Russell Suereth (pronounced sue-reth) is a talented and evolving instrumentalist, composer and recording artist. Russell who started out playing the guitar eventually became interested in the possibilities offered by keyboards and synthesizers. Today’s technology which serves up an enormous variety of authentic sounds and samples, has only enhanced Russell’s artistic explorations into deeper and fuller musical imagery; resulting in his beautiful and eclectic album, “Spiritual Haven”, which contains 12 tracks that span the use of Western acoustic instruments, traditional ancient instruments from Asia, Africa and the Americas, to modern melodic inventions like the Hangdrum.
Russell Suereth has carved a brilliant recording from melding music of nature, of culture, of life, blending the various forces together to create a whole so unique and distinct in the process. His strong affinity for the earth’s special places and man’s existence though time, as well a powerful connection to things spiritual, are integral to his music, as is Russell’s uncanny ability to bring together so many different styles and genres, which at its most brilliant is just breathtaking, and which at its lesser moments, is brilliant just the same.
“Spiritual Haven” is perhaps the greatest fusion of all things Russell Suereth, born of his remarkable will to want to “take listeners beyond their everyday experiences.” Here Russell has consistently produced melodic and rhythmic sonic tapestries that are challenging and comfortable at the same time. The ultimate tool that has allowed him to maintain his integrity is, I believe, his honesty. There is absolutely no element of pretense in his art – he feels strongly and deeply about what he’s doing, and it’s present in every note. He combines various styles and sounds of ethnic music from around the universe — African, Armenian, Chinese, Latin American and more into a mix that comes together in such a way as to be seamless. It’s as if they were made to fit together — a sonic metaphor for how we should live with each other and with the planet.
From the moment the album opens with “A Magic Flight”, there is an overall comfort and serenity to this music – as much as there is joy, rhythm and life in its undertones. “Spiritual Haven” plays out like a physical journey across the globe, but at the same time we are subconsciously travelling through our deepest inner emotions. Each track seems to transport us to another mystical habitat via mood-inducing sonic elements, of which “Glimmer of Light” introduces a varied quantity- from evolving rhythmic structures to ethereal vocal interludes.
All throughout, Russell Suereth proves himself to be a gifted performer who provides his listeners not with the expected, or the entirely familiar, but solicits the ear to listen and the soul to respond. This is not simple background music; these creations need to be listened to actively. A celebration of the natural and the spiritual, tracks like “Nightingale Rushes”, “Sudden Awareness” and “Realization” are profound and powerful in their expression. But every selection is wondrous, and each is a work of art to be reflected upon.
With only moderately careful listening, you can easily experience the inventive and harmonious coexistence of the diverse instrumentation Russell employs; the piano, oboe, bassoon, guitar, viola, cello, French horn, duduk, guzheng, grand marimba, koto, oud, krin and ethnic frame drums all supplement each other magnificently.
Of the album, Russell said: “My goal was also to create a story for my listeners, so as they go through the songs they travel a path, and in the end they find themselves in a place that is far different from where they began.” For me, “Spiritual Haven” is a breathtakingly beautiful and stunning musical voyage, regardless of where it starts…or where it ends!
A full description, in Russell Suereth’s own words, of how and why “Spiritual Haven” was made, can be found at his WEBSITE. The interested reader is encouraged to go to this web page to fill in the blanks that may be missing here. For those fascinated by audiovisual material, Russell has some breathtaking footage to support his music on Youtube. I highly recommend a stopover to savor these videos.