"Wonder Way" is the third CD I've reviewed here at Prognaut from Viennese pianist/keyboardist Gerald Krampl, an accomplished neo-classical artist creating modern ambient chamber music. And "Wonder Way" is quite possibly his best solo work to date.
Some may remember Krampl as one of the founding members of the 70s' progressive rock groups Kyrie Eleison and Indigo. The 1976 Kyrie Eleison album "The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise" was an superb Genesis styled album propelled by the impressive synthesizer arpeggios and majestic keyboard work of Gerald Krampl. But since 2006 his music has taken on a decidedly different tone, gradually moving away from keyboard driven prog to new age minimalism, as with his subsequent solo projects "Timedriver" (2008), "Innocent Wasteland" (2009), and "Lighthouse" (2010). With "Wonder Way" Krampl has made the transition complete, flipping the switch from the energetic multi-keyboardist of Kyrie Eleison to a mature introspective new age pianist.
The piano is his instrument of choice on "Wonder Way", and on the odd occasion when electronic embellishments are incorporated, they are used sparingly. And unlike his album "Innocent Wasteland" in which Krampl emulated stringed instruments with inferior keyboard samples, on "Wonder Way" Krampl enlists classical musician Peter Sagaischek of the Vienna Volksopern Orchestra to enhance Krampl's compositions with the natural beauty of the viola and violin. There is no substitution for the natural beauty of acoustic stringed instruments over synthetic samples.
The collective instrumental tracks of "Wonder Way" are awash with reflective moments of melancholy nostalgia and peaceful serenity. Sadness and joy - and all emotions in between. His compositions are inspired by anything from a casual walk in the park to imaginative flights of fancy filled with imaginary airborne creatures; introspective reflections of his childhood and unresolved regrets in his life; the death of a cherished friend and even a farewell song to a family pet Guinea Pig; as well as theological expectations of the world beyond ... beyond. Gerald Krampl has set his life's journey - as well as the voyage afterward - to music with this collection of tunes on "Wonder Way". Music expressed without words.
This is the type of chamber music one might expect to hear in an art gallery, a cotillion, the lobby of an elegant hotel, during tea for two in a Victorian parlor, or as the the perfect compliment to a good book. Or when you simply want to decompress after a hectic day ... and simply chill out.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on December 22nd, 2012