Orchestral Works Volume 2

By Mike Ian

Written by
Steve Sheppard

Sunday for me is always a good day to write or create, and with an opportunity to add my thoughts on the latest work from master composer Mike Ian on his new album Orchestral Works Volume 2, this was something that I was really looking forward to. This 18 track recording is a new release for the ever talented multi instrumentalist from the U.S.

So dear reader as the late autumn sun fell upon my keyboard, I listened to the refrains of the opening track called Olympic. A grand and masterful work of great pride and power, it would seem that Ian is able to turn his hand and mind to just about anything musical.

This is evident when we slide into the open arms of The Student, again imagery within compositions of this soundtrack genre is vital and Ian performs it perfectly, drawing a narrative within the music of a fresh start a new journey and a new beginning, the composition also has a sense of innocence laid within that is appealing.

Now an offer you cannot refuse anyone, a Slow Waltz. I like this one, there is a very emotional theme that runs through this track, a sense of love and emotional times can be felt here, this is a cleverly composed piece and takes us the listener onto the empty dance floor with an opportunity to dance with the partner of our dreams.

Now it is time for some mystery and suspense, with Pirates. This is a delightfully arranged composition that has so much mood and expectancy in its opening, but soon jumps to a powerfully driven and cheeky track that dances its way into the soul. Strangely enough whilst this track was playing I spotted a cat prowling outside of my window and was amused to watch this and listen to this track, in a funny way it worked so well.

So dear constant reader let’s move you to another place entirely, a track called Saving Ryan. A most grand and sombre composition, almost Pavane like in style and there will not be a dry eye left in the house after listening to this arrangement. The strings in this piece are particularly effective and extremely emotive.

So we now open the door, to the longest track off the album called Crossing Borders. I must say this is one very impressive orchestration, it is a grand soundscape of a track that gives so much room for you dear constant listener to let your imaginations roam, you could be on any journey across the world with this one as your musical perambulations play out to this quite stunning opus, if they ever do brings us the movie about Roland the Gunslinger of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, I want this to be in the film, it would be perfect for it.

Next up is a short form track that would suit any opening for a TV show on the subject of the title or header called The Park, a lively and up-tempo arrangement, lasting almost a minute; Ian sums up a lively opening in an energetic and efficient manner.

Now dear reader and listener, prepare to jump for takeoff as Mike Ian gifts us an explosive arrangement that would fulfil any fantasies you have of going into Deep Space, a nice theme here in First Contact style in the track Lift Off.

Well if you like amazing starts to tracks, listen to the eruptions on Battle Song, a real flag waving, but overall sombre and quite sad at times arrangement that reflects that whilst wars make good movies they are in fact a terrible tragic waste of human life.

We now see a defined change in direction here from the artist, a piece called Christmas Eve, there was something so very endearing about this track, bringing home memories of those childlike days filled with the expectancy of the excitement of present opening, but creating the atmosphere of a real late hour on the eve before the day its self, a beautifully arranged composition indeed.

Ok, saddle up, time to go Out West. However this is not as obvious as you may think, to be honest it’s a very clever and well crafted arrangement, with a far gentler melody that I was expecting, the gentleness however is also matched by a subtle but powerful passage within the piece that leads to dramatic crescendos that makes this an all over amazing performance with a multi dimensional approach.

Well dear reader, the next piece is called Castaway, this is probably the most beautiful arrangement on the album, and both my wife and I found this quite moving, the serene but emotive use of strings and choral voices adds a dramatic but beautiful feeling to the piece, I could imagine using this as a theme on my long walks along the winter beach on our island of Cyprus.

Another short piece on the release is called Medieval Dance. This processional slow moving track is amazing, the way that Ian brings so many dynamics to the table here in just less than a minute and a half is quite breathtaking.

With an opening Celtic refrain we move to the dramatic and nautical composition called Sea Voyage, this is simply delightful, it is filled with intent and movement and one could easily envisage leaving the port and safe harbour to sail over the seas to this piece of music. The use of horns adds an even more layered effect of emotion and drama with a certain underpinned regal quality as well.

Now for a walk through the woods, we must be careful as we move through the forest where Dark Wolfs Grand Adventures, were created. A fairytale styled track with both power and intensity that would fit into a lord of the rings movie with ease. This is the second longest arrangement off the album, its filled with mystery at every corner and it may well be an idea to come back to this one many times dear reader and listener as there is so much contained within.

There was something about Final Destination that is so moving and emotive, its almost like a coming home piece, from a long journey the wanderer returns and realises that all is still well in the world that he had left many years ago. The melody and theme is soft and very reflective and I have no doubt you will enjoy it with a passion.

Now as they say it is time for something completely different, from the emotive, to the damn right funny with a track called Looney Waltz 2014. This movement of a light hearted almost central European nature creates the perfect track for a fun dance with a friend on your way back home from your revelries.

So we are once again at the very end of the album, so dear reader and listener, I hope you have enjoyed the journey with Mike Ian, we finish with the piece called Goodnight Moon 2014. The perfect way to end this quite picturesque album, Goodnight Moon is utterly gorgeous and a beautiful piece to use at the end of the evening with the one you love, just about the same time as that goodnight kiss.

This new release by Mike Ian, a multi instrumentalist of great skill and passion is a refreshing journey into a whole world of beauty and a vista of many tracks which should, if there was any justice in the world, end up as movie soundtracks. I would urge you dear constant reader and listener to bring this album into your music collection and when you feel the need to disappear into a world far removed from your own and need a little time out from the mundane life of reality, then get this album and you will find you have no less than 18 doorways with which to do so. 

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