Al Fleeman is a young composer from Kilmartin, Argyll in Scotland. I know his area very well and I was delighted to receive his this album, his debut album, in the post. He is also a very good photographer and his pictures from the Argyll area, an area I visit a lot on my long bike rides, is excellent. Link at the bottom of this review.
That's where my enthusiasm ends........
Al Fleeman has taken one of the best loved psalms/hymns in the world and expanded it out. The name of this hymn/psalm is The Water Is Wide and the extension "Variations" very much describes his expansion of this hymn into a thirty nine long piece of music. He has used keyboards and samples in creating this music. A man and his dog project, in other words. I am not sure which instruments the dog plays, though.
The music is what I believe is called chill out music. I am not a big fan of the chill out/new age music scene. I must be missing something essential in my life because what I regard as chill out music is pretty intense jazz and fusion. Return To Forever is chill out music in my ears. The official type of chill out music just annoys me. The music is too sugary sweet for me. I prefer my life sour and sweet. Just like jazz, in other words.
But this is a pretty good album which is centred around a hymn I personally love. A majestic hymn on par with Jerusalem (which ELP did a good job on, forty years ago). Al Fleeman has fleshed out his "variations" of the hymn and made the music a lot more dynamic than the rather dour hymn. Some of the music here sounds a bit of a clash with the original hymn. But most of this album is good. I am a bit torn between giving this a decent or a good award. But the excellent booklet adds another 0.5 stars to the album and it swings this up to three points...... barely.
Link to Al Fleeman and photo gallery