April 14, 2019

Instrumental Ambient/New Age Review: Stephen Peppos-Deep Listen

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Label: Sonic Bear Music

Atmospheric and ambient music can be used as a tool for any type of focus or mindset.  It takes a talented artist like Stephen Peppos to create music that allows that process to happen. I got a good taste of his capabilities two years ago on Leaving Terra Firma. With a title like that it would certainly indicate that the music allows you to leave the earth, you stand on. The music backs that thought with conviction.

Deep Listen is another foray into the ether that will satisfy anyone that is looking to meditate and have a spiritual and perhaps an out of body experience. This music is very spacey but smooth and relaxing at the same time. Its calming effect works well on a tired soul, bringing solace with synth and keyboard sounds, and at times, the sound of the ocean waves hitting the shoreline. That is exactly what you will find on “Aural Mists.” 

The track is a solid 9:07 minutes of music meets natures blissfulness. The sound of waves alone is a wonderful thing however if you add the right sounds with your music, a beautiful marriage is consummated and you the listener are the recipient.  It is like a blossoming flower feeling the first rays of the new day sun.
I really like the title of the CD because what you take is a “deep dive” right into a Deep Listen. The cover is very inviting and the colors are immediately soothing to the eye. It unconsciously connects with your mind to set you up for the musical journey. Fans of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Jean Michel Jarre will love this album. I personally enjoy all of that music so it was easy for me to get swept away by this recording and find a meaning that made sense and felt just right.

The masterwork is “Algorithm” which runs for 12:56. By definition, an “Algorithm” is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. Our brain functions like a computer when necessary so why can’t this music be something to process and calculate? In a sense that is what I am expressing with my words. And it just made me think in those terms by saying the word.

Right away the title implies something scientific and hi-tech. Is it thinking man’s music? I guess it depends on who you are what your interest is and what exactly challenges your mind. I do not feel challenged listening to this track in particular, it has the same purpose and effect on me like all the others. I think something needs to be said for taking a track and spreading out the composition with some diversity in sounds and textures. This is the mark of a true artisan, a craftsman of his trade. Stephen is able to make this a real masterpiece of ambient nuances that weave together and make it whole.

In the end, Deep Listen lives up to its name and gives the listener 1 hour and 18 minutes of musical chicken soup for the soul. It is one recipe that you will be reaching for more than once to chill and let the day just melt away.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 14, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Twilight
02. Break of Dawn
03. Tonality  
04. Aural Mists
05. Wide Open
06. Awake
07. Transmogrify
08. Vivid
09. Algorithm
10. Breathe




April 13, 2019

New Age World Vocal Review: Juliet Lyons-The Light Within

Release Date: May 10, 2019
Label: Mystic Voyager Music

Juliet Lyons looks like quite the diverse performer based on the discography listed on her website. I did not need to see that to be impressed with her music and vocals. As soon as the first track started, I was spellbound.  

The Light Within is a collection of ten tracks with Ms. Lyons’ gorgeous vocalizations accompanying all the music, which ranges from New Age and Meditation to World and a mixture of all three. The combinations are very effective and soothing and her angelic voice leads the way as the various instruments are introduced throughout each track. 

The songs come as advertised on the album cover songs for Yoga, Healing and Inner Peace. Juliet wrote all the songs and performed on the Native Flute and Piano. Ricky Kej contributed keyboards and programming on the opening track “Lokah Samastah” and Ron Korb made a guest appearance on the recording as well, playing flute on “Eternal Now.” Both of those tracks are excellent.  The opening track is fantastic, full of positive energy and light. It serves as the perfect introduction to a very consistent listen. “Eternal Now” is also exceptional, I found it inspiring and uplifting.

Juliet has a very flexible vocal style that could probably fit into any genre actually. The music is quite amazing throughout the run of this album, in fact it serves as the perfect complement to that gifted voice from the heavens that you will learn to love very quickly. You just can’t have one without the other, its kismet, a marriage of sound and voice that will give you happiness deep within your soul.

Let The Light Within shine brightly with a little help from the recordings of Juliet Lyons. I found it a natural course of events listening to this music and all the wonderful feelings and peace I felt. Music is a powerful tool, and it’s refreshing to see it being used in such a positive manner. The tools and gifts of god were put in good hands when Juliet Lyons found her path. Once you hear this music you will be thankful as well.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 13, 2019
 
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Lokah Samastah (ft. Rupesh Menon)
02. Om Shanti
03. Flow
04. Calm
05. Dawning Equilibrium (instrumental)
06. Stillness (ft. Judy Kang)
07. Eternal Now (ft. Ron Korb)
08. Heal You
09. The Light Within (ft. Judy Kang)(instrumental)
10. Shine

April 10, 2019

Instrumental New Age Review: Robert Linton-Adrift in Wonder

Release Date: April 5, 2019
Label: October Moon Records

My introduction to Robert Linton’s acoustic guitar music was three years ago on Beyond The Clearing.  Adrift In Wonder is the newest offering from the talented guitarist.

The recording was mixed and mastered by Corin Nelsen of SycroSonic Productions. If you are familiar with the new age genre you will recognize some of the people that contributed to Adrift In Wonder and come to an understanding of why it is such a pleasing listen.

The violin (Sara Milonovich), English Horn (Jill Haley), Cello (Eugene Friesen), Electronic Wind Instrument and Alto Flute (Premik Russell Tubbs) add an exceptional layer of sounds to Robert’s acoustic six-string journeys.
The collaborative spirit they have in the new age culture is very effective for all involved. These are busy musicians contributing to so many of the releases that come out, with responsibilities of their own recordings as well. It is an “everyone gets a slice of the pie” mentality that anyone in a business should be taking a good look at.

Listening to this music really does have the Adrift In Wonder effect on you. It is the perfect music for simple relaxation or meditation. Robert’s approach is consistent and he sustains the warmth of his guitar throughout the recording, which I naturally appreciated. I work in a highly stressful day job and this music takes the edge off and sets my soul at ease, and gives me a renewed sense of hope and strength I cannot find anywhere else.

The importance of music to our world goes beyond words and music without the words most certainly can say a lot and have an impact. It is artists like Robert Linton taking one instrument then bringing in other equally talented artists that know how to present their music. This is a spiritual path for the artist creating the music and very special listening experience for his audience. 

I really appreciate guitar-based albums and in particular acoustic undertakings that have to work harder to get your attention. Adrift In Wonder opens a pathway to a “Gentle Descent” as you are “Weaving Through the Waves” of sound and beauty presented. I highly recommend this album to those seeking tranquility and regeneration of energy and spirit. Synchronicity with the music can be accomplished quite quickly, all you have to do is pay attention to what you are hearing.

A+ musicianship and production set Robert Linton apart from those aspirant folks looking to complete the same experience with the gratifying results that all listeners and he will surely enjoy.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 10, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks:

1. Gliding the Current
Robert Linton(Guitar), Sara Milonovich (Violin), Jill Haley(English Horn)

2. Weaving Through the Waves
Robert Linton(Guitar), Premik Russell Tubbs(EWI.. (Electronic Wind Instrument)

3. Traces of Reflection
Robert Linton(Guitar), Eugene Friesen(Cello)

4. Gentle Descent
Robert Linton(Guitar), Sara Milonovich(Violin)

5. Sifting Through Daydreams
Robert Linton(Guitar), Premik Russell Tubbs( Alto Flute), (EWI.. (Electronic Wind Instrument)

6. Casting in the Afterglow
Robert Linton(Guitar), Eugene Friesen(Cello), Jill Haley (English Horn)

7. Murmur of Chimes
Robert Linton(Guitar), Premik Russell Tubbs (EWI.. (Electronic Wind Instrument)

8. Adrift in Wonder
Robert Linton(Guitar), Eugene Friesen(Cello)

9. Hovering in the Sun Rays
Robert Linton(Guitar), Sara Milonovich(Violin)
 

April 8, 2019

Instrumental Piano Review: Stephen Wallack-Chapters

Release Date: April 1, 2019
Label: Independent

A debut album can make you or break you in many ways. On the other side of that black and white outlook, it can change your entire life path regardless of what direction it takes you, change will prevail. Any way you look at it your music effects each and every individual.

For Stephen Wallack April 1, 2019, was a pivotal moment in his life.  He released his first recording Chapters. He looks at his life as a story that has unfolded in different Chapters, and now his music reflects that outlook. Stephen, I can tell you the right person is hearing everything you are saying in your biography and in your music.

The spontaneity of a first listen launches my inspiration to talk about music and with Stephen’s music, it was an easy task, a natural flow of feelings. For this music fan, that is the very process that keeps the blood pumping and my fingers moving to type these words you read. Music keeps me alive 24/7 and at times makes me feel like I have already reached heaven. 

For instance, “Cooper’s Song” is about the passing of a friend and you can feel the pain and sadness in the voice of the music. I also got a chill knowing that person’s spirit lives on through Stephen’s music, what a blessing to feel that and really hear the emotion of a song without words. It is indeed a beautiful thing that anyone can experience with the right mindset before you decide to hit “play.” There are many uplifting tracks on this release, however I thought mentioning the pure emotion of “Coppers Song” was a very good example of how powerful this music can be.

A lot of this instrumental piano-based music is thriving as a sub-genre of new age. This is for a good reason; it is very spiritually based music that touches the very soul of the listener. The individuality and on purpose simplicity are the strengths from which each story is composed then played through the fingers of an artist. In this case, it is Stephen Wallack that brings us all to that place we love to go, another dimension, space, feeling, emotion, or whatever you want to call it. This is what changes our view of our surroundings and the people in our lives.  

Stephen mentions hearing George Winston’s classic piano instrumental album December when he was 12.  I happen to love that album and after hearing it sought out more of the same. So right at the start of listening to Stephen’s music, I felt a connection that helped me to instantly bond to the sounds, vibrations, and colors he offered within the 10 tracks of Chapters

Let Chapters into your life and write your own story to the music. This is a great tool for clearing the mind and to focus while de-stressing every second of the way.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 8, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
 
01. Virginia  6:51
02. Oceans  6:29
03. Cooper’s Song  4:46
04. Trains  5:19
05. Dad  5:23
06. Chicago  4:26
07. The Traveler  5:33
08. Wedding Song  4:52
09. Holiday  4:55
10. Archer  5:45

April 1, 2019

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Christopher James-Grace From Persistence

Release Date: April 5, 2019
Label: Val Gardena Music


I heard The Sad Waltz in 2017 and was very impressed with the talents and musical output of Christopher James. Two years on and my anticipation is mounting to hear the next offering titled Grace From Persistence. 

 
From my perspective, it always helps to know the meaning and messages in the music. It makes my listening experience richer and fuller. Christopher took the title track and gave it some thought. The Native Americans’ belief about the Saguaro cactus came to mind. That album title is a perspective that each of these sacred Saguaros is considered to be a unique individual, surviving on its own despite nature’s extremes. This relates directly to mankind and how resilient we can be as well. It also makes you think about living things like trees and how important they are to our survival.

Christopher set out to continue his explorations into the more complex compositions and that is what he accomplishes on Grace From Persistence. I had to call it contemporary instrumental because of the diverse instruments that accompany the piano of the main artist. I got lost in this music so much that before I realized it, track 7 was playing and it was getting near the end of this musical excursion.

Christopher definitely achieves his own Grace From Persistence by continuing down the path of musical intricacies. Music like this you simply cannot pigeonhole. If the entire album was like “Cul-De-Sac” for instance, then you could classify it as jazz. Which by the way is a big step away from the previous tracks, and it is that kind of change done so well that makes this recording a special and an important contribution in 2019.

I am consistently in awe of musicians that can take one main instrument, like the piano, and build these incredible musical stories. As I always say, music without words presents more of a challenge to convey a mood, atmosphere, ambiance, or message if you will. When I feel the impact of the music strongly like I did with Grace From Persistence it sets the bar higher for the next artist that is attempting to accomplish the same thing with their music. 

All of these thoughts point in a positive direction because we need each other for inspiration and to set goals. Your interpretation of this music will be based on your own life situation and overall feelings and thoughts the moment you listen. I think it’s important to keep one thing in mind, and that is to listen to this music at different points in the day to see what it can do for you. It’s a wonderful listening experience that heals and brings joy. The musicianship is beyond reproach and every track will get and keep your attention.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March  31, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Awakening
02. Get on with It
03. Mother Russia (Fantasy Based on a Theme from Scriabin)
04. Where's Frederick?
05. Beyond the Stars  
06. Grace from Persistence
07. Yes and No
08. Weimar Blues (1929)
09. Cul-De-Sac
10. Neitherworld

 

March 28, 2019

New Age Instrumental Review: Timothy Wenzel-Running Away

Release Date: January 25, 2019
Label: Coyote Floe Music LLC

What We Hold Dear  is the first time I heard Timothy Wenzel’s music in 2017. What seems like a blink of an eye, 2 years have passed and now Timothy has released Running Away

I have to say that I was enchanted right from the beginning with the new album. The 12 tracks kept me consistently interested and fascinated. That pretty much says it all for any type of listener I would think.

Running Away is very cinematic and it intends to be. Every track moves along at a good pace and offers a little something different and many times several different changes take place. It is mentioned on the artist site that some folks have said Timothy’s music is good for traveling, it changes so much it can fit the different scenes one sees on a trip. His music is like an ongoing journey and each song is like watching it through your own private looking glass.

I really appreciate the mixture of genres and even though I tag it as new age instrumental, there is so much more. New age is a generic term these days, with so much talent recording in the genre and mixing and creating their own sub-genres, makes it all quite fascinating from where I sit. Timothy does a phenomenal job with a combination of keyboards, synthesizers, compositions, and production. Friends Josie Quick (violin), Jeff Haynes (percussion) and Jill Haley (English horn and oboe) make their mark on the compositions as well. As Timothy lays down the foundation to build the musical castle the others join in to complete the construction, then the drawbridge opens up and all the wonderful sounds come flowing and rushing at your senses, making you feel alive and energized.

I would find it difficult to criticize anything about Running Away. At times it can be spectacular, colorful, relaxing, and down to earth. And then again, all those elements can come into play within one track. It was a great recording with a lot to offer a listener in one sitting. I think this is the kind of music you will reach for more than once, there is just too much going on within each track to get it all in one listen. I am sure it would be a challenge. I know I heard enough that I would highly recommend the recording to anyone interested in any sort of instrumental music.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 28, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01.  Dream of Summer  4:11
02.  Dancing in Darkness  3:20
03.  A Bit About You  4:20
04.  Running Away  4:13
05.  Makes You Wonder  4:25
06. Traveling Light  3:59
07.  Magical Pageant  5:52
08.  A Friend of Mine  4:09
09.  Breaking Free  5:45
10. Gazelle Dance  4:02
11. Past Presence  4:29
12. Coronal Rain  5:38
 

March 15, 2019

New Age Instrumental Review: John Otott-Unspoken

Release Date: March 1, 2019
Label: Independent

Colors was my introduction to John Otott in 2014. So, 4 plus years have flown by since I had the pleasure of hearing the rhythm of this man’s soul via the ivory keys. Now we have Unspoken.

Sometimes words are not necessary and, in this case, it definitely applies to the music of John Otott. Unspoken is a collection of nine tracks that were recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios. You know if that happens you get an all-star cast contributing to your album.

The piano is the core instrument that drives the music and all the other instruments add a certain tasteful ambiance. The violin can be a prolific piece when added to the piano. “Meraki” is a great example of that marriage and how wonderful it can be. It is quite simply, sublime.  
 
My favorite track is “Unbreakable.” The mixture of John’s piano, the violin, fluegelhorn, trumpet, bass, and percussion simmers then an overflow with magic and pure musical emotion engages you further. Who needs vocals when instrumental music can be so prolific and moving? Not an artist as talented as John and his accompaniment that is for certain.

For my ears, the mark of a great recording is how fast it goes by while I am enjoying every second. In the end, I am disappointed that it had to stop. That is a good sign as far as I am concerned, and it means I will be spinning it again real soon.

Unspoken is an excellent recording that creates a wall of sound that will grace your body, mind, and soul. The compositions are strong a quite diverse making this a very attention-getting listen. It will help you to relax, smile inside and then the weight of your world will just melt away. That is the perfect scenario for any hard-working man or woman at the end of the day, it is the Unspoken that says it all.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 15, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
1. A Beautiful Night
2. Sunrise In Avalon
3. The Dance
4. Pieces of Eight
5. Soliloquy
6. Unbreakable
7. Emerald Bay
8. As Now, As Then
9. Meraki