Valerie Mih
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Valerie Mih

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"Meridians - "Spectacular""

The titular track starts off “Meridians”, and despite the fact that the piano is the key element to the track, the addition of atmospheric elements to the track is what makes the composition into something spectacular. Mih does not need anything in the way of vocals to tell a narrative, ensuring that listeners are taken for a journey throughout each of “Meridians” 9 tracks. The types of genres and styles that Mih approaches during this CD is impressive, moving from atmospheric to a Tori Amos meets Ani DiFranco type of approach within the space of two tracks.

The more complex arrangements that are presented to listeners during “Flow” further expands the range of “Meridians”; rather than have any idea where Mih will go in the tracks to follow, listeners have to wonder where exactly Mih will take them. It is this sense of whimsy and wonder that fuels “Meridians” with the energy that it needs to keep listeners focused in on this disc. “Saturn’s Rings” is a slower, more deliberate track than anything that had previously been heard on “Meridians”. It is this slow and deliberate style that sets the track as a diametric opposite to “Flow”. Despite the differences that the two tracks may have, there is a common thread that unites the two songs (and by extension, the entirety of tracks on “Meridians”: for the nine cuts here, there is a complexity that requires listeners to focus into “Meridians” and dissect the disc.

“Autumn” really acts as the uniting track between the poles of slow and deliberate and quick and intense: with this track, the two distinct styles previously heard during “Meridians” come forth and play, interacting with each other in a track that is perhaps the best on the disc. Mih may have debuted last year with her “Sacred Sound”, but the compositions that are commonplace on “Meridians” sound as if they were composed by someone that has been releasing albums for decades. There is a tremendous amount of possibility for Mih in the years to come, and I believe that she has shown listeners a brilliant glimpse of what is to come through the whole of “Meridians”. Make it a point to pick up “Meridians”, see Mih at any places that she may be performing, and get in on the ground floor.

Valerie Mih – Meridians / 2008 Self / 9 Tracks / / - NeuFutur Magazine

"Meridians - "One of the standout piano recordings of 2008""

This is pianist Valerie Mih's second release and, put simply, "Meridians" is one of the standout piano recordings of 2008. With how many CDs in that genre see the light of day yearly, that's a strong statement. Beyond her musical artistry, Mih also distinguishes herself by her interesting choice of accordion as one of the primary accompanying instruments on selected songs, e.g. the opening title track. You probably can't imagine how an accordion can be integrated into a somber and slightly melancholic piano number and have it come across as not just appropriate but wholly unpretentious and not the least bit precious, yet Mih carries this feat off with ease. As the accordion is folded gently in over the piano refrain (as well as the artist's haunting wordless vocals and sparse application of synth bell tones), the overall evocation for me was of walking through Paris at night, a light mist falling, and my mind recalling what it was like to be in love the last time I visited there. Yeah, it's that strong a feeling for me.

Throughout "Meridians," Mih displays her affinity for her dual background in improvisational jazz as well as classical piano. This music is more complex than standard new age piano usually is, yet should still prove accessible for your "average fan." There is a rare depth, both an emotional underpinning and a richer aspect to the artist's actual talent and technique, at work here, regardless of the tone or mood of any particular track. On the emotional resonance scale, I'd place the CD somewhere between "reflective" and "moody" with occasional bouts of energy tied to less cheerful emotions. The quick tempo on 'Flow' conveys the titular reference of water coursing over a river bed, but couched in minor key notes, especially in the lower register. 'Little One' has a playful element to it, but once again with a notably less "happy" subtext. 'Interwoven,' yet another "fast" piece, carries a strong classical influence, featuring delicate interplay between a repeated circular refrain and passionate soloing, with Mih displaying exceptional technique at her piano's upper register. She avoids sounding shrill which many other artists fall victim to when they reach this high. The textural synths in the background lend a layer of gravitas and a cinematic feel. The effect of all these components on the track is of one being in a hurry, racing against time toward some goal, either literally or figuratively, and feeling sorely pressed by some possible consequence.

Things slow down considerably on the impressionistic/minimalist piece 'Saturn's Rings' which again features accordion, this time in a sparser and less specifically evocative fashion, instead fleshing out the piano indirectly. Bass synth beats are dropped in here and there, another nice touch that! 'Autumn' has Mih going to the piano's lower register for dramatic "oomph" while the track's main "melody" (which sometimes hints at dissonance in a pleasant way) is carried by her middle and upper register playing. Wordless vocals and accordion are once again part of the picture on the closing 'Circular Dreaming,' a great closing number that balances warm beauty with gentle melancholy all within a moderately slow time signature.

I'd like to make a comparative statement about Valerie Mih for the sake of readers who need such a thing, i.e. "her music sounds like so-and-so" but Mih is an original, presenting a fresh and unique (but always inviting) musical vision on "Meridians." For clarification's sake, I can state that her playing is more in the impressionist arena than it is a structured/new age "pop" approach, if that's any help. However, both her compositions themselves and her creative use of the other instruments present on the CD are what mark her as someone apart from the norm. She is definitely someone to pick up on if you want to hear one of the rising stars in this genre. Highly recommended.

Rating: Very Good + | 4.5 stars out of 5

Reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 1/7/2009 - New Age Reporter

"Meridians - "Part story and part dream""

Valerie Mih is a musician's musician. The Pullman, Washington native spends time on both coasts; well known in both the San Francisco and New York City scenes as a solo performer, ensemble player, classical and jazz pianist, and practitioner of the healing arts. Mih blends elements of classical, jazz and new age into a musical tapestry that is part story and part dream. Her second album, "Meridians," mixes four solo piano pieces with five multi-textured sound experiments to provide an ambient space for musical enjoyment, relaxation and perhaps even healing. With a virtuoso reputation and influences as diverse as Brian Eno, McCoy Tyner, Steve Reich, Monk and John Coltrane, you know it's got to be at least interesting.

I've heard a ton of CDs that fall into the new age/easy listening category that purport to be healing or instructive in some way, and it's the rare disk that doesn't disqualify its own claims. Valerie Mih's "Meridians" hasn't proved its healing qualities, but does nothing in the course of its thirty-nine minutes to make you think otherwise. What's most striking about Mih's music is the sense of movement. Classical-style piano pieces that are ambient in nature give the feel of the push and pull you might find on a body of water. This is not musical drifting in the sense of purely ambient fluff, but more like the deep and mystifying currents running beneath a wide river. There is no inertial violence here, just the relentlessly obstinate pull of the current.

Mih tells stories in the course of this flow, although they are perhaps too subliminal to be heard by the ear. Meridians is refreshing the way a good swim is on a hot day. Themes come and go throughout the album but do not crash about. New ideas seem to suggest themselves into your consciousness before they arrive. Highlights include 'Little One,' 'Saturn's Rings,' 'Flow' and 'Interwoven.'

Valerie Mih creates some magic on "Meridians." The music flows like time flows around us. Never pushing too hard but always pushing, pulling and cajoling us to where we need to be. Valerie Mih provides us with a Master Class in the ability of a classical/new age musician with a tendency toward ambience can still find art and nuance and beauty within the subtle fabric of her song. - Wildy's World Review

"Meridians - "Perfect midground between modern chamber recital and ambient""

One of my favorite introspective keyboard CDs is Philip Glass' "Solo Piano," and the opening to Valerie Mih's "Meridians" immediately brought that to mind, crossed with Mark Egan's more thoughtful work and a bit of Lyle Mays' background washes and tones for Pat Metheny. Mih favors serial patterns atop gestural matrices that prefer subtly enhancing the declensions, minor keys, and general pensive wistfulness of each cut. Her work is, in fact, a perfect midground between what New Age should be, modern chamber recital, and ambient.

Imbued with far more spirit than, say, Tim Story's output, cleaving closer to Wim Wenders' marvelous explorations in similar vein, Mih demonstrates a maturity in her work that requires discretion and an airily sculptural sense of nuance, especially in pieces like 'Interwoven' with its latticed structure and polyrhythms progressing amid peripheral ornamentalia stretching portions of the composition into almost covertly intriguing territory. Certainly, the level of temperament and free-flowing sensuality ace Suzanne Ciani, Liz Story, and the women who could never shake all that overt commerciality out of their tunesmithing.

The choice of occasional accordion is almost strange, especially in 'Saturn's Rings,' like Ennio Morricone meets Eleni Karaindrou with a smidge of Astor Piazzola in his cups. The instrument broadens "Meridians" palette appreciably, endowing a more ECM-ish flavor to the collection. The predominant vibe, though, is meditative, and the closing cut, 'Circular Dreaming' is almost like a denouement into the kind of sparse end-of-Fall feel that Ralph Towner hit with Oregon every so often.

- Reviewed by Mark S. Tucker - Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange


Meridians (2008) - Composed and performed by Valerie Mih

"The types of genres and styles that Valerie Mih approaches during this CD is impressive, moving from atmospheric to a Tori Amos meets Ani DiFranco type of approach within the space of two tracks..." - Neufutur Magazine

"Valerie has the ability to take you on a sojourn to a far away and peaceful place in your mind with her wistful and thoughtful compositions. This music will tranport you." - Chris Cortez, Host of Midday Jazz, 91.1 KCSM FM

Sacred Sound (2007) - Composed and performed by Valerie Mih

"Pianist Valerie Mih has an appealing Tyner-esque approach, lyrical one minute, brittle the next..." - San Jose Mercury News



"This is pianist Valerie Mih's second release and, put simply, 'Meridians' is one of the standout piano recordings of 2008. With how many CDs in that genre see the light of day yearly, that's a strong statement. ...There is a rare depth, both an emotional underpinning and a richer aspect to the artist's actual talent and technique, at work here..." - Bill Binkelman, New Age Reporter

Mixing ambient electronics, jazz-inspired improvisation and classical nuance, Valerie Mih creates captivating and emotional musical soundscapes. Equally comfortable in the recording studio or stage, she demonstrates a wide performance flexibility as a composer, soloist and bandleader.

Her latest release, "Meridians," reflects her desire to create a healing musical environment for listeners, while delivery a compelling emotional arc within the album as well. She aims to take listeners on an auditory journey that brings them back to a centered and sensitive place within.

Valerie grew up in a musically-oriented family that supported her development in classical and jazz piano. She naturally gravitated towards composers who blended classical with ambient sounds (such as Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Philip Glass) and jazz piano masters like McCoy Tyner, Thelonius Monk, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Danilo Perez and Eliane Elias.

With her energetic and committed performance style, she has wowed audiences at major music festivals and venues including the Vision Festival New York, San Francisco Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, Bach Dynamite Society and Yoshi's Jazz Club.

"The compositions that are commonplace on Valerie Mih's new album 'Meridians' sound as if they were composed by someone that has been releasing albums for decades. Make it a point to pick up 'Meridians,' see her at any places that she may be performing, and get in on the ground floor." - NeuFutur Magazine