Marcel Heah: “Travelogue” – a lightness of spirit

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Marcel Heah is a musician based in Melbourne, Australia. His quiet, reflective, sometimes playful musical body of work establishes the composer as someone to watch. Marcel’s mellow and unique style are pleasing and refreshing to me. Not elevator music at all but packed with character as the songs whisk you away from your own troubles. Marcel’s 10 track album “Travelogue” captures the wonders of traveling. Everything within its gentle leaps and bounds is quite remarkable, either through pure musicality, or the immense emotionally nuanced basis that Heah’s arrangements thrive on. At a time of year when the stress level has risen to breaking point with the usual summer holiday season on the horizon, this would be the perfect remedy to avoid traffic and shopping centers and head to the outskirts and relax to some of the finest piano playing.

The music is a beautiful journey of solo piano and a minimal of other instrumental interludes that at times, sweetly floats along and at other times drives ahead with joy. The music is soothing and relaxing yet has plenty of substance for more focused listening.

Marcel Heah is one of those artists who seems to be the most at home with a piano at the end of his fingertips. “Travelogue” begins with “Architectures,” a quiet meditation that expresses deep emotions – and makes for a compelling opener. It quickly becomes clear that Marcel can do pretty much anything at the piano.

It’s interesting how “Fluorescene” seems to be speaking (or singing) without the use of actual words, but by communicating via the languages of music and love.  The first passages of “Cherry Light” express feelings of apprehensive playfulness. As “Troubled” evolves, it gradually moves out of the darkness and up to the light, and is a favorite.

“Her Waltz” is another favorite, conveying a lightness of spirit and a sense of moving forward with strength and optimism. “Dotted Rain” is quite a bit more ambient, flowing freely and going wherever the piece leads as it is being created.

Louie the Golliwog” feels a bit more focused and deliberate with emotional immediacy and earnestness. It seems to express joy as well as appreciation, so it is in no way giddy – another favorite. To me, “Dance of the Shadows” surrenders both control and anxiety, and derives a certain amount of exuberant joy by letting go.

With a very sustained and determined rhythm, it’s a sweet reminder that we should stay optimistic and hopeful.  “Sun’s Out” can be another way to indicate setting goals to reach or dreaming big, and this lovely piece seems to be doing just that while maintaining a warm and peaceful demeanor.

There are a lot of really great improvisational pianists, but not many spontaneously create such cohesive music as Marcel Heah does. “Travelogue” is a wonderful album for relaxation, meditation, or just kicking back and enjoying some great solo piano music.

It closes off rather marvelously with the never-ending cascading notes of “An Island, Both Seas Sleep.”  Marcel’s missions seems to want to create a more loving and peaceful world by writing, recording and performing music from the heart; to inspire people to live joyously and passionately. This EP has the soothing warmth of a hug from a dear friend.

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