Higher Octave Music
Having nicely bypassed the "let's copy Enigma" phase, New Age duo Yulara is back with a unique, nature-rooted sound-and a new album, Cosmic Tree (Higher Octave HOMCD 45338; 57:59). Keyboardist Robert Matt and wind player Annie Hilsberg have found the elements which bring out both of their strengths, utilizing more instruments (and fewer programs) for dense arrangements like "Horizon" and nature samples that play distinct roles-like the seals and whales in the majestic "Tribute to Allah" and the wren song "conversing" with percussion tones in "Wren Peace." Also adding to the richly textured arrangements is Hillsberg's elemental soloing on both flute and saxophone-hopping and dancing through "Rain on Fire" and snaking through the Middle Eastern layers of the aforementioned "Horizon." The duo's naturalist premise of examining the life of a tree is painted here in the bold tones and colors of world music, and the result is surprisingly accessible and uplifting.