February 26, 2021

Acoustic Instrumental-New Age-Meditation Review: Ryan Judd-Soaring Together

Release Date: February 26,2021

Label: The Rhythm Tree

Website

Ryan Judd returns in 2021 with Soaring Together. My introduction to Ryan and his music was the 2018 release An Open Sky.  I was very impressed by how beautifully matched his acoustic guitar playing was with Kristen Miller’s cello. Once again that duo presents ten tracks of absolute blissfulness.

Judd’s delicate touch on his guitar and the sound of the nylon strings produce a very pleasing sound. The way his sound melds with Kristen’s cello is a match made in musical heaven. And the end result is like you are actually in another dimension or your own personal heaven, that suddenly became your reality thanks to the music.

I love the cover art and how the title shows you how we all can start Soaring Together. This is the kind of message that hits home rather readily when you look at the layers of colors in that picture. This is interpreted through the music in layers as well. As I always say, it is all in how you perceive the image and music being presented. What I hear in this instrumental acoustic new age meditation are all three of those elements joining hands to create this amazing soundscape for each listener to get some relief from stress, worry, exhaustion, all of those negative aspects of many lives these days. When you are weary of fighting those battles during the course of a 24-hour period you need something to pull you out of that void of negativity. This is music to soothe the savage beast of energy stealing emotions.

It is indicated in the artist's one sheet that he felt deep love and loss which is translated in the music. This can be heard in the tracks if you listen intently. On the other side of that is the joy and a child’s wonder to reflect upon. How often does an adult look through the lens of a child? I would think very rarely. For me it is being with furry friends or watching the simplicity of nature in front of you, like the wind in the trees, a bird singing, any number of things bring about that sense of wonderment I felt as a child. It really is not that hard to find, you just have to uncloud those emotions and flip that internal switch from being a serious adult to a care free innocent child. Everything becomes clear, focused, and unencumbered by the responsibilities of your life weighing on your shoulders.

This album was so seamless and flowing it was like one track as an entity in lieu of going from one track to another and singling any out. This is why I did not mention any particular track. Every track was beautiful music perfection as far as I am concerned. It all fell together for my listening experience. As the music led me down that path to feeling whole, I listened to it as one because it made me feel clear and uninfluenced by outside forces (noises of car doors slamming, a TV on etc.). I am not sure if that makes any sense to some folks but it sure did to me and that is how I could explain it.

Yes, music can get you to that place and it takes music from people like Ryan Judd and recordings like Soaring Together. So, come along for the ride with Ryan and Kristen because Soaring Together is better than going it alone.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
January 22, 2021

Track List:

01. Innocence Lost
02. A Child's Wonder
03. Sharing the Joy
04. Hearts Entwined
05. On Her Wings
06. Never to Return
07. A Waltz with Jena Lynn
08. Alone Inside
09. Soaring Together
10. A Look in the Mirror




February 1, 2021

Contemporary New Age Instrumental Review: Force For Good-Innocence

Release Date: February 1, 2021

Label: Sprout Recordings

Website

I had the pleasure of listening to and covering the Force For Good release Passions nearly one year ago. This is a group founded by Jonathan Sprout.


And just as I mentioned in that review, a new album would be forthcoming in February of 2021. They are right on schedule with his latest instrumental recording Innocence. That word is one that I did not hear in 2020. It was just the opposite all year long. How could you focus on the innocence of a child, or a beautiful animal with the world in turmoil? These things I am sure were presented to us at one time or another during the year. That is a decision we all can make to enjoy those pleasures in life regardless of what is going on around us or is on the news 24/7. If you need some music to help you I have just the right prescription.

We are going through a fundamental change worldwide, although I am unsure of where it all will end, I have hope in humanity, our resilience and common sense collectively. Music is the healer and it always has been, although I did not come to that realization until I reached adult life and was presented with spiritual music to gather my thoughts and emotions to change my outlook, only then would it change significantly.

So, what does all this have to do with the music of Force For Good and the album Innocence you may ask? It is the natural elegance of contemporary new age instrumental that brings all of these thoughts and emotions to the forefront and I feel compelled to share it. As this musician is immersed in his music and the meaning of it all, my experience follows that process. For me as a listener this all intersects and merges into one thought process and translates to spiritual awareness and growth.

I think many listeners looking for enlightenment and healing will find it in Innocence. In that one word we can find love, spirituality, humor, happiness, and above all a slice of heaven we all can use to our benefit.

There are fourteen tracks on the album and consistency and the flow prove to be some of Jonathan’s best work to date. Potential listeners must look at each track title and listen carefully to what is inside the music that relates to that inference. “Adirondack” which is the longest track clocking in at 8:19, is the culmination of one man’s beliefs, process, and innermost thoughts that drive the creative process. Certainly, the track is a tribute to the Adirondack Mountains and the essence of its natural beauty, colors, sounds, and the awesome power of natural occurrences and wildlife that populate the area. I believe the track captures the spirit of all of those thoughts within the song and because there is so much to discover in those mountains, he had to make sure the track flowed and gave the listener a glimpse of beauty held within nature.

Another high point was the orchestrations in “Plastic.” This is one that would be well suited for a soundtrack or documentary on our environment. The apex comes just before the four-minute mark and will leave you floating on a cloud as it transitions back in the softer layers of the track. “Oceans” was impressive as well with so many changes and the varied instrumentation made it inspiring and unforgettable.

Those are a few examples of a masterful performance and significant achievement for Jonathan Sprout and A Force For Good, it is what we need for these times. Innocence will surely be recognized as one of the best releases this year in the genre of contemporary new age instrumentals.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
January 31, 2021


Track List:

01. Natural    3:12
02. Uplifters    3:51
03. Reverence    7:10
04. Vinyasa    6:17
05. Wilderness    4:07
06. Adirondack    8:16
07. Hunger    4:25
08. Plastic    5:46
09. Homeless    7:10
10. Oceans    5:20
11. Wind    3:10
12. Force - Acoustic Version    0:15
13. For - Acoustic Version    0:22
14. Good - Acoustic Version    0:31


January 29, 2021

New Age Instrumental Review: Peter Calandra-Ambient Tuesdays

Release Date: January 29, 2021

Label: Independent

Website

The first thing I noticed on Peter Calandra’s new release Ambient Tuesdays was the texture of the album cover. If you look closely or blow it up larger you can see it has the same surface as the paper on canvas. It of course works very well because it is an oil painting and it looks like the image used was the actual painting. I think it was a clever idea to do it this way.

When I started to listen to the first track it was an instantaneous reaction of, yes, I know I am going to love this album full of ambient delights. It never hurts to be familiar with an artist, which I am with Peter. I go back to 2014 and here we are in 2021 already and the music just keeps coming, and I am very grateful for that.

Ambient Tuesdays
will take you on quite a journey, with each track offering the listener all the variety one artist can assemble in a recording session. There is gracefulness in this ambient aural exchange. With each track, there are so many elements intersecting you quickly realize the immense effort that went into recording all eleven tracks.

The very interesting and progressive title track starts the proceedings then the exciting and cinematic “Walking The High Line” changes direction entirely. If you can picture a situation or actual physical presence of someone attempting such a daring feat, the music certainly gets you there quickly with emotion and suspense sprinkling the image in your head with various sounds and keyboards. On the other side of that “Spring Morning” is a shorter piece that brings instant relaxation and peace. It is contemplative and meditative all at the same time and I could see if it went on for a few more minutes it would serve as a doorway to another state of mind, that higher plane of existence that meditation can take you. Peter is no stranger to bringing that kind of composition to a recording as the next piece, “Quiet Romance,” is everything it says it is in the title and it runs for 6:28. It gives any kind of listener ample time to stretch out, relax, and let the stress or worries of the day just disappear. It is a wonderful thing this spiritual-based music we have at our fingertips any time or anywhere.

Now if all of that was not enough Peter invites you to create “Your Story” set to the most elegant and inviting sounds. This allows you to paint your picture on a blank canvas with the music as your spark to some creative essence otherwise not found. Maybe you have something inside that needs to come forward or you need to rewrite your story and make it real. The music is the golden key to bring you there.

I particularly enjoyed the way Peter wrapped up the album with the two “Matriarch Suites” prelude and postlude, coming in at 7:10 and 5:54 respectively. The first suite reminded me of the wizardry of keyboard legends like Rick Wakeman and Jordan Rudess. Peter stretched out and gave his audience an aural bag of goodies with over 13 minutes of his keyboard prowess on display. I thought it was an amazing two tracks and I thoroughly enjoyed how many changes and developments all this music went through. As a matter of fact, on the entire recording there was so much diversity, but more so in these two suites than I ever expected.

Ambient Tuesdays takes the core beliefs of the new age genre and community tenets and uses them as a springboard to create and deliver gorgeous ambient instrumental soundscapes. The production values of this recording are superb and the use of the keyboards and different sounds it can generate is masterful.

The truth is you can have all of this and it does not have to be Tuesday to fully enjoy it!


January 12, 2021
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

Track List:
01. Ambient Tuesdays (3:00)
02. New Renaissance (5:51)
03. Overlook Morning (4:24)
04. Rainy Mood (5:11)
05. Desert Skies (2:42)
06. Walking The High Line (4:04)
07. Spring Morning (2:47)
08. Quiet Romance (6:28)
09. Your Story (4:10)
10. Matriarch Suite, Prelude (5:54)
11. Matriarch Suite, Postlude (7:10)


January 21, 2021

Track Feature: The Song Gardeners - Warrior of Light


The Song Gardeners have once again graced our presence with another single release titled "Warrior of Light."
Once again featured on the track singer/songwriter Corrie Dunn (vocals, piano, guitar), singer/songwriter Mary Gospe (vocals, guitar, percussion), and Chris Day (bass).

Mary sings "Activate the love inside, be a warrior, a warrior of light." This is very spiritual and positive for us all to take to heart. It goes along with the saying "Kill them with kindness." That kind of approach helps people drop their guard and open up to another viewpoint.

This is not a protest song by any means however it does point to the media and the lies both sides have been telling us all along to support their agendas. That is one simple fact that most people do realize. So the message is to be true to yourself and picking a side is not part of the equation. Travel your purposeful path and you will reach the desired destination. The truth shall be revealed if you listen to your inner voice which is a "go with your gut" attitude that cannot miss.

I for one loved the song, lyrics, and the premise of why it was recorded.

 

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck


The Song Gardener's Media Page: https://ffm.to/qqpx8e2

Visit The Song Gardener's Website: https://www.thesonggardeners.com

The Song Gardeners is a musical trio from the San Francisco Bay Area featuring singer/songwriter Corrie Dunn (vocals, piano, guitar), singer/songwriter Mary Gospe (vocals, guitar, percussion), and Chris Day (bass). 

Their original songs are filled with positive, empowering messages and beautiful harmonies.

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