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Don’t believe I’ve heard heavy stratocaster-type guitar like Fred plays here in quite some time…maybe that’s ‘coz my mind hasn’t been exactly where the angels are. The supreme swirling atmospherics (at about the 3:00 mark) on “Big Sur” will definitely “do it” for you – very nice sonics that have a decidedly angelic pitch to them. There are some very beautiful blends and mixtures on “Moraga Raga“, too… quite tasty morsels indeed. It was the haunting percussion and cymbal work behind guitars on the 4:24 “Dawndancer” that easily won my vote for favorite of the nine pieces on the CD – he has a wonderful talent for creating different moods for you! A very pleasant listen that jazz guitar lovers will find very lasting. I give Fred a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.

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New Age Music -John P. Olsen

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If you have ever heard the facts about our universe that there are over 1 billion galaxies other than our own, and there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on every shore, then you know these truths about our universe make the interstellar space above us seem infinite and hard to envision.


Fred Thrane from Sandpoint Idaho has incorporated those fact based linear notes on the inside CD cover of his debut album Angels of the Sun, but in a related topic much closer to home and easier to picture is the like a grain of sand approach in which he composed and launched his first instrumental album. Presenting his exclusive talents on CD for his first official introduction, Angels of the Sun yields an expansive diversity in what you would expect to hear on a debut album, so it is a release that can be appreciated by a variety of people.


Angels of the Sun features diverse styles ranging from New Age, Flamenco and Contemporary, which likewise ascertain his aptitude as an accomplished guitarist of various styles. Relying on his strong background as both a student and music educator, I thought Fred Thrane has released a wonderful first album. Everything began when he picked up the guitar for the first time during his teen years studying Classical and Flamenco guitar.


The next phase of his education was Classical Guitar instruction during college years at UC Santa Barbra. Fred later transferred to Cal State Hayward, where he majored in guitar and earned a master’s degree in music, with a specialty in Classical Guitar. For the next 5 years he took lessons from distinguished guitarist Rey de la Torre. Fred Thrane then reached a turning point when he began his teaching career as Professor of Music at San Jose State University and Foothill College while educating students in Classical Guitar. It was during this time period he had composed some of the melodies for this release.


Angels of the Sun features 9 engaging songs, and brings with it the foresight and experience of a music professional that has devoted much of his life acquiring the skills needed to produce an album which is singular in its existence yet further reaching in its appeal among many.


Dennis Murphy and Jim Norris are two performers who provide accompaniment on this release. While Denis plays bass and Jim contributes the variety of percussion parts, both complement the nucleus of Fred’s composition by magnifying his melodic theme, and then adding a good measure of vibrant harmony of their own.


The more extravagant Flamenco styled songs Big Sur, Fandango in Four, Farruca & Moraga Raga were my favorites. Like most songs on this instrumental album, you will find they are quite lively and up-tempo with great percussion enhancements which are in harmony with the energetic atmosphere one would expect to hear on Flamenco music. The Title Song, Dawn Dancer & The Third Heaven are more serene in tempo and rhythm, but they too are engaging and consistent in theme.


Finding a forte in blending New Age, Flamenco and Classical styles into a single orchestration, Fred Thrane is a music professional who shines on his first release by his diverse experience as a guitarist. More than capable of arranging a select number of music influences into a single improvisation of wonder, I can see where Angels of the Sun will please a wide variety of musical tastes. In the end, this makes his first release seem more like a universal commodity.

Michael Diamond |

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“Angels Of The Sun” by guitarist Fred Thrane (a Norwegian name pronounced “Trana”) is a multi-faceted offering that reflects various aspects of his musical persona. His six-string sojourn began when he started lessons at the age of 17 and he received a flash of inspiration upon hearing Andres Segovia playing Granados’ “Spanish Dance #5.” That style and sound became a beacon, which illuminated his way through many years of formal study culminating in a master’s degree in music with a specialty in classical guitar from Cal State University. In addition to his classroom studies, he also took private guitar lessons. As happens, the student becomes the teacher and Fred eventually became a Professor of Music at San Jose State University and Foothill College teaching classical guitar. Although he charted this course for seven years, a career detour led him in another direction and he took a fifteen-year sabbatical from music. This album heralds his return to playing, improvising, and composing and is his first CD release.


With regard to the aforementioned multi-faceted nature of Fred’s music, “Angels Of The Sun” showcases his playing style across various genres, most notably new age, classical, and flamenco –distinctly different styles. Given the diversity of his music, it is hard to give a generalized overview, so a more in-depth examination of individual songs is in order. The album opens with the title track, a new age style piece set to a mid-tempo beat accompanied by Dennis Murphy on bass and Jim Norris on percussion. This rhythm section is featured on almost all of the songs on the CD and adds nice support, enhancing and propelling the compositions. Worth mentioning is the distinctive tone that Fred gets from his steel string and nylon string SoloEtte guitars – very unconventional looking instruments, which can be seen in a photo that accompanies this review. Although he owns an expensive custom made classical guitar, Fred is most at home with these unique instruments, originally created as travel guitars, of which he has four. The tone is further augmented by the use of digital effects such as reverb, delay, and chorus.

The next two songs on the album, “Big Sur” and “Dawndancer” continue in a jazzy ambient groove. However, as much as new age music is “my thing” personally, it is on some of the subsequent tracks with their Latin and flamenco influence, where I feel Fred really shines the most. As soon as “Fandango In Four” kicks in, he exhibits a command of the instrument and a take-charge attitude that felt assured and confident. The mood continues into the next track, “Farruca” with hand claps lending an air of authenticity and making it easy to envision a passionate flamenco dancer entranced by the beat. Following that is “Moraga Raga,” perhaps my favorite track on the album, with its breezy cruising down the road feel. I particularly liked how the song evolved into a more spacious mode in the later section. On the next song Fred steps into the solo spotlight on a beautiful Spanish-flavored classical guitar piece entitled “Soleares,”


The next to the last track, “The Third Heaven,” returns to the more new age-influenced style, and is perhaps the most ambient on the album, featuring gentle guitar work highlighted by washes of cymbal and other light percussive touches. Bringing the CD to a peaceful conclusion is the interestingly named “Cowgirls And Ice Cream,” which bookends the album with Fred’s more mellow sound and the most upbeat tunes in the middle. While the diversity of this recording might leave radio programmers in question on how to classify it, it is interesting to hear such a well-educated guitarist expressing his talent in multiple genres – an ambitious debut release!

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It is a given fact that the guitar is the king of instruments - its lineage is long and the basic instrument has split into so many types and subtypes, creating a world of different sounds. You get some hint of that on guitarist Fred Thrane's new album, Angels Of The Sun. I think I am hearing a classical-type guitar throughout the album, but with effects pedals and digital time delay treatments the guitar sounds become ethereal and out of this world on most of the tracks. While the album embraces many different styles throughout its length, there is a strong ambient spatiality running throughout. A strong sense of being outside of time. Mr Thrane plays beautifully and one can only wonder at the magic in his fingers. In my dim and dark youth I tried to learn to play the guitar and failed miserably, so I am in awe of those who can multi-task with their fingers. Supported by Dennis Murphy on bass and Jim Norris on percussion, this is quite an intimate album, with the musicians sounding as if they are there right in front of you, between the loudspeakers. The nine tracks were all written by Mr Thrane and the titles are: Angels Of The Sun, Big Sur, Dawndancer, Fandango In Four, Farruca, Moraga Raga, Soleares, The Third Heaven, and Cowgirls And Ice Cream. In summary then, Angels Of The Sun is an excellent album, rich in texture, atmosphere, and musicality.


Highly recommended.



Review from Serge Kozlovsky |

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What music can attract the listener’s interest? It is not only melody and it is evidently not only skilful performing. Both these qualities are very important though. But the other very significant character are the emotions which the artist experiences and shares with the audience. His internal state and the purity of the musician’s intentions have a great sense.


When we listen to the project “Angels of the Sun” by Fred Thrane one can feel the deepest joy the artist plays his sparkling guitar music with. Fred Thrane’s playing carries the listener into the world of love and passion where one wants to forget everyday sorrows and be with your real feelings which come from the innermost depths of your heart.


Fred Thrane is a renowned artist. He received a master’s degree in music with a specialty of classical guitar from Cal State Hayward and then was able to secure a position as Professor of Music at San Jose State University and Foothill College. Love for guitar music led Fred Thrane for many years, even when he left the instrument and went into the business world. After 15 long years the artist returned to the guitar and he immensely enjoys playing his music again.


The album “Angels of the Sun” is beautifully composed and it is filled with vivid improvisation. This masterful release will be a true gift for any guitar music lover.


RajMan Reviews, Sunday, June 26, 2011

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CD Review – Angels of the Sun, by Fred Thrane


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The debut album by former classical guitar professor Fred Thrane (pronounced Trana) belies any perceived notion of stuffiness that might be associated with academe and is instead a sonically rich, cosmic affair.

Backed by Dennis Murphy’s subtle but dynamic bass lines and Jim Norris’s exotic percussion, Thrane unleashes a spectrum of ethereal sounds from his nylon- and steel-string guitars, the signal output of which is processed heavily with lots of chorus, reverb, echo, and delay. The result is a sound that is very much in keeping with the interstellar artwork on the simple but elegant CD digipak. In fact, Thrane’s tones are so luminescent and otherworldly that the music could truly be called space jazz.

Thrane does showcase his more Earthbound classical and flamenco flourishes on the traditional-style tracks “Fandango in Four” and “Farruca,” which also have a bit of a Middle Eastern flavor to them. However, it’s the overall spacey sound of the rest of the album, especially the New Age reverie of “Dawndancer” and the jazz fusion exploration of “Moraga Raga,” that really sets Thrane’s compositions and performances apart from the pack.

Thrane’s masterful command of his instrument and his bold audacity in defying the conventional expectations of traditional nylon-string guitar make this a musical odyssey worth embarking upon.

--Raj Manoharan


Kathy Parsons,

Angels of the Sun is an eclectic guitar debut by former music professor Fred Thrane (pronounced Trana). Ranging from rock stylings to ambient, classical, and Spanish, Thrane is accompanied on some of the tracks by Dennis Murphy on bass and Jim Norris on percussion. The cover artwork is a photo from the Hubble Telescope of Crescent Nebula, and the back cover is “Ghostly Reflections in the Pleiades,” also from the Hubble Telescope. The inside liner notes give “Some Facts About Our Universe,” so what does that have to do with guitar music? I was a little puzzled until I popped the CD into my player and started hearing otherworldly sounds created by reverb and other effects. Those effects are not on all of the tracks, but where they appear, a very different guitar listening experience is interspersed with the more traditional approaches of the other tracks. If you are looking for a quiet, melodic, homogenized guitar CD for background music, this one might not do it for you, but the more adventurous listener looking for something very different should check this one out.


Angels of the Sun begins with the title track, a slow and sometimes ethereal piece that seems to be rooted in prog rock as well as more contemporary ambient guitar. Reverb gives the guitar a spacey, floating feel and sets the mood of the album. “Big Sur” begins with a folk guitar style with subtle percussion, but as it evolves, it becomes much more abstract and electronic. “Fandango in Four” swings us back around to a more traditional classical guitar with rapid hand clapping in the background to propel it forward. “Farruca” continues in a Spanish style that includes traditional castanets and clapping. “Moraga Raga” has a bright, sunny attitude and a gentle but compelling energy. “Soleares” is solo classical guitar - passionate and colorful. As its title suggests, “The Third Heaven” returns us to the floating ethereal sounds we began with, with an even more atmospheric ambience. I don’t know what it means, but I love the title of the closing track: “Cowgirls and Ice Cream”! I expected this one to be upbeat and whimsical, but it’s actually a graceful slow ballad that could be a love song.


As you can see, Angels of the Sun is something of a sampler of Fred Thrane’s varied composing styles and is quite an interesting exploration. The CD is available from, Amazon, and CD Baby.


Kathy Parsons