There are spots on Julian Ray’s Mysterious Garden where I felt like I was listening to an old radio show and the announcer was about to tell me that this is what music will sound like…in the future! As composer Yury Shumakov lays out his 10-track voyage, the ride slogs through some tunes that come off sounding a little overly dated, but several standout pieces go a long way toward making up for them. The work here sits between melodic electronica, skewed toward the New Age side of the equation, and lilting space music. He hits it squarely on “In Mist of Immersion,” where floating drones cross under percolating electronic rhythms and a repeating arpeggio acts like a chorus. Shumakov laces in some jazzy keyboard riffs for an extra touch of cool. “Pool of Eternal Life” is another notable track, managing to (just barely) skirt the edge of nostalgia without getting too syrupy. Piano twinkles in a repeating phrase over spacey pads and a catchy, understated hand-percussion beat. Again, you may catch a light (and welcome) smooth-jazz feel. I like the laid-back, easy-listening feel of “Two Souls,” even though it–again–almost lays on too much sweetness for my tastes. And tell you don’t hear just a little lift from the old Seals & Crofts tune “Summer Breeze” hiding in here.
With the exception of those few tracks that just lay a little heavily on saccharine and standards for my tastes, I’ve enjoyed hearing Mysterious Garden. I like it better mixed into a shuffle than as a listen on its own, but Shumakov’s compositions are well crafted. This one will sit better with New Age fans, but is worth a listen across the board.
Available from Julian Ray’s website.