July 11, 2019

Contemporary New Age Instrumental Review: Louis Anthony deLise-Natural Light

Release Date: July 1, 2019
Label: Bocage Records

My very first journey into the music of Louis Anthony deLise proved to be quite special. Natural Light is a stunning recording. Right from the outset, I was mesmerized by this music.

Excerpt From Artist Website: Louis Anthony deLise is an award-winning composer, record producer, arranger, and conductor. His compositions for soloists and ensembles have been recorded and are often performed worldwide. His arranging and conducting work appear on albums alongside that of many of the world’s top pop artists including, Carlos Santana, Sheila E., Wynonna Judd, Kanye West, CeCe Winans, and Paul Shaffer.

That is enough to pique any music lovers’ interest I would think? With one look at the artwork on the cover of this CD, and I could tell the right message was being relayed to a perspective audience and more importantly to me, the next listener.

All of the instrumentation is incredibly good. Louis plays the acoustic piano, amongst other things, quite brilliantly. And it does not hurt to have on hand Jeff Oster (trumpet), Nancy Rumbel (oboe and English horn), Christine Hansen (flute and alto flute) and Marjam Ingolffson (cello) added to mix to complete each individual track with taste and preciseness. 

“Spring Rain” was the first track that gave me the warm and fuzzy feelings of satisfaction. The rain in spring by definition brings the hope of a new day, sunshine and the coming of summer, flowers blooming and all the trees turning green. With added sounds of nature on the track, I felt like I was inside the song, living the moment within the time and space that mother nature does her work. It’s a beautiful thing to understand and accept how we are intrinsically linked to the earth and all living things.

“Autumn Twilight” brings another season as the leaves turn, the air gets crisper and the colors are vibrant along roadsides and in the mountains of the Northeast. I live it every year and absolutely love it. Ask any New Englander what is their favorite season and I bet they say the fall. Then, of course, the imminent old man winter comes in to freeze the earth and put our grand Mother into hibernation on “Winter’s Chill.” The progression of the tracks is perfect, in sync with the balance of nature and most certainly with this listener. 

After all, this is the reason I was so taken right away listening to this album, its musical perfection as far as I am concerned. There probably is not a musician in the world that would say their music is perfect but from where I sit, all I needed to hear was the 11 tracks of new age instrumentals. The occasional elements of jazz painted in and around the canvas of this musical vision made it all even tastier. It is a picture I would want to look at more than once and so will you once you hear it!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 11, 2019
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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Mosaic (album version featuring Nancy Rumbel)
02. In the Edge of the Water (piano solo)
03. Spring Rain (album version featuring Jeff Oster)
04. Variations on Moonlight (piano solo)
05. Early January
06. And Then She Was Gone (piano solo)
07. Autumn Twilight (album version featuring Nancy Rumbel)
08. American Darkness (piano solo)
09. Winter’s Chill
10. But Not Forgotten (piano solo)
11. Natural Light
 

July 7, 2019

Instrumental Piano/New Age Review: Michael Whalen-Cupid Blindfolded

Release Date: July 12, 2019
Label: Real Music

There is nothing better than an instrumental piano recording when you need to relax. I hear a lot of this music all year long and never tire of it because of the multitude of value it provides. It can offer total relaxation during a quiet time you have every day or evening, or provide beneficial focus and help you clear a cluttered mind, or simply invite you into a meditative state.

My introduction to Michael’s music was the 2018 release Kiss The Quiet. I thought that was an ingenious title for the recording and it fit the music like well-worn jeans. I think we have the same instance with the newest edition to his catalog, Cupid Blindfolded.

An artist like Michael Whalen is at the forefront of the Instrumental New Age/Piano genre. You have to be on top of your game to compete with similar artists and capture the imagination of the listeners.

For me, the first thing I take a good look at is the album cover. With the title being Cupid Blindfolded, that is the first thing you see. It is nothing that makes you think too hard or plays tricks on your eyes. Sometimes that is appropriate and is just right for the music, in this case, that is a perfect match.

Cupid may be blindfolded but if she opens her eyes, she can see through the thin red veil that is wrapped around her head. That is a clue as far as I am concerned. People, in general, may have a “veil” of some sort over their eyes but all it takes is for them to open their eyes to see right through it, right? This is a conceptual frame of mind I am coming from. Music and images tell a story and I have found that if there are no words set to the music, it can still relay a powerful message. As I always say, it is up to each listener to decide what the music means to them or could mean to them at first glance of the image.

Cupid Blindfolded is 10 tracks of exceptional solo instrumental piano music. The album has a steady flow to it, like a river after it rains, it moves right along with that sort of momentum. Each melody intrinsically connects to the next one, like mother nature at work in a musical sense of the word.

Talented ivory ticklers like Michael Whalen should have ample opportunities to license their music for a multitude of areas including soundtracks for commercials, documentaries, etc. I do want to stress that this music is first and foremost for a listener to enjoy any time of day or evening, and course the previously mentioned uses it can afford.

Cupid Blindfolded is an excellent group of tracks and it went by much too fast for me. When an album is really good and it catches my ear, it has a strong meaning for me personally. And that is the way it works and that’s a good thing!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 5, 2019
 
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Cupid Blindfolded
02. All of My Heart All of My Soul
03. Reflection of My Affection
04. Sunrise in the Desert
05. The Muse
06. At the Touch of a Lover
07. Standing in the Rain
08. Serendipity
09. Isle of Skye
10. City of Lights




July 2, 2019

World Review: Riad Abdel-Gawad-Words of Peace

Release Date: June 21, 2019
Label: Medan Elmusica

Riad Abdel-Gawad is the founder and Executive Director of Midan Elmusica (The Music Square), which exhibits to and informs the US public about what is called: “Arabic Music” from Egypt. (information gleaned from the artist website). There is much more to the story of course.

The importance of Words of Peace goes far beyond the music itself. The Midan Elmusica, Inc. Promotions is a not for profit organization that is promoting this CD release of the artist. So, playing the music, buying the CD or streaming it on ZMR, for instance, all goes into supporting the project.

The recording utilizes 17 singers, chanters and instrumentalists in a music ensemble from Cairo, Egypt. All the music was Composed by Riad Abdel-Gawad.  This is music that is very important on many levels however to the uninformed listener it could have an entirely different meaning. I could not give it a spin without finding out more about the artist that created and why. That made a big difference in my entire perception of what I was hearing.

Words of Peace utilizes 17 singers, chanters and instrumentalists in a music ensemble from Cairo, Egypt. Composed by Riad Abdel-Gawad, Words of Peace cross-pollinates the western oratorio with the eastern wasla and nouba musical traditions into a newly composed 21st-Century work in the World music genre.
Through music, song and chant, Words of Peace offers healing, spiritual and practical tools to our present-day existential dilemma along with offering a social critique of racism, corruption, materialism, and the Climate Crisis. To the story of Adam & Eve, to the history of Egypt and to the narrative of Prophet Muhammed’s striving towards peace through the activism of politics, the result – of the 18-track 53-minute album – is a secular and sacred parable about the plight of our planet and its inhabitants through Arabic and Nubian (African) poetry.
I think all the individuals that contributed deserve a lot of credit for lending their expertise to the music. The vocals are very melodic and so is the music.  I did really enjoy the music; it does get your toes tapping. 

Regardless of the lack of knowledge of the language in the vocals, it did not take away the meaning or overall significance of what I was taking in. 

Words of Peace is exposing world music that many have never had the opportunity to hear, including me. It is reaching out to be heard and I am certain it will be. This is music that can be appreciated in many different ways and I think there is an audience that would be eager to hear this project and learn more about the story behind it.

June 28, 2019
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. The World is a Beautiful Place!
02. The Nay: The Song of the Nile
03. Adam & Eve: The Global Starters
04. The Violin: Instrument of the People
05. The Qanun: Metaphor for the Physical, Spiritual and Universal Rules
06. GOD blessed him (Prophet Mohamed [SAW]) in GOD's heavens
07. The Oud: The Crying Earth (Seven)
08. We wIsh for] Peace, Peace to GOD's Folk in All Places!
09. Oh! Mother Egypt, Your Water (The Nile) is Balm which Changes and Heals our Minds.
10. The Cotton Harvest: An Affirmation of Life
11. Oh Egypt! O Mother of (Life's) Long Struggle!
12. At-Taqaseem: The Egyptian People's Song Without Words
13. Coda (Instrumental)
14. To Every Cry in the (trying) Time Subsides to (Peaceful) Silence
15. All People -- Regarding their Origin -- Originate in Equality
16. Words of Peace: Instrumental Finale
17. Prayer for Peace
18. Peace for Peace


June 25, 2019

New Age Meditation: Vickie Dodd & James Hoskins-Found Sound

Release Date: May 31, 2019
Label: Right Brain Records

Vickie Dodd & James Hoskins decided to explore some new territory with the art of creating music that heals. They accomplish this through 8 tracks on their release Found Sound.

Vickie is well versed in the difficult art of throat singing. She not only does it well, but she is also able to command a 4-octave range that covers more than throat singing. Her voice is the main instrument on this project and the cello playing of James Hoskins certainly lends another interesting and pleasant layer to each track. Both artists experts in their field, they are able to record something very unique and expressive that is well equipped to reach an audience eager to receive it.

I had no idea what to expect going into this and I found it to be interesting, different and something that separates itself from what other recording artists are doing today. At times Vickie’s tone is like a didgeridoo, which is fascinating and quite difficult I would estimate. At times it was like something you would hear at a Native American Pow Wow. Quintessentially, what you could anticipate hearing is a meditation album that creates a drone through voice and instrument, which is perfect for focus and the eventuality of meditation, dependent on what level of attainment you may be at of course. The cello does provide music as you would recognize it, just in an entirely different format.

For this listener, it is therapeutic to listen and write about the music as I listen. That is a complete experience for me. When I first started writing reviews I would listen to the album once or twice then sit down and write. What new age, meditation, and relaxation recordings have done is allowed me to reach another level of musical interpretation from me to you with the words you now read. That realization came several years ago however I thought it would be a could analogy to use for this particular album called Found Sound.

Quite literally, I found my way through the sound, and I usually do. So, with that, I invite other listeners to engage themselves down this enlightening path to see what they can find and come to realize about who they are and what direction to go. It is not complicated at all, just hit play and listen then nature will take its course.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

June 25, 2019

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Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Newest Edition: 


Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
1. Frequencies of Unconditional Love 05:23
2. Remembering We Are 06:14
3. Forgetting We Were 03:06
4. Thread of Intention 06:37
5. Sublimation of Chance 02:43
6. Matter at Hand 04:58
7. Being Restored 04:01
8. Flower of Bliss 10:02
 



June 20, 2019

Instrumental Piano Review: Michele McLaughlin- Memoirs

Release Date: May 24, 2019
Label: Independent

Memoirs will be the fourth album I have had the opportunity to enjoy by pianist Michele McLaughlin. Her reputation in the music community is a stellar one and with the latest release, that kind of positive support and feedback will continue to grow.

The first track is a powerful musical statement. Michele works hard to relay a message to her listeners on “Thankful” You can actually feel the word expressed in the music. Without the human voice to express itself, there are many other ways to do so, particularly through the arts that are visual and audible. 

Talented piano players like Michele take a blank canvas and let their emotions and spirits flow through the ivory keys. I am continually amazed at how beautiful and meaningful this instrumental music can be. Michele is one of those players that gets your attention and holds it with a variety of tempos and rhythms.

One of the more breathtaking tracks in “Northern Lights.” Her playing is exemplary. The pace at which she hits the keys is incredibly fast then within the blink of an eye she changes the entire track into a softer melodious passage then it closes out with an attention-getting deep bass tone. To really appreciate such complex piano playing you have to pay attention to all the layers of music being created and the varying tempos that allow it to change so fast. The transitions Michele makes in her music can be quite a display of technical and innate sense of musicality.

So once again, the brilliance of Michele McLaughlin comes shining through her music with energy, poignancy, grace, and beauty. At times all of those elements are combined to give you a wall of sound that is difficult to imagine with one piano. She does it all with tastefulness and precision on Memoirs.

Memoirs is another triumph for Michele McLaughlin and she has set the bar another notch higher for her contemporaries.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 20, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Thankful
02. Pure Joy
03. Dark Moon
04. Triumph
05. Little Love
06. My Life with You
07. Beneath the Surface
08. Alone
09. Winter
10. Northern Lights
11. Peace
12. Dismissed