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Bill Martin reviews the ‘Therapist’s Edition’ of

TOUCHING THE CLOUDS

Touching the Clouds is the latest recording from the talented trio of Richard Bolton (guitars / guitar synth), John Hackett (flutes) and Clive Williamson (keyboards, flutes, wind synth, marimba, percussion, voices and whistling. Intended as ‘music for deep relaxation and holistic therapy’, the band's style is impressionistic and contemplative.

My attention was drawn first to the mellifluous flute playing, which tends to improvise around pentatonic scales, and then to the sensitive, crystal-clear solo guitar of Richard Bolton’s Dawn Clouds, Dusk Rain which opens Side 1, and fades into Nimbus, a relaxing flute improvisation over a slow, rhythmic keyboard figure. Clive Williamson’s ability to evoke a whole range of emotional effects is the band’s foundation. His title track has a timeless, dreamlike quality which links many of his pieces on this album, and here, long sustained sounds fade in and out of each other, punctuated by delicate metallic sounds; it is as though we are in a small boat, drifting slowly in a strange place and watching things appear and then recede into the mist.

We are taken to The Crystal Cave, an enchanting place with tinkling wind chimes, drones and swirling chordal sounds to comfort and reassure us. Once again there is this sense of all kinds of images which remain just out of view, but which we glimpse fleetingly before they disappear again. A treat for the head, heart and ears!

Lawrence Ball makes a guest appearance (on the extended ‘Therapists Edition of the album only) in his Spring Light, a thoughtful piano piece with some subtle, minimalist synthesiser embellishments. His careful use of dissonance and silence draws us into this piece, which fits perfectly into the album’s style. Further delights are Richard Bolton's Pale Clouded Yellow, an effortless electric guitar solo, and Dreamtime (After the Storm), which includes Ashley Drees on cittern.

I love this album and concur whole-heartedly with the description on the insert, ‘90 minutes of music to calm the mind and soothe the spirit’.

(Reprinted with Bill Martin's permission from Catalist magazine)

Now available worldwide from iTunes - Click here to listen or download: Symbiosis

(Touching the Clouds is now available as a 72 minute CD/iTunes download; or as the original 90 minute "Therapist's Edition" via iTunes download Symbiosis)

Listen to: Nimbus; Touching the Clouds; Lakeside; Der Wälder Nacht (Forested Night); and Wrapped in Evening Mists.

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Kindred Spirit reviews Touching the Clouds on CD

Touching the Clouds by Symbiosis (72 mins)

This album was nothing like I expected from the CD inlay card. Symbiosis have created beautiful music; delicate and sparse arrangements of flutes, keyboards and acoustic guitar over a fine soundscape backdrop combined with space and atmosphere which both become instruments in themselves. Touching the Clouds, the title track, is a fine example of the 23 tracks. Richard Bolton, John Hackett and Clive Williamson, along with a few guests, have created something special and original with a stunning display of subtlety and creativity; an intriguing, original release.

Music Reviews by Michael Madden and friends, Kindred Spirit Magazine, Issue 47 (Summer 1999)

'Of all I've heard, Touching the Clouds is still my
(and my clients') favourite CD'

Holistic Practitioner, Glasgow

'I think Touching the Clouds is WONDERFUL'
Customer, Bury St Edmunds

and from Heartsong Review (U.S.A.)...

SYMBIOSIS - Touching the Clouds
(*EDITOR'S PICK)

Here is truly perfect music for deep relaxation and holistic therapies. Compositions that hold the attention with their superb instrumentation yet soothe and calm make this recording truly magical.

This enchanting spirit-captivating, freeing music begins with Dawn Clouds, Dusk Rain and acoustic guitar: The flute enters soon. With a touch of reverb now and then, the deep soothing flute tone weaves a tapestry for Saint Grace herself, while evenly strummed guitar chords provide the woof. Nicely reminiscent of Paul Horn's flute in the Taj Mahal, a simple chime plays in concert as duo. As the recording proceeds, human voices punctuate a rhythm assisted by high fluttering chimes for a brief harmonic divergence fades out as the flute returns to hint at two well known melodies masterfully combined. Then finger cymbals, synthesized string, vibes and glass chimes. It drifts lazily and peacefully along for quite a time then quieting to one central tone, then adds a fifth and expands slowly. Some marimba notes conjure drops of water off a roof in the quiet after a rain.

In the Hawaiian culture, clouds were observed by cloud kahunas who read them for instruction and guidance. We can look to Touching the Clouds to relax mind and body. Highly recommended.

Lina Goodyear & Jennifer Derby Washburn, Heartsong Review, U.S.A. (Spring/Summer 1995)

'I was absolutely enthralled by the beautiful music'
Customer, Kent... about Touching the Clouds

"What they say" about other SYMBIOSIS albums...

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