May 26, 2020

Ambient Electronic Review: Michael Whalen Sacred Spaces

Release Date: March 6, 2020
Label: Solace/Myndstream

This will be my third voyage with Michael Whalen. I previously enjoyed Kiss The Quiet in 2018 and Cupid Blindfolded in 2019. Now his most recent work Sacred Spaces has filled my living space. I say with that with all of the sincerity I can muster. This is ambient electronic music with a definitive new age spirit and temperament, just the way I like it.

When I first started this voyage exploring new age music it was only that, one genre, it has grown and branched off into many pleasurable sub-genres. This one of those albums that branch off of the new age mindset and approach. It explores all the electronic and ambient textures and colors within each track that a mixture of genres could possibly offer.

The very first track sets the tone for the entire album. “A Metaphysical Morning” is an apt title for the track and it sets you up for relaxation, deep relaxation…if you choose to let it take you there. I will do all that once I leave this space of consciousness of actually discussing the music with potential listeners. Those of you that have already listened, you will click with what I have to say.

This surely is Sacred Spaces. As the music progresses each track unfolds a new and interesting path of sounds to let your consciousness absorb. This is so beautiful and inviting I am sure you could reach another plane of existence or an out of body experience with these sounds and vibrations. After all, isn’t that what our mind, body, and spirit react to on a daily basis? It is the yin and yang of our spiritual and physical existence. Thanks to the music and extraordinary artists like Michael Whalen for these gifts, these ultimate realizations I find in the music become my reality.

The array of keyboards Michael uses for this project is quite impressive. I can see why there is so much going on in each track. There is no surprise that sound is so terrific with Tom Eaton at the helm doing the mastering, he is a true craftsman and artist in his own right. If you listen to tracks like “1000 Paper Cranes” you can hear the exceptional musicianship that comes together and fine production values intersecting. That is with any track actually, that one happens to be one of my favorites.

I always end up coming back to the greats of instrumental electronic music such as Jarre, Kitaro, and my all-time favorite Tangerine Dream. I know it may sound redundant but for me it’s comforting and makes my heart smile when I can relate to music in that capacity and perhaps some of you will too, and seek out the artists I mentioned for more of this kind of experience.

Sacred Spaces is very interesting in that it was years in the making as it started off as a classical project then morphed into a modern montage of electronic beauty. Indeed, the music is sacred as the picture on the cover of the CD depicts. It is quite fitting for what you will hear on this fantastic recording.

The years and music pile up like a bookshelf you continue to fill. As long as it remains a passion and you hold a deep reverence for the music, the books (of music) and the shelf never gather any dust.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 21, 2020

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Track List:
 
1. A Metaphysical Morning
  2. Sacred Spaces
  3. Ordinary Miracles
  4. 1000 Paper Cranes
  5. The Pure and the Calm
  6. The Inbetween
  7. Devotion
  8. In the Footsteps of the Blessed
  9. The After Life


May 25, 2020

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Masako-Hidden Flowers

Release Date: May, 25, 2020
Label: Independent
Website
I appreciate having a history with an artist, especially one that I can fully appreciate. This is the third Masako recording I have had the honor of covering.

Before the latest Hidden Flowers, I can reach back to 2017 with Piano Sanctuary and to 2019
with Underwater Whisperer.Knowing how much I enjoyed the previous of this talented piano player, it was just a matter of letting the music play. Then once it begins the process of it melting into my soul comes easy and naturally.

Hidden Flowers has twelve tracks of Masako leading the way with her flowing and concise piano style. Once again, the chemistry of recording at Will Ackerman’s studio comes through with the artist going from strength to strength. All production was by Ackerman, Tom Eaton, and Masako.

I think what I always admire the most with Masako is that she handles each composition as an individual piece of art. And even though the approach is that singularly focused, it comes together as one cohesive recording.
 
Tracks like “Observing M31” are light and airy featuring some lovely vocals and some rolling rhythmic piano playing along with some EWI from Premik Russell Tubbs (it sounds like a nice woodwind flute) to give it that extra layer of spice and texture. It is one of the many stand out tracks you will hear on Hidden Flowers.

Then with tracks like “Southbound Flyway,” which are filled with colorful and lively rhythms, which endeavor then succeed to paint a picture. Then you have Jeff Oster’s flugelhorn enhancing the mix to help create that scenery within the mind’s eye. It is undoubtedly the piano that always leads the way however the additional instruments make the tracks more whole and adventurous for potential listeners.

Tracks of beauty are perfected through the ivory keys and presented beautifully on Hidden Flowers. I think the title of the recording my suggest that flowers are hidden within in each song for you, the individual listener, to discover. I stopped to smell their fragrance and elegance once again through the talented fingers of Masako.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 18, 2020


Track List:

01.  Harajuku Memoir
02.  Age of Flowers
03.  Acadia
04.  Remember the Rainy Day
05.  Blossom River
06.  Observing M31
07.  Forgiving
08.  Eternal Bliss
09.  Southbound Flyway
10. Suddenly Cherry Blossoms
11.  Winter People
12. Central Park Retreat 



Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

May 12, 2020

New Age Ambient Instrumental Reviews: Liquid Mind XIII-Mindfulness

Release Date: May 29, 2020
Label: Real Music

Liquid Mind is a composer and musician named Chuck Wild. He creates music for those of us in the fast lane that need to slow down and pull over to smell the roses of life.

His Mindfulness release is meant for just that, relaxing, chilling out, whatever you want to label it. These are the kind of new age ambient sounds that will aid you in calming the inner storms and it will quickly soothe the mind, body, and spirit.

Chuck’s many decades of experience working with people like Frank Zappa, for instance, has given him a penchant for extraordinary production values. His classical foundation and pop experience with bands like Missing Persons has pushed his talents to limitlessness and picturesque beauty for the senses to indulge in. Inside the music, I found sounds that reminded me of some of the favorites I have enjoyed such as Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream and the like.

As one track effortlessly folds into the next, you realize that deep meditation can be realized in this 1 hour plus of synthesized perfection. With titles like “Life in the Slow Lane,” I think you get the idea and the mood Chuck is trying to capture with his music. His intent is crystal clear and if your goal is to find solace within the music, you need to look no further than Mindfulness.

Chuck originally wrote the music of Liquid Mind to be of service to himself, friends, and family in dealing with the anxiety and stress of working long hours in our "information overload" world, and also for friends and family dealing with the stress of life-threatening illnesses like cancer and HIV. This is the world we live in today and it is no wonder our society gets stressed out at the fast pace that information is disbursed and the pressures to keep up with ever-changing technology. The success of his music speaks for itself and it has been available to the world to consume since 1993.

I found Mindfulness to be exactly what I would use for general relaxation or meditation; it fits perfectly for my mindset and needs. I am sure that I am going to be one of many that find the value of listening to Chuck’s musical Mindfulness. It will put you “In the Arms of Love.” (which I added to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist)

The digital version of Mindfulness is now available and the CD will be released on May 29, 2020.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 11, 2020

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Track List:
1. In the Arms of Love-10:05    
2. A Calm Heart-11:33    
3. The Wisdom of Kindness-10:34    
4. A Gentle Mind-12:42    
6. Life in the Slow Lane-9:51
7. Mindfulness-9:28
   
 

May 8, 2020

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Yurina Shin-Connections

Release Date: May, 7, 2020
Label: Independent

Yurina Shin is a classically trained composer who blends the richness of the classical tradition with the fast-paced, moving rhythms of today. This is on her “About” page on her website. I find this kind of info is simple and straightforward. It creates a clear picture of who the artist is. Yurina has created a lot of music for very successful video games and is very well educated in music, holding an M.A in Music Composition, and a B.A. in Music Education.

That kind of combination is an excellent core to work from for any performing artists as far as I am concerned. I have found the educated musicians are always drawn to the classical genre. This makes total sense as that is where everything else comes from one way or another, it all started there.

Connections is her latest release, which combines her two EP’s Memory Lane and Reflection. This encompasses eight tracks of contemporary instrumental that shines the light upon Yurina’s education and previous experiences as a recording artist.

I do believe as well that many listeners would put this music into the new age instrumental genre. For the sake of brevity, I will call it contemporary instrumental, which does have a strong crossover tendency to new age classifications. The music is very relaxing and beautiful. Piano based music such as this can serve many purposes for personal use, movie soundtracks, and documentaries. However, that is not the intent of presenting this encapsulation of the two EPs. This brings attention to her all-around talents and abilities and hopefully to a wider distribution of listeners and potential record labels.

Because of the changing tides of the music, it makes for a more diverse listening experience. The pace and length of the tracks are just right and Yurina uses all of her talents to make each one a singular work of art. The addition of a violin only accentuates her efforts through the ivory keys. The addition of that instrument is always is well suited for the piano accompaniment that I have heard with so many artists.

Yurina desires to reach a larger audience and the uses of her music will certainly follow once that happens. Connections will be an introduction for many potential listeners and I believe will be the springboard to more opportunities and much larger fan base than she already has.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 25, 2020

Founder of:

Track List:
1. Wind
2. Another Day
3. La Lumiere
4. Pulse
5. The Soft Voice
6. A Blue Boy
7. Fog Over the Lake
8. In Darkness

May 1, 2020

New Age Instrumental Review: Peter Sterling-Sanctuary of Light

Release Date: April 1, 2020
Label: Harp Magic

I have had the pleasure of covering two of Peter Sterling’s releases so far. The 2016 release Sacred Visions and in 2018 Magic Kingdom. Both were filled with beautiful sounds led by his diverse harp playing. Now we have the latest to enjoy titled Sanctuary of Light which is ready to enchant us all that can appreciate new age instrumental music.

For my personal tastes, this music works. I value all music in such a way that there is built-in respect and admiration I have before listening to any artisan’s creation. With that in mind, it opens the mental aperture some more and casts aside any preconceived ideas one may have about what they will be hearing.

Right now, more than ever, we all need healing on some level. The world is in turmoil and distress and the only way to realign mother earth and its inhabitants is to take a collective breath and let the music lead the way. This is why music has been and always will be our savior. That is in effect, a community of unsung heroes as far as I am concerned.  

Peter is saying to us all “Let the light be your sanctuary, you can find it in my music.” While there is always darkness and shades of grey in our world, we can always find the light whether it's through the music, a kind face, or a gentle smile of assurance from a loved one. Yes, this is what this music brings to the forefront of my mind and how it relates to my spirit, consciousness, and attitude at any given moment.

As Peter intimates on the inner sleeve of the CD jacket “This music is dedicated and inspired by the divine light that lives in us all.” I find this to be so true right now. Every day, I am seeing how people are coming together, sacrificing their time, energy, and knowledge to fight the worldwide pandemic we are facing. It so predominant right now in all our lives that I cannot help but talk about it and how this all connects together. I am linked to music consciously and unconsciously. This gorgeous and heavenly sound Peter coaxes from his harp, gives me more awareness of my surroundings and how easily I can become grounded and centered with some help provided by his music.

So rather than mention any particular track on the recording, I prefer to put my attention on the entire project as a whole. I am looking at the big picture right now for all of humanity and the fact that music can inspire me in such a way that my inner spirit and true self is revealed.

Thank you, Peter Sterling, for your artistic genius and contribution to all of mankind with the soothing spiritual sounds provided on Sanctuary of Light.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 3, 2020

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Track List:
 

1. The Light Within
2. Divine Reflection
3. Light In Your Eyes
4. This Path I Walk
5. Forever More
6. Pool of Love
7. Seventh Heaven
8. Shores of Eternity
 

April 24, 2020

Celtic-Acoustic-New Age Review: 2002- Celtic Fairy Dream

Release Date: April 24, 2020
Label: Real Music

When you go to the 2002 website the new release Celtic Fairy Dream is introduced as a relaxing, soothing, nurturing music for peaceful rest and sleep. Celtic Fairy Dream is a collection of timeless songs from ancient lands. Harps, flutes, piano, and subtle orchestration accompany delightful lyrics in Gaelic, Welsh and English. That puts it all into proper perspective for any potential listeners.

There is much more to this family’s music, however, Pamela, Randy, and Sarah Copus are the contributors to this lush soundscape. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In this case, what you hold within your mind’s eye may be different for all us, but what you hear is musical perfection with vocals that sound like they are coming straight from heaven.

The one thing that remains consistent throughout is Sarah’s incredible vocal talent. She is growing into the music with each release and mother and father have let her walk the path as they provide all the gorgeous layers of sounds for her silky sweet vocals to gloss over the top. She shines like a bright star on the verge of bursting into a supernova. I am hoping I have the opportunity to witness that event as time goes on, as each passing year will lend the experience and maturity to her vocal expertise and approach.

Sarah’s angelic vocals are the focal point of this album but she has the best support possible with her veteran musician parents. It is a beautiful thing, this amazing family and all their talents coming together as one musical energy. I am sure that there will be the third generation of musicians and vocalists someday but I am sure mom and dad are in no rush for that!

All ten tracks offer the listener a real music experience coming from three spiritual beings wishing to pass it on to humanity. They have been doing this for so long, I could not imagine another result than absolute bliss perfected in the studio.

Besides all of the excellent vocal tracks, there is an instrumental titled “Genevieve's Waltz” that puts the spotlight on the excellence of their musicianship. I am so glad that they did this track so listeners can realize the immense talent that these folks have, then to have a daughter with a voice like an angel, it completes the partnership.

Celtic Fairy Dream
takes their music to yet another level that so many people will most certainly appreciate. I would love to hear this album on vinyl someday, it would be amazing, not that it isn’t already. I am a firm believer that LPs give music a different dimension. This recording is well suited to be spinning on a turntable.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 10, 2020
Track List: 
01. Castle of Dromore 5:00
02. The Green Fields of Autumn (Coinleach Glas an Fhomhair) 5:43
03. Dream(Suantrai) 5:07
04. South Wind 5:06
05. David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen) 4:41
06. Close Your Eyes (Dun do Shuil) 6:12
07. She Moved Through the Fair 5:59
08. Genevieve's Waltz 5:16
09. Little Bird (Einini) 5:41
10. Across the Waves (Trasna na d'Tonnta) 5:15



March 14, 2020

Instrumental New Age Review: Sonic Yogi-Be The Love You Seek

Release Date: January 26, 2020
Label: Sonic Yogi Productions
The Sonic Yogi is Jonathan Adams. After recovering from extreme anxiety Jonathan realized the healing powers of music like never before. I think if you find yourself caught up in a cycle like what he experienced you are searching for solutions, and he was fortunate he found what he needed to get back on the right path to recovery.

His answer to the calling he received was Be The Love You Seek. This is a collection of eleven tracks that combine music with elements of music and sound therapy, a very effective combination I must say. He plays several instruments including Classical Guitar, Tibetan (Himalayan) Singing Bowls, Gong, Percussion and Native American Flute.

All of that creates an aural soundscape that will invite you to fall right into the music, relax, and focus on your inner being, from where your spirit comes from. That essence of our humanity and strength can be sidetracked or even dormant when faced with a debilitating illness, mental or physical. The timing of this is perfect with the Corona virus spreading worldwide and our economies in virtual collapse. The panic behind all this madness needs to be calmed and music from Be The Love You Seek can be that organic pacifier we all need to hear right now.

My favorite track is “Dharmalodic.” I added it to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. That is the one track I want everyone to hear first because it combines rudiments of the old and new so seamlessly, it is a true work of art. In these turbulent times when we are uncertain and our very souls are shaken by events, we need that assuring and calming voice. That voice is music my friends, it speaks to us as the ultimate healer that does not require a prescription, just your ears, and undivided attention.

I can promise you this, if you listen to Sonic Yogi’s music your cares will melt away and you feel relieved and re-energized, prompting a more positive view of your surroundings and the world at large. It works beautifully and you can trust the music to transport you to another frame of mind or another plane of existence if you will.

This was a day when I really needed Be The Love You Seek.  Perhaps many of you can find a different way of feeling. In the end, existing in this environment that constantly exposes us to the many forms of communication that can serve as interruptions to our days, music is the always the answer to regain our focus. Trust me when I say, you need this music. Sonic Yogi has arisen from the ashes like the phoenix of music, spreading his wings and inviting you to go for the ride. Ready for takeoff?

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 14, 2020

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks:

01. Montana Skies
02. December Sun
03. Dharmalodic
04. Ajna Meditation (Monaural Beat Mix)
05. Om Shanti Mantra (Prayer for Peace) [feat. Octavia Nasr]
06. Yoga is Union (Introspection)
07. Finding Theta
08. Awakening in the Dream (Note to Self)
09. Third Eye Flute (Interlude)
10. Gong Bath Zen
11. Guided Chakra Meditation