Like a sculptor chiseling stone or molding clay, musician Holland Phillips grabs a bunch of synthesizers and wrings a broad, wide palette of sounds out of them -- cello or bassoon one moment, and French horns or a drum kit the next. His DAYDREAM ALLEY album is a slightly-different-sounding blend of styles within the new age genre.

Even though Phillips creates all of the music using a wide array of keyboards and synthesizers (both modern and others from decades past), he realistically captures the sounds of many different band and orchestral instruments. According to his background materials, one way he does this is by learning to play the real instruments first so he knows the range, limitations and capabilities of each one (although he admits he does not spend the time to become extremely proficient on them before moving back to his synthesizer -- he just wants to get a feel for each actual instrument so he can make the synthesized version sound more realistic).

I enjoyed the wave-pulse sound of the track “Serendipity.” Three of the pieces are neo-classical and have no drums: “Etude in D Minor,” “Two Pianos” and “Reflexions.” The other nine original compositions include a full drum kit sound, but not prominent in the mix (after all, this IS new age music). If you enjoy new age music, but are just a bit tired of solo piano, world-flavored ditties or ambient drone, give this one a listen for something full-bodied and enjoyable.