were by the same artist, but the quality of the music, the recording and production are all top notch and provide a superlative showcase for Wendy Loomis' versatility as a composer and musician.
The High Tech disc begins with "Omar Sosa," an ambient/electronic tribute to the brilliant Cuban musician that it's named for. The infectious beat will have you tapping your toes in no time! "Cassiopeia" was co-created with Jerry Gerber (soft synth) and Michele Walther (violin) and is high energy as well as high tech! The soulful violin is a fascinating contrast to the driving beat of the synths, and yet they work together perfectly. "Birthday Beat" is rather dark and mysterious, but the percussion keeps it lively and moving forward - another very interesting set of contrasting sounds! "Synchronicity" includes Monica Williams on pan flute in addition to the more playful synths and percussion - a favorite. "Apogee" is more fluid and ethereal, but the dark, steady drum and hand claps keep it grounded - I really like this one, too! Gerber and Walther return in "Pleiades" as co-composers and instrumentalists. High energy, exotic and very rhythmic, this one just about dances right out of the CD player! Love it!
Okay, now that I've gushed about the electronic disc, let me tell you about the High Touch solo piano disc that I REALLY like! I love all eight of these piano solos and really hope Loomis will offer the sheet music sometime. "Cumulus Cloud" is very free and impressionistic, floating on air and moving gracefully when and where it wishes - very soothing and transporting. "Julio" is dark and passionate with a Latin rhythm and a haunting melody. And then there is "You're Too Sensitive"! I cannot get enough of this wonderful minor key waltz! In addition to the powerful main theme, there are a few lighter themes that seem to tell a story. I can't seem to listen to this one without hitting the replay button at least once! "Nagano Reflection" is elegant with a gentle Asian feel - beautiful! The dramatic "Safe Travel" expresses a sense of urgency as well as movement. "One Snowy Night" reminds me a bit of Erik Satie in places - simple and uncluttered, but very evocative. Another favorite! The album comes to a close with "Eternity," a slowly-flowing "song without words" that comes from the heart.
High Tech, High Touch will not be easy to categorize come awards season, but it should be in line for a whole bunch of awards! It is available from www.WendyLoomis.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
ONE WORLD MUSIC
Steve Sheppard August 30, 2018
If you’re looking for something very unique, something refreshing and breathtakingly sublime, then you need to look no further that the new release by Wendy Loomis entitled High Tech, High Touch. This offering is actually a double CD release and gives us two styles of music created by the artist to roam within. High Tech is Loomis on synths and percussion with an array of other fine artists who join her to bring us some of the most inventive EM we may have heard for some time, like the Berlin styled track Cassiopeia and the full flowing and quite deep arrangement Apogee.
High Tech is an intelligent and well thought out collection of arrangements, which contain a myriad of added instrumentation, a big tip of the hat goes to Michele Walther for her work on violin on the aforementioned Cassiopeia and my personal favourite Pleiades.
Disc two takes us to a totally different musical dimension, as High Touch is brimmed to the top with utterly sublime solo piano recordings and contains my favourite track of all called Cumulus Cloud. This particular piece is one of the finest compositions I have heard in this genre for years, empowering and inspiring; the use of minor chord structures in the narrative is nothing more than genius.
On Romantic Hearts Loomis creates a retrospective feeling and one could easily be forgiven for thinking we were back to the early years of artists like George Winston and Scott Cossu. The ambience of Nagano Reflection was both moving and creative, while the artistic flair in the confident last offering of Eternity was simply the perfect way to leave the project, and performed with such a high level of professionalism it was a delight to be able to be a part of its tone created dimension.
High Tech, High Touch is a double cd of pure class and one I personally could listen to for hours. There are eight tracks on each album, and all of them produced with a pristine quality of sound and technique. This is an album that has really freshened up the multi genres of the new age music industry and one that I completely recommend without hesitation.