Album Review / Ross Ainslie: Vana

My wife loves Ross Ainslie to death. Big time. Really, really big time. If Vana was any weaker an album, I’d be in trouble because I can’t pretend when I write about music.

So I’m totally grateful to Mr. Ainslie for giving the world an hour of music one cannot but love. Relief 😀

In my ears, Vana is both a natural continuation to the amazing Sanctuary and a step away from it. At first listen, the former element came through more but the subsequent sessions have emphasised the subtle but meaningful differences I hear.

The general style is pretty much the same: instrumental music rooted in Celtic but with mucho flavors from jazz, world and prog scenes. And like its predecessor, Vana has no silences between the tracks, making the album essentially a single piece of 13 ”movements”.

But where Sanctuary zigzagged between and across styles and moods from track to track, Vana is a more coherent, flowing and focused work, at least in my experience. The moods and colors change and no tune is like another, but there’s a stronger musical ”narrative”, or thread, here. It’s more like one longer story this time instead of many individual anecdotes.

The second diffence I hear is in the emotion and the atmosphere. Vana sounds totally relaxed and ”mentally unhurried” (for want of a better term). In this respect, it’s much like Hamish Napier’s The Woods that I reviewed just before this one. Both works carry the pulse of the natural world instead of the urban one and it’s wonderful to hear music to effortless, even if much effort has obviously been invested in its creation.

For me, the music on Vana communicates joy and energy but also a more serene happiness, with some more shadowy glens along the way. One can sense life flowing through and in it.

My favorite scenes on this particular audio journey are the elegant Absinthe In Aranya, the busy Cross of Threads with its fab mix of the Celtic and the Oriental and the oh so beautiful Gift of Gods. But, as noted earlier, it’s all about the whole, really. And the whole is as gorgeous and vivid as it is warm and embracing.

It is as things are at their best.


Vana is available as CD and download on Ross Ainslie’s Bandcamp site:

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