Album Review of
Connections 38th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Written by Robert Silverstein
July 3, 2022 - 4:24pm EDT
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Recorded live 38 years ago, Connections is a classic example of what happens when two pioneering New Age musicians get together in the studio for an album of improvised and meditative music magic.

Steven Halpern and the late, great Paul Horn weave a hypnotic flow of cosmic sounds, highlighted by a series of five duets featuring their combined musical telepathy. A good example is the album’s lead-off track, “Shared Secrets Revisited”, a mesmerizing duet between the two artists that sets a perfect tone and mood as well as being an appropriate song title that reflects just how effectively these two musicians tuned in to each other and the same music at the same time.

Although the original 10-track, 47-minute LP version was considered state of the art sound-wise, in 1984, it was limited by the evident time constraints of vinyl. The 2022 CD version of Connections: 38th Anniversary Deluxe Edition utilizes modern state of the art sonic restoration technology, creating a 24-bit audiophile album that sounds even better than the original. This 14-track, 68 minute CD edition includes bonus tracks, some with new overdubs and new liner notes by Steven Halpern. These include cool period piece photos of Paul Horn with the Beatles and Donovan in India as well as a 2000 photo taken with Sri Swami Satchidananda, who was a fan of both artists.

The instrumentation throughout Connections is very inspiring. Paul Horn performs on his iconic solid gold flute, which produces an incredibly rich and healing tone. He also plays alto flute, bass flute, soprano sax and Chinese bamboo flute. Keyboardist and producer Steven Halpern orchestrates many magical sounds on a range of keyboards including his signature Rhodes electric piano, grand piano, ambient synths as well as trumpet. Filling out the ensemble tracks and providing sensual rhythmic grooves are Marc Van Wageningen on fretless electric bass, and George Marsh on drum kit, congas and additional percussion.

Among the album highlights is track 3 entitled “Fantasy Flight”. A fascinating work of art inspired by Paul Horn’s recordings made inside the Taj Mahal, in Tibet and with Haida the killer whale, “Fantasy Flight” is entirely improvised in real time. With the help of his looping pedal, the track is a fitting testament to the late artist’s improvisational genius. As producer, Halpern’s magical touch created the uplifting studio ambience that inspired Paul Horn to go where he had never gone before on any of his own solo albums.

This new CD revisits the title track “Connections” and “Shared Secrets” by adding additional textures of angelic choir and atmospheric sonic textures that amplify the energy of the live recording, and which were recorded on the 35th anniversary of their studio date. In the liner notes, Halpern states that he was actually hearing these layers as he was playing live with Horn, but obviously did not have enough hands to do make them audible. Check out “Shared Secrets Revisited” and “Connections Revisited” to hear and feel the difference.

Connections introduced many listeners to New Age music when it was first released. Connections: 38th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is now poised to introduce new generations of new and long-time listeners to this all-time classic, as well as their individual recordings.