Scattering Stars is a delicate yet powerful testament to this artist's mastery of a rich inner world spoken through music. Enchanting and healing, mysterious and mesmerizing, this music is an invitation to a mystical musical journey.
Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Michelle Qureshi, creates an enthralling blend of musical styles on her album “Scattering Stars”. A classically trained guitarist with an interest in Sufi mysticism, Michelle’s studio consists of acoustic, electric, classical, and 12-string guitars, as well an array of synthesizers, indigenous world and exotic percussive instruments. Her musical influences include the likes of Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Pat Metheny, Ennio Morricone, Michael Nyman and Philip Glass among others, as the compositions on “Scattering Stars” emit echoes of her many artistic inspirations throughout.
“Beyond the Field” opens the album with gentle acoustic guitar that eventually leads into dual guitar melodies against a warmly-lit atmospheric backdrop. The more minimalistic “Crystals” follows next, an especially lovely piece that begins with nebulous drones followed by an interval of electric guitar with acoustic guitar in the background. The nocturnal mood and soundtrack-like impressions of this composition is characteristic of much of the album. “Overheard” is another intriguing piece where muffled vocal distortion interacts with sparse piano notes, minimalist textures and slide guitar effects. Another notable highlight is “Chasing the Wind”, where the warmth and brightness of native-style flute contrasts and compliments more crepuscular tones like wind at dusk. “Given” is another favorite, in which gentle acoustic guitar notes and sliding effects are carried upon a bed of misty chords as the piece morphs and evolves throughout. Lastly “Stargazer”, one of the album’s most beautifully experimental compositions, opens with crystalline textures that are followed by outward-spiraling effects, bell-like timbres and interspersed electric guitar.
The fourteen compositions on “Scattering Stars” lend themselves to changing shapes and evolving landscapes of both earth and sky, at times slightly forbidding and at other times reassuringly peaceful. Drawing upon a diverse set of musical influences throughout, subtle elements of rock, folk, classical and soundtrack music are all woven into these atmospheric compositions. Michelle has delivered a refreshingly unique and creative album that offers an impressive configuration of subtly varied guitar-playing styles with ambient and minimalist soundscapes.
This morning as a few disgruntled clouds drifted over the mountains, I made my way around the coast, walking my dog in a stubborn late spring morning, the scene just described above, would have been the perfect visual for the first song off the brand new album by Michelle Qureshi called Scattering Stars and called, Beyond the Field. The slow and very deliberate mood filled opening composition is really rather picturesque in its arrangement and created such a beautiful narrative and delightful imagery for my mind’s eye.
This album is so delightful to write about, as it has a wonderful fresh energy and style about it, listen to Crystal’s dear reader and you will see what I mean, guitar yes, but with a host of other instrumentation that floats with a subtle intent throughout the composition. The tempo picks up and we are gifted electric guitar piece that creates such a deep and harmonic mood.
The next piece has an incredibly art styled title called the Bridge to Where I Do Not Know, this exhibit of a track could easily be the soundscape for a walk around an art gallery, stunningly played by Qureshi and arranged so brilliantly, it feels like you have listened to a whole opus in just over 4 minutes.
New World is now upon us, you can feel several essences here, one very slight hint at a global world ethic, but synths swirl to create a areal atmospheric composition that reminds me of Michael Allison (Darshan Ambient) in style, the floating sensation here is really appealing and one can almost feel that something new is being birthed through the music.
As we move to the piece Dust we are given something different to revel within, the mood seems to drift across a plain; the hot dusty days of long summers are crisp and brown around us. The slide and chord changes create for us a really warm and organic composition here.
Keyboards drive the narrative for the track Overhead, some subtle and pertinent vocalizations create a really mysterious and inner dimensional feel to this track, the guitar is once again masterfully played to manifest something that seems to cross the years with ease and at times almost taking me back to early Fleetwood Mac, this is one very addictive arrangement.
The indigenous sounding Chasing the Wind rides in on its white horse and the flute announces that our journey has taken an inward gaze on itself, Michelle Qureshi has an amazing ability to change course and create something outstanding at a whim, this really emphasised here a piece that has such a great balance of instrumentation and was one of my favourite tracks off the album.
We now move deep into the second half of this release and come across a track called Given, harmonic in its intent, atmospheric in its energy, there is certainly a little Pink Floyd in the mix here as well, that I am sure even Roger Waters would be proud of.
Into the realm of the Stargazer we go, here we have a track that is a really in depth piece of musical genius, the keyboards and percussion do indeed create a wide open vista of an arrangement, that seems like it just wants to take off into the heavens in seconds. Instrumentally brilliant, this is both new and innovative and fresh and exciting to listen to.
Past the stars and onwards and into the darkness of the night, we find a song called Forgetting Tomorrow, this is one very deep and moody composition that creates a sudden plunging bass segment, that almost drops us into a whole new realm entirely. The chimes and hovering keyboards add to this most mysterious composition, it is as if we are in-between realities here and the resonating sounds and the progression of the arrangement, are all like a new days being made, but not quite yet in completion.
We now find ourselves within the longest track off the album at over 6 minutes long, and called Soon. The keyboards sounds and synths manifest a world of an Eno style dominion, but unlike Eno this track picks itself up and lifts its sense onward through this deeply ambient arrangement, the guitar here creates a complete new layer and is some of the finest ambient style performances on this instrument I have heard for quite some time.
As we slide towards the latter have of this excursion through the music of the utterly artistically brilliant Michelle Qureshi, we come across a piece called What We Heard, her skills at arrangement and composition are simply divine and on this track we hear a fine example of a musician who clearly feels her work deep within her ambient soul.
The Solstice is special for me for many reasons, I got married on June 21st, so that’s one very good reason, and this is such a charming song that lifts the energy and gifts us a musical smile, in a grand abundance of happiness and oneness, easily the most upbeat and vibrant composition off the album and is our penultimate arrangement.
So our journey is about to end as we listen to the final track called Philosophy, fans of the electronic genre will be pleased to hear this one, energetic keyboards pave our way, a fair paced tempo will insure we leave this album with a real flourish and we do.
Scattering Stars is an unusual album, that has just about something for everyone contained within, but what Michelle Qureshi does so well here is create something new and fresh in a genre which can become stale, her performance, her professionalism are only matched by the superb arrangements and production, Scattering Stars is one of those albums you have to buy, it’s a release that will never age and an album that has such a wonderful addictive quality about it.
released April 15, 2016
Composed, Performed, and Produced by Michelle Qureshi and Published by Music as Metaphor on the Heart Dance Music label
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