Following up on his debut Spotted Peccary release, Heaven and Earth, guitarist / composer John Gregorius returns with STILL VOICE, a poignant and very personal sacred offering of a somewhat darker, orchestrated blend of guitars, strings, voice, and drums, all melodically woven through tapestries of tonal colors and textures. Although abstract in theme and influence, this is predominately an elegantly composed guitar album viewed through a camera obscura, capturing visages of life’s mysteries and faithful beliefs.
Capitalizing on the nuanced performance possibilities of nylon string and melodic fingerstyle picking, championed by the likes of Phil Keaggy and Michael Hedges, Gregorius continues to finesse his own approach to a blend of orchestrated guitar and ambient textural guitar.
The tracks on STILL VOICE choreograph these lush experiences that range from alternating tonal clusters and sonorous chords, over which gentle melodies float, to even moments where gentle ¾ waltzes begin with only guitar and a thin haze of ambient strings, then build into cinematic forever-moments that eventually soften into what can only be described as a cosmic caress. In his comprehensive vision, Gregorius also explores a darker side, with passages of anxious, agitated moods facilitated by driving guitar ostinatos, layers of woodwinds and eastern scales punctuating the intensities, and building tensions finally resolving with brief exhalations of a moment’s reprieve and rest.
Throughout the album STILL VOICE is a sonic liturgy full of wordless spiritual reminders that bring both comfort and illumination. As an artist, Gregorius reflects on his own beliefs to create a foundation for his album. He states: “There’s definitely a spiritual aspect to the music. Silence, simplicity, service, communion, mystery and contemplative thought, are all inspirations for this work. STILL VOICE is the Voice that tells us who we are, beloved and sacred.”
Ultimately, however, it is the simplicity and understated beauty achieved in Gregorius’ pastoral settings that lifts all listeners to a universal plateau where ambient space can be appreciated for its expansive gifts. This album reminds us that there indeed exists a safe harbor of tranquility that we all secretly long to return to, and that we can always find our way back home by heeding the whispering still voice within.