CD Reviews



What the reviewers are saying about



Progressive Rock
WSVC
Music Scene
Outer Sound
demophone
The 1/2 Creeper
Ruff/Life
Aiding and Abetting
Altar Native
Pitch Magazine
Ink Nineteen
Juxtaposition Ezine
181.4 Degrees from the North
Progression Magazine
Exposé
Renegade Newsletter


Progressive Rock

Derek Daniel, reviewer for the United Kingdom's Progressive Rock zine, reported this about TransFormations

Looking at the cloudy sky which features on the cover of TransFormations, I expected one of the Mind, Body and Spirit tapes—a kind of watered down Enigma. I was pleasantly surprised to hear something a little different.

TransFormations has a strong childlike quality about it. The tracks are what I would call funsize, the longest being 2 mins 28 secs and all are simple blends of synthesized instruments, viola, bass, oboe and trumpet to name but a few.

Alongside are some nice quirky touches. It sounds like someone in the background is singing a bicycle bell and tapping a pen knife against a milk bottle.

TransFormations is refreshing and uplifting and very encouraging to the imagination. I saw nothing but clowns, big tops, sunny skies and tandem rides. It's the kind of music toys come to life with and no mime artist should be without.

My favourite tracks are "Funk" and "Good Morning, Rachel." I really did like TransFormations and feel it should be treated like a book of poetry—not taken in all at once, but dipped into from time to time, for appreciation of several selected pieces.


WSVC

Sarah Flannary at station WSVC in Richlands, VA said this about TransFormations:

Eerie and beautiful - liner notes are great. This is like, the perfect background music for a ghost story or radio drama. The bells, oboe, and sax add a lot ot her compositions.


Music Scene

Daphne Robinson reviewed TransFormations for Music Scene, the online magazine that comes out of Chicago.

Several songs all designed to make your feel more at ease with your day. This music has no blasting songs or wild transitions. Instead Valarie Morris uses direct gentility to pervade your senses.

Where there is lightness you will sense joy and where there is whimsy you will feel playful. Where else can you find 30 songs all peppy and perky that will make you step outside of yourself and enjoy the light airiness of the music that is around.

Morris has created a great deal of music for both electronic and acoustic instruments. Her work conveys certain feelings and elements that are implied and paint a?mental picture more vivid than if word were spoken. One of the most impressive elements about this is that there are so many songs on this album and they are short yet convey a complete message. There is no lack at the end of a song.

TransFormations is sweet, light electronica.


Outer Sound

Jim Santo recently reviewed TransFormations for the Demo Universe section of Outer Sound, an online site dedicated to giving global exposure to independent labels.

A charming collection of 30 musical vignettes composed, performed and recorded by Morris. Synthesizer is her principal means of expression here but she composes for a variety of orchestral instruments, including flute, oboe and contrabass.

Some of these brief works attempt to evoke specific moods or places ("Overcast," "MiddleEast," "Space Song"), while others are titled as compositional exercises ("Tango 1," "Trumpet Intro 2"), but all are accompanied in the liner notes by light-hearted descriptions that sometimes read like J. Peterman catalog entries ("One of the 2:00 Wednesday meetings held in Conference Dreamroom 2B, attended by the executive cells of a large software company," reads the text for "Cellular").

Fans of impressionist composers like Satie and Debussy will enjoy these whimisical works.


demophone

Marie Daubert's unique pictorial review of TransFormations appeared in the premiere issue of the French 'zine demophone.

   


The 1/2 Creeper

Paul Autry reviewed TransFormations in the September 1997 issue of The 1/2 Creeper. This fanzine comes out of Pennsylvania.

This release is pure musical beauty. There's a little bit of everything on this recording. A 35-second trumpet intro, funk, tango, improvs, flutes, an Irish jig, all performed by the multi-talented Valarie Morris.

A release like this should be listened to by someone who can appreciate the true beauty of music. I've been playing this in the evening, as I sit in front of my typewriter doing what I do best. It puts you in a very relaxed mood, sort of like classical music. A refreshing change of pace. Open your mind to a whole new world of music and enter the world of Valarie Morris. Once you do, you may find yourself unable to leave.


Ruff/Life

Brooklyn, New York's Joe Griffo reviewed TransFormations in the March 1998 issue of his zine, "Ruff/Life." Joe says:

This is a good album to read by or meditate with. Classical-like tunes on synth that are like a bath of sound.


Aiding and Abetting

Aiding and Abetting, the online independent label music resource, reviewed TransFormations in their February 17, 1997 issue. Here's what they had to say.

Unlike many electronic composers who try and cram their music full of wildly varied melodies and sounds, Valarie Morris rarely ventures past a single melody. Her songs are simple and unadorned, beautiful in their starkness.

Morris also has a wonderful ear for what sounds will best express her melodies. We all like experimenting with sampling keyboard to make cool sounds, but Morris has gone far beyond this, crafting sounds that truly fit her musical ideas.

The songs are self-contained bits of mystery and wonder, with many joyous moments to spare. Sometimes it's easy to forget how beautiful simple music can be. It takes real self-assurance to craft music such as this.

A real treat. Some 30 pieces, ranging from a few seconds to three minutes in length. Nothing is redundant, and no time is wasted. A supreme effort.


Altar Native

Miami's Omar Perez reviewed TransFormations for the April 1998 issue of the online zine "Altar Native."

Throughout this release, composer and performer Valarie Morris opens up her diary, and is kind enough to share with us the points of her life that make TransFormations a listening experience. The neo-classical orchestrations and electronic instrumentation yield various moods and textures. Morris is one songwriter who does not believe everything has been done in music.


Pitch Magazine

In a 1997 issue of Pitch Magazine, John Williams wrote this about TransFormations.

Blending natural and electronic tones into a disturbing multi-tonal juxtaposition, this jaunting effort pays off with repeated listens and eventually leaves you with a deeper understanding of one person's sacred space and the bravery to share with others.


Ink Nineteen

Carl Glaser reviewed TransFormations for the November 1997 issue of the online and paper magazine, Ink Nineteen, published in Melbourne, Florida. Here's what Carl had to say ...

On TransFormations, Valarie Morris provides a series of compositions using traditional instruments that baffle and entertain simultaneously. Sounding nothing like what you'll hear on the radio, or just about anywhere else, TransFormations shifts mercurially between moods, often sounding like musical concepts and snippets strung together for the artist's enjoyment. Morris seems to have a "let's try it" attitude, and she tackles genres and styles with no prejudice. Not necessarily the easiest thing to listen to, but very rewarding and inspiring.


Juxtaposition Ezine

Juxtaposition Ezine, an online magazine, also reviewed TransFormations early in 1997.

TransFormations is a collection of quirky musical miniatures. Modern post-classical composing collides with whimsy to give us a tour of composer Valarie Morris' musical mind.

Various arrangement moods prevail: the flute and toy piano of Overcast, the oom-pa-pa Waltz, the frenetic pittzacato [sic] string and reverb soaked accordian duet of OutZone, flute, hand drums, percussion and UFO synths of Tante Suzanne, Between Time's lounge jazz, the martial fanfare of Trumpet Intro I.

I hate it when people say this about any music, but any of the pieces on TransFormations would make great movie or video cues. It's always a pleasure to hear a composer with a sense of humor. Reviewed on cassette.


181.4 Degrees from the North

Ian I. McDowell reviewed TransFormations online for 181.4 Degrees from the North in August. Ian is one of those rare fellows who grades the albums he reviews. He gave TransFormations an A!

Valarie Morris from the West Coast of California has released a very surprising and confusing look into studio music. The album is thirty pieces that stream from movie score to video game music with only six of the pieces over two minutes ...

To be quite honest, I have never fully understood classical music to the degree that I understand rock. But I always say, "I know what I like," and I like the eclectic feel of TransFormations. It is a lot like all of the different worlds in the Super Mario Brothers series and, at the very least, it is an interesting travel through the world of Valarie Morris. My favorite trips include Waltz, Do a Duet, CounterBounder, and Space Song.


Progression Magazine

John Collinge, editor of Progression Magazine, the Journal of Progressive Music, reviewed TransFormations in their Spring 1997 issue.

Multi-instrumentalist Valarie Morris certainly cannot be accused of pandering. Another flaccid new age puff job, this is not. TransFormations is a study in mood and tonality through minimalistic, neo-classical chamber electronics.

Things shift quickly on this work—29 [sic] tracks in all, none longer than 2 minutes, 45 seconds. And Morris has a story to tell about each in the liner notes, whether a given track has a theme or specific source of inspiration. Moods run the gamut, from disturbed dissonance to whimsical little melodies. This is stuff that begs your attention—and pays off when you provide it. That is, if you have patience for another's musical eccentricities ... and an open mind.

This definitely is not music to chop herbs by, as chances are you might lose a digit.


Exposé

Mike Ezzo, staff writer for Exposé, a magazine that "Explores the Boundaries of Rock", reviewed TransFormations for their Spring 1997 issue. Here are some excerpts.

Like an artist's sketchbook; that is, in essence, what TransFormations presents itself as ... Valarie's education and impressive musical background hold her in good stead—a graduate of Mills College, she proves thoroughly her compositional clout. The music is well constructed, displaying a keen ability for unifying, that few rock musicians possess ...

As befitting this kind of sampler, we run the gamut in styles ... OutZone and Do a Duet are both clever and convincingly well-composed. Fourths is by far the strongest of any. Cellular is a serious work that would sound great in a chamber ensemble setting. Space Song and Improv 2 are both effectively rendered synthesizer music, and as such are idiomatic for her instrument of choice. African Island portrays a good ear for percussion scoring.


Renegade Newsletter

Geoff Wilbur, in the May 1997 issue of his Renegade Newsletter, has this to say about TransFormations.

I don't know quite what to make of Valarie Morris' TransFormations. It seems best suited to soundtrack work.



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