Painting Twilight

Mark Rownd

Painting Twilight


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FINALIST - NAV AWARD - Best Ambient/Space/Electronic Album

About Painting Twilight


1   The First Day

2   Before There Was Rain

3   Earthbody Spiritbody

4   Portrait Of Parting

5   From Somewhere Else

6   At The Edge Of Calm Waters - I

7   Through The Valley Of Shadow

8   Eyes Of Azure

9   At The Edge Of Calm Waters - II

10   A Moment Alone

11   Place Of Grace

12   Storm's Passage

13   Painting Twilight

Drawing on his experience as an abstract painter and his influences from impressionist and expressionist masters, Mark Rownd works his compositions much like art on canvas: he pulls melody and theme forward from background to create depth of field and movement from what might appear still and flat. This sonic palette, so deftly wielded, produces profound vignettes of color and light that transcend many musical boundaries.


Much like its title implies, Rownd's Spotted Peccary debut paints ever-shifting layered tonal colors on a dark canvas of minimalist/impressionist expression. Ambient? Most certainly. Night-music? Absolutely; but in fact this is music that can deliver at a number of levels. The closer one goes, the more one will hear. For several weeks this writer played the disc all night long in repeat mode, the tonal images and abstractions of the albums thirteen vignettes blending and intertwining with the listener's conscious and subconscious states, blending into patterns of sleep and dreams, providing a perfect soundtrack to the night. Yet on closer scrutiny (ie. under headphones, fully conscious) ‘Painting Twilight’ revealed far more detail and subtlety than previously suspected. While created mostly with synthesizers, a very understated use of hand drums and percussion on several of the tracks adds additional depth and detail. The piano and voices on ‘Eyes Of Azure’ and ‘Moment Alone’, and very subtle and intricate sub-themes further contribute to that sense of detail. A strong sense of multi-dimensionalism follows within the musical space where looping waves of tonal color exist in a different plane than the more subdued image details and other asynchronous events, yet through a masterful production no plane obscures any other - every piece of the puzzle can be heard at once if the listener chooses to get that close. Highly recommended on all levels.

- Peter Thelan, Exposé Magazine

The 13 compositions that integrate this album can be described on the whole as Ambient Music, of a Classical character. This is a beautiful work, based on the synthesizers, that leads the listener to think of wide, pure, natural spaces. There are themes that sound mysterious, sinister, like for instance ‘Through the Valley of Shadow’.A certain romantic air is present in others, as for instance ‘A moment alone’, where Rownd performs a peaceful solo of piano.

- E. Kolger, Amazing Sounds

This is a very calm and soothing album. Rownd truly paints aural visions with combinations of digital synth textures and ethnic percussion that suggest glorious sunset vistas. Don't expect anything real intense or chop heavy here, although nuance can be just as effective as virtuosic displays depending on what moods you wish to communicate.

Sound quality is excellent, as this CD features 20-bit sound mapping for high-definition sonics. This is the best kind of ‘easy listening’ music, as it can be soothing and eloquent without coming across as overly sweet or schmaltzy. This one is recommended.

- Paul Williams, Progression Magazine (issue 28)

Lately when things get hectic at the office, I've been putting on this ambient new age CD. It drew an informal endorsement from ‘Guitar Player’ editor Michael Molinda, who wandered in and said, ‘What are you listening to?’ Not much happens - no melodic themes or chord progressions, just a rich texture animated here and there by shaker tracks. The sound palette is refreshingly organic without being pretentious, that's the main thing.

- Jim Aikin, Keyboard Magazine

The title of this 1998-release on the ambitious, high-quality label Spotted Peccary, pretty well describes the overall atmosphere and feel of the music.
The type of music covered on ‘Painting Twilight’ (the second album by Los Angeles-based musician Mark Rownd) is ‘tribal ambient-space music’, for which an assortment of percussive instruments was used to shape the light poly-rhythmic sonic structures next to various synths.

The introspective, very nicely rendered soundtextures show traces of the music of Jeff Pearce, Steve Roach, Tim Story and even Brian Eno, making things slow down easily.

To me, the nine minute ‘Eyes of Azure’, featuring some beautiful ethereal female vocals, sure is the highlight of the album.

All in all, the well produced and mastered sonic content of ‘Painting Twilight’ is a perfect relaxation companion when watching the sky turn into multiple colours and shapes as the sun works its magic.
Nice going, Mark!

- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion

I've pencilled a new word into my dictionary, right between ‘obloquy’ and ‘obnoxious’... it's ‘Obmana-like’, an adjective meaning ‘showing a marked similarity to the ambient musical sound and style of Vidna Obmana’. Besides increasing one's vocabulary, Painting Twilight offers a really nice way to relax one's ears, mind and spirit.

Some tracks are notably reminiscent of the esteemed Belgian's works, particularly those utilizing primitive percussion. the first day is the short (1:36) opener. Slowly pulsing shimmers are decorated with slow beats and occasional shakers, sounding quite Obmana-like. before there was rain builds from drifting layers of synth choir, sans percussion, then fades away... The shaker-rhythm of earthbody spiritbody definitely echoes the Obmana sound, and accompanies a densely welling stream from which leaps a recurring flutey pattern.

Brassy tones blend together to paint a portrait of parting , which results in a smoothly flowing drone... like a liquified orchestra. More spacious, wafting tones rise from somewhere else, a place where veils of assorted translucency percolate. at the edge of calm waters - I fades in on whispy tendrils of sound, evocative of tranquil mists.

Not surprisingly, through the valley of shadow is a detour into, then out of, a darker zone. Hollow winds blow ominously, but warmer rays of synth shine in to lighten the latter movement. eyes of azure ebbs and flows with more percussive elements that call VO to mind, though not as intricate. Like its first part, at the edge of calm waters - II rises and falls in a lush atmosphere that truly evokes a tangibly sensual humidity.

The piano dominates (though wistfully) a moment alone ; the moody, elegant keyboard duet is joined and briefly outlasted by a slight electronic haze. place of grace swelters and swirls like some magical wonderland... subtle wind and frog sounds add a strong outdoorsy feel. storm's passage is another short piece which, suitably, features some hollow winds and runbles.

Saving the longest (13:40) piece for last, painting twilight fades in on rising choral waves. Windswept tones are discernible between the strengthening sonic drifts, phasing in and out beatlessly (and frankly, somewhat repetitiously).

Except for the title track, many of the pieces seem too short (eight are less than 3-minutes-long), but all in all, Painting Twilight is a fine example of the alluring soundworlds that can be created by combining varying dosages of lushly-rendered modern electronics with ancient instruments.

- Ambientrance

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