Palancar - Union 


Every so often, smooth jazz fans will give in to their gentle side completely and experiment with new age music.  I’ve done it – sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it’s not been such a satisfying experience.

Darrell Burgan, who uses the name Palancar, released Union, his fourth solo CD in 2001 on the innovative label.  He took classical piano lessons as a child, and certainly that influence is heavily felt on this CD.  Also, much in evidence is his impressive array of synthesizers and effects. As a teenager, he developed an interest in drums and although there are no live drums on the CD, there are some interesting rhythm textures. 

The album has a spiritual direction and this reflects his active participation in church and school choirs through his high school years. 

So, to the music… 

The track titles – Natural, Rejoicing, Eternal and so on to the last track, the spooky Enigmatic - are classic new age tags and I guess they are meant to put you in a particular frame of mind even before the disc is out of its case. 

The moods vary from the slightly sinister electronic rhythm of the opener Natural (which really is anything but natural) to the quite unbelievably corny piano of Playful. 

Rejoicing is written in waltz time and has some nice chimes and piano which does more justice to Palancar’s classical training than some music on this CD. 

When I first heard Offbeat, I wrote “funky church”.  The track kind of makes me smile, but it doesn’t go anywhere. 

There were two tracks that did make me sit up though… 

Sensual starts with a wash of synths and a breathy (sensual?) spoken vocal.  As the rhythm hardens, the track almost begins to sound Herbie Hancock-like.  Almost. 

Enigmatic closes off the album on a classy note.  It’s quite dramatic and the piano is the principal voice.  Again, I go back to my notes from the first listen – I wrote “underwater”.  It would make a superb accompaniment to a film of marine life because the strings are a little chilling whereas the repeating keyboard figure evokes the swell of the ocean. 

See what happens when you listen to too much new age?  You go all poetic. 

For me this is background music.  Still, at a time when there is so much music and media that jangles your nerves, anything that helps you unwind can’t be all bad. 


Ampcast/Palancar Music AMP C8014 – Produced by Palancar

Reviewed by Chris Mann