Before migrating across the ECM continent, Stephan Micus outfitted some of his most formative expeditions in the territories of the JAPO sub-label. On these albums one hears Micus at his most elemental, turning every gesture into inter-spatial awareness. The album’s duration of 36 minutes only serves to deepen its intimacy as a space in which the listener might catch a cushion of meditation in a world of splinters. Micus’s practice has always been to render the stem before the flower, and in the album’s title track a table harp provides that very illustrative function. Its dulcimer-like heart beats a rhythm at once ancient and fresh, curling as the scriptural page, its edges darkened from constant contact with the hands. Those same hands cradle a method of speech so musical that its melody is discernible only in the freedom of solitude.
In early 1990, when she was one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Gloria Estefan suffered a broken vertebrae when her tour bus was struck in an accident, and her miraculous recovery from that near tragedy greatly informed her successive album, Into the Light. Though often noted as a "comeback" album, that descriptor is misleading. Yes, Into the Light is a comeback – a comeback from her accident, that is. It's not a comeback in the sense that her previous album, Cuts Both Ways, had been a failure or even a disappointment. No, Estefan hadn't fallen off, so to speak, with that album. Quite the opposite. It was a monster hit, breaking into the Top Ten and scoring a couple of high-charting ballads: "Don't Wanna Lose You" and "Here We Are." It also marked a drastic shift away from the unabashed dance-pop of her Miami Sound Machine output toward a more respectable adult contemporary appeal. This shift affected not only her image but also her audience as a result, and that shift is even more apparent on Into the Light. In fact, the shift seems complete, as this is full-fledged adult contemporary album with serious themes and toned-down production.