July 28, 2016

Instrumental Electronic/Chill/New Age Review: KevOz-Relaxation And Action

Release Date: July 1, 2016
Label: Kevin R. Osborn Music

Kevin Osborn otherwise known as KevOz released Relaxation And Action the beginning of this month. The recording consists of 14 tracks of instrumental electronic new age chill. The only real way to explain this music is to tab it Zentronica, which happens to be a track on the album. Music can be your Zen moment if you go with it and let it take you.

So if you happen to desire putting some relaxation time into action this can be your nonstop ticket to get there real quick. 

For you keyboard devotees KevOz use the following equipment:
Yamaha SY77 with an assist on a couple tracks from a Yamaha MOX6, Korg Kaossilator Pro, and then some loops and virtual instruments through a DAW, Mixcraft and a Focusrite audio interface into a PC.

I always enjoy hearing how people make their music. I am particularly fascinated with the advances in technologies and how keyboards have the capability to sound like every instrument. I realize this has been going on for some time but it has not diminished my interest.

One very good example of instrument emulation is “Bongos in Flight.” I have always appreciated the percussive instruments and the need for their use in the mix of every song to drive along the underbelly of what you are hearing. To these ears any percussion is the steering wheel where the music is going. The track was quite enjoyable with the bongos and the quirkiness of the varying keyboard sounds to make it sound so original and different that it implores you to listen further into the album.

Speaking of different and unusual, “Magic Wand” weaves a different spell. It is kind of spacey with several different textures but it moves along with fluidity. Certain elements of each track will catch every individual’s ear and for my pleasure I enjoy the diversity of the electronic keyboards.

Those of that have a propensity for jazz (that would be me), “Close Enough for Jazz” may or may not do it for you however if you have an open mind and are into any kind of fusion, funk or rock then you should be all ears. This is an adventure into lands yet explored fully by the artist but a good taste of where he could go which is an intriguing thought.

“Panned-a-monium” is probably one of the more spaced out freaky dances on the album and I loved it. The title is perfect for the music and a very good choice. It is a straight up reflection of what you will hear bouncing off the walls. It’s like a musical pin ball machine without the paddles, just the balls bouncing around without anything to propel them except sound.

What you would consider as relaxing is a personal choice. This not going to be for the purists by any means, what you get is electronic virtuosity and some experimentation all packaged together in 14 tracks. If you are up for a lighthearted listen, have a good imagination to make the music come alive in your mind’s eye then Relaxation And Action awaits your consumption.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Bongos in Flight, Magic Wand, Panned-a-monium

Tracks: 
01. Victory at Hand
02. Waves of Nostalgia
03. Bongos in Flight
04. Epic Space Cola
05. Just You and Me
06. Magic Wand
07. Zentronica
08. Close Enough for Jazz    
09. Panned-a-monium
10. Chiptune Delight
11. Ping Pong Blues
12. Yoga Worship on Mars
13. Love You Every Day
14. Purple Hearts

 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck” Hannaleck
Founder of:
July 28, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

July 26, 2016

New Age Instrumental Review: Jill Haley-National Park Soundscapes

Release Date: April 12, 2016
Label: Independent

Jill Haley is an oboist, English horn player, pianist, and composer who has written and released 4 recordings about the National Parks in the United States. Her most recent release National Park Soundscapes is a reflection of the beauty in nature that surrounds us and can be found all over the U.S. The album which is a digipack, features all 12 parks pictured with photos by the artist as well, all encapsulated into new age and classical instrumental pieces.

Music is the eternal communicator and something all of us can understand and interpret in our own way. The beauty of the instrumental album creates and continually supports that thought process.

Jill’s oboe playing is soothing and flowing much like the way nature takes its course on a daily basis. “Prairie Grass Dance” is like the heartbeat of the prairie as the grass dances in the wind. The strumming rhythmic guitar lays the groundwork for Jill’s work to take hold, courtesy of husband David Cullen. The ear catching toe tapping track gets your attention immediately and keeps you. It easily became one of my favorite songs on the album. 

Dana Cullen, the couple’s daughter also lends her talents to the recording with the horn and son Graham with the cello, making it a true family affair.
“Shenandoah Stillness” offers a soft piano to invite you in to another world that is quite different than the previous one you just visited. And as the acoustic guitar is introduced the colors and textures change and become fuller of life and energy. This is the theme that carries you through this recording, all the varying degrees of sights and sounds each National Park can offer.

The following track “Towers and Kivas” really caught my ear as well. The husband and wife chemistry is quite evident as David’s fine strumming acoustic guitar sets the rhythm and pace then as Jill adds her lovely oboe to the mix, well it’s like magic. I appreciated the energy right from the start with the guitar and the way the oboe balanced everything out so nicely with its warm textures.

Each track paints a different picture on the musical canvas offering the same diversity each National Park does allowing the project to focus on a true feeling of synchronicity or oneness with nature if you will.

I not only appreciate expressive instrumental new age music I honestly respect and admire our surroundings. Mother Earth needs our care and protection and perhaps this project will serve a gentle reminder of that.

I would not change a thing about National Park Soundscapes it is simply beautiful and picturesque just like its namesake. It doesn’t hurt to have an appreciation for new age classically influenced music either. Any way you look at it this one is a keeper and although I chose three keys tracks as I always do, I think the entire album was an absolute joy for the senses.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Prairie Grass Dance, Towers and Kivas, Shenandoah Stillness

Tracks:

01. The Ledges
02. Prairie Grass Dance
03. Waters of Acadia
04. Shenandoah Stillness
05. Towers and Kivas
06. Mariposa Sanctuary
07. Kaibab Trail
08. Waves of Wind
09. Sunrift Gorge
10. Sunflower Cantilena
11. Ten Thousand Islands
12. A Soldier's Sacrifice
 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck” Hannaleck
Founder of:

July 26, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews



July 13, 2016

New Age Instrumental/Classical Review: Lisa Downing-The Wisdom of My Shadow

Release Date: July 24, 2016
Label: Vision Quest Entertainment

The Wisdom of My Shadow is Lisa Downing’s fourth official studio release. Those who can appreciate solo piano music will fall in love with this recording. Her sound is influenced by prolific classical music with a mixture of new age for a combination that is both heavenly and majestic at the same time. 

Lisa’s solo compositions are elegant and at times stark but always natural in regards to flow and impact. The word stark is not associated with new age or classical, at least that is not the norm that I am fimiliar with. When you look at a track title like “Black Wedding” you get some different ideas of what that could mean. It is not necessarily a negative connotation but it does get your attention. When you hear the opening of the song and the tolling of the bell you feel the blackness of the atmosphere. The very strong pounding of the ivory keys sounds like a movie soundtrack of sorts. However as you intently listen to the piano, Ms. Downing has a way of turning something black into white, a personification and purification of the track with the instrument taking emotions and putting a spin on the story for you to tell and interpret. I for one appreciated the impact of this instrumental gem. There is a lot of food for thought between the notes of this song. I appreciated how different the track was and hearing something so original and unexpected within the realm of the genre.

The Torii Gates” and the rolling tides of the keys sweep across your consciousness, the sheer beauty and presence puts you in another space in time. It is like a story as the ocean tides softly hit the shoreline and your footsteps are the music that leaves the impression in the sand or in the case your very spirit and soul. The music serves as the waves. What good is the music for your psyche if it does not move you in some way or fashion? Much like the ebb and tides of the ocean which can be comparable to the range of emotions we all can feel in the span of a 24 hour period. Music can be the mirror of your soul at the highest level and all that is needed is the music, no words, instrumentation can do it all for you. This music still sings to you without any narrative.

“The Dragon Within” is another very strong title that can imply many different things. When I look at the title my first impression is a reference to a strength within that we all have. It is something summoned when called upon and with some folks it is always there. Silent, confident and with purpose the strong make their way through each day, through life, leaving a legacy for others to admire and follow. The dragon flies and breathes fire but this creature has another purpose. Through the ivory keys Lisa takes you down a different path, one you create for yourself as you allow the music to let you fly with this mythical creature, it becomes yours for the taking, just listen. 

For this listener every track offers me a chance to pause, reflect, to let my feelings flow free like a river into an ocean. I let it take me and the end result is so natural that I feel connected and spiritual and more than I do at any time in my daily life. 

The Wisdom of My Shadow is a masterstroke of piano based music that has a foundation of classical influence with slices of new age in between for a perfected blend of sound and harmony. It is a must have for anyone that enjoys and appreciates piano music.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Black Wedding, The Dragon Within, The Torri Gates

Tracks:
 

01. Forbidden Dance
02. Tragic Dream
03. Black Wedding
04. Mischief
05. Mad World
06. Postludium
07. Cloudwalker
08. The Torii Gates
09. Harlem Nocturne
10. One More Day
11. Moonrise
12. Sad Lisa
13. The Dragon Within
14. Diaphanous Breeze


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
Founder of:
July 13, 2016

July 11, 2016

New Age-World-Instrumental Review: Al Jewer & Andy Mitran-Transmigration... a journey with friends

Release Date: March 4, 2016
Label: Laughing Cat Records

Al Jewer and Andy Mitran have been musical partners for 15 years now. The multitalented duo released Transmigration...a journey with friends in March this year. It is culmination of 2 years of hard work. They had some help along way, their friends were 22 luminaries such as Miriam Stockley, Tony Levin, Jeff Oster, Jeff Pearce, Ricky Kej and Richard Gannaway to name just a few. The new age community is a tightly knit group that likes to join their talents to form powerful and meaningful collaborations. This recording was no exception.

There are 14 tracks to enjoy on this album and every one is a diverse slice of new age world instrumental fusion. They have a worldly meditative atmosphere that draws you in. 

Council Fire” is one that really got my attention; it features the talented horn player Jeff Oster. The brass certainly adds another welcome element to the mix. The feeling of finding one of those ancient civilizations comes to mind with elders gathered around a fire for deep and moving discussions are pictured.

The multitude of instruments that are used gives it that world fusion sound and that is what makes it so eclectic and each track a new adventure. “Cloudwalker” is another track that summons certain visions. Clouds are soft, light and they paint the blue sky with their natural beauty. The music takes you away as you float with the dreamy sounds of piano and flutes. They fill the air as other sounds are mixed in to complete the walk across the sky with the clouds. It sounds like it could be a Native American name given to a spiritual leader or it can be anything you see with your mind’s eye. That is the gift of music, its purity and beauty speaks to you.

“Transmigration” is the all-important title track. This one lands at number 8 but it does not overshadow the importance it carries for the album. Many times a title track can open the curtain for an album and set the tone however in this case it was not necessary as every track is a standalone piece of art. I think the many instruments and the way that they are presented make the difference with this recording. It is evident that this was quite a journey for all involved and the fact that it took two years makes sense once you take in all of this incredible music. It is very complex and moving. The title track is the longest and most prolific clocking in at 7:17 minutes. 

Beauty lies in the eyes and in this case, the ears of the beholder. Behold Transmigration...a journey with friends one of the best new age and world releases of 2016.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Council Fire, Cloudwalker, Transmigration

Tracks:
 

01. Talking Stone (feat. Miriam Stockley & Tony Levin)
02. Portal (feat. Richard Gannaway & Adam Ben Ezra)
03. First Crossing (feat. Jeff Pearce)
04. Council Fire (feat. Jeff Oster)
05. Rendezvous (feat. Ricky Kej)
06. Cloudwalker (feat. Lisa Downing)
07. Red Road (feat. TC Furlong & Biff Blumfumgagnge)
08. Transmigration (feat. Vito Gregoli & Kimberly Haynes)
09. Unfolding Path (feat. Biff Blumfumgagnge)
10. Passage (feat. Muriel Anderson)
11. Higher Elevations (feat. Kraig McCreary)
12. The Intention (feat. Paul Von Mertens)   
13. Quiet Waters (feat. Muriel Anderson & Sherry Finzer)
14. Event Horizon (feat. TC Furlong & Biff Blumfumgagnge)

 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
Founder of:
July 11, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

July 9, 2016

Instrumental New Age Review: Crystalline Dream-Threshold

Release Date: July 10, 2006
Label: Solovey Music

Crystalline Dream is a band with the intent to craft a vision with every album they perform. Threshold is the entryway to a journey of enlightenment, with each album gaining the listener increased wisdom.  The main band members for Crystalline Dream include Richard Ross, Korey Ross and guest artist Peter Phippen.

The first track on the album is "Threshold." Ethereal and drifting with flutes and an electronica based backdrop, the music brought me to a place of introspection far away from the swirling chaos that makes up most of my days. It was as if I were perched on a threshold to another place…a place of peace and tranquility that if I just took another step, it could be mine. The flute urges you forward even as the cosmic wave of the electronica pushes and whispers you to a dwelling where that elusive joy is hiding. Voices break over you and the music funnels you down a new rabbit hole…the journey is just beginning.

"Inner Peace" is another song that captured my attention at the onset. Harp sounds and chirping insects make it seem as if you, the listener, are in the middle of a forest, being lulled forward toward an enchanted paradise. Just one step closer toward the pool…just one more. The ethereal music drifts in the background like a hidden current pushing you along toward your destination. This is what happiness sounds like and if sound could be painted in color, it would be a spiraling ribbon of shimmering blue, wrapping around and around in layers of gossamer silk, one delicate note at a time.

"Borealis" urges you toward the end of your comfort zone. Icy and grinding, you mark your passage with effort and are ever working toward your next destination. The price of enlightenment comes with great perseverance. The sound of flutes and the bitter winter wind skitter along the top of the ice as you reach for the next fork in the road…the next vision of flickering lights to direct your path forward. Beautiful and treacherous, the way ahead will not be an easy one. Growling and grinding electronica and percussive elements mark your progress and the undying urge to find enlightenment at any cost.

Crystalline Dream have begun a journey of sorts with Threshold. Using the ethereal and at times sparse elements of electronic music, it is blended with percussive elements, flute, harp and other sounds such as whispered chants or insects. This instrumental New Age experience focuses on enlightenment and is the beginning of what so far is a five album progression toward grace. It is a pleasant sounding album that any fan of New Age music will vastly enjoy.


4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Threshold, Borealis, Inner Peace

Tracks: 
01. Threshold
02. Ethereal Gauze
03. Solar Flight
04. Evensong
05. Inner Peace
06. West Wind
07. Crystalline Dream 1
08. Crystalline Dream 2
09. Crystalline Dream 3
10. Borealis
11. Threshold (Reprise)

 
Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
July 9, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

July 7, 2016

Instrumental New Age/Meditation Review: Peter Sterling-Sacred Visions

Release Date: June 21, 2016
Label: Harp Magic Music

Peter Sterling’s Sacred Visions album is music that is transformational. This statement on his website holds the absolute truth. If you listen to the 9 tracks on this recording you will find your own truth in the music.

The music has to move me shortly into the first track to feel any sort of inspiration. This feeling is translated to joy and then my words flow about the music. If it does not unfold that way then there is not a lot to say. 

With Sacred Visions there is plenty to feel joy about and to translate to abundant feelings and words. Peter plays one of the most magical instruments in the world, the harp (he also contributes percussion, keyboards, loops, ocarina, recorder and vocals). Peter is also an artist that creates a thing called Portals of Light Crystal Frosted Art which adorn the cover of this CD. That is one example of many. This multitalented man used his art as an inspiration on canvas to create a musical canvas with his harp. This was obviously a very intense creative period for Peter. Many folks that make music paint as well however this is a blend of spirituality, music and art that transcends the norm. It sounds like divine intervention. 

“Sedona Sunset” opens the album and it mesmerized me and made my soul smile. The sounds are full of beauty and good energy; it beckons you to come along for the journey. I was all ears and found it quite easy to let myself just melt into the music becoming one with the sounds. For my listening pleasure that is the goal, to allow the sounds to let the day and thoughts disappear and feel complete blissfulness with all of creation. Music such is this is so powerful and spiritual and that is the reason I love it so much.

“Eclipse (Featuring 3rd Force)” was another track that swept me away with the alluring harp intermingled with a smooth jazz like saxophone. That combination when placed properly within in this type of music is a perfect blend just like the right combination of coffee and creamer in the morning; it’s a pause that refreshes. Jazz and new age always sounded compatible to me if done well and properly and in this case it was.

“Dance of Saraswati” has all the essential elements of the previous tracks however the difference here is the female vocalizations that give it that gentle angelic touch that takes the spirit to a higher plane. Peter also adds his vocalizations as well. The balance is exceptional with perfectly placed harp textures for the vocals to ride along, like a billowing cloud floating across the sky it all seemed so natural and flowing.

We all seek solace from the pressures and stresses of daily life. We endeavor to reach the end of the day when we can put on some music like Sacred Visions and recharge our batteries for another day. It works very well; you will find what you need just let the music lead the way.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Sedona Sunset, Eclipse (Featuring 3rd Force), Dance of Saraswati

Tracks: 
1. Sedona Sunset
2. Shaman’s Cave
3. Starlight and Moonbeams
4. Bombay Boogie
5. Eclipse (Featuring 3rd Force)
6. Dance of Saraswati
7. Mystic Rose
8. Thru the Valley and Over the Hills
9. Remembrance
 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck” Hannaleck
Founder of:

July 7, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

July 1, 2016

Instrumental World Fusion/New Age Review: David Clavijo-From the Depths

Release Date: May 13, 2016
Label: Independent

When I look at a fascinating cover on any recording it makes me feel like we are getting off to a good start. But almost as soon as that thought goes through my mind it leaves and the questions pops in “Will the music be representative of the art or anywhere as compelling as the cover art?” The answer to that question lies in the 11 tracks on the latest David Clavijo recording titled From the Depths. The final answer to the equation is a resounding yes! This is a fine recording with a lot of different colors and textures for all the senses to absorb and process.

Anyone seeking a listening challenge would welcome the prospect of an eclectic listen such as this.

I think “Fragile World (feat. Laura Powers)” is a prolific track. First and foremost is the meaning of the song. It has the power to compel a listener to think outside the box. That is the best circumstance for any artist trying to get your attention. And with that it gives us impetus to pay more attention to the world we live in. It also is very different from all the preceding instrumental tracks.

The title track is critical to any recording, it sets the tone for the entire album actually and either opens or closes the door on many listeners. I look at every album as an open book ready to flip through the pages and some I go back to again for another chance in the event there was any doubt. This is my process however that thought of doubt never occurred to me on this listen. The opening title track was different enough to grab my attention. I heard world, rock, new age and a tone that distinctly was coming from inspirations of our Native Americans. A lot of New Age music features the earthy tones and this album is full of them. 

“Sitting On The Sea Wall” is another step away from the norm. Clavijo is from Spain and this track is the sound of his land peppered with smooth saxophone to open things up then a very distinct flavoring of guitar picking that puts you right in that beautiful country. I also took note of the tremendously infectious percussion that was quite appropriate for finishing the picturesque tune. It sounds like it would be the perfect accompaniment to a scene in a movie. It ends with sounds of seagulls on the shoreline, a perfect closing for a beautiful picture painted with a broad musical brush.

As the saying goes variety is the spice of life and From the Depths is as spicy as it gets from a musical standpoint. From a multitude of instruments to angelic vocalizations, this recording will please your ear, satisfy your soul and leave you hungry for more. That is the whole idea so mission accomplished for Mr.Clavijo (Viva!).

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: From the Depths , Fragile World (feat. Laura Powers), Sitting On The Sea Wall

Tracks:
01. From the Depths
02. When We Were Together
03. Fly With Me
04. The Song of Wisdom
05. Fragile World (feat. Laura Powers)
06. Sanctus Dominus
07. Sitting on the Seawall (feat. Premik Russell Tubbs)
08. The Journey (feat. Charlee Brooks)
09. Où Est Mon Bonheur? (feat. Chad Lawson)
10 Out of the Depths (feat. Charlee Brooks)   
Fragile World (Bonus Track) [feat. Rosa Cedrón & Chad Lawson]

 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck” Hannaleck
Founder of:
July 1, 2016
Review Provided By New Age Music Review