October 16, 2020

New Age Vocals Review: Marya Stark-Sapphire

Release Date: September 17, 2020

Label: Independent


This is my maiden voyage into the world of Marya Stark’s musical world of wonder. Sapphire is ten tracks of sometimes undefinable music. Marya looks like the goddess that she is on the cover of this masterful group of tracks.

Right at the onset of seeing the cover, you are thinking spiritual, mystical, otherworldly, and new age. I think all of the above applies here. I opted to call it new age vocals. It is the content lyrically and at times strongly, but it is new age in different phases on the tracks. It can cover you like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.

The sounds on Sapphire are very inviting and Marya’s voice is angelic, simply gorgeous throughout the entire recording. She is in essence the main instrument everything else follows to where the light lives inside her.

The first track grabbed me with a force I could not resist. “Echo” sets the standard for everything else and reinforces the importance of that first track. I immediately added it to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. It runs for nearly six minutes making sure you get the full effect of this woman’s incredible vocal talent. The music is very good as well, I have to make sure that is a known fact. Beautiful vocals need the right support from the music for everything to fall into place like it was meant to be. And trust me on this, the way this album unfolds is magical.

Another amazing track is “Blood of the Stone.” It is prolific lyrically and musically. It is a strong message to us all how important mother earth is. New age music is tied strongly to this subject matter and I am grateful for that. We need a constant reminder that our survival depends on the health of our planet and right now it is not acting like it is very happy. When a message like that is transmitted with such passion and grace you stand up and take notice.

Five tracks in and I am completely sold on this artist and her music. I cannot wait to hear what the next track will bring. It makes you feel like a kid on Christmas morning waiting to unwrap the next present. Marya is eclectic and so talented that she can deliver something different with each track. It is a wonder how one artist can offer so much variety in one recording.

So, all of you who appreciate music, great vocals, a meaningful message, and pure talent, then you need to listen to Marya Stark’s latest release Sapphire. Even though the title is a particular gemstone this one is a perfect shining diamond that should not be missed. There is a lot to hear and enjoy in this engaging recording.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 14, 2020

Track List:
01. Echo        
02. Stargazer        
03. In Between
05.Blood of the Stone        
06.Celestial Butterflies   
07. Negra Luz        
08. Baptism     
09. Crystal Chambers        
10. Rose Lineage

October 11, 2020

New Age Instrumental Meditation Review: Various Artists-Relax

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Label: Domo Music Group


Domo Music Group (Kitaro’s home for recordings) has just released a wonderful compilation titled Relax. It does not get any plainer than the day. I think most people would agree we all could do some relaxing in light of the global issues going on presently.

Nobody understands what the artist is up against in the music business than someone that has lived it. One of those artists is Dino Malito who produced and contributed a track to the compilation. Being in another person’s industry and facing similar challenges does put thing in a different light and gives it all another perspective that many people do not have.

There are fourteen tracks on this album and as the cover would indicate a lovely path down the road of relaxing, meditation, and the connection to mother earth we all have. I have been reading about Buddhism and there is a connection that is explained in their teachings that can begin a definitive realization to what our surrounding world means and how it is all connected. I bring this subject up because music like this does unplug all the noise from outside and the internal chatter that goes on inside my head, I do however speak from a personal viewpoint. The artists on this compilation deserve high praise for their contributions to humanity and the health benefits that the music can provide.

A few of my favorites include Kitaro’s “Estrella” (which was my pick to add to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist) and “Wood Fairy.” I got into Kitaro back in the 90s and felt he was one the most innovative and prolific artists recording instrumental new age music.

Dino Malito’s “Aurora,” and Steve Anderson’s gorgeous rendition of the classical “Clair De Lune” are exceptional tracks as well. And that is just a few of many excellent slices of instrumental bliss you will find on Relax.

There are many advantages to a compilation of tracks. First, you get a wide variety of sounds that can find appeal with a much wider cross-section of listeners, secondly if you hear something you enjoy you can investigate the artist and look into their back catalog or new releases. Those are the two major advantages of releases like this. For me, that is enough. And I must say lastly that the one main focus is to Relax however you still can enjoy the diversification of styles and sounds.

If you are looking to Relax then this an opportunity to do just that and get exposure to some artists you possibly never experienced before. This is a win in anyone’s estimation.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

 October 10, 2020

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


01. WINGS TO FLY (Tsubasa Wo Kudasai) by Kuni Murai
02. SLEEPING WOMAN by Luis Perez
03. ESTRELLA by Kitaro
04. LINDEN by Yu-Xiao Guang
05. MIRACLE by Seda Bağcan
06. RUNE by Dave Eggar
07. RIMPA : COSMOS by Hiroki Okano
08. JOY by Uma Silbey
09. AURORA by Dino Malito
10. CLAIR DE LUNE by Steve Anderson
11. MEDITERRANEAN SUNRISE by Benedetti & Svoboda
12. WOOD FAIRY by Kitaro
13. SEE THE LIGHT (Abridged) by Fumio Miyashita
14. MOONLIGHT SONATA by Steve Anderson

October 9, 2020

Contemporary Instrumental Review: David J. Peña-Thinking of You

Release Date: June 13, 2020

Label: Independent



David J. Peña is a drummer and piano player. One look at his picture and he looks like a drummer, big and strong as an oak tree. His music is not a reflection of his physical stature by any means.

On his website it says:
Peña’s musical career has explored various genres, including Contemporary Christian, Lite Rock, and New Age Instrumental, and has drawn influence from icons such as Jim Brickman, Yanni, James Horner, and Hans Zimmer.

Everyone has their influences however once you listen to his new release Thinking of You, you will realize readily that he has his sound and his stamp and production values in place. The cover photo says it all, it is the singularity of the piano that takes center stage and it is David’s talented fingers that do all the talking needed.

David’s music is cinematic and exciting. It is a contemporary instrumental sound underpinned by the tenets of new age. I found every track filled with tremendous energy, rhythm, color, and a kind of anticipatory excitement. This is the kind of energy that flows right into your consciousness and affects your entire being. I felt completely energized and so happy hearing this music. It is a great way to feel after a hard day at work, that is for certain.

I loved the entire album but I had to choose one single track that got my attention and gave me great pleasure, and that was “Piangere Per Te.” I added it to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist (75th entry since the playlist went live).  

David knows how to bring the beauty of the music to you, the listener. The majesty of this instrumental montage will please any person interested in hearing music powerful enough to make an impression without words. That is exactly what Thinking of You can offer anyone within range of hearing this great music.

I know some of us tend to push ourselves every day to get as much as we can into being productive out of our day jobs. I am guilty of that but yet find satisfaction in it all when I am done. My relief valve is my music and music such as the kind you will hear from David J. Peña. It gives me what I need to get calm, centered, and re-energized to do it all again one more day. Thank you for the music!

Additional Credits:
Orchestral Arrangements: Judah Earl
Mixing Engineer: Greg Hill
Mastering Engineer: Brian Calhoun

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder
October 7, 2020

Track List:
01. Renaissance
02. Serenity
03. Piangere Per Te
04. Wild and Free
05. Smoke Signals Rising    
06. Good Day (Uzziah's Song)
07. Grace
08. Mystify
09. Farewell
10. Thinking of You
11. Anaiah's Song
12. Yesteryear    
13. Lighthouse

October 3, 2020

New Age World Meditation Review: Kamini Natarajan & Oleg Smirnov-AMRITA

Release Date: August 25, 2020

Label: Independent

Websites: http://kaminimusic.com



Here we are in October 2020 and we have endured unprecedented events worldwide. For my thoughts…I am grateful for everything I have and any problems I may encounter do not hold a candle to what other people have been suffering from. It has been a year of immense change and a forced awareness of the political landscape, the power and control of the media, environmental disasters, and unrest in the streets and violence. It seems like the beginning of the end of humanity as we know it.

What can we all do to alleviate the stress, worry, and overall uneasiness that is permeating the human race on such a grand scale? The answer is in sounds and pulses in the form of music created by some talented individuals willing to share their messages. Two of those people are Kamini Natarajan and Oleg Smirnov with their recent release AMRITA.

I listen to this music and lyrics and cannot interpret it however it remains a spiritual journey for me regardless. As mentioned in the artist information I received…Kamini artistically incorporates the traditional Indian ragas and intricate rhythmic patterns known as “taala,” which lift listeners to a higher state of consciousness - a state of pure bliss, away from mundane appearances.

Kamini’s partner on this project is Oleg Smirnov, who provides a multi-tasking approach with instrumentation, production, engineering, and mastering. That covers every aspect of recording music, which is quite an accomplishment. Some guests do provide percussion and violin when inserted into these tracks as well.

Music is worldly in an all-encompassing way. In these instances, it is a combination of meditation, new age, and world music. The chants and music are very progressive and I do not believe I have ever heard this type of project with the choices of synthesizers at different points in the tracks. Realistically I would not hesitate to call it progressive meditation world music. It is that different and refreshing. Every track is completely different and it has a modern meets an ancient traditional approach that works for today's audience.

The music you will find AMRITA is uplifting, spiritual, light, and effective in getting an entirely different frame of mind and reference within minutes of listening. I found it all so fascinating and engaging that not knowing what the lyrics meant made no difference, I think the purpose of the music did what it intended. And that my fellow listeners are exactly what any artist wishes to accomplish.

Kamini Natarajan – vocals, Indian harmonium
Oleg Smirnov – keyboards, guitars, basses, synthesizers, arranging, production, engineered, mixed, mastering

Additional Personnel:
Hector Quintanilla Galvan – percussion on (1)
Kirill Parenchuk – percussion on (2), (4), (5)
Mikhail Bugaev – violin on (4), (5)

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder
October 3, 2020

Track List:

1. Om Tare
2. Shri Krishna Sharanam Mamah
3. Om Namah Shivaya
4. Sohum
5. Loka Samasta

September 19, 2020

Ambient/Rock Instrumental (sub genre new age) Review: The Haiku Project-Gratitude

Release Date: July 17, 2020

Label: myndstream


This is Henrik Hytteballe’s 5th album Gratitude, he is joined by Duduk on guitar and cello as The Haiku Project.

This is entertaining music. I have to say the guitar adds that extra element that makes an instrumental ambient album entirely different.

I would be hesitant to put this into a sub-genre to new age but there is enough there that qualifies it. There are strong elements of rock and some jazz woven into the ten tracks offered here. In other words, to be honest, this is not music that is easily defined but I loved it. It is the guitar that reaches over that line into new territories when you are discussing instrumental music of the ambient nature.

Now I am wondering what the previous four releases from The Haiku Project sound like and I will have to explore that realm some more. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to explain what it is I am exactly hearing. There is a lot to listen to and absorb and that is good thing for any listener that needs some variety and wonderment of what is coming next. That for me is the brilliance of artists that have the wherewithal to produce an entire recording that holds your interest from start to finish.

In 2003 Henrik began studying at D.A.R.K. The Alternative Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, with piano as his main instrument. He is a very progressive artist and the development of his sound is apparent on this release. It surely is alternative, and alternative to any typical ambient or electronica album you may hear. His studies there surely brought him to an entirely different mindset and approach to what kind of music he would create.

One listen to “Hummingbird” tells the story here (look at the album art). Everything that is cutting edge and cool about the world of instrumental music comes bubbling to the surface on this track. Again, I have to say I am loving every minute of this and would love to hear it all on a vinyl LP, filling my entire room with all of its many colors, textures, atmospheres and brilliant musicianship. There is more, much more to engross you in, but I felt that track was one of the best tracks that showed off the diversity of the music and how it all comes together into one cohesive unit of sound.

I think the theme or concept if you will, has all the markings of a new age thought pattern. Musically this is a different road and one I would not mind traveling again real soon. I do have Gratitude for Henrik Hytteballe and Dudek for this amazing soundscape I have enjoyed on The Haiku Project.

If you enjoy instrumental music in particular, I have no doubt you will find a lot to enjoy on Gratitude.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 17, 2020

Track List:
01. Choices 4:48
02. Before Sunset 7:22
03. Another Spring 6:24
04. I Receive 4:50
05. Wide Open Space 4:14
06. Rivendell 4:40
07. My Life 5:14
08. Hummingbird 6:04
09. Fjord 3:52
10. Gratitude 6:14

September 11, 2020

Instrumental World/New Age Review: Blue Monk/ Michael Whalen- Karmic Dreams

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Label: myndstream

Websites: https://www.michaelwhalen.com


Sometimes the best and worst things in life are unexpected or spontaneous. For musician Michael Whalen getting Covid19 was unexpected and not welcome. On the other side of that was his music and another door to healing. To all things in life, there is the ying and yang. Sometimes it takes another person to make things happen and that is exactly what happened when Blue Monk came into the picture.

Blue Monk (Rasull), is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist on the Japanese shakuhachi, piano, synthesizer keyboards, acoustic guitar as well as concert flute and erhu. The multitude of world instruments you will hear on his collaboration with Michael Whalen is titled Karmic Dreams.

This will be Michael’s second release this year after the March release of Sacred Spaces. This is what got him back on his feet and healed him from the virus. I have always believed and supported the use of music for healing purposes. In this case, it was the first level of the musical experience, creating it. Michael received the music from Blue Monk then added and mixed his parts in and what you will get to hear in September is the result of that amazing collaboration titled Karmic Dreams.

From the first track “The Secret Garden” I was relaxed and entranced by the instrumentation and atmosphere it created. From that point forward, for my listening viewpoint and experience, it was all linked together. So, for this listener, it was an all-encompassing experience that is easy to convey in words. First, I look at my state of mind and being before listening. I am heading into a week long vacation and have quite a struggle clearing my head and changing my energy, in other words, knocking it down a few levels to enjoy getting some rest and doing things I enjoy more like listening to music, reading, or watching one of my favorite series on TV or Netflix. My strong sense of responsibility to my day job, my role, and contributions there daily keep my energy flow extremely high and one of my main releases is exercise, meditation, or new age instrumental music and sitting down and getting my thoughts down for potential readers and listeners. That is not a chore it is my way of meditating and getting another frame or space where there is no clutter of thoughts or resistance.

The beauty of the instruments that Blue Monk plays gives this recording an ancient worldly feel. He demonstrates exceptional command of the tools of meditation and spirituality. He found what he sought and is now sharing with us, the listeners and seekers of the same. It works very well indeed! All you have to do is prepare the mind, body, and spirit for the transition the music brings and in seconds you can be in another frame of reference where healing and joy exist. It is that simple if you open that invisible portal.

I have to personally relate to this music to give an honest overview with the hope that all of those people that happen to come across my review or listen to samples and eventually buy the music to support these incredible artists, find what I find waiting inside the music.

The flutes are what makes this music so special and feel so mystical. Then as Michael adds all of his production values and synthesizers, electronics, and percussion, what you get is the beautiful combination of the old world meets the new world. This is the kind of mixture you find happening a lot in the new age genre, and I love it.

Michael Whalen and Blue Monk have created a new age world masterpiece that will be a tool for all those seeking comfort, healing, and solace in this very difficult time we are all experiencing on some level.

Your karma and dreams do converge and send very important messages to your soul. Karmic Dreams can be the gateway to where you need to go right now. Give it a listen and let it work its magic, you will not regret it.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 19, 2020

Track List:
1. The Secret Garden (4:52)
2. The Way of the Samurai (7:21)
3. Cherry Blossom Heart (5:50)
4. Moonscape (5:30)
5. The Trance (3:52)
6. Boundless Love (7:02)
7. Karmic Dreams (4:29)