September 19, 2016

Instrumental New Age/Classical Review: Kevin Kern-When I Remember

Release Date: September 9, 2016
Label: Kevin Kern Music
People that are given obstacles in life either give in and give up to them or use that as motivation to push forward and become successful in spite of it. Kevin Kern took the positive path and used music as his voice of expression. Kevin has poor eyesight but judging by what this album titled When I Remember sounds like, that is not a disability.

The artist is influenced by Mozart, Chopin and Bach, all the great composers. He gained his tools by learning pieces by these legendary musicians when he was young. This is what and when he remembers as the title suggests (at least that is my interpretation). The tracks mirror that foundation in the most elegant and beautiful way.

I have heard countless standalone piano recordings this year and there is something about the simplicity and peacefulness it can bring to a listener that has intrigued me and given me the desire to accept it with an open heart and mind.

One track seamlessly flows into the next offering a road to renewal. The ivory keys deliver a touch of heaven to your senses. For my listening experience it is a threefold process…sound, color and spirit. All three elements combine to ease my mind and soul and give me the comfort I seek at the end of each day.

Because of the way each song connected to the next with different variations in tempo and approach I found it very difficult to pull out a few tracks that really stood out. This is not to downplay the recording but it is quite the opposite, it is actually complimenting the artist on his consistency and approach from start to finish.

It is music like this that always seems to come to me at the right time day or night, it is a gift from the gifted. Kevin Kern is an enlightened spirit with the gift of music inside and he offers an audience his translation through his talented fingers and energy. 

When I Remember is musical perfection that heals and offers so much if one can focus long enough to stop and listen. I think that practice of stopping and listening could really be helpful in everyone’s daily life in these tumultuous times we live in. Thank god for musicians transporting the universal language of love and joy through music and that is exactly what Mr. Kern does on this recording.

4/5 Stars
 
Key Tracks: ALL

Tracks:

 01. We Should Waltz
02. Once Upon a Time
03. Say You Love Me
04. Chance Encounter
05. Dreaming of Home
06. When I Remember
07. Rise and Shine
08. By My Side
09. Off to the Races (For Grampa Norm)
10. Chopin’s Touch
11. A Walk in the Sun
12. A Lonely Heart



Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 19, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews
 

September 14, 2016

Instrumental New Age Review: Genevieve Walker-Walking Home

Release Date: January 2016
Label: Independent
Walking Home is produced by Chris Gartner and features Genevieve Walker on violin, viola, guitar, and piano. It is her debut recording after spending years on the international stage with other acclaimed musicians such as Krishna Das.

The music is referenced as minimalist which I can agree with however the combination of instruments creates beautiful soundscapes. The atmospheres are inviting and bring you a sense of calm and peace within.

The cover of the CD can project many images for the listener. It looks simple enough with the artist on a dirt road holding her instrument (walking home?). The orientation to Walking Home could be your own road in life or home and then it could be a physical or spiritual place held deep within your soul. I think for the most part the human race is so caught up in their daily lives and events happening around them that we tend to forget our place and from whence we came. It gets more difficult to find that place of enlightenment and recharging we so desperately need sometimes. This music brings things back to basics.

I found “Embryonic Voyage” to be very interesting. It is very rhythmic in nature and something as simple as the snapping of fingers changes the entire song. Simplicity rules yet it manages to get your attention while still making the track seem more every day without complexities. These are things we all need to hear after a busy day. The little things in life can make a difference. If you experience the voyage within the song and look at what the word embryonic indicates, it totally makes sense. It is a start, a beginning that leads to something more.


“Falling” offers the beauty of emotion even if there is sadness. The music paints the colors of drama and the aching heart as it falls to the bottom of your stomach. Even so the music certainly carries hope and the awesome beauty of it shows the light shining at the end of a journey, like a beacon brightly leading the way.

The emotion of this music is apparent at every turn. It really could be an effective soundtrack for the right movie or serve as a guide post for your soul to align with your thoughts and bring clarity. It is all instrumental so the absence of words allows for complete focus and reflection hence bringing a renewal to your spirit.

“Mountain Refuge” is the important closing number. As you picture a place where you can go to find your peace it’s not hard to imagine. A place like Tibet where the Dali Lama and his followers learn to become one with their creator came to mind quickly. The beginning and end of the track has the echoing voice of those chanting to find their focus and connection to a higher power. It is a beautiful way to close out the recording but once you think it’s over the laughter of a child comes in to remind you of that innocence we all once had and how it can be easily recalled with the right attitude and music. 

I found all of the musical multitasking of the artist quite impressive. Genevieve Walker has a great start to a solo career with Walking Home there is no doubt about that. Take a walk with her, you never know what you may discover.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Embryonic Voyage, Falling, Mountain Refuge


Tracks:

1. Still Meadow
2. Walking Home
3. Train North
4. Wisdom Lake
5. Embryonic Voyage    
6. Cicadas and Light    
7. Falling
8. Sweep
9. Mountain Refuge 
 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 14, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

September 9, 2016

Progressive Instrumental/Ambient Review: Trevor Gordon Hall-Late Night with Headphones Vol. 1

Release Date: August 1, 2016
Label: Independent
Trevor Gordon Hall is a prolific guitarist.  His legacy will continue to grow long after the release of Late Night with Headphones Vol. 1.  His sound reminds me fondly of some of the California Guitar Trio’s work I used to enjoy so much. The variety of sounds and tones afforded the listener make this recording a real keepsake.

“Roots and Branches” is quite a finger picking workout. The sound has a definite jazz flavor to it and is very progressive, shifting and changing every few minutes. The title of the track is a perfect explanation of where the song goes from beginning to end. The focus is the ever changing progression of chords presented by the artist.

“The Comfort of Doubt” is a fast moving track, the drums kick it in to push it all along right from the start. What I can picture in my mind’s eye is a train rolling down the tracks and finally reaching its destination. The slide work is a thing of beauty and the lightning fast fingers of Trevor keep it going nonstop. It sounds like a real country barn burner that gets you in a very uplifting mood even though the subject is about living on the edge and being comfortable in that frame of mind, at least that is how I would interpret it.

“Embracing the Lack” is a beautifully done tasteful instrumental, the kind that I always love to hear. It reminded me of the phase I went through in the 90s with instrumental surf music (although it does not sound like surf) then moving on to the more complex pieces from the likes of Danny Gatton and similar artists that caught my ear. The melodicism and rhythm in the track is amazing and it’s the kind of music that makes you want to keep hitting repeat. It has a magical aura to it that is irresistible to my ears and I am sure it will be for many others. Again Hall provides some incredibly diverse guitar playing that would grab any aficionado’s ear and hold on until the song was finished.

The closer is “Himinn,” which steps away from the flow of the album and presents another side of the performance with an ambient new age sound that serves as a nightcap. It is that final relaxing number that pulls you into another state of consciousness just before going to sleep. The music is light and airy and it kind of floats you to another place. All of this happens after hearing more upbeat tracks with precise guitar work that got all the good endorphins flowing, then it sets you up to call it a night. It is the perfect ending to an all too short venture into instrumental paradise. I certainly did not want it to end but I guess I will have to wait until Volume 2 arrives.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Roots and Branches, The Comfort of Doubt, Embracing the Lack

Tracks:

1. Uthaf   
2. Roots and Branches
3. Cerebral 3.0
4. She's Almost Here
5. The Comfort of Doubt
6. Embracing the Lack
7. Himinn



Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 8, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

September 7, 2016

New Age Instrumental/Classical Review: Starr Parodi-The Heart of Frida

Release Date: August 12, 2016
Label: Sonic Doppler
Website


Starr Parodi is one of the most prolific piano players I have had the pleasure to hear this year. The Heart of Frida came out less than a month ago and those music enthusiasts interested in hearing some fantastic new age and classical instrumental music need to hear this album. She brings the story to life on a 1928 Steinway grand that once made its home on the MGM scoring stage.

Frida Kahlo was a muse, feminist, lover, survivor and painter who transformed her suffering into transcendental art. That I think is quite enough for another artist to be inspired by and it definitely unfolded that way for Starr.

The opening track is the eloquent and haunting title track. It is beauty in disguise as the tone is set to bring you back to another world. Believe me it does. The rhythm is notable with Starr’s piano playing sounding simply gorgeous, there is no other way to put it. 

“When Doves Cry” is lovely tribute to Prince. A lot can be said with no words if the music has enough of spirit and the flow takes you downstream, which it does. The river of music just flows into the ocean of your soul as you remember one of the most talented and charismatic entertainers of our time. A fitting tribute to a true star.

Two tracks in and I am completely sold, absorbed with this music. After learning more about Frida it was easy to appreciate the music more. Although I must say if I knew nothing I would have still enjoyed this project immensely.

Starr is a true virtuoso taking her music to another level to dedicate her work to another artist. Her movements are founded in the realm of classical and presented with an impassioned new age flair and preciseness. The transitions she makes within one song is extremely emotional and quite brilliant. You can feel the music.

“Hardly Touching” is absolute perfection on the ivory keys, a story given life through sound not words. Starr said “It is about artistic inspiration coming from another plane, another universe…” How could you not be moved by that statement and not find the reality of it after hearing the song? The music lifts you up higher and higher into the ether, it is a magic carpet ride to the clouds and beyond. Simplistic and delicate as the morning dew dropping off a rose, it paints so many colorful pictures in your mind.

Those are a few examples of what to anticipate from a superb rendering of instrumental piano music. The recording is solid from beginning to end and the flow felt so natural.

Solo piano music does not get much better than The Heart of Frida and I could not say it any more succinctly than that. This is clarity of vision and inspiration brought to your ears, heart and spirit through the fingers of Starr Parodi. Surely this recording will be receiving more accolades then I could possibly give it. If there is such a thing as musical perfection, then this is as close as it gets.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Heart of Frida, When Doves Cry, Hardly Touching

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 6, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews



September 3, 2016

Instrumental New Age/Classical Review: Janice Lacy Project-Sanctuary For The Soul

Release Date: July 20, 2016
Label: Shore Light Records

Sanctuary For The Soul is Janice Lacy’s debut album. First of all, I think the title of the recording is perfect and very inviting if you happen to be looking for music that allows you to relax.

Piano music is a gift from the heavens when presented the way Janice Lacy introduces herself.  Her producer Rob Mullins also played piano on the recording.

The very first track is the title track which is the perfect way to open the curtain on your debut.  It has a longing coming from the cello which provides a resonant introduction. The cello can sound that way even though that may not be the intention however it is an appropriate pace for solitude the track offers the listener. It sets a certain tone for Janice’s piano to come in and change the direction of it all.

Then if you listen to “Lover’s Flight” you can hear an entirely different sound and approach with the cello and the piano flows and strides along taking the lead as the other instruments provide a base to launch the absolute beauty of the ivory keys. It is the intent of the artist to create music that soothes the soul and provides that inner sanctuary we all need to connect to so we can reenergize and refocus. I do not believe sleep is the only thing we need to attain rest and more specifically enlightenment, that is not likely during a busy day. Music such as this stops the pace and invites you to listen to your spirit or that inner voice that calls out and needs recognition.

I once again find myself recognizing the close relationship between instrumental new age and classical music. The influence is very strong on this recording but when you hear a great melody like the one on “Sunrise Dance” you are not thinking about how there are classical influences, you are feeling the warmth and connection to the music and the rhythm and joy it is providing. This is one of the more upbeat and unconventional tracks that really do not seem to fit into any category, it is just wonderful piano instrumental music that makes you feel good and smile.

By the time you are done listening to Sanctuary For The Soul you realize that the Janice Lacy Project have created a superb debut album that can be appreciated by any true music fan. The simplicity and diversity of the music is a beautiful thing and the piano playing of the artist is outstanding. If you are in need of some sanctuary for your soul, this music will find that place rather quickly.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Sanctuary For The Soul, Lover’s Flight, Sunrise Dance

Tracks: 
01. Sanctuary for the Soul
02. Take Care of My Heart
03. Everything's Alright
04. Lovers' Flight
05. Refuge
06. Sunrise Dance
07. Through the Shadows
08. Shimmering Ocean
09. December Goodbye
10. Jim's Waltz
11. Crystal Harbor
12. Full Moon
13. Prayer
14. Tell You That I Love You
 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 3, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

August 30, 2016

New Age Instrumental/Meditation Review: White Sun-White Sun II

Release Date: August 26, 2016
Label: Be Why
If you enjoy meditation music or yoga I have the right music for you. White Sun is a collaborative of several talented musicians with lead vocals and harmonium provided by the angelic vocals of Gurujas. The is their second release simply titled White Sun II.
Her soft and mesmerizing vocal style draws you in as the music takes hold and carries you through each separate spiritual journey. The vocals are not in English so if you do not have a preference and are open to another language accompanying your music then it will be just as enjoyable. 

Because the music is so beautiful and with Gurujas providing equally gorgeous vocals, it makes for a completely joyous experience. For this music fan I had to step away from the norm, open my mind to a new discovery and let the music and vocals take me where it wanted to. It was an effective method that reaped many rewards.

“Simro Gobind” carries a lovely melody that was reminiscent of a pop song type of flow but make no mistake this is new age meditation music every step of the way. I felt the catchy track gave me a comfort level I would not have expected on this type of release.

“Suniai” is another gorgeous melodic track with vocals that are heaven sent and music that takes it all one level higher straight to the promised land where all music should take you. I would think using this music for meditation purposes would be most appropriate although just sitting back and listening was a lovely journey as well.

“Dhan Dhan Ram Das Gur” is yet another work of art with many moments of bliss and beauty.  The flow of positive vibrations is endless on this recording. It is like a river of enlightenment set to music and voice meeting in the middle for a spiritual sojourn that you simply cannot forget.

This was an unconventional listen for me but I am glad I gave it my undivided attention. It proved to me that not understanding the words had nothing to do with the way it was perceived or how it made me feel when it was over. White Sun II is a highly recommended listen for those of you looking for solace from a hectic day.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Simro Gobind, Suniai, Dhan Dhan Ram Das Gur

Tracks: 
01. Gobinday Mukunday
02. Alai Alai
03. Chattra Chakkra Varti
04. Simro Gobind
05. Suniai
06. Aap Sahaee Hoa Har Har Har
07. Dhan Dhan Ram Das Gur
08. Akal Instrumental
09. Akal
10. Hummee Hum
11. Ardas Wahe Guru
 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 30, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

August 23, 2016

Instrumental New Age/Classical Review: Terry Lee Nichols-At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree

Release Date: August 19, 2016
Label: Heart Dance Records

Terry Lee Nichols first release has a very long and descriptive title. At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree is a great title actually, and if you look at that title and the cover of the CD, you can see a story. So without ever hearing the music there is something happening. I would have to say that is a very good start.

Terry said: “I tried to create a soundscape/film score backdrop that reflected specific events throughout my life.” That statement tends to put it all into proper perspective for the listener.

There are 17 tracks that move along at a brisk pace. It seemed like before I knew it I was on track 6. This is because I was really enjoying what I was hearing. Being swept away by the music and hearing the story narrated by all the instruments is a beautiful thing.

The title track opens the door to the great outdoors pictured on the cover of the album. The music ushers in the atmosphere and sets the tone like any good opener should. First impressions are everything when you are listening to an album. I have always believed when you open that curtain to your audience, you better make an impact real soon or you will lose them…Terry Lee gets the job done. He captivates you and captures your spirit and imagination. Personal experiences of joy and emotional pain bring about many things and music can be the universal translator.

“Timekeeper” clocks in, no pun intended, at 3:07 and the pace is like that of a watch keeping good time. The piano rolls along but ever so delicately while bringing the listener to the end of the line in the most intentionally gentle way. The ride goes by much too fast but you are so appreciative. Short and sweet, this track makes a good impression from start to finish much like all of its predecessors.

The musicianship is outstanding on this recording and it definitely is the kind of quality music you would hear on a grade A film. It also provides deep relaxation and a thought process that is more clear and precise than you could have during a busy day at work. It is not easy to empty out what is between your ears, and music such as this gives you carte blanche to do so.

I have heard such gorgeous instrumental music this year, it moves me, makes me reflective, grateful, happy, sad, reminiscent, basically the entire range of human emotion is prompted to rise within me and the music is my escort. That to me is the key to success with any recording.

“On My Way To See The Dancing Sisters Figg” is an upbeat track with Celtic World flavor with a nod to the classical genre however it ends up an amalgamation of them all and then becomes an instrumental new age masterpiece. It is a short jaunt coming in at 2:57 but I felt an injection of joy with a hint of the past smiling at me as it faded away. This was one of my favorites for its sparkling movements and how it changed my melancholy mood into joy in an instant. Once again the power of the music took me away and had a strong influence on my senses and reaction to the vibrations. 

“Sailing” is wonderful melody like a bright sunny day with a clear blue sky and I did just sail away with it. It also gave me the gift of freedom and spirituality. I always loved sailing on the lake with my father, god rest his soul. Joy with a hint of sadness is what I felt but the thoughts of freedom of the wind and waves gave me chills. It was all good so thank you Terry Lee.

At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree is real triumph for the maiden voyage of artist Terry Lee Nichols. Putting out something so inspired and precise for a first album is an amazing accomplishment. The future certainly looks bright for this gentleman.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree, Timekeeper, On My Way To See The Dancing Sisters Figg


Tracks:
 

01. At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father's Tree
02. Only You
03. Follow Me
04. Reflections
05. Appassionato
06. Timekeeper
07. Train to Dachau
08. Pamela's Time
09. On My Way To See The Dancing Sisters Figg
10. A Winter's Tale
11. Sailing
12. Crossroads
13. A Curious Life
14. Last Train Home
15. Autumn
16. Lullaby
17. Requiescat

 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 23, 2016
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews