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BRIAN SAIA_Probability Clouds_COVER.jpg
Probability Clouds
(2019 - self release - USA)

What starts out with a gorgeous dreamy aromatic dollop of minimalism, journeys through a brilliant  flowerbed of styles that blend ambient, striking classical, electronica scattered about, dramatic stage-like passages, jazz infused byways, and breathtaking moments , all in a unique scrapbook, by composer, designer, engineer, mixer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Brian Patrick Saia. It is not a tough decision to add this to my TOP CHOICES of 2019 list. And this I will do.

Although Brian (working out of Los Angeles, CA) has previous works, including soundtracks, this is his first release of this magnitude and particular plateau (and a very high elevation it sits on indeed). With a huge list of participants which include: Azwan – lyrics, vocals/ Lauren Baba – viola/ Tomas Canseco – electric guitar, lyrics, vocals/ Matthew Clough-Hunter – flutes, gamelan/ Brian Foreman – drum kit/ Cat Ekes – vocals/ Rachel Geller – lyrics, vocals, zither/ Madeline Falcone – viola, violin/ Kate Hardly – vocals/ Chris Haverland – cello, baritone guitar, trumpet arrangement, electric guitar, string arrangement/ Israel Hernandez – trombone/ Kate Jones – vocals/ Max Kutner – electric guitar/  Heather Lockie – viola, vocals/ Michael Lockwood – drum kit/ Louis Lopez – baritone, trumpet/  Abraham Medina – drum kit/ Jess Nielson – clarinet/ Jake Rosenzweig – upright bass/ Linnea Sablosky – vocals/ Emily Shaw – vocals/ Stephanie Smith – violin/ Rebekka Takamizu – vocals/ Jackie Urlik – harp/ Steven Van Betten – banjo, acoustic guitar, vocals/ Glenna Van Nostrand – lyrics, pedals, vocals/  Alex Wand – acoustic guitar/ and all wonderfully supporting the maestro Brian Saia – acoustic guitar, autoharp, balafon, baritone guitar, bass guitar, cello, drum kit, drum machine, electric guitar, kalimba, lyrics, percussion, piano, synth, and zither. Also aiding the making of this outstanding project was: Apple Trujillo – assistant engineer/ Chris Haverland - assistant engineer/ Israel "Izzy" Hernandez - assistant mixer/ Marisa Scheline – assistant mixer/ Daniel Eaton at Little Castle Mastering – mastering engineer/ Jessie Johnson – artist/ and Latife Whittington – photographer.

It is no wonder that the supremely composed and performed 14 pieces have an incantation about them, not to leave out being immaculate. The entire recording fills the listeners ears with delicate, often exotic, partly terrestrial, but mostly music existing beyond our earth, with a supernatural feel (in that distinct Sigur Ros way). A remarkable set of works that never allow one second of lull. The vision Saia had for this masterpiece rolls around the big blue ball like a giant stone with its own path. When 'Sulpha Terra' (track #8) comes up, you hear shades of Annie Lennox, and following that with 'Floating' you have a beautiful Rob Mounsey and his Flying Monkey Orchestra style of tropical lushness. The flow is second to none, and the ratio of space, timing, and the complexity is magnificent. Fans of Philip Glass will love the female vocal arrangements, but be aware, this is only a small segment of the overall picture. Things go to far away places, float around your head like an aurora borealis. The atmosphere may shift along with each composition, however the auditorium for the audience is spectacular in ample consistency.

The use of so many different vocalists and other instruments allow the inventions to roam. The last track 'We Are Hydrocarbons', features Rachel Geller on vocals, with echoes of Suzanne Vega - in the most appealing way possible. I became magnetized by the entire release; all 56:22 of it. A versatile mesmeric masterwork that brings a cohabitation of genres into an extraordinary junction. The method and magic Brian Saia used to composed 'Probability Clouds' is first class, and hands a true gift to the receiver. The physical CD is a glossy gatefold with extra pictures inside, and full art printed on the disc as well. This all comes with a fantastic kaleidoscope of aural goodness. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 7 - 10 - 2019
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