KYOTO JOURNAL: “…gives the listener breathing room, allowing the mind to let go as it drifts with the gentle melodies… he is familiar with the actual gardens so you can hear birdsong give way to dripping rain off the roof of Enryaku-ji; the percussive clack and clink of metal meeting stone at Ryoan-ji; insects crawling along moss as Saiho-ji awakes; the ringing of the great bell at Myoshin-ji evokes the black clad monks shuffling barefoot along wooden floors on a winter’s night..listeners will find themselves returning often seeking the quiet the music instills”…
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: “This 2003 release is like a lot of traditional Japanese shakuhachi and koto music, Matthews’ electronica is as haunting as it is calm and peaceful. Zen Gardens offers a blend of synthesizer programming and acoustic instruments This is definitely a high-tech CD, but for Matthews, high-tech doesn’t mean excluding the shakuhachi, bells, wind chimes, and other instruments one associates with traditional Japanese music. Although not performed with Japanese purists in mind, Zen Gardens will easily appeal to those who are open to the idea of experimental ambient/Asian hybrids”…Alex Henderson
This is an album of impressionistic synth compositions, “music inspired by the temples and gardens of Kyoto.” Fans of Steven Reich, later Tangerine Dream and Kitaro will appreciate these compositions of Wall Matthews. Several duotones decorating the CD picture render the well-tended gardens, picturesque brooks and stylistically furrowed sand that should come to mind when listening. Multi-instrumentalist Wall Matthews is known for his abilities in African percussion, as well as guitar and piano. While the mood here is distinctly Oriental and not African, there is a gently percussive quality that imbues a sense of rolling motion to the pieces. Matthews also composed dance scores for ballet companies and these pieces are evocative of the stage motions that make for effective choreography.