September 23, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Jill Haley-Mesa Verde Soundscapes

Release Date: May 4, 2014
Label: Independent

Jill Haley is an artist devoted to the expression of art through nature…or is it nature through art? She is known worldwide on radio and air play for her work as a solo artist and through her work with Windham Hill Records. Mesa Verde Soundscapes is her third foray into an album with a national park theme and is dedicated to the personnel that devote their lives to the upkeep of the park. 

In each of these fourteen original tracks inspired by her trip to the Mesa Verde National Park, elements of the landscape can be found echoing through every note. Joining her in this epic journey are Graham Cullen (cello), Risa Cullen (viola), Dana Cullen (horn), and David Cullen (guitar).With the album, there is a booklet that describes each song and the place it was derived from.

“Curves of Burnt Orange” begins with tender piano movements reminiscent of the sun peaking over a large body of rock. It is a peaceful awakening by horn and tender keystrokes. A stretch after a long sleep, or a restful nap in the calm of the afternoon. A cool breeze wafts over you and you look out over nature’s majesty. The curves of the rock are like the sweetly sloping curves of a hip with just a hint of what lies beneath its mysteries. Just when you think it will be a sedate journey, the track flares up with a rousing burst of energy and then is tranquil once more. Nature…ever changing…ever there.

Air kissed notes greet us with “Sandstone Angels.” Horn blends with piano, seamlessly capturing the essence of towering spires of nature’s bounty. Miraculous formations rise from the earth, reaching for the glory of the heavens. The sweeping grace of this piece denotes the awe and wonder as you walk through the valley of the artist’s mind marveling at the wonders this song is dedicated to. Beauty walks the land in stone angels and natural wonder.

“Mesa Nightfall” is the last track on the album. If you close your eyes, you can see the vast expanse of stars winking in the wide western skies. The landscape fades to shadow and the light sinks low on the horizon. Peace after a day spent among nature’s children, it is now time to rest and await the break of day. Piano movements drift you into slumber, sweet dreams cresting on the wings of night. 

Jill Haley has a beautiful talent for capturing nature with every note. She and her contributing artists have created a soundscape dedicated to Mesa Verde National Park. We may not get to personally see the wonders of this spectacular locale but the musical descriptions help me to see the magic behind the pictures and the love she has for the land. Mesa Verde Soundscapes is an audible journey via New Age style instrumentals. A palate rich in color and substance, this is an album that should not be missed.

4.5/5 Stars

Tracks: 
01. Chapin Daybreak
02. Curves of Burnt Orange
03. Thread of Continuity
04. Seep Spring Song
05. Sandstone Angles
06. Towers and Kivas
07. Sleeping Ute Mountain
08. Sipapu Emergence
09. Vibrant Mesa Blossoms
10. Living Walls
11. Metate Conversations
12. Far View
13. Spruce Canyon
14. Mesa Nightfall


Key Tracks: Curves of Burnt Orange, Sandstone Angels, Mesa Nightfall

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer

September 23, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

September 20, 2014

New Age Progressive Review-2002-Trail of Dreams

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Label: Galactic Playground Music

2002 continues down the path of progressive new age music with their latest offering Trail of Dreams. This amazing family group is comprised of Randy Copus (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, vocals), Pamela Copus (flutes, harp, keyboards, vocals) and their remarkable 10 year old daughter Sarah (harp, vocals). Suffice it to say, this is a multifaceted family.

Trail of Dreams entails some story telling. So not only does this recording provide a journey for the mind, body and soul, there are characters in the stories that go on their journeys as well. The music accompanies these explorers. Yogananda travels far away to America to deliver the spirituality of India. Then the character Honera O’ Flynn is kidnapped from her homeland of Ireland and brought to America. She eventually finds her destiny and that misfortune shapes her future in a positive fashion. I find this all very interesting as I usually listen to primarily instrumental new age music. This is where the progressive nature of the music takes hold and settles in to build a foundation for each storyline.

The music is a lush landscape where every word just floats along like a fluffy white cloud. Sarah sounds light years ahead of her age for vocal maturity and talent. I can only imagine how far she is going to go as time passes. The opener is a gorgeous track that literally brings you “Into The Light.” It is a showcase for all their talents to shine as a functioning musical unit, together as one.

On the title track “Trail of Dreams” Randy reminded me fondly of Jon Anderson (Yes, Solo). “Far From Home” is an instrumental treasure painting the picture of a person’s sadness and the place of their birth. If you have a place that you call home, there are many emotional attachments and then if it all disappears it can be a traumatic experience. All of this comes through crystal clear through atmospheres created in the music.

This band knows how to utilize all their talent in an exceptional manner. Throughout the course of Trail of Dreams you feel elation, peacefulness and an overall spirituality that the music delivers. It is a wonderful thing and I have not heard an album by this talented family that I have not appreciated and fully enjoyed. There were times I was overwhelmed with joy and blissfulness then also a sadness that made me reflect on family members that have passed through the years. Music, good music, has a way of bringing on the entire range of emotions and that is why it can heal your soul. Another job well done by 2002.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Into The Light, Trail of Dreams, Far From Home

Tracks:
01. Into The Light
02. Sky
03. Wait For Me
04. Trail of Dreams
05. Tá mé 'mo shuí
06. Navigatio
07. Follow Your Star
08. Far From Home
09. Deep Horizon
10. Ever Onward


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

September 20, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

September 16, 2014

New Age Instrumental/World Music Review: Rupam Sarmah- Omkara-The Sound of Divine Love

Release Date: July 15, 2014
Label: Rj International

Rupam Sarmah is an engineer, director, singer/songwriter, Guinness World Record holder and an award winning producer. For over twenty years his music has touched people around the globe. Recently it was noted in Time magazine that Sarmah had the most musicians present in an orchestra. His mission is teamwork to make the world a better place for humanity and peace for all. 

Music and healing have been hand in hand for as long as people have been on this earth.  Sarmah has compiled an impressive list of contributing musicians inspired to share their gifts with the world. Using the chakra system, the album is linked to each of the seven stages, the final track being a journey from birth to enlightenment. 

Contributing artists are: Grammy winners Pandit Vishwa Moham Bhatt, Laura Sullivan and Brian Vibberts. Also a part of the album are Grammy artist Rocio Marron, Padmashri Sumitra Guha, Pt. Subhen Chatterjee, Shayna Young, Matthias Muller, Jonathan Kay and others.

“Power-Solar Plexus Chakra” is the third track on the album and deals with transformation. The myriad of instruments whirl around you, bringing to life a vortex that sweeps you in. Change is part of life. Taking the next step and becoming who you are meant to be can be a frightening thing. This track in particular held a resonating factor for me as I embark on a new life journey with my job and writing career. The texture of the piece is a well woven basket of sound, structure and complex composition that I could listen to for hours on end (and have.) It features the incomparable Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt among others.

“Communication-Throat Chakra” is the fifth chakra. It is centered on communication and intuition. Melodious with flute and other instrumentation, this piece features Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and other artists and combines a Western style musical experience with Indian Raga. The past and present collide in a vision of world peace and the love and appreciation of all peoples. It is a lighter than air piece with wispy sounds and the curling smoke of fine instruments and vocals done well.

“Heaven Bridge- Enlightenment” is a journey of birth and a life spent in contemplation of the final state of enlightenment. Celestial in its composition, Indian music again meets the West in a seamless composition of classical and World music. Multiple instruments craft a healing sound that transcends time and place and at the longest track on the album of twenty three minutes it is an unstoppable force of subtle qualities. 

At one hundred and five minutes of music with Indian Raga, Western sounds and World music, this album is being used in conjunction with therapy programs in numerous disability and cancer treatments. It is well known that sound can influence mood and in some cases can be an influencer against pain, depression and disease. The artists in this audible chakra journey lead us on a path of deliverance and uplifting sound that will stay with you long after the last note is done. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Power-Solar Plexus Chakra, Communication-Throat Chakra, Heaven Bridge-Enlightenment

Tracks:Track 1: Survival - Muladhara - Root Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Hansdhwani Raga, Classical, Western and World Music

Track 2: Life - Swadhisthana - Sacral Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Yaman Raga, Classical, Western and World Music
Track 3: Power - Manipura - Solar Plexus Chakra

Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Kafi Bhimpolashi Raga, Classical, Western and World Music

Track 4: Love - Anahata - Heart Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Ahir Bhairav Raga, Classical, Western and World Music

Track 5: Communication - Visuddhi - Throat Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Desh Raga, Classical, Western and World Music (including Vande Mataram, Mahatma Gandhi's favorite Bhajan Raghupati Raghava and Azan representing World Peace, Loving and Kindness in Communication)

Track 6: Wisdom - Ajna - Third Eye Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Bhupali Raga, Classical, Western and World Music (sound of Shiva Tandav Dance)

Track 7: Transcendence - Sahasrara - Crown Chakra
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Charukeshi Raga, Classical, Western and World Music

Track 8: Enlightenment - Swarga Setu - Heaven Bridge
Based on Classical melodies with Influence of Various Ragas (Nat Bhairavi, Kaushik Dhwani, Gorakh Kalyan, Hansdhwani, Hemant), Classical, Western and World Music with 9 transitions of frequencies.

 

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer

September 16, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

September 13, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Bryan Carrigan-Inspired

Release Date: 2014
Label: Peonies Music

Solo artist Bryan Carrigan’s fifth album Inspired more than lives up to its name. I can tell you right from the start that I think we have a new age masterpiece to consider in 2014. 

His website puts things into proper perspective for listeners:

Bryan Carrigan is a producer, engineer, music editor, synth programmer, scoring sound designer, remixer and composer of electronic music. His career has spanned the gamut of genres working within the record, TV and film industries lending his skills to hundreds of projects. Bryan has also released 5 albums of his own blend of electronic, ambient, downtempo, chill out and new age music - Passing Lights and Focus in 2011, Windows in 2012, Below Zero in 2013 and Inspired in 2014.

Carrigan is obviously a multi-talented individual that understands what his abilities are and works within that scope and range to create his music. Knowing what your limitations are is an important factor in the creative process and it became readily obvious to me in short order that this man has everything under control.

As the first track “Elation” begins, it makes you feel like you are standing at the highest peak of a mountain range watching the sun rise then suddenly flying through the billowing clouds above. The feeling is one of Elation! So mission accomplished. The album has a nice flow and it takes you “Along The Path.” And that path is your choice as you let the music take you there. As the CD suggest on the back cover “Finding inspiration in everyday life is within reach. Find your happy.” Well this music fan found a happy place listening to Inspired

“Kaleidoscope” is self-explanatory. The music has many colors and hues. I could appreciate the way Carrigan used all the various keyboards to blend it into a living breathing piece of music. The quality of this music is evident in every track. What I found most appealing is how it had the ability to give me a sense of hope and excitement but in the same instance gave me a relaxing peace inside. The kind you find when you look at your soul mate and know it is your life’s path, or when you look into your dog’s eyes and know without a doubt that there is a caring loving soul behind that gaze. It’s the warm and fuzzy stuff but it is very spiritual in nature. The music initiates all of these feelings and keeps you there.

“Warm Embrace” is just that. The opening sequence is gentle and inviting with strings gently plucked leading the way then keys laying down a bed of rose petals for you to walk over in your mind’s eye. The pace is just right on this track it delivers complete bliss to your mind, body and soul, the sacred triangle of life.

New age instrumental music never requires any lyrics to create an atmosphere to generate good feelings and a sense of being one with everything around you. Bryan Carrigan is masterful in taking a blank canvas and creating a masterstroke of musical beauty and pleasure. This recording has so much to offer within the 12 tracks. I completely enjoyed the entire set.

If you are into new age music or instrumental tracks you will be Inspired to hear this recording any time day or night. This is one of the best natural fixes anyone can have.
 
5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Elation, Kaleidoscope, Warm Embrace

Tracks:
01. Elation         
02. Hope         
03. Lemon Drops         
04. Floating Above         
05. Along the Path         
06. Fluffy Clouds         
07. Kaleidoscope         
08. Caravan         
09. Really Fun Song         
10. Exhale        
11. Warm Embrace         
12. Offerings

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

September 13, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

August 14, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Jonn Serrie-Day Star

Release Date: June 14, 2014
Label: New World Music


Jonn Serrie began his musical voyage alongside his grandmother at the piano when he was a young boy. His passion for flight and music became conjoined later in life and he has put the two together to craft music inspiring planetarium shows and several albums with the inspirational possibilities and in some cases, reality of space travel.

Serrie uses an electronic medium to capture evocative imagery that spans the cosmos. In the first track “Day Star” the title track from his newest album, Day Star, the album opens up to a slight hum, like the opening of a planetarium show. If you just sit back, you can see the lights flicker in your mind’s eye as the stars burst into a story all their own. The heavens hold many secrets, but Jonn Serrie might just have an inside track to a few of them. Tendrils of sound reach up and grab you, pulling you into the dark abyss of space, letting you float on clouds of vaporous gasses and natural wonderment. In this music, I could see the planets spin and the universe move in a breathless pace of electronic splendor.  

“Eden’s Waypoint” is a climb into the electronic realms of the vast canvas that are the heavens. Tinkling chimes and electronic blips are surrounded by swipes of sound like a radiant brush of color across velveteen blackness. There is much to be seen in the landscape of this piece. It is a voyage of discovery in a land as foreign to us as we are to it, but still we seek it out. The human heart is never content to just be…it always wants to see across the next horizon. 

“The Sum Over Histories” is the last piece on the album and one of the most effervescent. While all the pieces were celestial in nature, this song delved into the deep and hallowed mysteries of space and all of its frontiers, both in our hearts and in our imaginations. All of the books that take us to far off galaxies, namely the Alastair Reynolds series can be found within each note. Heinlein, Herbert, Moon, Cook and many more are other authors ruminating with a deep space feel. Hollow sounds, wispy sensations, electronic pulses and the complexity of a composition that transcends music into a work of the soul is what this piece is all about. If you want to experience a walk through space and time, listen to “The Sum Over Histories.”

Jonn Serrie is a revolutionary voice in the pursuit of celestial electronic music. His work encapsulates the deep mysteries of space with the human desire to explore yet another blank canvas. It is a beginning. It is the before and ever after. It is the music of the great beyond and that which will never be discovered. That is space…open…wild and free. One of the last unknowns and Jonn Serrie has crafted its soundtrack with artful electronic and brilliant compositions that have been heard at planetarium shows and on several albums. “Day Star” is the perfect end to a stressful day and the perfect gift for sci-fi fans.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Sum over Histories, Day Star, Eden's Waypoint

Tracks:
1. Day Star
2. Galaxy Prime
3. M-Theory
4. Eden's Waypoint
5.The Antares Rift
6.Quantum Seas
7.The Sum over Histories


DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

August 14, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

August 13, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: The Gathering II-Various Artists

Release Date: August 2014
Label: Imaginary Road Studios


Will Ackerman has made his mark in music several times over and he continues to do so with his Imaginary Road Studios in Windham County, Vermont. The Gathering, released in 2012, received a lot of praise and won the Zone Music Reporter album of the year with the highest rating in their charts history.

The Gathering II is a similar collection of tracks featuring artists that recorded albums at Ackerman’s studios. I am proud to say that our affiliation is strong with most of these artists having covered their albums in reviews from last year to date. Also our affiliation with ZMR is a joy to have and a privilege to help promote these fantastic artists.

This collection of 21 select tracks sheds the light and illumination on each and every artist beautifully. Without a word the music delivers a sense of warmth and spirituality that every sentient being desires. A break from everyday pressures and stress may be the just the tonic your soul desires. The Gathering II is the right prescription. The instrumentals are led by the piano in many instances however many other instruments become factors as well and create the same pleasant desired effects. 

Lawrence Blatt’s “Where The Pines Once Stood” and Matteo Palmer’s “Ex Nihilo” are fine examples of where the compilation steps away from the ivory keys and lets the six-string do all the talking. Blatt’s guitar whispers sweet nothings in your ear from where the strong and tall trees once stood and Palmer’s sweet and graceful picking showcase the sheer beauty one guitar can make if played properly. Those are but two examples of the transitions all of this music can offer within one singular track. 

These tracks are artists taking a once empty canvas and painting their broad musical strokes to create their own individual masterpieces into one collective of amazing new age instrumentals. As one entity they are representative of the genre and serve as an introduction to not only their world but to the Imaginary Road Studios where it all begins. The recording process is impeccable and the studio resonates with the full bodied sound provided by each individual artist. It all seamlessly falls into sync with the awesome surroundings of rolling hills, majestic green mountains and fresh air. 

I would not be surprised to see this second edition of The Gathering to make its mark once again on an audience eager to absorb and fully enjoy each track. This is a taste of heaven my music loving friends and it comes highly recommended from this listener. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: ALL

Tracks:

01.Afterglow-Ann Sweeten
02.Joy Comes Again-David Kydd
03.Starlight Melody-Denise Young
04.Early Falls The Christmas Snow-Dominic Silla
05.Naked Love-Fiona Joy
06.All Souls Lullaby-Heidi Bryer
07.Uncertainty-Isadar
08.Sojourn-Jim Gabriel
09.Midwinter Lullaby-Katherine Kay
10.Calligraphy-Lauren Sullivan
11.Where The Pines Once Stood-Lawrence Blatt
12.Sailing-Louis Colaiannia
13.Yew and I-Lynn Yew Evers
14.Lullaby For The Hills-Masako
15.Ex Nihilo-Matteo Palmer
16.Photograph-Rebecca Arnold
17.Pathway To Love-Ryan Michael Richards
18.Devodance-Shambu
19.Open Spaces-Stanton Lanier
20.All The Days of My Life-Vincent Avella
21.Dark Blue Wind-Vin Downes



Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

August 13, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

August 8, 2014

Indo Jazz Fusion Review: Ray Spiegel Ensemble-Moksha

Release Date: 2014
Label: BMI

Ray Spiegel began his journey into music when he was but a lad of thirteen years. Transfixed by the Indian performers he heard playing, he burned to learn more and thus began his voyage into the deep and churning waters of the music industry. Moksha is his newest release. Artists and special features in this album include: Stephen James (violin, sarod), lra Coleman (bass, electric bass and Hodu), Tani Tabbal (cajon, drums), Ramesh Misra (sarangi), Ray Spiegel (tabla drums, manjira, marimba, percussion), Melanie Richeson, (harp), Junior Gabo Wedderburn (djembe, wood bongo, congas), Stan Scott (harmonium), Hansa Veena (Hindustani slide guitar), Robert Levin (talking drum, percussion), Frank Velardi (drums) and sounds of nature recorded at Simla House, West Hurley, NY.

Filled with sounds of Classical Indian music blended with a modern fusion sound, Moksha is an album full of surprises. The title track, “Moksha” trickles to life with string instruments and sounds of water.  These quickly morph into a catchy percussive elements complete with sarong and tabla weaving in and out of the flawless composition. Sounds of nature bring crispness to the piece, making you feel that you are standing in the middle of a land of magic and mystery.

“Wild Mushrooms at Telluride” is one of my favorite songs on the album. A heavy downpour brings the piece to life. Thunder clashes. Birds chirp in the aftermath of the storm. Plunking little sounds intersperse with the musical backdrop, so you aren’t sure if you are hearing a cacophony of frogs, or something else. You turn your ear and cock your head. Yes. It is a forest of mushrooms bursting wild from the soil. The joyful popping sounds fall in line with the classic Indian instruments, weaving with modern day fusion techniques to give this piece a fresh and intoxicating experience for the listener. It is the longest track on the album, but it so enjoyable I did not mind it in the least. String instruments blend with the popping sounds and it began to remind me of a manic episode of a body snatcher movie-with happy little mushrooms taking over the world one pod at a time. Excellent melody. Instruments included in this unique piece were: sarod, sarangi, harmonium, percussion and more.

“Farewell” is the final piece on the album. Tinkling bells, the swaying lilt of a harp and the soothing and sensual moves of the Hindustani slide guitar make this one of the most beautifully crafted tracks on the album. I found myself closing my eyes and drifting into a place of peace, never wanting the song to end. Tabla, percussion and a variety of unique instruments helped to make this piece a remarkable one.

All of the artists contributing to Moksha should be very proud of what they have put together. An album of rich culture and diversity, it speaks to Classical Indian techniques and instruments, but goes one step further in breaking down the barriers between the past and present. Jazz infusions blend with classic sound to create new landscapes for listeners to enjoy. Elements of Bollywood and street pieces intersperse with Afro-Cuban, Indian Folk and more. I for one feel privileged to have come across this remarkable album. If you will excuse me, I think I want to go listen to those popping little mushrooms again. Catchy little things. If you enjoy a window into world music at its best, try Moksha

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Wild Mushrooms At Telluride, Once Around, Farewell

Tracks: 
1.Moksha
2.Once Around
3.Soul at Sunrise
4.Tal Sawari
5.Wolfy’s Dream
6.Connect the Dots
7.Wild Mushrooms at Telluride
8.Farewell

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

August 8, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews