Each composition of stone is different, and each bears it's own myths and legends. Some of the stones are said to be "uncountable", others are believed to be dancers or witches who have been turned to stone by a passing saint. Others again are said to have been built to mark the passing of time or the turning of the heavens. There has always been this attempt to give meaning to that which remains so enigmatic.

The experts of every age have examined them, measured them, and tried to find that meaning. Engravings on the stones have been recorded. Alignments to the sun and other celestial bodies have been noted down. Yet still we remain unsatisfied, knowing that we know nothing, but need to know so much. The stones remain silent.

Track titles - Carnac - The Alignments, The Ring of Brodgar, Rollright Stones, Merry Maidens, Long Meg and her Daughters, Castlerigg, Avebury, Stonehenge

Just click on the hilighted track above if you'd like to hear what the music sounds like.

Available as CD only. To order click here.

There are a lot of sites dedicated to standing stones and circles out there! Here are some of the ones that I found most helpful while working on this album....

For a hugely comprehensive site covering the United Kingdom, Italy and France you could click here. There's a vast amount of beautifully presented information there, including Quicktime VR movies of some of the stone circles on the album. Andy Burnham has provided a mass of photos, maps, links and general information here. Neil Leacy has posted a series of pictures taken at the 1999 Summer Solstice. Sometimes spectacular, and sometimes pretty depressing, they're well worth viewing.

These sites are really just the tip of the iceberg, but pretty much any of them, besides being packed with useful material, will act as a good jumping off point to many (many, many, many) other sites.

A Review of Compositions of Stone which appeared in -

Wind and Wire Magazine

A magazine for fans of contemporary acoustic and electronic music

 

Mike Simmons continues to be the most underappreciated melodic ambient keyboardist around. His newest recording, the moody and mysterious Compositions of Stone, is his best yet. Unlike his last recording, Dreams Avavalon, which has subtle Celtic and medieval textures, here the UK keyboard master paints a somewhat darker portrait. However, there is still that characteristic Simmons warmth which is like the last embers' glow from a dying fire. Plus, that special keyboard sound that only Mike seems to use, resembling a mid-tone hom, is present as well, as is his wonderful synth-flute.

Compositions of Stone is a musical tribute to assorted "standing stones" in Mike's native British Isles. In fact, song titles are the actual names of various stones themselves. Most of you, me included, will only recognize the last song, "Stonehenge." But there are also the "Merrv Maidens," "Avebury," "Long Meg and Her Daughters," and several others. Looks like Kathryn and I have to get to the Isles one day. I simply have to see these stone sites!

The opening cut, "Carnac-The Alicnments," is ambient/space music at its best - drifting, wispy like a fog, and filled with a combination of mystery and a slight ominous feeling. The use of synth chorus adds a hint of ancient spirituality as well. The next song, "The Rina of Brodgar," is quieter and more serene, more introspective, with gently plucked strings and that great mid-range hom sound. It sets almost a worshipful tone, yet still steeped in spacy ambience. Mike's use of minor kev chords/notes helps keep the songs from ever straving into melodrama or new age schmaltz. He is a wiz at that, compared to others who seem to have a hard time with this balancing act.

The songs are varied in length from just a shade over four minutes to the closer, "Stonehenge," at nine-and-a-half. The transitions are very well-handled, despite the fact that some songs are markedlv different in tone ("Rollright Stones" can be downright eerie at times!). This is followed up by the soothingly romantic "Merry Maidens."Compositions of Stone is just one great song after the other. If you like vour ambient keyboards to be on the "warm" side of dark, with a dash of mystery and romance, Conpositions of Stone is your ticket to a new listening experience.

Bill Binkelman

 


 

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