Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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Artist: Janet Robbins (@)
Title: Carrying the Bag of Hearts, Interpreting the Birth of Stars Vol. II
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I have to admit that this one fell through the floorboards. Somehow the CD got trapped under my "over and done with" pile, and I just recently realized I hadn’t even given it a listen. Well, beat me bloody with rubber hammers, maybe there’s a reason. I remember vaguely in the past seeing the cover and glancing at the title- "Carrying the Bag of Hearts... . " and I guess it just seemed a little new-agey for me. But hey, I once put out an album that got lumped into the new age category myself, so turnabout is fair play. The opening track- "Prisons in Democracy" certainly doesn’t sound like what you might expect of typical new age music. There’s a strong underlying industrial percussion that gives Robbins’ electronic mélange a fairly forceful impetus right from the get-go. Interesting that a reedy oboe-like sound and wordless gossamer space voices float above the mechanical underpinnings. There’s enough interplay of sonic elements on this track to keep most fans of electronic music happy. I was reminded a bit of Soma, Suzanne Ciani, Steve Roach, maybe even Robert Rich at his more adventurous. I think on a first listen, most people would probably be impressed with the music’s cinematic film-score quality. I was anxious to hear where Janet was going to take it from there.

After the first track finally petered out (with a little reprise of the percussion elements and the space oboe), the next one began with Blade Runner-like soundscape, and I thought- man, this could end up really being a keeper. I second-guessed that one when the track really did turn new agey with twinkling synth sequences, real "Hearts of Space" kind of stuff. Now I come to realize there’s only 3 tracks on this disc, only a little over 25 minutes of music and it’s already more than half over. Damn! And I had such hope... The final cut didn’t do a whole lo to impress me, still in that wandering melody new age sort of mode. I think Janet Robbins has a lot of talent, but she needs to kick it up a notch or three. This recording is supposed to be Vol. II; maybe it would have been a better idea to combine it with Vol. I., at least buyers might be getting their money’s worth. More huge cinematic space ambience, less new age doodling would be my advice. Take me on a trip to the outer regions, cause I’ve been to Sedona, and there isn’t anything there but rocks.