If I was reduced to having to review CDs in a single word, the only appropriate word to describe The Crossing, the new offering from Jon Jenkins and David Helpling, would be “big.” This is a bold, hefty, cinematic work, moving and panoramic and dramatic enough to frequently take your breath away. Each track here is the sonic equivalent a long, sweeping aerial shot over some sort of stunning vista–towering mountains, rough-hewn gorges, angry seas, parched stretches of primordial desert and vast blue lakes. The Crossing moves from grand, emotional and densely orchestrated pieces to airier, more thoughtful offerings with ease and without a bump. There’s no disruption, for example, going from the powerful, crashing drums of the superb “Two Paths” to the meditative, deep-breath subtlety of “From the Smallest Seed.” The droning wash that eases through the first five minutes of the remarkable “For the Fallen” is as expertly realized as the end of the piece, where the music swells and blossoms into fuller melodic life. The like-minded chemistry that flows between Helpling and Jenkins creates a singular essence of thought that expresses itself brilliantly in these songs, whether the focus is rock-inspired guitar, sweeping New Age keys or tribal-infused drumming. (Lose yourself in the percussion in “To the Ends of the Earth,” as I do.) The eleven tracks here are logically matched one to the next with a sense of narrative intent that simply works. Listen to The Crossing once just to get the feel of it; then go back and listen deeply to take in how much is going on musically at any given moment. Cass Anawaty’s mastering job brings crystalline clarity to each track.
Particularly for fans of well-orchestrated New Age music, The Crossing is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.