Schiff, Don - Peering Over Clouds

Year of Release: 2005
Label: The Tank
Catalog Number: TTMD-1046
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:20:00

The very first time I met Don Schiff, was in 2001, when he played in Belgium with Lana Lane and Erik Norlander. During that show, he also played a solo song and I was mesmerized during his performance. What an unusual instrument he was playing!? It looked a bit like a guitar, but still very different. Honestly, I still don't fully understand what it is. An NS/Stick. But in the hands of Don Schiff, this instrument turned out to be a magical one, as he produced the most beautiful melodies with it.

If you take a look at his website, you must certainly look into the section where he mentions the musicians he has played with over the years. You will then realize he is not just "the bass player" of Rocket Scientists/Lana Lane/Erik Norlander. Just a few names: Ike Turner, Jerry Lee, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Stanley, Arjen Lucassen, Chuck Berry, Shirly Maclaine, Raquel Welsh, Pat Benatar and none other than the King himself, Elvis Presley! Not exactly unknown musicians, wouldn't you say?

His latest solo work, is Peering Over Clouds and this is truly a progressive rock album. If you look at the line up, you will wonder what to expect? Well, expect a very dynamic album. You will be surprised to hear what magical sounds Mr. Schiff will create with this amazing, yet mysterious instrument ? But there are also some more laid back, relaxed moments. The openings and title track, "Peering Over Clouds," gives you an idea what to expect: complex song-structures, a lot of variation in playing, and genuine progressive music.

Don Schiff stretches the boundaries of music here and leaves traditional song writing for what it is. The NS/Stick is his instrument and his voice and he uses it in ways even the creator of the instrument did not expect. This is progressive. And, his music does not sound like anyone else!

His partner here in the music is Greg Ellis (Vas, Erik Norlander, The Matrix films), whose percussion fits in perfectly with Don's stick play. This percussion gives the music a great beat that will almost make you dance. Because despite the fact the music on Peering Over Clouds may sound a bit technical and complex, it still is a nice album to listen to, even if you are not an expert on musical instruments, like yours truly.

If you give the album a chance, you will find new intricacies each time you hear the songs. One moment you hear this incredibly funky bass, the next you think you hear a howling guitar. On one song you even hear keyboards, but no matter what you think, it is all played by the stick. I am really impressed by the amazing grace with which Schiff plays this instrument. From sweet, gentle melodies, to funky bass line, to complex and fast parts.

Two songs stand out, as fans of Lana Lane might recognize them: "Under The Olive Tree" and "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." Technically the first one is not a cover, as Don co-wrote the song. This is merely a different and instrumental version. A nice take on the song, and I still start to sing the words along with it :). "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" is also sung by Lana Lane, but in this case, Schiff covers the original. Subtly you recognize the original melody, but this is brought in a really different way, which makes it very interesting to listen to.

Despite all the virtuosity and technical play, Schiff has not overlooked one important factor on the album: atmosphere! The album breathes a warm and pleasant atmosphere, where you feel right at home. And that is exactly as Don Schiff is as a person: he is a very nice, warm and caring person and this attitude is reflected in the music.

All these years he is playing his music, I can only guess how long, considering he played together with Elvis, he is been in the background, playing his part. And those who ever witnessed him at a live show, know how good he plays live. Still a lot of people do not know him and that is a real shame. Hopefully Peering Over Clouds will change that, as it is an incredibly good album, full of original and well played music, which will appeal to a wide audience.

It is time for Don Schiff to step out of the dark background and into the spotlight. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Mr. Don Schiff?

Peering Over Clouds (7:15) / Winds Of Fire, Winds Of Change (5:27) / Under The Olive Tree (5:06) / Secret World (6:23) / Inside The Color Of Dreams (7:20) / Tomorrow's Magic (4:27) / Reflective View (5:30) / From Where The Past Began (6:13) / The Eight Wonder (5:14) / A Whiter Shade Of Pale (4:53) / Talking In Tongues (3:58) / Between Sound And Silence (1:23) / Crossing The Line Of Reason (7:38)

Don Schiff - NS/Stick
Greg Ellis - percussion

Timeless Wait By The River (2002)
Peering Over Clouds (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 9th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1479
Language: english


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