Improvijazzation Nation

Geoff Hall – UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNS:  Though billed in the promo as “new age, orchestral-ambient”, Geoff’s wonderful debut release tends most strongly to the orchestral side of things, with some totally moving percussion woven in, around and through it!  I fell in love with it on the first tune, the 4:33 “The Run“, i think because of the percussion weave he is so excellent at… tasty orchestral patches on this one, to be sure.  His works have far more energy than the average “new age” recording, and tunes like the striding string title cut, “Understanding The Signs” will make you realize his total talent at composition right away… it could have gone on for an hour, though, rather than the 2:19 it clocks in with.  The 4:08 “Knowing” is simple, yet full of the power of spirit; I loved this one, too.  Of the eight enchantments, it was (again) the longest song on the album that caught my ear most strongly and made it my absolute favorite… “Gone But Not Forgotten” will take you back to memories you’d thought long lost, no matter what they may be, and overwhelm you with them.  I give Geoff a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00; meaning it also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best orchestral composition”!  Get more information and listen to samples at Geoff’s page for this stellar release.       

-- Rotcod Zzaj 

Midwest Record: Entertainment Reviews, News and Views

Boy, is this guy a step ahead. Inspired by the modern soundtrack masters, Hall intuitively knows that if you can break into the studio system at all, they are going to make you make your bones in the under­funded Indie division where the music has to be part of the story. Hall has crafted a perfect, narrative soundtrack in search of a character­driven story. Having it all hang together as a statement on it's own like he was a student of Mancini, Hall knows who he is and with stuff like this as his debut, we're looking forward to seeing his name in credit crawls soon. Check it out. 

Magle International Music Forums

Modern Classical And New Age With Lots Of Strings

From Geoff Hall

Geoff Hall is a contradiction. His debut album, Understanding the Signs, contains eight original instrumental tunes that are heavily orchestrated, primarily with string sections, apparently all created using synthesizers, but he also is a longtime guitarist although he only plays a tiny bit of guitar on one piece on this recording. Another contradiction is that several of the tunes are fairly ambient, especially “To Go Alone” and “Something More,” but these also feature lots of strings (who would have thought strings could be used in an ambient number?). But there are some catchy, upbeat, melodic compositions on the album as well (such as “Understanding the Signs,” “Gone But Not Forgotten” and “Perseverance”).

Despite the contradictions, the music works well. With strings appearing on every track, the music has the feel of a film soundtrack, perhaps one of those Hollywood love stories with the strings underscoring every nuance of emotion. The short title tune, which is all strings (no other apparent instruments), is probably the most classical-sounding of the bunch (sort of Bach on steroids). But seriously, it is interesting to hear a modern composer-musician create about 80 percent of his music using strings and then fill out the rest with some dabs of piano, percussion/drums/synth-beats, and a few tidbits of other instruments buried in the mix (a plucked guitar one place, some cymbals another).

This music will find favor with the broad, open-minded new age audience, especially those who like hearing modern classical explorations. This is something a bit different than usual, but definitely worth giving a listen to.

 

ascentor

Let's talk about the music that inspires you, inspires you to go out late in the evening on the street and look up into the sky, admiringly gazing at the constellations’ kaleidoscope, wondering who sends us messages from the universe, trying to read it in the fleeting trace of a starbeam.  The debut album by American composer Geoff Hall, Understanding the Signs, is just out and is in this category of music.  It is quite difficult to believe that it is the debut of this artist because it is all so professionally played and recorded, carried out by Hall with the comprehension of musical science.  For most of his youth he played in various rock bands, having mastered during this time most of the varieties of guitars, and then learned in the Berklee College of Music the skill of creating orchestrations for television and movies, and apparently, based on this thing, getting straight A’s because of what is heard on this debut album.   The music and sounds on Understanding the Signs are at the junction of several genres: soft, space ambient, new age and expensive Hollywood soundtracks with full involvement of the power of an entire band, and, lastly, Geoff’s clear preference for combining atmospheric background with gently pulsating rhythms and emotionally-saturated party strings that pick up the bright melodies.  Also in some compositions are utilized ethnic instruments plus cymbals and exotic percussion sounds, a choir, guitars and keyboards, and all variety of forms and sounds, demonstrating ways to convey the essence of the music, showing full authorial freedom, and allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this magnificent, thrilling and simply beautiful album.  But this beauty cannot only be enthusiastic and flawless because we also find melancholic notes, turning into sadness and even suspense (sometimes called dipping into infinity and the darkness of the night sky).  But in general, Understanding the Signs gives a strong positive charge, creating in the imagination fantastic images of the past, present and future, giving us a new, amazing meeting with the starry sky, behind which hides the secrets of an infinite universe. Great album.

 

Blue Wolf Reviews

 Individual and yet symbolic, constructed and yet deconstructed, emotion with experience; all these are a component of this amazingly comprehensive, almost eclectic, musical score which encompasses a range of music styles from new-age ambient to classical orchestra: a big combination and one that does work, and work well. 

Each track has been created to describe or reimage an emotion, a feeling and challenge, with the majesty of a film score, the vibrancy of a fresh new day, and yet, encompassing a sober overtone which dictates the mood, the scene the place and in some instances the time.

Each piece is intricate involving several changes of tempo, from the fast, upbeat to the slower more reflective notes; perhaps in the piece Towards A Perfect Moment, you can feel the musician trying time and time again, each time with more finesse, seeking to discover the single moment when everything comes together in ‘perfection’.

As Hall says, he hopes that anyone who takes the time to listen finds something, some personal connection with the music, and there is something there for everyone to enjoy and discover something that is new, unique and pleasurable.

Hall’s main instruments are the guitar and piano; his piano, is where his compositions commence, the place where he roughs out the beginnings of his compositions, the place where he sits and allows inspiration to evolve into music. His guitar, although played often, only features once in the track Gone But Not Forgotten, where it is simply a component of a much larger work.

The mellow, almost somber ebb and flow of the music can easily be related to living, to nature, to the world turning, to everyday life, and the sure knowledge that tomorrow, there will be a new beginning, a fresh start, a time of magnificence.

In this multi-layered collection of orchestral pieces, you marvel at the combinations used, the music styles combined, the joy and reflective nature of the emotions, but most of all, and in spite of the somber nature of several of the pieces, discover at the final note, that yes, you really have enjoyed the journey!