Whisper From the Mirror
A commercially successful artist can afford to take a risk with an artistic departure, as a built-in fan base will be there to tune in. In the case of keyboardist Keiko Matsui's Whisper from the Mirror (Unity/Countdown 17796-2; 54:23) those fans (and new initiates) will be rewarded with a richly atmospheric collection showcasing the emotional nuance of Matsui's classically wrought piano work. Where the dramatic, tribal-beat bounded suite "Invisible Wing" breaks into multiple passages, including a lilting chorus which dissembles like a story, the sparkling "Beyond the Light" starts music box gentle, with Matsui's musing play opening into a beautiful, full cinematic theme. Other key pieces include the bittersweet, spiritual "Between the Moons," which packs a powerful orchestral punch, and "Dimensions," a cascading, building piano showpiece that haunts beneath its pretty surface. A four-hand piano duet with Bob James takes listeners through many moods-from tense and dark to joyful, illustrating desolation and blue loneliness before building to a lively tempo of discovery. Even the album's most arguably "traditional" piece, "Savanna, No Problem," maintains Matsui's reflective, musing tones, opening with quiet winds before spinning into a dizzy, open-frame bluesy road trip.