An eloquent and timeless collaboration debut, The Silence of Grace brings one of Spotted Peccary Music’s top ambient electronic artists, Deborah Martin, alongside label newcomer, well-known recording artist Jill Haley, where together they interact with the realms of nature in its pristine environs, inviting the listener into the depths of quiet beauty and graceful repose.
Exploring various locations in the Pacific Northwest, these pioneering artists experienced first-hand the very essence of the natural world; being steeped in these remote majestic settings culminated in their crafting colorful musical expressions that weave lush ambient textures and melodies layered together with recordings of Oboe, English horn and various percussion, tenderly revealing passions and emotions emanating forth from those moments.
Each of the eight tracks in The Silence of Grace reveal a separate journey unto itself, yet together create an overall sense of beauty and sublime calmness echoing a balance between the light and the darkness, and in the presence of the never-ending cycle of life’s rhythms procures a sensitivity filled with profound dignity.
The richness of Jill’s English horn and Oboe appear to melt into Deborah’s signature electronic soundscapes and melodies, while the additional acoustic percussion recordings round out the intimate portrayals of each track. Imbued with pastoral and serene points of view from these expansive sonic expressions, The Silence of Grace imparts a certain mystical wisdom to the elusive existential question of our very existence, giving the listener a deeper perspective of awareness and understanding, while providing warmth and comfort to the soul.
Deborah, a long-standing veteran of the Spotted Peccary label states, “It was such a pleasure working with Jill on this intimate portrayal of nature and the beauty of all that surrounds us. I have always wanted to combine live orchestral instrument recordings with electronics, and this was a perfect opportunity to do just that. It was very exciting to record Jill playing both English horn and Oboe parts, and the end results were so much more than I could have hoped for.”
Jill states, “It was truly amazing to me how the Oboe and English horn fit into this world of sounds. They are being used in ways I have never heard before. My thanks to Deborah for inviting me into a whole new world of creative expression!”Together, Deborah and Jill create a sonic wonderment and invite the listeners to partake in the experience.
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“An eloquent and timeless collaboration debut”—EIN Presswire
“There is so much to enjoy and ultimately appreciate on The Silence of Grace. It is a precious work of complete art that I found a spiritual connection to that could not be denied.”—Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews
“This is the raw power of ambient music at its best–a native and natural expression of everything that is around us.”—Vivek Kumar
is a richness throughout the eight compositions on the album that are like
pairing an exquisite mousse with a fine dessert wine for a sophisticated
palate.” —Steve Mecca
“A work of extraordinary depth and rich, intricate texturing of spacey ambient dreamscapes and soul-stirring earthy tones” —Jonathan Widran
“How many ways are there to describe perfection other than to say the music of Deborah Martin and Jill Haley come pretty close to the definition of ‘the state or quality of being perfect’ with their sublime The Silence of Grace.”— Janet Mawdesley
“Ask anyone; this is world-class audio design!”—BT Fasmer
-New Age – Ambient Instrumental Review: Deborah Martin and Jill Haley-The Silence of Grace
Deborah Martin and Jill Haley have combined their efforts on the Spotted Peccary label and released an atmospheric recording titled The Silence of Grace. While Deborah is a long-standing member of the label this is Jill’s first time working with that team. The collaboration brings the sonic pleasures of an immersive and relaxing audio journey.
Jill Haley’s tools are the English horn, Oboe, Yamaha Motif, and percussion. Deborah Martin provides instrumentation with the Yamaha Motif; Roland V-synth GT; Roland Integra; Spectrasonics Omnisphere; Taos Drums, and percussion.
What we have as an end result here is the melding of the natural sounds of the horn, Oboe, drums, and the electronic ambiance of the synths and computer-generated sounds. This creates a symphony of audio delights to match with natural surroundings that each track title is asking you to picture in your mind. With the artist, it first emerges from the inside, deep in their souls, travels to their heart, then their intellects and then talent translates it all through their instruments. I think I have validated that process through many interviews with artists from several genres. Although I must say this mindset is more prevalent and impactful when speaking of new age artists and what their intent is when recording the music and reaching out to the world inviting them to listen.
What you will receive in these many blessings of aural transmissions are nothing less than four minutes and over seven minutes with the longest track. These are not short jaunts for a listen, the tracks presented here have a higher purpose and they give you time to absorb each one to use as a tool for healing, relaxing, or whatever you wish at the moment. In the end, the result that is desired most certainly can be reached with all these wonderful sounds, colors, and textures being painted into your being.
One track that really can serve as a testament to my own feelings and appreciation is “The Stillness of Forest Bathing.” My first thought was picturing myself in a stream with cool clean water bathing then I quickly reverted to the subject matter of the forest itself. All of the flora and fauna bathe silently in the morning dew and the rising sun. Besides the event of rain, which is not silent, this is how the living unit of the forest continues to flourish and provide all kinds of resources living in the trees, below it, and in the ground. They are all interlinked in a complex system that works with a flow and force that is not unlike their human counterparts that are interdependent upon so many factors to survive. The music blends so well with Jill’s gorgeous horn and Oboe and the adding of the soundscapes from Deborah gives it the final link, the last essence of completion that each track needs from the beginning to completion. This again can be compared to an ecosystem functioning on an interlinked system that helps each segment to not only survive but grow and provide resources for other living creatures. That to me says it all and it shows you how the artist has taken all of those complexities and related to their music and beliefs and transferred it to a significant auditory contribution for us sentient beings to absorb and enjoy.
“From Fire Into Water” was a very interesting tune as well. I loved the way the sound starts emulating a didgeridoo, then as it fluctuates like transmissions from the cosmos. The track takes different roads as percussion is added and some beautifully layered synths and horn arrive that feels changing and uplifting, like leaving the ground to go explore another part of your world for a time. You will find a lot of those experiences in this music and I highly recommend a complete listen before any sampling to put any tracks on your playlist.
There is so much to enjoy and ultimately appreciate on The Silence of Grace. It is a precious work of complete art that I found a spiritual connection to that could not be denied.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
May 11, 2021
-REVIEW BY Janet Mawdesley May 31, 2021, 1:47 pm Blue Wolf Review
How many ways are there to describe perfection other than to say the music of Deborah Martin and Jill Haley come pretty close to the definition of ‘the state or quality of being perfect’ with their sublime The Silence of Grace.
The small booklet that accompanies the work is an excellent lead into the music, as each song is accompanied by some beautiful words that in a single line or two shares the majesty of nature that inspired the composition. Deborah Martin is well known for her subliminal electronic compositions that drift and float on the ether.
Jill Haley, Oboist, English horn player as well as a pianist and composer, blends the sounds of her instruments into the electronic soundscape in a manner that is as seamless as it is perfect. Both women have a deep bond with nature, a love of walking through nature, of sitting allowing nature to inspire their magnificent compositions.
Initially the effect of the music was as if a bubble of light formed encapsulating the spirit, which then drifted timelessly through time and space on a journey only the listener could understand. Upon reading the words in the booklet the impression lasts as when walking through the majestic forests deep in the green world of peace and calm, a feeling of encapsulation forms to protect and nourish.
Each individual piece gently drifts into one blissful journey which is exquisite and totally perfect for deep mediation or simply drifting and best described by these two lines:
‘Be still just for a moment .. do not want to loudly.. Instead, chase the mists quietly and gently..’-Deborah Martin.
And from Jill Haley; ‘Grace is a gift bestowed on us..unasked for and gratefully received.’
-Review by Vivek Kumar
Music has always been about movement and the play between sound and silence, but ‘The Silence of Grace’ lets you taste the bliss of inertia…a binding force gradually bringing all your agitations down and making you plunge in the volume of this sonic medium as you go deeper and deeper within you. This is the raw power of ambient music at its best–a native and natural expression of everything that is around us. How brilliant is the name of the album, I can’t describe! It is so peaceful and serene that whatever I say would be an injustice to its beauty–the silence says it all.
The album is a collaboration between ambient electronic artist Deborah Martin, providing a canvas rich with the choicest of moods and their effects, and Jill Haley, who paints and weaves the emotions with Oboe and English Horn. With my closed eyes, I could feel them roaming in nature and plucking the sounds with bare hands, and finally sitting together to knit these pieces. What joy they must have felt while creating such an impactful collection!
The album has eight songs and each has a story to tell, full of vistas and imagination. The label, Spotted Peccary, has done a wonderful job in bringing these two artists together.
The title song, ‘The Silence of Grace’, opens like a promise and expands to every nook and corner of your heart. I just loved the tempo with which it unfolds, holding the space for the listener to establish the connection. The ambient amalgamation of electronic and oboe sounds creates an ethereal effect. The mixture of English Horn heightens its beauty and makes it more poignant.
“Indian Heaven” introduces multiple sounds of the harp and drums, and soars high. The electronic canvas reminds me of the cooing of doves and pictures such a peaceful background. Interspersed with minimalist splashing sounds, it literally transports you to the heavenly sight of a placid lake.
Step into the verdure of your inner being where your vision feasts on tranquility. The chiming sounds build such an innocent atmosphere that the child in you cannot but rejoice. “Verdant Sanctuary” is a playground where you engage in playful sport aka dance!
“The Stillness Of Forest Bathing” is picturesquely beautiful and imbibes the spirit of a forest, which is dense yet breathes freshness. The sounds are grand and promising. The ambience of the jungle is mesmerizing and created very effectively.
When you talk about nature, how can you forget to think about “Fountains”–the effervescence and the spurt are the harbinger of hope and new. The plaintive mood of the oboe and the English Horn is very unique in this context–the coagulation often obstructs the flow, yet trust marches forth.
And thus, we come to the shortest piece on the album: “Earth Stone Water Sky”. The bells are very distinctly used to enhance the spiritual quotient of this piece. A very intimate piece, full of power that rises from the silence of these natural elements.
Till now, the element of energy in its raging form was missing, but worry not–it is not missed. “From Fire Into Water” gives you the thrust with its singular rhythm and pace. Its special soundscape takes you right in the middle of a fire ceremony of the aboriginal tribes, before midway, you behold the beauty of the water, which puts everything to rest and invites you to travel with it. The angelic vocal-like calls truly stand out in the latter half of the song.
“Water Flows Of Clouds And Thunder” is a brilliant piece capturing the essence of the clouds and the fluid dynamics therein. The awe-invoking phenomenon of gases, liquid, and electricity is an inspiration and a reminder that greater forces are at play in our universe. The serene layers of the wind instruments with the playfulness of the keyboards create a dramatically beautiful scene in the mind. Definitely, my favorite from the whole collection–it also is the longest piece.
It is surprising to know that this is the first-ever collaboration between Deborah and Jill–the way they have captured and nurtured each other’s vision is so satisfying. It feels like two unknown travelers on the road met and realized they carry the same feel and response to the journey they have covered…what beauty lies in this automatic fusion of music that happens so effortlessly!
Listeners will not be satiated–the album is bound to receive demands of more such collaborations from them! I am, indeed, one among them!
-Steve Mecca https://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/11628
One of the things Spotted Peccary mainstay ambient electronic artist Deborah Martin is known for is her superb collaborations. Her last, with Dean De Benedictis (under the name Desensitized), ‘Hemispherica Portalis’ was a “wonderama of a dreamscape” as I put it. Here she combines her talents with oboist, English horn player, pianist and composer Jill Haley, who has a series of National Park soundscapes. Together they interact with the realms of nature in its pristine environs, inviting the listener into the depths of quiet beauty and graceful repose. Exploring various locations in the Pacific Northwest, these pioneering artists experienced first-hand the very essence of the natural world; steeped in these remote majestic settings culminated in their crafting colorful musical expressions that weave lush ambient textures and melodies layered together with recordings of Oboe, English horn and various percussion, tenderly revealing passions and emotions emanating forth from those moments.
With Haley’s woodwinds as the main melodic instrument(s) there is a classical, or new classical element here that separates this work from more abstract, amorphous ambient soundscapes. Yet the melodic content is not necessarily strictly defined, but more interwoven with Martin’s ambient electronics. To me, the oboe is one of the more melancholy orchestral instruments (I tried to play it for a time but with little success) lending a wistful aura to the sort of gentle pastoral themes explored on ‘The Silence of Grace.’ If you want to call this “New Age” music, well sobeit, but it is not of the clichéd and cloying variety. There is a richness throughout the eight compositions on the album that are like pairing an exquisite mousse with a fine dessert wine for a sophisticated palate. I was a little surprised, and delighted as well by “From Fire Into Water” with its primitive didgeridoo-like sounds, and could really have used more of that. In fact, if some of the music had gone the way of the Third Ear Band I would have been really excited. Still, there are so many fine moments on ‘The Silence of Grace’ that I can’t complain. (Not much silence but a lot of grace.) If you’re looking for an album that is elegant and quietly contemplative, this is certainly it.
-Review by BT Fasmer– May 28, 2021
Don’t let the elegant title and tasteful cover fool you; Deborah Martin and Jill Haley’s “The Silence of Grace” is a groundbreaking album! It offers a unique mix of ambient melodies and textures layered together with Oboe and English horn. It is a soundscape that feels both familiar and alien. The album explores various locations in the Pacific Northwest, yet its inspiring sound can take your imagination almost anywhere.
“The Silence of Grace” marks Deborah Martin’s 30th Anniversary with Spotted Peccary Music. “Under The Moon” is the name of her breakthrough album, released in 1995. She has so far released 10 albums under her own name. She has also worked with artists such as Erik Wøllo and the Hemi-Sync project (to which she has contributed four albums). Last year, Martin and Dean De Benedictis – under the group name Desensitized – released the album “Hemispherica Portalis”. In our review, we wrote that: “Like a well-written sci-fi novel, Desensitized’s music is world-building on a massive scale. This kind of ambient often feels experimental, but that is not the case with “Hemispherica Portalis”. The melodies seem to represent far-away and exotic cultures. That is a major accomplishment.”
Jill Haley is an oboist, English horn player, pianist, educator, and composer who has written and released seven recordings about the National Parks in the United States. Her most recent albums are “The Waters of the Glacier” (2018), “The Winds of the Badlands” (2019), and now in 2021, “The Canyons and the Mesas of Bandelier”.
The Silence of Grace
The title track opens the album. It unravels the idea behind “The Silence of Grace” in less than 30 seconds. Longtime fans of Deborah Martin will quickly pick up on her signature sound; it is rich and powerful, electric even. Your mind starts to wander, perhaps asking, what is this place? Where am I? Is this deep space a la Tangerine Dream or Jean Michel Jarre? Then magic happens. From nowhere comes the sounds of Haley’s Oboe, which drags the listener from a distant nebula and back to Earth, landing somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The Oboe brings a sense of humanity to the soundscape. Notice how Haley picks up on Martin’s ambient melodies and, in a way, both explains and completes them. I think it is phenomenal; It is a brilliant album opener!
All the pieces on the album are long, ideal for meditation, reading, or creative work. Each piece is a journey (much like the portals on “Hemispherica Portalis”) that takes the listener to a new destination. If you listen carefully to the start of “Indian Heaven”, you can almost hear and sense how the music “lifts” you up. It is a musical heaven filled with interesting sounds and textures, plus a distant, everchanging drum. Notice the different levels of sound and how you can zoom in and discover new elements on each listen. Ask anyone; this is world-class audio design!
On “Verdant Sanctuary,“ Martin gets the first minute all by herself before Haley cuts in and redefines the melody. Again, I’m struck by a musical déjà vu and how the Oboe humanizes the ambient melody. As a space music fan since the mid-1980s, I can say that I have never heard anything like it. The closest is perhaps Christel Veraart’s vocal (on “Pleiades” for instance), but all of that is “a million light-years away”. “Verdant Sanctuary“ feels earthbound, close enough to touch.
“The Stillness of Forest Bathing” is a bit risky due to the very sharp opening synth – and nowhere is the “The Silence of Grace” idea more prominent. Then Haley comes along and turns the soundscape into something that is both tranquil and dignified (although the sharp synth is back for a “guest appearance” in the mid-section, only to be driven away again). The conclusion is beautiful beyond words.
Next out is “Fountains”. It has a quite playful mood as if illustrating flowing water. I believe the fountain must be illuminated because it is a very colorful piece. It also shows Martin’s incredible synth skills, on par with Patrick O’Hearn, Suzanne Ciani, and Chuck Wild. True to its name, “Earth Stone Water Sky” masterfully sums up the building blocks of nature. I especially like the somewhat chaotic backdrop with bells, which indicates how nothing stays the same; everything changes. “From Fire Into Water” has a nice didgeridoo and percussion. It is interesting how rapid it changes and how different each part is.
The album closer, “Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder”, is almost like an EP within the album. The intro is a bit dark, but it is not to last. If you close your eyes, you will be airborne in no time with clouds all around. “Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder” gives your imagination angel wings.
In conclusion: Artists often claim that they do new and radical things, but usually, it is mere talk and unsubstantiated claims. On the other side of the scale is the quiet, soft-spoken “The Silence of Grace”, which truly offers a brand-new sound. It is in the tradition of Brian Eno’s “Another Green World” (1975) in the way that it is not trying to be unique, yet it still comes through as genre-defying and well ahead of the curve. Deborah Martin and Jill Haley have delivered a beautiful, well-made, and highly meditative album that will last long in any New Age music playlist. I hope that people take the time to enjoy “The Silence of Grace”. We sure need it.
-Review by Jonathan Widran
A work of extraordinary depth and rich, intricate texturing of spacey ambient dreamscapes and soul-stirring earthy tones, The Silence of Grace is a meditative reflection and celebration of the natural beauty and wonders of the Pacific Northwest combining the expansive talents of ambient electronic artist Deborah Martin and oboe and English horn master Jill Haley. The eight track recording marks Deborah’s 30th Anniversary with Spotted Peccary Music – an inspiring run that began with her contribution to the label’s Tracks in Time compilation – and welcomes Jill into the fold after a decade of releases showcasing the majesty of America’s National Parks.
As stated on her dedicated artist page, Deborah’s passion is to visualize and create music that takes each listener on a journey through time and space. “I simply close my eyes and imagine what it would have been like to exist in another time, another place, and the music comes.” Her well-established musical aesthetic – and longstanding desire to combine live orchestral instrument recordings with electronics – perfectly complements that of Jill, whose immersion into the landscapes and music of Glacier, Zion, Bryce, Mesa Verde et al has inspired transcendent, landscape and natural element inspired works showcasing the sweeping majesty, fragile ecosystems and intricate details of these sacred lands.
As I wrote in my review of Jill’s The Winds of Badlands, “While Jill brings echoes of all those glorious paths of the past, her soul-conscious texturing of fresh, poetic whimsy and reflective grace takes us forward into this era where the battle for the soul of these places, and the earth itself, is a sociopolitical reality.”
Though thematically rooted in a passionate expression of love for the exquisite greenery and natural water movement of the Pacific Northwest – one of the regions Jill had yet to pay homage to in her solo career – The Silence of Grace is one of those lushly produced, expansive and atmospheric “wall of sound” works that can be appreciated by the mind and spirit for its sweet transportive dreaminess as a single through line over its nearly 50 minutes, the breaks between pieces – and the colorful titles given to each composition – helps the listener focus on the imagery that inspired Deborah and Jill to interweave their unique array of individual sounds.
Rather than build a specific narrative or story arc, the titles serve as impressionistic locales to set the scenes for each musical adventure/excursion. Intriguingly, the lone exception to this is the title track which through its melodic and harmonic shifts from soaring highs to murky lows, sets a mood that inspires the listener to be the silent one contemplating nature and – if so inclined – the divine grace that made such sweeping and enduring beauty possible for humans to experience.
Jill’s Southwestern inspired works have certainly found her expounding on the ancient, mystical powers of Native American lands, and unique tones of her instruments alternately take us soaring and keep us grounded as Deborah’s mystical electronic energies surround us on a tour of “Indian Heaven.” As with so many of the tracks on The Silence of Grace, they quite literally lay the groundwork and we can use our imaginations to engage with the enduring spirits of the ancestors who might inhabit such a place.
The next two tracks offer hypnotic entry points to the Pacific Northwest region’s deep and luxuriant forests, which aggregately form the Pacific temperate rainforests eco-region, the largest on the planet as defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The playful chimes and lyrical oboe animating the mysterious moods of “Verdant Sanctuary” pay collective homage to the surreal shades of green, the ongoing (if silent) activity of nature working its free-flowing magic and the reverence it inspires the moment you walk into its doors and look up at the leafy branch created “steeples.” With its subtle harmonic mood swings, “The Stillness of Forest Bathing” immerses us even further from our day to day realities into the wild gathering of trees where rain, streams and waterfalls have the opportunity to refresh, restore and re-energize our souls weary from the battles outside.
Far from the red rocks of some of the other geographic spots Jill has taken her fans before, her dreamy sounds flow naturally with the water vibes that inhabit, narratively and musically, the final four tracks of the album. First, she and Deborah guide our gentle and graceful journey to experience the baptism/rebirth available in the forest’s “Fountains.” Then Deborah engages in her trademark deep space ambience energy on a haunting exploration of all the present elements on “Earth Stone Water Sky,” which converge slowly with occasional chimes, a softly swaying oboe melody and breathy gusts of wind.
Perhaps the most percussive piece on The Silence of Grace is the next fusion of natural elements, “From Fire to Water,” which begins with chaotic, otherworldly drone sounds and an exotic rhythm pattern that lay a quick-bubbling foundation for some of Jill’s most powerful and melodic oboe expressions. Not surprisingly, as the fire recedes and water takes over, the piece mellows out and flows into something like a dream state. Which naturally leads us the duo to their (and our) final destination, a place where “Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder,” and peaceful dreamy and optimistic streams of life emerge after nature does its scariest work with colliding clouds and intense, ominous rainstorms.