Valley of the Giants
This transcendent musical adventure is a multi-sensory journey through one of the world ’s most magical creations of nature, Yosemite Valley. You will smell the pungent wildflowers, feel the glacial winds on your face, hear the roar of the skyscraping waterfalls and experience deep inner peace and mystic contemplation inspired by the spirit of Mother Nature’s most awesome masterpiece, Yosemite. Wash in a symphony of multicultural rhythms, melodies and organic sounds that will soothe and inspire you to the core. Truly a living, breathing musical experience for your soul, from the home of the Valley of the Giants via the extraordinary Mars Lasar, and with your purchase a portion of proceeds will support the Yosemite National Park.
This recording is a result of the many positive responses to my album "Olympic National Park. There's definitely a more happy and joyous feel about Yosemite Valley of the Giants, where Olympic National Park is more thoughtful, wild and untouched.
Inspired by the sheer granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, the shimmer of Mirror Lake and Glacier Point, the breathtaking vastness of Sentinel Meadow to the power of Nevada Falls. This style of nature/music is one of my favorite things to compose. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Reviewed by Bill Binkelman
Yosemite, Valley of the Giants
The prolific Mars Lasar has released his best album in years, the cinematic-in-scope Yosemite, Valley of the Giants. I don’t know if it was the source of inspiration for the music (all the tracks are named after a location in the famous US national park) but whatever was the impetus, Lasar’s past potential pitfalls were neatly avoided, such as his tendency for bombast and melodrama and his occasional scattershot approach to musical variety. Instead, Yosemite… presents a unified collection of soundtrack-like instrumentals which covey the wonder and grandeur of the park’s natural beauty without succumbing to overkill. All the songs are highly accessible yet not at all poppish or simplistic. An apt comparison might be the now-classic nature-themed recordings of the duo David Lanz and Paul Speer (back in the early days of the Narada label). Besides an abundance of highly enjoyable music, most tracks feature nature sounds expertly layered side-by-side with the melodies and rhythms which serve to heighten the overall listening experience.
“Mirror Lake” starts things off with synth chorales, gentle bell tones, and twinkling chimes before a moderate tempo tribal beat emerges amidst a pleasing rolling melodic refrain. “El Capitan” is subtly dramatic, given the song’s title, building from a simple lead flute line with synth string embellishments, folding in piano and a shuffling tom- tom/ bass drum beat, with some timpani/cymbal crescendos at the end to signify the majestic sight of the lone peak. “Sentinel Meadow” is quite lovely and serene, with Fender Rhodes and synth strings accompanied by gentle water lapping and nature sounds, such as crickets and thunder. This is a real gem of a track even though it’s less than three minutes long. “Merced River” displays some nifty pan-African and South American influences via lively exotic percussion and kalimba, along with a breezy yet energetic feel to the dancing bell tones and flowing refrain. “Wilderness Trail” quiets things down with plucked string synths, lilting flute, and a gentle melody picked out on acoustic guitar. Once again, the nature sounds (bubbling water and bird song) enhance the song considerably. Gunn’s influence is again apparent on “Yosemite Valley” which carries more than a hint of his fondness for Native American tribal rhythms. While also present, male (Gregorian) chorales are somewhat restrained which is all for the better as their inherent drama could’ve overwhelmed the music. Another nice wrinkle, and again one that works because it’s subtly applied, is the background addition of a didgeridoo. The jaunty rhythm accompanying the didge reminded me of the German bass player Frank Fisher’s music.
From powerful pieces like the propulsive “Half Dome” (featuring assorted tribal drums and broad sweeping strings and chorals and even some sampled bagpipes!) to the majestic “Valley of the Giants” with solo female wordless vocals by Jennifer Spalding, deep bass drums and cinematic string melodies to the graceful piano and synth-driven “Glacier Point,” Yosemite, Land of the Giants should delight the lover of adult contemporary music with its blending of cinematic visual elements and “classic” (the late ‘80s) new age components (and featuring some nods to Native American fusion music). Provided you feel as I do about nature sounds mixed in with music (I love it when it’s done right, as it is here), you’ll embrace this well-done album from Mars Lasar with open arms. Highly recommended! (Note: a portion of the proceeds from sales of this album will go to support the park itself, too!)
Reviewed by Michael Debbage -
Yosemite, Valley of the Giants
With recordings as far back as 1992’s sensational debut Olympus, this explorative artist has presented his audience with a diversified musical portfolio. This includes the critically acclaimed electronic Eleventh Hour series along with the hauntingly beautiful lullabies of the reflective Sapphire Dreams just to name a few. However, this time around Lasar revisits the National Park theme and pays tribute to the majestic and mystical Yosemite. Musically it lives up to the integrate details and mammoth proportions of the park it is paying its respect to Lasar’s prior tribute to one of America’s national treasures was back in 1996 when he released The Music of Olympic National Park. Though enjoyable, the musical landscape that he created was accompanied by nature’s soundscaping to the point that it was distracting. Musically, the shades and tones were darker with a more ambient feel to it. Yosemite includes these previously mentioned methods; however, Lasar is more restraint and also places greater emphasis on the melody.
The album begins with the melodic “Mirror Lake” that flows effortlessly into “El Capitan” which is essentially the second movement of its predecessor. Initiated with gorgeous string arrangements, the song is then driven by the intricate yet smooth percussion arrangement. The latter is revisited on “Tioga Road” countered by what sounds like bamboo flutes. Even better, there is a beautiful tempo and rhythm of the strings and percussion that illustrates the flow and pulse of the “Merced River”. It is almost impossible not to sway with the music as it curves and bends gently while it trails and fades to its conclusion. Simply put, this is Mars Lasar at his best.
Yosemite also has its reflective moments best-heard courtesy of the opening chords of “Glacier Point”. While the composition is embellished a little as the song progresses, its theme is certainly more in the lullaby frame. This theme is repeated by the more organic “Wilderness Trail” that also features the warmth of the acoustic guitar. Frankly, there is very little to found fault with about this magnificent tribute. Lasar does well to incorporate a few tracks that are more detached and spatial such as the Vangelis influenced “Sentinel Meadows”. However, Lasar is wise to close out the album with the more regal and dramatic concluder “Valley Of The Giants” that also features the soft chanting of Jennifer Spalding.
From the minuscule microscopic organic details of the shrub to the majestic redwoods and valleys of towering mountains and cascading waterfalls of Yosemite, the music of Lasar reflects and ponders the landscape he pays tribute to. Whether dealing in details of shades and tones or broad strokes of its majestical beauty, Lasar once again manipulates and reflects a musical landscape that is breathtaking and wondrous.
Reviewed by MusicTap.net
Yosemite - Valley of the Giants
Mars Lasar tackles Yosemite National Park in California, a 760,000-acre mammoth, enjoyed by over three million people a year. While I have never been there, the sparse photos presented in the liner notes give some idea as to why so many people have witnessed its beauty.
Since I’ve never visited the place, I cannot use this as its soundtrack. So, I use it as my soundtrack to the hour-plus drives to work I take several times a week. If you enjoy Nicholas Gunn, also Vangelis, you will enjoy Mars Lasar, as his style flirts with both artists.
Employing flutes, synths, some tribal drums and the occasional natural sound effect (thankfully, not used constantly to the point of saturation), Valley of the Giants makes for a very good backdrop to backroad drives, amidst the rapidly changing leaves of fall.
Some songs, “Tioga Road,” for example, are upbeat and bouncy, something you might expect from an album dedicated to the beauty of nature. Others, like “Sentinel Meadow,” are somewhat dark and foreboding, like being in the middle of the park in the middle of the night, with only your vague sense of where the moon rests in the sky as your compass. “Yosemite Valley” feels epic, as one would expect a song called as such would be. Chants, calls from the forests, drums, drift into a brief piano melody, only to return to the march through the woods. It’s a long walk, but it’s worth it.
This is a very good album and a very good soundtrack to the natural world, whether you’re traversing Earth’s most amazing places, or Route 520 in New Jersey.
Reviewed by Wilhelm Lucken
Yosemite - valley of the giants
Once again Mars Lasar has provided us with a musical journey into deep nature. He accompanies the listener on unique mountains and waterfalls in one of the finest National Park of the world: Yosemite. The music starts with softly string-arrangements. But those who fear an ordinary new age symphony keeps going on will fortunately compensated at track 3. From now on the sound attains much more deepness and substance. Mars Lasar's music is attended on authenticity and mystery of nature, reflecting the roots of childhood. With opulent synths- and drum-programmings, guitars and piano he builds vast pictorial soundforms. Like a confident pathfinder Mars progresses thru a valley of tones, exploring footprints of evolution. Actually this music is the maturest piece of his national-park-series. Well, sometimes he drifts off into cheesy sentimentals, mostly he surprises with strokes of genius.
Kind regards, Will
5.0 out of 5 stars *****
By Cynthia Moore (usa)
The beautiful music on this CD will help ease the stress while driving to and from work. It's very relaxing and helps to sooth the soul.
5.0 out of 5 stars *****
MARS LASAR A LA CARTE
By Jens-peter Moreitz (HAZELBROOK, NSW Australia)
This is in my opinion the best album Mars Lasar has released. Just listen to track 4 Tioga Road or even better track 11 Valley of the Giants - this to me sounds a lot of Vangelises "Heaven and Hell" with the beautiful vocals. But I think the entire album is beautiful crafted, of course only in my opinion. And make no mistake, you must like this type of music to appreciate it. This is truly the "Valley of the Giants"
5.0 out of 5 stars *****
Yosemite Valley of the Giants
By Deborah L. Anderson
A must have also money goes to Yosemite, I gave this as a present along with getting one for our family, also read the cover great words.
An Acoustical, dreamy masterwork *****
I've been listening to Mars Lasar's now since I bought The Eleventh Hour, over 10 years ago, and his style never ceases to amaze me. this album, in particular Nevada Falls, weaves an acoustic tapestry that will carry you away on the wings of your imagination.
5 stars is as high as it gets here, but if I could, I'd give it a 10.
Time Travel ****
by Golden Big Dog
Listen to the Valley Of The Giants (it's better with headphones), close your eyes, and in no time your body begins to relax. Yosemite is one of Creation's better achievements. Mars Lasar has achieved apart from the usual in Yosemite - Valley Of The Giants.
Simply Marvelous! *****
The album is the most soothing, relaxing collection of music that I have listened to in a long time. It's so nice to have such calming music in a sometimes chaotic world.
Mars gives a new taste to relaxing music! This music (especially Half Dome) reminds you of going rock climbing or hiking in the mountains. It's beautiful. I love the flute work especially.
Yosemite: Valley Of the Giants is one of the most glorious, wonderful, and majestic piece of music I have ever heard. I didn't think Mars could top The Music Of The Olympic National Park with another environmental album, but I think he may have just done that here. Half Dome is worth the price of admission alone.
Half Dome *****
by Mars Lasar
Download Half Dome and listen to it at least 5 times on your headphones. You'll have a hard time to prove as to why you rated this song less than 4 stars.
A Visit to Yosemite - Mars Style! *****
I have only recently become aware of Mars Lasar's music works. - and they are quite varied in style. Yosemite - Valley Of The Giants continues the path that Mars started years ago with an album called The Music of Olympic National Park. Valley Of The Giants takes the listener on a personal tour of Yosemite - in a way only Mars could do. I love how he mixed in the natural audio of birds, animals and even water - to become part of the rhythm of the music. The songs are presented are very meaningful as well as relaxing, and capture the wondrous beauty that is YOSEMITE.
Mirror Lake is a spectacular, enriching, ethereal song. I remember listening to Yosemite Valley of the Giants album, three times a day, seven days a week, for six months, after buying this album in 2006. Mirror Lake is poetry in music. The keyboard dancing on the percussion, the sound effects are perfection.
This is a stunning place... can see that you love it. Me too! Love the seasons, sometimes subtle colors, misty. Other times, playful or garish! Thankyou, enjoyed your work very much.