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One Sky CD Cover (Steven Lowy)
Image © Decembergirl Records 2002

Marina Belica
Image © Steven Lowy 2002

More Marina Belica
decembergirl EP / Interview
October Project Three

(15 November 2002) Singer / composer Marina Belica, known for her vocal and keyboard work with October Project, has released one sky (Decembergirl Records (USA), DEC022, 2002), an instrumental album featuring ten of her own compositions. Three of the songs on the album also include Marina's vocal textures.

Described by Marina as "modern, intimate chamber music," each track is arranged for acoustic ensembles that feature a unique palette of string, wind and percussion instruments. The music is rooted in romanticism, with an emphasis on emotional and lyrical melodies and occasional hints of ethnic and folk music traditions.

one sky is produced and arranged by Marina in collaboration with producer / performer / composers Randy Crafton and Christopher Cunnignham. Crafton is an acclaimed world music percussionist with over two dozen CDs to his credit as a producer / engineer, including the most recent Richie Havens release. Cunningham is a producer, guitarist and film composer; he produced Marina's first solo CD decembergirl, and has toured and recorded with a variety of well-known artists including Marianne Faithfull and Marshall Crenshaw. String quartet arrangements are provided by Ralph Farris, a Grammy nominee for his work on Five for Fighting's Superman.

Says Belica, "Our approach to arranging was a lot like a game of musical chairs." World music multi-instrumentalist Jorge Alfano appears on fretless bass, indigenous wind instruments and sitar (to name only a few), while noted Irish musician Ivan Goff adds penny whistle to the trio recording "First Star." Seth Farber appears on accordion in "Simple Things," and clarinetist / saxophonist Amy Platt carries the melody on four tracks (especially "Bedouin"). Marina plays keyboards and adds vocal textures throughout, including solo piano on the closing track, "A Way Home."

The many different colors of the music are reflected in the cover art, a panoramic photograph over the Pacific that inspired the album title. The stunning image, which actually wraps around three panels of the digipak, was shot by artist / photographer Steven Lowy who also did the photography for decembergirl.

The melody on the opening and title tracks, "I Was There" and "One Sky," performed by alto flute, oboe and clarinet, belies the folk song tradition of Marina's Sovak heritage, with its strong sense of melancholy and yearning. "Simple Things," was co-written by Emil Adler of October Project and features the unusual combination of accordion, guitar and marimba.

"Waterwheel," is the first of three tracks on which string quartet appears. Kelly Peral plays the melody on oboe and Randy transforms a bucket filled with water into a percussion instrument. "Bedouin," explains Belica, "came into my head and through my hands one day completely intact, along with an image of Bedouins on horseback racing through the desert at night." Amy Platt opens and closes the piece with a dreamy and seductive improvisation on clarinet, accompanied by Jorge Alfano on sitar, Randy on percussion and Dave Phillips on upright bass.

"Scene From Afar" features piano and string quartet, with the melody line performed by Christopher Cunningham on 12-string guitar. Randy lays down the foundation with djembuka, a relative of the djembe. The simple plaintive nature of "First Star" inspired the choice of penny whistle on melody. Ivan Goff, an Irishman in New York, adds a genuinely Celtic feel.

"Early Morning" was the first track recorded for the CD. Amy Platt's lead line on clarinet is offet by a repeated motif featuring cello and voice. Jorge performs on the bansuri, an Indian bamboo flute, and joins up with Christopher on guitar at the end for an improvised duet. "Western Light," the last ensemble track, "helped renew my appreciation of how beautiful the soprano saxophone can sound," offers Belica. Piano and string quartet accompany. The recording ends with a piano solo from Marina on "A Way Home." A short and lovely unidentified woodwind bonus track brings the album to its final conclusion.

An expansion of her work on decembergirl and with October Project, one sky is certain to delight enthusiasts of Marina Belica's music. Surrounded by superb musicians, her compositions shine and are underscored by her keyboard and vocal contributions. We hear a consistent "voice" in Marina's solo work. This materialis a cohesive piece--presented with sincerity and depth--with a mood and lyricism that uniquely identifies it as Marina's. This album is certainly a must listen!

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