Centering, Enfolding, Empowering (2013) — Robert Scott Thompson — Long-form Ambient
I’ve been wanting this album for a long time, so I had to collect all those worthless pennies about my house, roll-em-up, and cash them in. …and for this album it was like turning water into wine. A great work.
— Brian Bourassa
Robert Scott Thompson (RST) is an amazingly diverse contemporary composer, seemingly equally at ease in modern classical, electronic (electro-acoustic), and “Ambient” genres; his work is even categorized as “New Age,” at times.
Although I always enjoy RST’s work, this latest piece is one that I will be re-playing with great regularity (along with his earlier works such as The Silent Shore, Frontier, Forgotten Places, etc.); nearly 66 minutes long, the work is in a single, continuous movement. Although RST has done long-form ambient pieces before (e.g., Sapphire), this one is a true standout among his oeuvre.
RST describes this as “Ambient Music for Meditation”; I’m no longer a meditator so I can’t confirm or deny its viability for such purposes, but as Ambient music (i.e., music that can be used as “background,” or listened to with full attention and interest) this album is SUPERB!
This is the very antithesis of the kind of “drone” recordings that sometimes pass for “ambient music” these days (where you find yourself wondering if the “composer” didn’t just turn a few dials, and then fall asleep for ten minutes). Continuously evolving in subtle ways: with subtle electronic sounds, sustained piano notes, and lots more; moving gently from evocative, to mysterious, to quietly ominous, to transcendental…
If you’re already an RST fan, you’ll want to snap this one up quickly; if you’re new to his work, this would make an excellent “first impression.”
— Steven H. Propp
One of Robert Scott Thompson newest releases this 2013 is his long suite “Centering – Enfolding – Empowering”, dubbed “Ambient Music for Meditation”. The titles say it all really. What you get here is slightly over an hour of uninterrupted peace. A work full of mysticism, which tries to regenerate and renew your parasympathetic nervous system. The works of Robert Scott Thompson usually grab you by the hand, without asking any questions, and immediately take you to another level of consciousness. Something that can only be made by certain music… and certain musicians; Robert is one of them.
The music here unquestionably fits the classical notion of “ambient music”, as stated by Erik Satie, John Cage or Brian Eno.
Robert wants to provide this suite with a functional purpose that helps the listener get immersed in it while doing some other thing. It’s also aimed at triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, in charge of the sense of stress, your blood pressure, your immune system and is also in charge of lifting your mood. Just how much of this is achieved by means of an active or passive listening of music remains, as Robert Scott Thompson concedes, “a gray area in terms of the science”. However, what cannot be denied is that these types of compositions are ideal when it comes to providing a living space for meditating, working, writing, studying, reading, etc… This musical canvas engulfs the listeners and draws them in.
“Centering – Enfolding – Empowering” basically consists of long drones, sprinkled with low-pitched piano notes, the sounds of bowls and very soft sampled vocals. It can be programmed for infinite playing as it really lacks any beginning or end.
One of the things that strikes the eye from the start is the stunning artwork that accompanies the album. It’s a partial view of Victoria Bearden’s painting “We Will Meet Again”. It was a live Art Demo from the Ocean Museum of Art during the “Steampunk” event. Victoria comments that the painting was completed with the help of people from the audience: guests added things to the picture during the process, including texts in Greek, Serbian, Arabic, Latin, Thai, French, English.
— Synth Caresses
Centering – Enfolding – Empowering: Ambient Music for Meditation is a long-form work in the classical ambient tradition. Featuring elaborate drones, deep gongs, resonant piano tones and ethereal voices, this music is perfect for introspection, meditation, healing and therapy. Ideal as a sonic backdrop to quiet activities, Centering – Enfolding – Empowering utilizes the sacred healing power of sound to transport and transform.