October 22, 2014

Instrumental New Age Review: Richard Theisen-Mayan Stars

Release Date: 2014
Label: Indie

Richard Theisen is a Grammy award winning composer and performer. His new release Mayan Stars was inspired by the lost civilization of the Maya. The tracks presented on this release
are a smooth blend of new age, classical and world. It’s an enticing musical stew of instrumental pleasures.

Each track is like a brush that paints all the notes on a broad musical canvas. Within each song are stories that unfolds and words are not necessary. Theisen knows how to shape the music into a creation that is a reflection of each title.

What I found most impressive is the range of music on display and the number of instruments played by the artist. With the exception of a solo guitar on “Blood Moon” he does it all on Mayan Stars. The title track drops the curtain appropriately ushering in the age of a people long since passed. The wonder we still hold for that highly advanced civilization is present to this day. The track is as majestic as their legacy. When “Jungle Zen” starts you know that it’s going to be an adventure…a musical tapestry that unfolds before your senses and leaves you tingling and excited to explore more. Perhaps it is time to go on your own private adventure and let the music lead the way? This music has the ability to take you there in a matter of minutes.

The music all seems to fall together so nicely and each track has a different feel and overall atmosphere of intrigue and beauty. Whether it’s a simply placed acoustic guitar or building layers of keyboards the music invites a sense of wonder that is within us all. 

“The Red Queen” is so perfectly picturesque I found it easy to see the Maya in their ancient world in my mind’s eye. While all of the music is developing and enveloping my soul I was at peace and one with it all. I can see this entire album being a soundtrack to a special on a History Channel program or used for relaxation and or meditation as well. This music heals and allows the portal of your soul open to the exquisite vibrations that the sounds provide.

Richard Theisen has created an aural masterwork of history, humanity and music all into one beautiful package with Mayan Stars. The goal of any artist is to captivate and engage their audience and I think Richard Theisen answered the call brilliantly on Mayan Stars.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Jungle Zen, Mayan Stars, The Red Queen

Tracks: 
01.Mayan Stars
02.Jungle Zen
03.Tulum
04.Return of the Jaguar
05.Magia Luna
06.La Premiere Lumiere
07.The Red Queen
08.Blood Moon
09.Beloved
10.A Dolphins Dream

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

October 22, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


October 19, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Trevor Gordon Hall-Mind Heart Fingers

Release Date: September 15, 2014
Label: Independent


Some albums don’t need words. This is one of them. Mind Heart Fingers is Trevor Gordon Hall’s newest album and one that resonates through the soul of the listener. Produced by Windham Hill Records Will Ackerman and production whiz Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios, this album is as deceptively simple as a rising soufflé. Light and airy, it soars over your taste buds in a melody of flavors and experiences.

Gordon’s fifth album, Mind Heart Fingers shows just how talented this artist is. Mellow guitar and intricate finger work bring to life a thoughtful time in “Blue Hour.” Staring off into space, the mind whirls and clicks, taking the machinations of the day and breaking them down into slower moving parts to dissect and understand. This piece is a breath of silence and inner searching for those times when you just need to be introspective and solitary.

“Surviving Ordinary Days” is a mantra for the rest of us. Quirky and light guitar movements accompany the soundtrack to my day…not always graceful in action or thought, but bumbling towards a hopefully successful outcome with hope in my heart and a plucky soul to keep me going. This music says it all. We all want that perfection. We want to get through the ordinary to find the extraordinary so we can breathe it in. Just for a little while before the grind of everyday reaches back up and pulls us under. This piece is a machination of that. Quirky…bopping along and then swimming with the stream to make it where you need to go. Because there is always tomorrow. Because we choose to survive for the ones we love.

“Short Story” is the last track on the album. Just as the title suggests, the piece reminds me of opening a book while you’re curled in a window seat, eager to start a short adventure while you have a moment in between life and car pools. Tentative and well composed, this tender composition brings to life the peaceful joy of a quiet moment in a world that just won’t sit still.

Trevor Gordon Hall is an artist to watch. His work with the wizards of Imaginary Road Studios shows him for what he is—a man who speaks his passion through his guitar. With a few sprinkled instruments and percussion throughout the album, the essential sensation remains the same. Emotion of the everyday expressed through a pluck of string. Mind. Heart. Fingers. Play on.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Blue Hour, Surviving Ordinary Days, Short Story

Tracks:
01. Intro
02. Morning Sidewalk 3.0
03. The Blue Hour
04. The Meeting At the Window
05. Almost Spring
06. The Shining Barrier
07. My Dearest
08. Surviving Ordinary Days
09. The Discipline of Curiosity
10. Midnight and Raining
11. Turning Ruts Into Grooves
12. Short Story

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

October 19, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

October 8, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Ryan Michael Richards-Experiences

Release Date: 2014
Label: Independent

When you read about the path a professional musician takes often it starts when they are 3 years old. There are many that do not start their life in music until their teens. Such is the path of Ryan Michael Richards who began his musical journey at around 14. 

Experiences is his first full length recording. The album consists of 11 instrumental tracks that fit squarely into the acoustic guitar new age genre. The atmospheres created are light and inviting and set you up to immerse your consciousness into a total relaxed and spiritual state.

Experiences was recorded with Grammy award winning producer and guitarist Will Ackerman and master sound engineer Tom Eaton. As many artists do, Ryan traveled to the Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont to take an unforgettable musical journey. You can hear the influence of Ackerman in his picking style and the sound is crystal clear throughout this CD, making it an instant success. There is something about those studios that allows acoustic music to come alive into a full bodied sound. The flow and confidence of this recording becomes apparent at the outset of the lead off track.

The ever important opening track kisses you gently with the sunshine of a new day. “Her Garden” is full of earthly delights as Ryan introduces delicate guitar passages that open your eyes to a new world created by well placed notes and rhythms. Then you are led to “Pathway of Love,” a strong track indicated by the title. The music emulates the given title and it follows strongly with superb guitar playing to a path of enlightenment and joy. It made me feel clear and pure of body, mind and spirit, like a pristine mountain stream with the melting ice of spring to chill it just right.

The closer “Day of Play” is showcase of guitar virtuosity as you hear Ryan’s hand going up and down the fret board, you know he is working hard to coax all of those sounds out of his instrument. The hard work pays off as the end result is beauty and divining that closes the curtain on a masterful outing in instrumental music.

Ryan Michael Richards has created a new age instrumental classic with Experiences and anyone that has the opportunity to listen to this album should. You will walk away feeling refreshed and whole while be mindful of the fact that you can do it all again whenever you like. This is not just music for New Age or instrumental fans; it is something anyone that enjoys acoustic guitar tracks can appreciate.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Pathway to Love, Her Garden, Day of Play

Tracks:
 
01. Her Garden       
02. Heather Moon       
03. Pathway to Love       
04. Coastline       
05. Delightful Mysteries       
06. On the Way to the Shore       
07. Joyous Days       
08. Townbank Bay       
09. Victorian Love       
10. Daniella's Dream   
11. Day of Play

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

October 8, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

October 6, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Steven Halpern, Michael Diamond and Michael Manring-Ambient Alchemy

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Label: Inner Peace Music

Steven Halpern is well known for his work using music as a healing tool. In his latest album Ambient Alchemy with talented producer and artist Michael Diamond and guest Michael Manring, he takes the alchemy of sound and ratchets it up into a spectral place of ambient effects and flowing symmetries of audible experience.
The first track on the album is “Ambient Alchemy.” A blend of ambient sound, flute and multi instrumentation takes the listener far inside themselves. Chimes flit in and out as the cloudscape changes, becoming adrift in a sea of peaceful resonance.

“Rain Dream” has to be one of my most favorite tracks on the album. As I set my iPad up to play the song, my dogs’ ears perked up thinking it was actually raining with the natural effects used in the piece. Ambient sounds, percussion elements and electronica took me into a place of relaxation that I sorely needed after a month of hard core deadlines. It even put my dogs to sleep and that is a feat worthy of praise. My writing cave can sometimes be compared to the story about the monkeys jumping on the bed. In my case it would be dogs and now the dogs are sleeping happily to the sound of rain, chimes and electric guitar. Wonderment…sheer bliss.

“Atlantis Revisited” is the last track of an album I was sad to get to the end of. Electric guitar, ambient softness and a pleasant hum reached beneath the waves of my mind and found a lost place beneath the tides. It is a swimmy sensation of weightless meditation that reaches beyond the mundane world and into something more. Something that echoes of eternity and ancient civilizations that will never truly be lost, if only because of our ardent belief that they still exist somewhere in time.

Steve Halpern is a Grammy nominated award winning composer, artist and healer of minds and souls. His music has gone beyond the pale to help people battle depression and illness, making him a leader in the industry. His new work with Michael Diamond, a producer and recording artist in his own right and voting member of the Grammy’s, along with guest artist Michael Manring is an album rich with healing energy and is sure to be a hit with anyone who enjoys respite away from the everyday world. Take a walk with the healing energies of Ambient Alchemy and let it cast a spell over you.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Ambient Alchemy, Rain Dream, Atlantis Revisited
 
Tracks:
 
01. Ambient Alchemy   
02. Molecules in Motion   
03. Isis Moon   
04. Celestial Suite   
05. Deep Diver   
06. Return to Shamballa   
07. Rain Dream   
08. Lunar Orbit   
09. Ancient Shores   
10. Above the Clouds   
11. Echoes in Eternity   
12. Earth & Sky   
13. Stellar Drift   
14. Atlantis Revisited   

 
DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

October 6, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

September 26, 2014

New Age/Chill Instrumental Review: 7and5-Themes For A Grey Day

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Label: Nix Music

John Nixon A.K.A. 7and5 and his new Themes For A Grey Day CD is ten tracks of new age instrumental chill. It could be a soundtrack to a film or your life, the choice is yours.

The name came from the fact that all musical notes can be expressed within an octave on a piano as 7 white keys and 5 black keys. Clever yet simple and direct, I like that explanation.

When you think about the title of the album it makes you wonder what kind of listening experience you are about have. The “grey” area as it is referred to in common everyday life is a neutral space, the unknown; it’s neither negative nor positive. This is music we are talking about here so where is the difference and how does the term apply?

As we dive into this aural journey of sound and color “Cloudburst” invites you into a menagerie of sounds and textures. It is uplifting and refreshing as cool rain drops hitting your face on a steamy hot July afternoon. For my senses it was a pleasure and I heard and felt no “grey” areas. This is a solid opener and a terrific way to kick off the album. The next track “Nightfall” starts off slower and more introspective before reaching an apex of sound with keyboards. It is filled with anticipation and the wonder of nature’s gifts.

I can see how the artist is able to implement all the instruments and sounds at his disposal to create something that matches up well with the title of the track. With instrumentals it is difficult to do that however 7and5 has his pulse on the human condition and knows how to manipulate sounds to make everything work together beautifully. I am not one that can stay focused on chill music for too long; I get bored easily and lose interest after a fashion. This did not happen to me listening to Themes For A Grey Day. The reason is that there is the right combination of new age and chill mixed together to make one complete sound that satisfies and intrigues you.

“Frozen” is as prolific as the title. It is a “what you see is what you get” kind of term. Picture a river flowing underneath the frozen ice ever so slow then as you look closer it starts to move faster. That is the best way to describe how this track unfolds. I really enjoy how new age artists take the essence of nature and our surroundings and turn it into beautiful sounds that create images within the Third Eye Chakra.

“Passing Storms” keeps up the momentum and spirit of this recording going. This could relate to what nature brings us or certain life situations and challenges. The passing storm eventually leaves and the sunshine comes back if we have a positive outlook on life. 

Instrumental music holds so much within for one individual listener to interpret and that is a blessing for those who have an open heart and mind. The instruments are healers and the one that administers the sounds is like your own personal shaman. Themes For A Grey Day is a relaxing and exhilarating experience all at once. This is a journey you will want to take again and again.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Cloudburst, Nightfall, Passing Storms

Tracks: 
01.Cloudburst
02.Nightfall
03.13 Days
04. Frozen
05.Passing Storms
06.November
07.No Moon, Fallen Stars
08.The Pulse of Rain
09.Flow
10.Clear

 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

September 26, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

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