As many of you know I have a penchant for hard and heavy music.
But you may not know that I absolutely love contemporary instrumental music.
Some call it contemporary jazz. Some call it New Age.
Regardless, I have these moments when I just need those smooth, drifting melodies. While I'm not a huge Yanni fan, I do enjoy the likes of Suzanne Ciani, Tingstad & Rumbel, David Lanz and Paul Speer.
In fact, one CD that my wife and I take on our trips to Moab is Lanz and Speer's collaborative "Desert Visions."
Well, on Tuesday, Speer will release his newest solo project, "Oculus." The DVD and companion CD continues Speer's journey through musical soundscapes.
And true to contemporary instrumental music's goal of taking listeners on a sonic vacation to different lands and worlds, "Oculus" named after a ceiling opening in the world-famous Pantheon does just that.
This time, the multi-instrumentalist, along with percussionist Steve Hill, sets sights on Italy.
The DVD's main eight digital video tracks, geared for stereo or Dolby 5.1 Surround, is a mini tour of the boot-shaped country.
Surreal, almost dream-walking images of tourists and locals enjoying the night on Rome's Spanish Steps landmark, are highlighted by Speer's jazzy composition, titled "Spanish Steps."
With "Pantheon," the mystical music and visuals examine the intricate architecture of the ancient Pantheon and its surrounding halls.
"Firenze" is an homage to what Westerners call "Florence." Sculptures, domes, walkways and cathedral-views are backed by a laid-back and sometimes breathy arrangement.
Viewers can take a hike with "Cinque Terra," which literally means "five lands." The rocky cliff paths serve as the visuals to this percussive track, and "Festival in Terrasini" is a surreal funky number that serves as a soundtrack to a traditional Italian festival with flag tossing, parades and tree balancing.
One of my favorites is the "Mediterranean Highway." The toe-tapping, cruise-easy arrangement and accompanying road-trip visuals takes in the livelihood of the residents of the southern Italian coast.
"Portofino" and "Tuscan Sunset" cap off the DVD with rich musical textures and romantic images.
Surf noir-inspired guitar on "Portofino" serves as the perfect winddown prep for the nocturnal syncopation of "Tuscan Sunset."
The bonus is an extra track, "Oculus," which can be heard as the introduction to the CD. The visuals are not of Italy but of Speer playing guitar in a collage of video clips. It is quite entertaining and personable.All in all, this DVD, which clocks in at 43 minutes, is an instant getaway from the hustle of daily life. So, for a few clicks online to www.rainstormrecords.com, the CD and DVD vacation can be yours for $9.99 and $12.99, respectively.