CHRIS SPHEERIS: Dancing with the Muse


Chris Spheeris’ 20-odd year, 16-recording career is characterized by an incredible diversity within a worldbeat and new-age framework. The best way to begin digging into the vast global texturing of his Higher Octave Music debut Dancing With the Muse is to list the genres mentioned on the CD-insert beneath “File Under: Contemporary, New World, Neo-Classical, Jazz, Trance, Instrumental.” It’s clear that when the multi-instrumentalist’s muse started to dance, he whisked him all over the world with a pot to put his wild musical souvenirs in. There’s a gong reverberating behind a hypnotic piano melody and female Indian vocal chants on “The Joy of the Longing.” A Dramatic percussive string section introduces the galloping charms of the title track, which builds in intensity with a soaring Middle Eastern flute (the ney) before Spheeris pays homage to his Greek heritage with a bouncy yet graceful ballet between acoustic guitar and synth. “Marionette” begins with a distant vocal call over floating atmospheres, then uses cello and chimes to grow into a film score suspense line, complete with tablas laying a percussion line beneath a soaring oboe melody. The song concludes with a melody led by human whistling that fades out. The genius of Spheeris here is that he’s under no time constraints; he allows themes to build and motifs to drift, then recur, and tackle several different melody and harmony lines over the course of one tune. After his last, much more straightforward, flamenco-edged album Eros, this glorious circus of sounds comes as a welcome surprise. — Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide

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