January 9, 2021

Contemporary Instrumental Piano Review: Ed Bazel-Homecoming

Release Date: January 15, 2020

Label: New Thought Records

Website

Ed Bazel is another newly discovered piano maestro for me to enjoy. Homecoming is his second studio recording. This man is firmly established in the world of music. He is held in high esteem with many different recognized awards.

Ed was awarded the 2017-2018 MPS Hall of Fame Award Instrumentalist and the 2018-2019 Entertainer of the Year Award from the Nashville area Yamaha piano dealership - Miller Piano Specialists.  He also was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the music industry.

The only instrument you will hear on this recording is Ed’s piano. With music like this I think there should be more attention given to the track titles. How else would one get some insight into what the artist is conveying to a listener, besides how it is making you feel while listening. A hint into the process is also helpful. That is my progression of listening, everyone has their own and what that experience entails. I emphasize the word experience. This is gorgeous solo piano and it is meant to soothe the soul and be totally experiential.

I think it was very clever to start off the first track naming it “Morning Cup.” What better way to start off the day than your first cup of music, and with your coffee? I can see bringing in the day on a positive note by listening to this music.

The “Homecoming” is wonderful title track. The music is smooth, flowing, and I can envision Ed’s fingers gliding over the keys. Another factor that makes this track so appealing is the rhythm and projection of the keys. I could have listened to this much longer than the 2:37 that it ran. I just fell into the music like I always do. Making the transition from a busy mentally taxing day is assisted with this outlet. This music empty's my mind and lets my spirit soar into the clouds, then another time and place can be realized where I find healing. After all, is that not what we all seek after a hard days work whether the intent to decompress is there or not, it can happen much quicker when listening to music from a recording like Homecoming.

As with much of this type of music that I enjoy so much, the foundation is based in classical then it grows out of that.  An appealing type of contemporary instrumental emerges with a new age theme and all the track titles to push it further in that direction. And that to me is a perfect path to establish when presenting simply piano music that sends many messages inside the music. The first step is the title then the listener decides where to go letting the music lead them, staying mindful of the original intent. If you approach it that way you will find all the grace, passion, and the beauty of Homecoming in all eleven tracks.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews
December 7, 2020

Track List:
01. Morning Cup 2:51
02. Sweet Innocence 3:34
03. I Remember 4:00
04. Homecoming 2:37
05. Lullaby For Life 2:53
06. Northern Lights 3:49
07. Sunrise 3:40
08. Walk With Me 3:44
09. The Quiet Dream 3:11
10. Light Of My Soul 2:39
11. Dusk 3:46


January 8, 2021

Instrumental New Age-Ambient Review: Glenn Murawski-Peaceful Reflections

Release Date: December 15, 2021

Label: Independent

Website

Glenn Murawski has many different influences from Beethoven to Radio Head. He was an avid video game enthusiast during the 80s and 90s and always appreciated the soundtracks on the games and admired how they were arranged. With that bit of information in mind, it makes you wonder what kind of interesting musical experience lies ahead on his most recent release Peaceful Reflections.


While I cannot relate to the world of video games I sure can to some good instrumental music.

“Towards the Light” sets the tone with plenty of ambient electronic sounds and textured layers of bright colors. This kind of rhythm and sound exchange can help to get you into the proper mindset to settle in and enjoy what is to come.

“Dreaming” for instance takes an entirely different approach with some lovely acoustic piano with lighter tones and textures to give you some deep relaxation. Peace and inspiration are the intent of this music. Glenn, along with many other artists from last year into this new year, are promoting peace, calm, and the unity of their music, to help us all heal from one of the most tumultuous times in the history of the US. I for one certainly appreciate this kind of music and honestly believe that the folks in music are one of the unsung heroes. They too are on the front lines to lend a hand for our well-being, working hard to put together these incredibly beautiful recordings for us to enjoy. You may not actually see them or know them, but they are everywhere sending us these musical messages we all need to hear. It is not complicated, it works very well and is the magic potion of our times that we all must give a chance. If it's only for 30 minutes once a day, it will soothe you from the inside out.

I found “Ocean Moon” one of the more interesting tracks with the variable sounds and the subtle drone for the focus of the listener to hone in on while also letting the other instruments create their pathways to your soul. I had to add this track to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. It is my honor roll for superb tracks on many of the albums I review.

Glenn makes sure he keeps your interest from track to track. While variety is the spice of life, it remains the key to the kingdom for a recording artist. It unlocks the door many of us have closed for our own protection. By letting it open another world comes in and brings us to another space in time. It is all very spiritual I must say, at least for my own experience it is.

While listening to “Calm Dwellings” I again found a different take on the use of instrumentation and there was some solace to be found. “The End of Sadness” is yet another different turn down the road of diversity with a crossover new age to world sound. The excellent variety with all of Glenn’s influences and experience intersecting in his creations, keeps you spellbound wondering what is to come on the next track. I am appreciative of that kind of energy and excitement in music.
 

Peaceful Reflections offers listeners a brief moment in time when the surrounding world is shut off to temporarily give you time to regenerate and get a fresh outlook on a new day. In this world of music there is a sense of wonderment and promise that we simply do not have by listening to all the media chatter and social media bombardment coming at us 24/7. This is a detour down a different road and one you will want to go to often.

It is 2021 and we are all ready to usher in a new year with a change that will revitalize the human spirit with recordings like Peaceful Reflections.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
January 7, 2021

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Track List:
01. Towards the Light 07:21
02. Pax Aeterna 01:49   
03. Dreaming 04:35
04. Ocean Moon 04:25       
05. Calm Dwellings 05:04   
06. The End of Sadness 05:19
07. Chamber of Serenity 08:34   
08. The Good Hours 04:18   
09. Times are Changing 06:01
10. Years Gone By 02:29   
11. Wish I Could Fly 03:22
12. Prayers for Sleeping 05:40
13. Bastion of Hope 06:17
14. On the Horizon 04:12


December 16, 2020

Instrumental New Age Review: Eric Bikales-Mandala

Release Date: January 9, 2021

Label: Independent

Website

Eric Bikales is ringing in the new year with his album Mandala. He is an established artist that restarted his recording career after several years in music and video production. He moved to Tennessee and found peace and re-engagement with his true paths in the music industry. He now concentrates on helping others in music by creating online courses for the Academy of Art in San Francisco and playing the piano and bringing new age world his music.

For the folks that may not know what a Mandala is, here is the description I found on Wikipedia:

In New Age, the mandala is a diagram, chart, or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a time-microcosm of the universe, but it was originally meant to represent wholeness and a model for the organizational structure of life itself.

I have to admit the artwork is very eye-catching on the album cover. I find it similar to a tapestry and the combination of orange and blue always works. It is arranged like yin and yang. Two forces interdependent and becoming one within the music. I can assure you; Eric makes it all come together properly on Mandala.

Mandala
is incredibly relaxing and pleasant music to take in. The combination of piano, synths, flute, and other ambient and spacey sounds that are generated to give more layers to the music, will have you looking more intently at the titles of the tracks. This is a key component to this experience and an all-encompassing experience it is.

What you will observe are the 12 commandments of a new age being ushered in by a gifted and spiritually enlightened musician. After looking at the track listing all I could think of was god at the top of the mountain with the 10 commandments. Yes, this is spiritual music in every way not religious. It is a point that came to me, and as I have said many times, different people have varying touch points and things that click for them. This is a good thing; it allows the music to be seen through several different lenses of humanity.

Mandala is engaging and each track is different utilizing an array of changes in flow, instruments, and computer-generated sounds that all interconnect to make beautiful music. Every part has its place and every sound falls together quite nicely.

“Resourcefulness” is a fine example of how one musician can have the ability to do so much in one song. I found it to be one of the most different tracks from all the others. It was the one out on the fringes that is undefinable, giving you something entirely different to show the all-around talent and eclectic approach being taken by this artist. I truly appreciate that kind of change in an album. If you are meditating with this music this may take you off course however if you are well focused and, in the zone, it will be a stop along the way to put a different spin on your frame of mind.

In the end, what Mandala does is take you to different places in the musical spectrum thus your listening space will shift along with that. I found it highly entertaining and I was very appreciative of the range of talent that Eric Bikales has on display in this inviting release. It is a nice reprieve from the day and something to look forward to and you are guaranteed to find “Serenity” as the curtain closes on this experience.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
December 14, 2020

Track List:

01. Generosity
02. Kindness
03. Honesty
04. Love
05. Compassion
06. Charity
07. Forgiveness
08. Devotion
09. Resourcefulness
10. Humility
11. Respect
12. Serenity

December 13, 2020

Instrumental World Review: Marla Leigh-Rhythms Of TOF Miriam

Release Date: May 15, 2020

Label: Independent

Website

Marla Leigh is one of the few female professional frame drummers in the world. She is all about helping people to find an alternative mindset, and her music puts you in that state of change readily.

Rhythms of Tof Miriam
was recorded in Israel and is her debut album and music video. Based on what I saw on her website, Marla has quite a presence in the world and is very busy with a number of things that relate to a healthier mind, body, and soul. With that thought, it brings you to the conclusion that a healthier and happy life through her teachings and incredible world instrumental music is possible.

Marla went to an ancient, sacred land to record this album and made it all the more appropriate by introducing equally timeless instruments to accompany her on the frame drum.

Marla’s Bandcamp Notes: At its core, Rhythms of Tof Miriam is about staying positive through challenging times by using the universal language of rhythm to help us rediscover our genuine connections.

I think that is a very true statement. The rhythm of life is the key component that inspires the creativity of this music. I found it very enjoyable and quite fascinating, in fact magical. There are many tracks that I felt in sync with. “Desert Prophecy” made me feel I was there in Israel with her on that mountaintop, watching her play. This music is not only rhythmic, it is spiritual, original, and meditative. I made it a priority to list the credits in this review, so that listeners can identify, or try to pick out, which instruments are being played besides the frame drum.

Marla also plays the flute on one of my favorite tracks, “Awakening.” In a manner of speaking, as well as in a literal sense, it will be an awakening for many of the listeners. This could happen without seeking anything in particular or anticipating any result. I believe this is a process that can be as natural and flowing as the music you are hearing. Personally, I just let it happen: I accept the invitation and let the music take me away, and, even though I never know what mind space it will put me in, I trust it implicitly. Everyone is different, so some people will relate and others will not and will have different approaches to the music. In the end, the result will always be positive; when the music ends, you will know you’ve just had an experience that you will not forget.

The combinations of the instruments are mystical and breathtaking. I think the use of the flute and drums Marla employs is superb, along with the mixture of the other instruments. “Dawn of Truth (Flute Savasana)” is the longest track, coming in at 9:08. The atmosphere and textures are beautiful and it draws you in deeper and deeper. It is the track that has everything, and the length of the song was needed so all the instruments could breathe and build in the track as it continued to evolve. This of course would be perfect for meditation and falls right in line with that particular process.

Rhythms of Tof Miriam is an excellent example of world instrumental music with varying degrees of intensity that mirror the changing tides of human emotion. It is indeed the rhythms that make this so appealing. The drum serves as the heartbeat of the tracks and everything else is like the blood of life flowing through your veins. Let it flow!

Credits:

Marla Leigh: Percussion (all songs but Track 8), Flute (Tracks 2, 6)

|Yair Dalal: Oud (Tracks 1, 7)

Meira Segal: Ney (Tracks 1, 4, 7)

Shahar Kaufman: Mandol (Track 3)

Ori Werner: Kimenche (Track 3)

Gavriel Fiske: Frame Drum + Riq (Tracks 3, 7)

Leat Sabbah: Cello (Track 8)

Oren Tsor: Violin + Viola (Track 8)


 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder

December 10, 2020


Track List:

1. Rhythms of Tof Miriam 06:10
2. Awakening 03:47
3. Longing 03:47
4. Desert Prophecy 03:57
5. Miriam's Well 03:06
6. Dawn of Truth (Flute Savasana) 09:08
7. Rhythms of Tof Miriam (extended version) 07:02
8. Ahava Abba (bonus track) 03:55


December 11, 2020

Howard Givens Interview With The Final On Vinyl

This was a wonderful experience speaking to Howard Givens, an amazing man does that simply does it all in the music industry. Listen for some great insight into the process of making music!



December 9, 2020

Contemporary Instrumental-New Age Review: Michele McLaughlin- Sketches

Release Date: December 4, 2020

Label: Independent

Website

Michele McLaughlin just released her latest studio album Sketches just a few days ago. These are musical sketches created on a blank canvas and improvised on the first take. That sounds like it was quite a challenge however I believe this talented lady would be ready for a challenge. One listen will advise you that she was.

Michele Commented: Several of the songs were completely improvised during the recording process for this album and several were inspired by my “Monday Morning Improvisations.”

I had previously enjoyed the last three releases from Michele and would anticipate nothing but excellence. To anticipate with music at times can end in disappointment but I must stress that has never happened with this artist. Michele is smooth, precise, and she articulates her compositions clearly and crisply which can easily reach a listener.

“One Life” caught me with just the name and then the music was absolutely beautiful and fitting. It filled me with gratitude for the life I have. It also made me ponder the possibilities of having more than one opportunity to have a physical presence here on earth. Possibilities, I love that word and what it means. Michele uses her imagination and digs down deep into her soul to create this spontaneous group of tracks she calls Sketches. Look at the many colors of the piano keys on the cover of the album and it gives you some insight into what she is presenting for her listening audience.

I am taken with the simplicity and clarity of all the tracks on Sketches. The emotion for instance on “The Right Choice,” is remarkably real and touching. Michele is so gifted to be able to release such an amazing recording, and the way it was done makes it that much more incredible. My appreciation for true art runs deep and this is something that moved me for all of the reasons I have mentioned.

I could never properly express in enough words the impact of such a recording as this. It humbles me and reminds me that what I do is my way of giving back to all the artists that share their talents and incredible music with us. I am one voice of hundreds that likely feel the same way about this music.

There is joy, beauty, and sadness that are all tied into this music. The human condition is no stranger to the accompaniment of music, it has gone on for centuries. There has to be something conveyed to a relatable audience. I know that this is more difficult when you are listening to music without words. If the music has enough power and emotion then any barriers will come down and the need for lyrics melts away as you, the listener, melt into every track, becoming one with the artist and the sounds being created.

The majesty of a track like “Lost,” cannot be understated. The piano says come listen to me now! This is how music paints a picture for you with a memorable impact.

The musical Sketches created by the artist then in your mind will come to life in seconds. This is a masterful display of musical virtuosity and undeniable talent. Michele McLaughlin reaches for the stars on this group of tracks and now you can find your star by just listening. She is indeed “Unshakeable” and always has been.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews
December 8, 2020


December 4, 2020

Instrumental Meditation Review: Ivan Valles-Meditation Music 4: Deep Theta

Release Date: December 4, 2020

Label: Musical Spa

Website

Before listening to meditation music do you ask yourself a series of questions to justify it or does happen with the natural flow of the day? That is the way I have always looked at life when doing certain things. Things do change as time passes; I still do that in some instances especially on my day job. I have to constantly ask myself “What is the most important thing you can do right now?”

With music things are much different. It has become a matter of fact part of my life that I enter into naturally without much thought. So, looking at that from my perspective, that is healthy and good for my mental and spiritual wellbeing. Music, any music, is a spiritual journey for me.  

Music like what you will find on the new Ivan Valles recording Meditation Music 4: Deep Theta could easily become a quintessential part of any day. Many of us need this kind of music to unwind from the day, clear our minds, and get into that space or time capsule if you will and experience a different kind of existence. It is a dimension of peace and can be a spiritual center for many listeners. I know meditation is a discipline, at first it is, then it becomes something you look forward to, kind of like a daily workout, you do it because it gives you good energy and a sense of accomplishment. Music pulls you into a nonphysical space and allows you to focus on mind, body and spirit. This is the core of who we are and it brings us home. I think it can be a glimpse of what our existence will be once we leave our physical bodies.

So, what will one find taking in the sixteen tracks on Meditation Music 4: Deep Theta. First of all, what is Deep Theta? I know many people that are reading this right now know exactly what that is but for those who do not here is some info to explain the difference between different types of music that engages different states of mind…

Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. ... In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness.

Starting at the age of eleven years on the piano to present day through Musical Spa, Ivan Valles has had over 30,000 albums sold, 170,000 song downloads, and 78 million streams. And certainly, that number will exponentially rise.

Based on that information it certainly sounds like it can be a very healing and enlightening experience. This fourth volume of meditation music from Ivan Valles should get you to that deep state of awareness and healing. Think of it as the portal into the soul, our dreams, it is similar to that. Different things are presented to us in our dreams, such as answers to questions, a look into the future or a warning, it is up to us whether or not we take the guidance. This is what this music is, a guide to reach a certain point of consciousness. It is very light and ambient and it gently invites you in and once you are fully relaxed it will sweep you away naturally, it will happen when you have accepted the path and have the full desire to get to that state of mind.

Along the way while listening to these tracks, you will hear sounds of nature folded into the music. After all, it would not be complete without adding the natural sounds we know and love. Those are sounds that touch our inner soul, our humanity and our distinctive connection with Mother Earth.

Meditation Music 4: Deep Theta
  is the teacher and you are the student but you become the master of your destiny by accepting the invitation to another realm of thought and being. It works beautifully if you let it. Think of the music as your magic carpet ride to new and fulfilling destinations. That is the promise of this beautiful journey with the music of Ivan Valles, who holds the key to unlock that doorway.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Review
September 21, 2020


Track List:
01. Sunrise
02. Breathe
03. Inner Balance
04. Lotus
05. Mindfulness
06. Love and Kindness
07. Reflections
08. Seeds of Wisdom
09. Soothing Vibrations
10. Equilibrium
11. Searching for Paradise
12. Intuition
13. Namaste
14. Into the Light
15. Ocean Dreams
16. Warm Embrace