Dr. David Mingyue Liang’s Dialogue With The Ocean merges deep ethnomusicologist study with floating, electronic minimalism to for a watery kind of meditative ambient music. With one foot deep in Chinese folk music and another in modern experimental composition, David Mingyue Liang creates something that sounds less like the “Chinese Meditation Music” envisioned by his Tao record label, and more like contemporary ambient or fourth world music. Exploratory, highly melodic, and seriously mysterious sounding, a Dialogue With The Ocean is gorgeous stuff for those who can appreciate a really different kind of “floating” music.
Originally from China, David Mingyue Liang attended and pursued a doctorate ethnomusicology degree (with an emphasis on Chinese music) at the University of Cal. Well versed in the guqin, erhu, bamboo flute, glockenspiel, and waterphone, David would later go on and contribute his playing to records by New Age masters like Paul Horn or on stage with orchestras from Vancouver or San Francisco. Compositions written for these orchestras, that had a distinct sensibility – weightless, experimental, and droning – allowed him to conjure up this debut record, a dialog of his homeland’s traditional music meeting all sorts of modern sonics that could reshape it in a different light.
The only failure of time is that there’s hardly much information out there about David himself. His next two releases Dream Of The Butterfly, and his collaboration with Terry Riley (In C · Music Of A Thousand Springs · Zen (Ch’an) Of Water) seems to put him firmly in the more exploratory side of New Age music. However, what’s striking about Dialogue With The Ocean is how musical it is. There’s just so much on it that really keeps you engaged. The closest kin to this kind of music would be Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Surround an album with a similarly refreshing, musical production. You can mellow out with something like “Moon Dance” or the title cut, but you can also just as well meditate to it, reassess the world a bit in it, or just enjoy it, en plain air, appreciating how stunningly emotional it can be. What’s a wonder to me is that a phenomenal record like this remains entirely slept on. There are still ideas out there worth your time, what else can I say?