CD: Believe – A Spiritual Romance
Debuting at number 8 on the prestigious Billboard Chart, the CD is subtitled: “A Spiritual Romance,” and is the latest of 14 albums by the husband and wife duo of Randy and Pamela Copus, collectively known as 2002. Now celebrating 20 years of recording together, they are one of the most enduring and highly regarded groups in the new age music genre. In reading about the new developments within the group, I couldn’t help thinking about Sly and The Family Stone singing, “It’s a Family Affair.” The development that prompted this flashback is the fact that their 8-year old daughter Sarah appears on the CD in a surprisingly active role. Although it should be no surprise how talented she is considering the gene pool she comes from.
Another expansion from this primarily instrumental ensemble is that 6 of the 10 songs on Believe feature vocals, including those of daughter Sarah. The album begins, in fact, with one of those vocal pieces – the title track. The mood is set first by piano and string sounds, with a wonderful tinkling arpeggio from a synthesizer, or perhaps a harp. After about a minute and a half, a cymbal swell ushers in the next movement with Randy singing:
“If you reach for a star
For the chance of a thousand lifetimes
If you let go of fear
In the moment your eyes are opened”
This excerpt, although brief, gives a glimpse into the inspiring lyrical direction the album takes. Mother and daughter join in on the lofty chorus entreating us to “Believe in the winds that carry your song,” and “… the love that opens your heart.” The second track is an instrumental that Sarah played a major role in. According to Randy, “Sarah was playing with these water flutes. She had tuned them (with water), and told us she had a song. We went out to the studio right away and made it a song as quickly as possible. I’m so proud of that intro, the joy it came from. I think music, at it’s best, is spontaneous. That’s what makes it fun. That’s why we play music, not work it.”
On “Chain of Life” an ambient synthesizer background adorned with Pamela’s melodious flute create a rich sound tapestry as Randy sings:
“Mother Earth Father Sky
Lift me in this chain of life
To the sun as it shined
A thousand years ago.”
An interesting evolution happens about two thirds of the way in, as the song breaks into a tribal beat and a chant of: “We are the children of the earth.” With eyes closed I could almost imagine I was hearing a track from Disney’s, The Lion King.
The essence of the album’s subtitle, “A Spiritual Romance,” is evoked on an instrumental track called “We Meet Again.” When I wrote about the previous CD by 2002, Damayanti, I mentioned, “It’s hard not to overuse the word “lush” in describing the acoustic opulence this music is imbued with.” This song is a perfect example. I was continually impressed with how artfully the studio effects like reverb and digital delay are used in the music of 2002, and especially on a track called “Dreams Of Peace.” The ambience they create is majestic, in a way that I associate with the music of both, Diane and David Arkenstone, Enya, or Patrick O’Hearn.
As I write these words in the month of November, with autumn leaves falling, a composition entitled “A Change of Season” provides an appropriate soundtrack with its mellow understated vibe. It also creates a nice contrast with some of the other music on the album, which is more lavish and ornate. Another contrast is found on “Ready To Fly” where the female vocals take the lead. Besides the beautiful singing, some of the things I like most about this song are Pamela’s harp and Randy’s piano, which epitomize the glistening crystalline sounds that are often found in the music of 2002. A driving beat and rich orchestration punctuated by Middle Eastern-sounding guitar characterize another of their vocal tunes called “Yeshua.” The pace slows down considerably on the album’s most ambient dreamscape, “Oasis,” highlighting the impeccable balance of yin and yang exhibited on this CD. I was impressed not only with the way they blended vocal and instrumental songs, but also with the stylistic diversity and pacing. Another vocal tune, “Hold The Sky” brings the album to a grand conclusion. The lyrics are filled with optimism and visionary imagery that reflect Randy and Pamela’s artistic intention: “Our goal with this new CD was to create an uplifting positive mood – full of hope for the future.” If there was ever a time we needed something like that, the time is now.
2002 have created another sonic masterpiece that only furthers their standing as one of the most creative and prolific ensembles in new age music. As with all their releases, the production quality is absolutely stunning. The addition of vocals expresses their willingness to expand and evolve, exploring fresh musical terrain with each release. And now, with the inclusion of a new alchemical element in the mix, their daughter, I’ll be more interested than ever to hear what melodic magic they come up with next. Believe is a virtuoso recording that will appeal to long time fans of 2002 and new listeners alike.