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Neo Eclectic Prisms (Aug. 2013)
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If your iPod could compose music, what would it sound like?  Probably a lot like Prh’s “neo eclectic” music, available on his just-released Prisms CD.  Prisms is the ninth in Prh’s “inn-house” series, a collection that proves digital technology can give birth to musical forms with integrity, as well as novelty.

The iPod allowed us to break up conventional CDs into an infinitely mixable series of songs.  Listeners could hop from genre to genre in a flash, which turned musical tastes more eclectic.  What makes Prh’s music “neo-eclectic,” is his use of compositional software to take the next step.  Not only does Prh create music in styles that range from classical, to jazz, to Latin, to New Age, to Asian, and so forth, on the same CD, he also weaves hints of different musical genres into the same song.

On the new Prisms CD, for example, “World Pulse” blends a dominant Afro-Pop sound into something like American folk.  My favorite track, Epidavros, mixes a stunningly powerful Greek folk music sound with a vague hint of classical harpsichord.

 Prh may be the only one out there who’s figured out how to use the incredible power of the new compositional hardware and software to break through every known musical genre boundary.  Yet it’s all done with heart, and discipline.  Each piece has a musical center, which is then filled with change-ups and subtle teases of genre-mixing you aren’t always sure about when they first sneak in.  This music can simply relax or excite, or you can also treat each piece as a fascinating puzzle by tracking the genre change-ups and musical games.

There’s something new and fun going on here, and more people are catching on all the time.  Very much worth a listen.
-SNK

Herewith, the Neo Eclectic musical imagery of Paul Hirschfield.  Readers will find ample explanation of Neo Eclectic at prhstudios.com; my focus will be the listening experience itself, and what a treat the new album Prisms is. Hirschfield’s new disc is a beautiful and accessible musical event with all the creativity, pleasure, and musical inventiveness already well known to listeners of his music. The music is for a neo audience, listeners who want their senses touched for the length of an average commercial track, and who respond to harmonies and inventions highly evocative and melodic. 

This is a compact, musical whirl of world geography that captures the sounds, sights, and images of global musical styles. From the bustling melodic opener rippling up and down the piano keyboard to the exotic colors of faraway places and homespun funk, you might just as well be on a magic carpet.

Melody and rhythm are front and center, with the Hirschfield touch of lush harmony and pleasing chord progressions. Musical tracks variously layer piano, percussion, timpani, chorus, strings and more. Already internationally familiar to a wide audience, Hirschfield also supplies something else, as he has on all of his discs: superlative, wide-ranging sonics. He is a naturally gifted engineer to his own music.  The open, airy, transparent sound field gives the music all the bloom and punch it needs to create harmony- both within and with out.

Listen on wide-range loudspeakers or a pair of earbuds; each experience will be different, but equal of pleasure. Hop on the musical carpet, and let the music take you everywhere you want to go.
-Howard R. Selekman

iTunes (Aug. 2009)
Whirld: ASIA
prh...studios

Rating: ***** of 5

A Breath of Asian Aire

Do you remember the early scene of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, where the great wizard draws upward a swath of colors, which converge into a dreamy technicolor butterfly? Contemporary wizard Paul Hirschfield has conjured up the aural equivalent, being the supreme color master of the sound byte he is, in his sixth inn-House Concert disc: Whirld: Asia.

Composer Hirschfield’s striking fusion of world melody motifs with Asian landscapes is flat out gorgeous. Each of the thirteen pieces is a deft union of instrumental color and rhythm, suggesting winding, long forgotten forest paths suddenly there for the contemporary global family to explore. This is not travelogue music by any means. As lush and accessible as the music is, it also challenges each listener to find his place amidst the haze of modern chaos and order. The music invites and encourages: yes, this can be done.

Hirschfield has a knack for presenting and layering instrumental colors. No piece outstays its welcome. The element of surprise is highly valued, no complacency or untoward repetition here. The melody, the motifs, the characters of the music are so captivating, so unusual, so sharply etched that hearing more becomes a necessity. The whole journey is an exercise in opening up, but with such inviting color and melody that the listener just becomes a happy captive, letting go and being rewarded for doing so.

The final track (Asian Winds) is stunningly summative and life asserting. It will leave you breathless (in the middle of the freshest air you’ve ever breathed), surprised, and utterly satisfied. The soul of a Stokowski is certainly part of Hirschfield’s muse. Take this next journey, and get in touch with your pathways: discovered and undiscovered!
- Howard R. Selekman

iTunes (Aug, 2007)
interTwined
prh...studios
Rating: ***** of 5

Music for the 21st Century

For sheer musical ingenuity and inventiveness coupled with wide-range sonics, it’s hard to resist the musical adventure that composer PRH [Hirschfield] has concocted on silver disc, also available for download. With unflagging momentum, Hirschfield’s internationally-styled mix of the classic and the modern not only engages, but captivates the listener. It’s really beautiful stuff. There are whiffs of any number of classical composers spanning the centuries, but that doesn’t matter. There’s an individual voice here manipulating electronic and live tonalities that create surprise at every turn, a little motion picture scoring, a little jazz and rock, a little symphony. But what really accounts for the surprise is Hirschfield’s feel for color. Each movement splashes the paints in Fantasia like sequence, sometimes with great delicacy, at other times with imposing seriousness. And suddenly, from nowhere, there is a chordal progression, a motif, that goes right through the heart, a drop of the infinite and the mysterious (try track 13). The piece can be startling, but always agreeable and life-affirming. Plain and simple, Intertwined is a musical treat.

Mention must be made of the sonic “picture” and “feel” of the recording. I’m not one who cares a whole lot if I can or cannot pinpoint exactly where an instrument happens to be placed; a general sense is enough for me. What matters to me is how tactile the presentation of the colors and instrumentalities is. The other value that is important for me is the air and warmth that is captured by the engineer. I have a very hard time with dry and airless sonics. Hirschfield is both composer and engineer here. As engineer, his sound is lush, open, and rich with wonderful separation, and for those who find this important, pinpoint acoustics. On this disc, the sound itself is part of the adventure. On a wide-range, high-resolution big system, the whole thing just opens up in Vista Vision. On my Nano, with better than average earbuds, little of the spaciality is lost. Though the music may communicate more intimately, there is thankfully no loss of tingle, no loss of the composer’s sensational tactile facility. In other words, rather deftly, Hirschfield has managed to create a number of adventures here, each one a little different, depending on the system through which one is listening. You don’t want to miss this trip.
- Howard Selekman

iTunes (Dec 3, 2007)
interTwined
prh...studios
Rating: ***** of 5

Let’s begin with “virtual catalysts,” my favorite cut from interTwined. Virtual catalysts exercises some sort of bizarre hold over me. I play it repeatedly, as if I were still a teenager with a new favorite album. This piece is something like a blend of Gershwin’s orchestral-jazz “Rhapsody in Blue” with Lalo Schifrin’s theme from Mission Impossible. The song is filled with counter-intuitive shifts in mood and instrumentation, which nonetheless effortlessly work. I can’t get virtual catalysts out of my head. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue premiered at a concert entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” Too bad “experimental” later came to stand for pretentiously odd, discordant and unappealing sounds. Every prh song, on the other hand, is an experiment in the best sense. Prh’s music is filled with unexpected shifts and blends, yet alldesigned to fascinate and please, rather than shock or brag. You might call it “orchestral sampling.” The boldest mixes on this CD are blended with gentler tributes to several folk traditions, like the music of Canada’s Cape Breton. There are a couple of pure percussion pieces as well, harking back to prh’s early work. I’ve been listening to prh for years, and with interTwined, he’s reached a whole new level. Get it.
- SNK

CDbaby (2006)

“Musical mosaics interweaving themes of various and often divergent genres from classical to jazz to world [etc.] in each CD and often within a track, yet smoothly interacting, representing a refreshing approach to composition.”
- CD Baby

© 2013 prh

Contact: prh@prhstudios.com