Uwe Gronau is a German musician (piano, synthesized-keyboards, organ, bass and acoustic guitar) with a new album called Midsummer that is a two-disc, 35-song masterwork of modern contemporary instrumental music (there is one vocal track). Some of the tunes are very melodic while others are more ambient. But what makes the music so interesting is that Gronau packs many different styles into this package. The most obvious genre would be the widely-encompassing new age music tag, primarily because most of the music is soft and instrumental. But Uwe has some jazz and rock roots, and occasionally those influences are heard.
The first CD is a little more ensemble-sounding, upbeat and even rocking as compared to the second CD where most of the solo piano and spacey tunes reside. Starting with the softer tunes, he presents several very lovely solo piano tunes such as “Big Sky Horizon,” “Childhood,” “Little Luck” and “Garden of March.” The best of the acoustic piano pieces with a little synth backing are “Thinking” and “Rivers Bound to the Sea,” whereas “By The Fireside” has a pretty melody forcefully-played with a bit of organ backing in the middle section. On the other end of the melody spectrum are a number of ambient synth sketches with the best being the free-flowing “Passage,” the bubbly “Heaven of Falling Stars” and the spacey “Brave Heart.” Then there are the more upbeat compositions such as “Secret Meeting 1” which is mostly synth with some piano over the top, but also sprinkled with a congas intro, a slapping snare and closed high-hat taps, and some flute sounds. Another is the wonderful electronica number “Royal Road” with its synth and extremely compelling drums (plus a little organ). Also featuring interesting drums and rhythms is the mid-tempo, nicely-melodic “Evening Sky” with a slow piano over the top of the brew. Now you would not think that a CD with solo piano pieces and other soft stuff would in any way appeal to the prog-rock crowd, but this set would be the exception. There are several tunes with electric guitar that could go over well with proggers who like softer shreds rather than metal-prog. For example, even though the second CD has mostly gentle tunes, it contains “Dream Bridge” with a grinding electric guitar (plus drums, trumpet and organ) and “The Messenger” which starts with forceful chording followed by piano, synth, organ, snare and a little electric guitar. There are some others with a similar appeal on the first disc including “Left Hand” which not only has a full drum kit and congas, but also a screaming electric guitar played by American Martin Brom, who also shows up on “Magic Forest” which starts slow and erupts into a carnival of sound at the one-minute-mark (with fast bass and swirling synth). But perhaps the best tune altogether is “Gliding Flight” which features a full drum sound, electric guitar by guest Wolfgang Demming, picked acoustic guitar by Gronau, spacey synth and even some jazz piano playing in the center section. Wow!
If you pick up this CD, be ready for some variety. On first listen this makes it exciting because you never know what to expect next (the more rocking Disc One has a solo piano tune stuck right in the middle of the programming). But on subsequent hearings, somehow all the music begins to fit together and flow nicely. This may be the top tribute that can be given to this talented and versatile musician. He tackles a wide spectrum of sounds, and makes it all work together. So congratulations, Uwe Gronau, and bring on some more.