November 9, 2018

Instrumental New Age Piano Reviews: Brian Hagen -You're The One

Release Date: November 15, 2017
Label: Independent

Brian Hagen began piano lessons at four years old. That is a very young age when most children are not even in the first year of school. It looks like the lifelong commitment to the mastery of the ivory keys have paid many dividends.

You're The One is Brian’s third proper album. His range, acumen, and styles encompass contemporary classical, new age and jazz. All of the music is straightforward piano instrumentals with no accompaniment.

What I find most compelling about music like this is the way it can hold you from start to finish. The piano is so pure and unconstrained - it flows, bends, moves and shapes your emotions. It is all dependent on the pace and timing of the composition. What is simplistic at first blush can be just as complicated as several instruments playing together and so can the emotions you have that follow. It is a powerful and effective instrument.

Artist like Brian Hagen and recordings like You're The One continue the tradition of great solo piano recordings. The torch is being carried and burning ever so brightly for gifted musicians such as this.

You're The One transports fourteen tracks of pristine beauty, relaxation, and contemplation. It awaits your calling. The listeners have the easy job, we just sit and take it all in. The creator of the music is the gift from the heavens that brings us peace and joy through the music. It is work but it most definitely sounds like a lot of joy and love goes into the creation of these wonderful sounds.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 8, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. You're The One
02. By The Limpid Stream
03. Nocturne
04. Contemplation
05. Diabelli Sonatina
06. Fantasie
07. Lonesome Road
08. Beethoven Sonatina WOo 50
09. Afternoon Waltz
10. Let It Flow
11. Now and Forever
12. Autumn Afternoon Homecoming
13. Kleine Studie
14. Sunflower 


November 5, 2018

New Age Piano Instrumental Review: Brian Crain-Piano and Night

Release Date: March 1, 2018
Label: Crain Records, Inc
Brian Crain was a musically inclined child, but he was never formally educated in music, and yet has still found success as a pianist/composer.  His passion was baseball however he found his true destiny in the ivory keys.

Based on what I have heard on Piano and Night, Brian Crane’s 17th album, he is doing exactly what he was meant to do. He has quite the back catalog that prospective listeners can explore, for now, we shall explore his latest effort that was released in March this year.

Brian composed and performed all 11 tracks on Piano and Night. What the title suggests to the listener is the magic of nighttime can be yours to enjoy. It does not have to be the basic fact that the sun went down. Look at the cover of the CD with all the beautiful Chinese lanterns floating upwards like little stars going home to the heavens, and Brian is off in background playing his piano to this dance of light. This is what the nighttime was meant for, star gazing and the solo piano music of a talented composer and musician.

Piano and Night is slow dance under the stars so you, as the listener, can picture in your mind's eye the beauty of the nighttime and all its offerings. Brain Crain makes the suggestion of these thoughts and then makes it a reality through his music. One man, one piano, and the nighttime are all you need to enjoy this music to the fullest extent. It was a very relaxing and comforting journey to partake in for this listener and it most certainly put a different spin on the night time, and that is exactly what this was meant to do. Mission accomplished to all within listening range.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 5, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
 
01. Dreamsong
02. Starry Night
03. Paper Lantern Sky
04. Sleep Nocturne
05. Moonlight Waltz
06. Time Lapse
07. Firefly Stars
08. Forest of the Night
09. Dream of Wild Horses
10. Lullaby Sonata
11. Smile

November 1, 2018

Holiday-Instrumental-Classical Review: Andrew Colyer-Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations

Release Date: November 16, 2018
Label: Inner Nova Music

Well here it is almost Halloween and me, I am listening to a Christmas album! So why am I doing this right now instead of waiting until its closer to Thanksgiving? My answer to that is I knew it was going to be a different type of recording, an improvisational type of piano excursion with dissimilar influences peppered into the final recipe to make it more interesting and tastier.

For Andrew Colyer Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations is a big step away from Circuline, a progressive rock band he is part of. I covered the band’s Counterpoint album in 2016.

So, knowing this I was getting ready for a real treat. What Andrew decided to do was to record live off the floor. Everything is completely spontaneous without arrangements or refinements. That, by all means, is a big risk to take for any recording artists. All I can say is, this man has a lot of confidence in his abilities. Magically, all of this works out very well.

I really enjoy covering improvisational holiday music, particularly on solo piano. The inherent risks and difficulty level are very high. Most folks want to hear all the traditional holiday songs performed without any improvisation because it’s a yearly tradition. That is all fine with me but it is a wonderful thing to hear a piano player take all of his talents and create eleven tracks of holiday cheer with elements of jazz, classical, and new age all mixed in. It's like a musical hot toddy with some extra spice thrown in for some bite and to make sure you remember that last sip.

Andrew really appreciates George Winston, as do I. If you happen to be a musician by trade then you take that interest in George’s music to another level. He does that nicely with his ode to Charlie Brown on “Christmas Time is Here” (part 1 & part 2). He cleverly spreads the two tracks out from #3 to #9. Then of course track 8 is the obvious “Ode to George.”  Another well-done song that I am sure Mr. Winston would appreciate, in fact, I think he would enjoy this entire album.

It is great to see an artist not only step out from a musical comfort zone but to do it all without any plan or design of what to play. A free-form piano improvisation is more than just fine with me and I enjoyed every bit of it. This is solo piano music that can be appreciated any time of year actually. For this listener the timing was good, it is helping me get in the frame of mind that old man winter is right around the corner. I need to prepare myself mentally with a good attitude and be grateful for the four seasons and what they bring us. Thanks for Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations and the shot of positive energy Andrew!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 30, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Silent Night
02. Jingle Bells
03. Christmas Time is Here (part 1)  
04. Melancholy Holiday
05. Let It Snow in New Orleans  
06. A Night in Brooklyn
07. We 3 Kings...in 5
08. Ode to George
09. Christmas Time is Here (part 2)
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
11. Hawaiian Healing Meditation [Ho'Oponopono]

 

October 29, 2018

New Age-Meditation Review: White Sun-White Sun III

Release Date: September 28, 2018
Label: Be Why

White Sun is an American musical group formed in Los Angeles, California. The line-up consists of Gurujas Khalsa (singer, principal songwriter), Adam Berry (producer, instrumentalist), and Harijiwan Khalsa (founder, percussionist).

Two years have passed since I listened to and reviewed White Sun II. The album won the 59th Annual Grammy Award for Best New Age Album in 2017. That did not surprise me in the least as it was well deserved.

White Sun III arrived at the end of September ready to capture listeners attention. This time it is a two-cd set with 23 Kundalini mantras. That is a lot of music and plenty of opportunities to get grounded, centered and refreshed.

I find myself in the same frame of mind as I was two years ago where I am not used to an entire album of vocals accompanying all the instrumentation. That is a rarity for me, to hear an entire album with vocals in the new age genre that a band like White Sun offers.

Once again, I found complete joy in this music and the fact it is all sung in a different language did not phase me. The reason this is apparent is the angelic voice of Gurujas Khalsa. You instantly become set at ease with her gentle and reassuring vocal style.

The instrumentation is superb throughout all 23 mantras. The instruments included are diverse and worldly. There are the normal things like guitar, piano and bass and then the more interesting additions of gong, table, fiddle and kora. The inclusion of such diversity gives this music a definitive foundation for Gurujas to put her perfected vocals on top of. It is the most beautiful partnership of music and voice one could imagine.

White Sun III continues my path to new discoveries in the genre of new age and meditative instrumental and vocal music. It is a huge door opener for anyone seeking meditation or spiritual renewal. All 23 mantras are built for renewing and rebuilding the soul in need. If you are struggling with anything physical, emotional and spiritual, you need to find this fantastic group called White Sun. Their music and vocals will give you faith and hope, something the world we live in desperately needs now.

I think White Sun III will be another recording in the running for a Grammy this year. Their consistency and flow with each track is amazing and to do that with 23 tracks is quite the accomplishment.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 29, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Anik Naad
02. Wah Yantee One
03. Adi Shakti
04. Guru Ram Das Song
05. Aisa Naam
06. Ong Sohung
07. Ek Ong Kar
08. Maha Kal Sat
09. Har Singh Nar Singh
10. Asankh Nav
11. Ek Ong Kar Lullaby
12. Jat Pahara
13. Ram Ram
14. Sa Re Sa Sa
15. Say Saraswati
16. Sochai Soch
17. Teree Mer
18. Eka Mai
19. Tithai Too
20. Mere Lal Jio
21. Pavan Pavan
22. Wah Yantee Two
23. Jai Te Gang
 

October 25, 2018

New Age World- Instrumental Review: Al Jewer & Andy Mitran-Perihelion…the turning point

Release Date: November 21, 2018
Label: Laughing Cat Records

Perihelion is the newest offering from Al Jewer and Andy Mitran.

Perihelion is a scientific term used in astronomy. I learn something new all the time when I listen to music and sometimes I get a science or history lesson. In this case, I got both.

In case someone reading this review is not familiar with the term like I was, here is some basic info for you so perhaps when you listen to the music it will make more sense.

per·i·he·li·on [ˌperəˈhēlēən]
The point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun. An example would be as such "today the Sun is at perihelion." Its origin is the Mid-17th century, an alteration of modern Latin perihelium (by substitution of the Greek inflection -on), from Greek peri- ‘around’ + hēlios ‘sun’. Or as the artist puts it so beautifully on their website: The burning off of artifice and unconsciousness is our moment of enlightenment. Spiritual awakening is the perihelion in our life’s orbit. This album is about these moments in human life.

Perihelion brings together some of the best and brightest talents in the new age genre including Sherry Finzer, Erik Scott, Miriam Stockley, Michelle Qureshi, Peter Phippen, Bob Lizik, Richard Gannaway, Biff Blumfungagne, Lisa Downing and Ian Maksin. That is quite a lineup of musicians that Al and Andy had to assist them in creating these 14 tracks. This music can transport the listener on a musical trip around the sun and back. Of course, you must open your heart and mind to the idea before that can happen.

If you are feeling tired, stressed or your mind is racing, perhaps it is time for your Perihelion to take place? The music will first invite you then allow you to take the emotional restraints off that keep you suspended in a state of tenseness and restlessness. This is excellent music performed by world-class musicians, every note played has meaning and when it all coalesces into colors, layers, atmospheres, and earthy tones, you can find an instant spiritual connection. Although I do speak for myself, I do hope when you hear this music you will find a path to enlightenment. I am so blessed to find this each time I hear music like this. I just let the concept, art, track titles, and music take me away, it’s that easy.

When the first track “Gathering Light” began and heard that bass I knew it was familiar. It was Erik Scott, who is a superlative player and genuinely spirited soul filled with the love for this music. He becomes one with his instrument, which everyone on this album does as well. The flutes play a major role in leading the way and then everything falls right into place right where it should be.

Al and Andy do a multitude of things with many different instruments to build each track and bring in all the other instrumentation to make it whole with substance. If I was to coin a phrase just looking at the track titles while listening to Perihelion I would say that the “First Step” is an “Awakening” then your “Ascendance” will arrive and then “Renewal” to a “Welcoming Light” and when the listen is over you would have come “Full Circle,” just as the earth does as it orbits the sun.

Perihelion certainly has a world flavor to it and yet the modernization of recording gives it a crisp air like feel on a fall day.  The clean sound allows each instrument and nuance to come through beautifully, filling your space with an ambiance and tastes of other lands and worlds beyond our own.

Al Jewer and Andy Mitran, with the help of the close-knit new age community, have delivered a masterful performance with Perihelion. It will surely receive rave reviews from whoever has the opportunity to give their opinion of what they have heard.

For this listener, it was another wonderful combination of music, earth, the stars, and a genuine appreciation for all that I am privileged to know and be surrounded by. Yes, life is good when I hear music like what I heard on Perihelion.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 25, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:  
01. Gathering Light
02. First Step
03. Eternal
04. Reflection
05. Awakening
06. Space Between
07. Ascendance
08. Perihelion
09. Renewal
10. Welcoming Light
11. Redshift
12. Journey with the Moon
13. Sacred Space
14. Full Circle

 

October 19, 2018

Instrumental Ambient/Electronica Review: Wendy Loomis-High Tech High Touch

Release Date: June 14, 2018
Label: Independent

Wendy Loomis is a San Francisco-based composer who has won the ASCAP award for composition 4 times, released 16 CDs, and has performed with various ensembles nationally and internationally. That is one impressive resume. Would her latest release High Tech High Touch continue to build on that consistency or keep setting the bar higher for this talented lady?

High Tech High Touch served as my introduction to Wendy. It would prove to be a fascinating disparity of instrumental music. Going from the High Tech (CD 1) to High Touch (CD 2) was like listening to two different artists; this is the entire point of naming each CD something entirely different so indeed it comes as advertised.

High Tech is spacey ambient electronic music, done very well. Wendy explores the varying degrees of tone, layers, and volume that a synth can create. The technology at the disposal of artists today is phenomenal, but believe me, it takes intelligence and pure talent to create something that makes sense to an audience. When you hear music like this you desire something with substance and meaning and Wendy is able to get just that to a prospective listener. 

Music such as this is easily applicable to movie soundtracks or commercials, but again, it has to be good! Wendy’s talent is apparent right from the start as the curtain opens with “Omar Sosa” (a Cuban -born composer, bandleader, and jazz pianist).  Based on that first track I found it interesting that it was on the tech CD, not the touch CD. So, with that thought in mind, this is where an artist uses their improvisational techniques and musical talent to create something new and fresh and still be able to acknowledge the artist they are honoring. A tricky thing to pull off at times, but again, Wendy comes through with flying colors, or should I say “with colors flying.”

Keep in mind this is two EP configured discs, 8 tracks each, so what you get is like sitting and listening to one 60+ minute CD.  Because the music is so dissimilar it has to stand on its own as one single entity of work that showcases the artists' affinity for offering a listener polar opposite of musical styles within the realm of keyboards.

High Touch is all acoustic piano instrumentals that are rooted in classical and new age. This is music I am accustomed to hearing quite often so it has to be done very well. Again, Wendy proves that she was not taking any chances by putting out something so different in style and sound. The piano playing is elegant, tasteful and very soothing. The 8 tracks are sheer beauty flowing seamlessly, as it should be with this type of music.

High Tech High Touch hits the mark for a wide range of listeners and it is all done very well by Wendy Loomis. So, to answer my own question, yes, she sets the bar very high for herself and any other artist to attain simply on variety alone, for one musical package. Wendy gets an A+ for talent and overall musical satisfaction from this listener’s chair.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 19, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
Disc 1: 
01. Omar Sosa
02. Cassiopeia
03. Birthday Beat
04. Synchronicity
05. Rings
06. Apogee
07. Pleiades
08. Sarah's Blessing


Disc 2:
 

01. Cumulus Cloud
02. Julio
03. Romantic Hearts
04. You're Too Sensitive
05. Nagano Reflection
06. Safe Travel
07. One Snowy Night
08. Eternity
 

October 17, 2018

Acoustic Instrumental Review: David Lindsay-Last Passing of Summer


Release Date: October 10, 2018
Label: Fallingfoot Records

It has been two years since the music of David Lindsay came back into my world. My first taste was Nightbound. With the Last Passing of Summer David went into Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios to create some more magic. The consequences of going into that studio are nothing short of magnificent for any artist. On hand were several talented artists besides Ackerman and multi-instrumentalist and co-producer/engineer Tom Eaton.

The woodwinds of Jill Halley, cello of Eugene Friesen, the violin of Charlie Bisharat, the percussion of Jeff Haynes, vocals of Noah Wilding, and the electric guitar, cymbals, keyboards, piano of Tom Eaton are major contributors to the overall sound and textures of the music. All of the musicianship is outstanding on this recording, so expect a quality listen.

Once again as it was two years ago, simplicity is the concept here. David’s guitar is gentle yet inspiring. The music will resonate with you if you afford it a bit of introspection into the cover art and the track titles. Nature is an ever-changing occurrence and with that thought, the guitar playing can ebb and flow in the same way. If you listen to Last Passing of Summer you find that to be very true.

“Through The Fields” is one of the more rhythmic tracks and it serves as the quintessential acoustic guitar track. David’s guitar continually builds in the track and gets stronger with each change of pace. I found that my senses were aroused by this music. Most of the tracks are very relaxing and hold their own however this is the one track that really stood out for me.

“Sorrows of the Moon” was special because Will Ackerman played lead guitar. It reminded of the Windham Hill days and the music that influenced my tastes in music so much. “Chandos Lake” was another track with an upbeat feel to it and well played. 

So, what you get is the simplicity and beauty of the acoustic guitar that is accentuated with numerous other instruments that create a blanket of sound that the main instrument float over nicely. And yes, that explanation is as nice as it all sounds folks.

As another season is ushered in, David Lindsay gives us the colors and sounds to match the season on the Last Passing of Summer.  Acoustic instrumental music does not get any better and this album is highly recommended.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 17, 2018
 
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. For Joni
02. Blue Skies
03. To The Sun
04. Look To The Sky
05. Through The Fields
06. Reverie
07. Last Passing of Summer
08. Sorrows of the Moon
09. Chandos Lake
10. Still Point
11. Night Vision
12. The Wind Shapes the Pines