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O'Connor forging new sounds

Meanings of
By Mark O'Connor

Warner Bros.: 1986

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This review first appeared in the March 5, 1986 issue of The Daily Aztec.

This new "New Age" music combines many different musical styles and traditions into a new allow. Since there are no set rules within this new arena, many different avenues of growth and exploration are possible. Some groups opt for the Tangerine Dream-Kitaro avenue and concentrate on electronic instruments. Others, such as Shadowfax and Andy Narell, choose a more traditional approach.

Mark O'Connor is taking the latter approach on his new album, "Meanings of." Playing a variety of acoustic stringed instruments, including violin, viola, six- and twelve-string guitars, mandolins and dulcimer, O'Connor combines folk, jazz and African music into a melodic and highly rhythmic sound.

An alumni of the Dave Grisman Quintet, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Dixie Dregs, O'Connor's music seems to draw from all these sources – and more.

"A Bowl of Bula" is a syncopated song of intense energy and vision. O'Connor plays dulcimer and violin on this tune, with a beautifully layered chorus. And "The Emperor's Komponist" sounds like something Bach might have done where he alive today; it's accessible, but not simplistic.