Michael Roe Daydream Reviews

The Phantom Tollbooth Jan 2000
By Michial Farmer

Following in the footsteps of Phil Keaggy's Music to Paint By series, Michael Roe and Mark Harmon of the seminal Christian rock band The 77s have signed a multi-album deal with Unison Music. Judging by Daydream, the first album in the series, these records will be jazz-tinged pop instrumentals. This excursion into jazz shouldn't surprise fans of the 77s-- several past songs ("Alone Together," "Flowers in the Sand") have been unashamedly jazz-influenced, and Roe has acknowledged both in words and in solo albums his affections for the genre.

The liner notes state that the album is intended to create "an environment of reflection and meditation," and in that respect, it certainly succeeds. Daydream relaxes the mind (so quietly that you don't even realize what's happening) with warm guitar tones, soft keyboards and sparse percussion. The songs make wonderful background music, be it for the suggested meditation or for other activities. (On the other hand, I wouldn't suggest listening to the album while driving at night…it might put you to sleep!)

Something interesting about Daydream is the fact that Roe, generally thought of as the creative centre of the 77s, participated in the writing of only three of the album's eleven songs. Harmon wrote or co-wrote five of them, and the opening and closing tracks, "Sleepwalk" and "Sleepwalk (Slight Return)" are easily-recognizable hula dance songs. Harmon proves himself to be a more-than-competent writer (and guitarist, keyboardist, and percussionist, for that matter), as his compositions "Amber Waves" and "Dancing Out on the Moonlit Nile" are two of the most enjoyable tracks on the album. Daydream is a must-have for fans of the 77s, as well as for anyone who finds their day too hectic and just needs time to relax. I personally am looking forward to the other albums in this series.
4 out of 5 clocks

The Phantom Tollbooth March 2000
By Lisa Reid

As you might gather from the title, this is an instrumental effort from Mike Roe intended to be relaxing, meditative, thoughtful music aimed at enabling the listener to focus his thoughts, to contemplate what's happening in his life, perhaps to spend time with God. In places this is actually valid, but sometimes the music is distracting rather than relaxing. The CD opens with "Sleepwalk," a tune that sounds familiar but is difficult to place. Roe's take on it comes off a bit cheesier than is probably intended; the drum loops and surf sounds are more likely to cause eye rolls rather than meditation. Later, during "Sailing South From Medicino," Roe hits his stride and gets down to his area of serious talent--electric guitar, with soothing drums and guitar effects showcasing his work. At 7:53, this track makes for a reasonably long period of contemplation, if that's what you're after.

Unfortunately, it can be spotty going from there on out. Some tracks ("Spirits Flying Over Mt.Tamalpais," with acoustic guitar and electric guitar with effects, and "Watching the Sunrise in an Old Raincoat," with gentle percussion and electric guitar) are great as background thinking music, while "Herald the Bud" sounds more like random sounds (notes on piano and guitar plus background sounds) thrown together than actual music. The CD unfortunately ends on the same underachieving note it started on, with a return to the "Sleepwalk" surf sound.

For the most part, this is a good album for relaxing meditation. The bare spots in the tapestry of soothing sounds can be overlooked if need be. Still, considering the source, you might be expecting something very different than what you end up with. You will want to consider listening before buying, even if you're a Mike Roe completist.

2 1/2 clocks out of 5