“Arrival is one of the best guitar albums I have ever heard…” “As a collection of songs, this CD is perfect from beginning to end, with no one track more memorable or outstanding than another. Every tune is exquisite…"
- Raj Manoharan, RajMan Reviews
“Devin Rice and Erin Aas are certainly highly competent musicians and have crafted these tracks to showcase their musical skills.” “…a deliciously nostalgic album… Arrival deserves to be a success.”
- John M. Peters
“I hope Arrival marks the beginning of a long run of collaborative releases from the two artists. I never tire of this type of acoustic instrumental music. Arrival is a keeper and comes highly recommended.”
- Bill Binkelman, Binkelman’s Corner, Zone Music Reporter
Devin Rice started playing the piano over 45 years ago on an old upright. His wise parents set up an isolated music room where he and his 3 borthers could essentially make all the noise they wanted without disturbing the rest of the household. In Jr. High, Devin picked up the guitar while recovering from major surgery to pass the time while lying flat in bed. In college years he added the bass and banjo to his arsenal, and since has added the mandolin, percussion and Native American flute.
He is primarily a self-taught composer and musician, though credits many great players over the years who helped him along. Devin has written music for film, television, modern dance, and has several dozen album credits to his name.
Erin Aas has been playing fingerstyle guitar for 25 years, ever since ditching his first electric guitar as a teenager. He received a music degree from the University of Washington and studied at the Edinburgh University Faculty of Music in Edinburgh, Scotland. Erin’s work has also been influenced by a number of lesser-known acoustic musical geniuses with whom he has had the privilege of playing.
He is a connoisseur of modern choral music and has recorded 5 CD projects with various ensembles. He has made ventures into choral composition, vocal arranging and classical guitar, always returning to his original love of the steel string.
Review by John P. Olsen
Review by Bill Binkelman #2
Review by Raj Manoharan
Review by Bill Binkelman #1
Review by John M. Peters
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Devin Rice & Erin Aas
Within a short time (maybe the first two or three tracks) during the first playing of the CD Arrival (from guitarist-pianist Devin Rice and guitarist Erin Aas), I knew that this album was going to land on my special "keeper" list, the one reserved for acoustic instrumental music which is ideally suited for long driving trips along rural roads. Only the very best and most heartfelt, evocative music makes it onto that short list, so draw your own conclusions. Arrival earns its spot thanks to the laid back, homespun yet subtly sophisticated melodies played on a variety of assorted acoustic instruments.
The songs never get too fast or too loud, but they still manage to convey a sensation of movement which makes Arrival a great "road trip" CD. Both Rice and Aas are great guitarists (and Rice knows his way around the ivories, too) and since this is a Will Ackerman produced effort, you can surmise that the guest accompanists are none too shabby either. Comfortable as broken-in corduroy trousers or a well-washed chamois shirt, Arrival is destined to become one of my all-time favorites, especially when it's played against a backdrop of rolling farmland, red/gold leaves, and quaint Wisconsin towns.
Bill BinkelmanZone Music Reporter 4/9/10
Devin Rice & Erin Aas
On Arrival, Devin Rice and Erin Aas have crafted yet another one of my picks for ideal "up north" music. I realize this reference is lost on anyone not from the upper Midwest, but basically it alludes to acoustic instrumental music which begs to be played while driving on rural backroads with either farmland or forests whizzing past. It's among my favorite subgenres and CDs of this type are among the few I always pack when I hit the open road for a trip to my native Wisconsin. Inherent in this subgenre is a tunefulness and obvious accessibility wedded to an overall reflective/introspective evocation with enough variety in tempo and "style" to keep a person interested as the miles unwind.
Long-time readers of my reviews can probably guess that acoustic guitar plays a prominent role in the music. Both Aas and Rice play the instrument, as well as piano, percussion, and bass. Some members of Will Ackerman's (who produced Arrival) stable of accompanists drop in and lend some support (Eugene Friesen and Traci Hoveskeland on cello, Jill Haley on English horn, Derrick Jordan on djembe, and Ackerman himself on guitar on one track). The disc is, as usual, engineered by the esteemed Corin Nelsen, so you know that the sonic quality of the end product will be excellent.
The overall mood of Arrival is restrained, with only occasional bouts of power, passion...
...or drama (most notably on the rave-up tune "Whiskey in the Watertower"). More indicative of the overall vibe of the album is the opening "Thyn Ayre," a guitar duet with bass which propels itself forward through an uptempo pace while reeling in energy via a minor key melody and an introspective mood. More laid back is the second track, "Procession," which features Rice on guitar and piano as well as Derrick Jordan's djembe and Aas' guitar. While the piece is certainly not staid, the rural "country" nature of the composition is palpable. This music fits a winding road and isolated farmhouses better than 20-story condos or ribbons of freeway stretching to the horizon.
The best songs on Arrival are the sparser ones where Aas and Rice operate by themselves. The refined simplicity of guitars, bass and piano showcases their sincere heartfelt compositions which are as comfortable as well-worn clothes or a broken-in sofa. No tracks on the CD run over 4:41, another thing in the album's favor to my way of thinking. Nothing can sink a song (or album) like over-staying your welcome and Aas and Rice embrace this paradigm throughout, crafting some songs as short as a shade over two minutes in duration—bless them!
It's probably obvious by now that my favorite songs are the more mellow, reflective ones, such as "Something About a Harbor," "Perdido en Granada" (graced by Haley's exquisite English horn), "Morning with Annie," and the sublime closing track "Lullaby for Now" where the duo are joined by cellist Friesen. However, even the occasional more uptempo or "cheery" track has merit to it. I gather from their bios that Aas and Rice have long music careers already behind them, but I hope Arrival marks the beginning of a long run of collaborative releases from the two artists. I never tire of this type of acoustic instrumental music. Arrival is a keeper and comes highly recommended.
Bill BinkelmanZone Music Reporter 4/9/10
I guess that Arrival, by guitarists Devin Rice and Erin Aas, will be marketed as New Age music, but to my ears there is a certain acoustic folkiness to be found throughout the fifteen tracks - perhaps even some world music influences thanks to the percussion used on some of the tracks. While fingerstyle acoustic guitar and bass are the main instruments, cello, piano, English horn, and a variety of hand percussion fill out the sound, performed by guest musicians. Devin Rice and Erin Aas are certainly highly competent musicians and have crafted these tracks to showcase their musical skills. Some of the track titles have an impressionistic edge to them: Thyn Ayre, Something About A Harbour, Stars Of Winter, Pulborough Spring, Whiskey In The Watchtower and Perdido En Granada. Setting up mind pictures to go with the music.
Produced by one of the guru's of New Age music, Will Akkerman, Arrival is a deliciously nostalgic album, reminiscent of those years long gone by when we travelled slowly by horse and carriage, when people took time to converse and life was lived at a much slower pace than now. This album positively exudes nostalgic feelings in this listener - whether the musicians intended this or not. Arrival deserves to be a success, and its music should find a home sound tracking some of the small indie movies that look to the past or are set in rural locales.
John M. Peters
Solo instrumental albums are a natural source of personalized music, so when two reputable soloists merge their individual talents, their alliance from soloists to duettists can become an even more valuable source of personified music for everyone.
Devin Rice & Erin Aas are seasoned musicians already recognized by their proficient styles as individual artists now emerging as a team that writes and performs original piano / guitar and finger styled guitar duet compositions with hand selected musicians adding polished accompaniments on their new release titled Arrival.
Residing in the state of Washington, Devin & Erin had also traveled to Imaginary Road Studios in rural Vermont to enlist the expertise of Grammy Award winning Will Ackerman, so the level of quality on the album’s production retraces their visit to a highly specialized destination.
Arrival is an album where Devin plays piano in addition to guitar along with Erin, showcasing their 15 song compilation that is adventuresome and symmetrical from the first song to the last. After meeting for the first time several
years ago, I felt their earlier mainstay as professional soloists has been doubled and enhanced using simple math, along with their broad variance in individual styles.
Devin Rice & Erin Aas, have selected skilled artists along with Grammy Award winning producer Will Ackerman, to emerge as a fortified musical team, and by virtue of each artist’s specialized skills, has attained a winning strategy with Arrivial.
Thyn Ayre is the crisp beginning song that sounds like a down to earth journey...
put to sheet music, like Procession, where a wonderful just right feel becomes the standard atmosphere. These folk styled narratives flourish during the piano and guitar duets set in a moderate tempo like most of the 15 songs.
Borderline is a breezy guitar duet by Erin and Devin, while their Tribute to Robert Frost expresses a more stately approach that includes percussion rhythms backing majestic piano melodies with subtler acoustic guitar highlights.
Lively acoustic guitar and percussion rhythms are heard on the memorable song Nevada, while Something About A Harbor has piano lead in for guitar, with rich melodic tones showing depth in a natural way. Perdido En Granada, Lullaby For Now & For JB are gentle and more introspective songs with English horn and cello support that compliment the pleasing atmosphere.
Whiskey In The Watertower is truly spirited and a nicely coordinated guitar duet, featuring Will Ackerman on the final guitar solo that resembles Pulborough Spring by taking an up-tempo direction from the primarily moderate paced piano and guitar duets with instrumentals.
Rich cello harmonics are the scenic backdrop in songs, Morning With Annie, Southern Breeze, & Stars of Winter, with the latter song taking an adventurous free flight expression during the melody and refrains that gently lands with guitar, cello, and piano uniting in an ensemble.
Although solo albums are a mainstay and pleasing source of enjoyment, Arrival is...
...a nice departure from singular solo albums given the enriching instrumentals and contrasting styles of the two principal soloists.
This departure notably doubles the harmonic value for the listener, along with Devin & Erin who have doubled their musical achievements together as a team, and as individuals.
Additional musicians include Derrick Jordan on djembe with Eugene Friesen & Traci Hoveskeland giving cello performances on several tracks. Jill Haley lends her talents on English horn and Will Ackerman is featured in the final guitar performance.
Visit devinriceanderinaas.com to sample / purchase or at their CDBaby.com page. Click on their biographies page to read about their backgrounds and how it all began. If you would like to visit the Imaginary Road Studios go to williamackerman.com right here.
John P. OlsenPosted April 30th, 2010
(Posted in Acoustic, Guitar, New Age Music World, Piano)
Devin Rice and Erin Aas Mark Their Arrival
Arrival, Devin Rice and Erin Aas
As an amateur guitarist, I love guitar albums. However, I hate guitar duet albums. Unless one person is playing steel string and the other nylon, or one is playing electric and the other acoustic, you never know who is playing what.
That having been said, Arrival is one of the best guitar albums I have ever heard, even though it is primarily an album of guitar duets. I say primarily because although many of the tunes are guitar duets, many tracks also contain guitar and piano duets as well as accompaniment by other instruments. Erin Aas focuses on guitars and also plays shakers on one or two songs, while fellow guitarist Devin Rice does double duty on piano, congas, and shakers. A couple of additional musicians add cello and other instruments to the mix here and there.
Aside from the numbers on which Rice plays piano and Aas plays guitar, and aside from a couple of notations regarding who plays a guitar solo on one or two tracks, it really doesn’t matter who’s playing what. The music is beautiful, owing to thoughtful, lyrical compositions and top-notch performances. This is true guitar heaven, a stellar achievement in the New Age genre wrought by six or twelve strings.
As a collection of songs, this CD is perfect from beginning to end, with no one track more memorable or outstanding than another. Every tune is exquisite, but if I had to pick a couple of absolute favorites, they would have to be the percussive and...
...propulsive “Nevada” with its strong melodic hooks and “Whiskey in the Watertower” with its ringing guitar chords. There’s nary a lull on the album, unless you count the closing “Lullaby for Now,” but what do you expect from a lullaby? Plus, it’s a quietly stirring piece and an appropriate coda for the set.
Devin Rice and Erin Aas have strung together a guitar album of such high caliber that I could see this being released by Narada, Higher Octave Music, Guitar 9 Records, Steve Vai’s Favored Nations, or Windham Hill Records/Private Music, whose legendary founder, Will Ackerman, serves as the CD’s producer and contributes some of his own guitar brilliance to one track. Arrival is an appropriate title as it marks an auspicious debut for Rice and Aas. Hopefully it is just the first of several collaborations from these highly talented and expressive guitarists.