December 14, 2018

Instrumental Piano Review: Joseph Nimoh-Conversations On Piano

Release Date: October 15, 2018  
Label: Independent

Joseph Nimoh released his third proper album titled Conversations On Piano in October this year. I classified it generically as instrumental piano however it does have many elements that make it what it is. There is classical, contemporary instrumental, spiritual (gospel), new age and even some elements of jazz. So, it is a musical patchwork quilt if you will. Where I am coming from as a listener, this can mean diversity, colors, atmospheres, and tones that are variable in length as well as rhythm.

Joseph started playing piano at church when he was 11 years and from there went to the prestigious Berklee School of music to study piano performance. That alone is an indication of his abilities and the productive road ahead for this artist.

The twenty tracks contained on this recording are meant for relaxation, meditation and hopefully a spiritual renewal. I realize that twenty tracks may sound like a double album but several of the tracks are a bit over two minutes and only two are over four minutes. So not only are the different genres mixed in to make this album enjoyable and fresh, the time spent listening does not go on for too long. So, the opportunity to pause and shift your thoughts in this time and space cut out just for you, the appreciative listener, is afforded generously. Along those lines, I think people that listen to music like this seek it out, they know exactly what they are looking for.

Joseph Nimoh has created twenty tracks of piano bliss. It is a beautiful and enriching solitude that he presents to those who want to hear only instrumentals and no lyrics. This is the kind of format that allows complete focus and the separateness necessary to maintain that state of being. It is just what the doctor ordered, as the saying goes. That phrase is never truer than when you listen to Conversations On Piano. The title certainly suggests that the music will speak to you, I know it does for the artist. He is translating his love for the instrument and sharing his gift with everyone, which is a beautiful thing.

Conversations On Piano can be your personal journey to another realm, a chance to heal and moreover, just relax and listen and feel the warmth and purity of one man’s music gift to the world. Once again, my personal conviction of music being the universal healer to all humanity is solidified by another talented individual.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
December 14, 2018

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Anything For You
02. Beautiful Melody
03. Morning Dew
04. Conversations
05. Distant Land
06. Don't Be Discouraged
07. Happy Ending
08. His Plans Are Sure
09. Like Yesterday
10. Peaceful Melody
11. Silent Prayers
12. Solitude
13. Sunday Morning Pondering
14. Time For Change
15. Where We Are
16. Who's There
17. Not Alone
18. Searching For Answers
19. I am With You
20. Who Will Go
 

December 10, 2018

Classical-New Age Review: Samer Fanek-Guide Me

Release Date: December 11, 2018
Label: Independent

Samer Fanek is a talented keyboard player. I covered his debut WishfulThinking two years ago. I gave it a 5-star rating and I have no reason to believe things would be different with his new offering Guide Me. This is an instrumental recording filled with classical and contemporary music with a new age feel.

According to the artist, the first track “Grand Opening,” is intended to be exactly what it says it is. The curtain opener is an exciting burst of colors and energy that has you envisioning a scene in an action movie or an emotional still picture with a soundtrack to make it come alive. It is an amazing song but it does not set the tone for the album that most opening tracks do because of the eclectic nature of the overall presentation. “Chasing Time” is similar to the high level of energy and general pace.

What you will discover while listening are different moods, a story being told through the fingers and ivory keys. There is no doubt that this music can move you and it is meant to. The changing tides of sound and textures are a credit to Samer’s characteristic creativity and tastefulness. It can give the astute listener an opportunity to step outside any sort of emotional bubble one may feel trapped in. 

An interesting point is the artist spent the last two years dealing with his own life and through the music found a path to enlightenment…a point of letting go and allowing himself to walk through the door of change and renewal. This is what Samer’s music can do for anyone. The first step is hitting play and letting the music encapsulate your surroundings and then changing your thought process. That is a monumental change for anyone feeling stress, distraught or just sad and lonely. If you have heard anyone say “I can be in a room with 300 people and feel alone,” then that gives you an idea of the level of pain one individual could be feeling.  I think the key is to own whatever it is you are feeling at the moment then be ready to let go and move on with the help of the music.

Guide Me is an extraordinary musical achievement that will give listeners the occasion to feel what the artist is feeling and what part they may be playing in the story. Sometimes, for me, it feels like I take on my own part in the story and get this flood of feelings and emotions listening to this music, and then any isolation I may be feeling just slips away. On the positive side of the coin, there is a necessary solitude that I enjoy. It recharges my inner batteries and gives my soul a shot of light and hopefulness. It may sound complicated to some folks but it certainly works for my listening experience.

As the music guided Samer it will guide you to another space and time with a mindset that can give you a healing internally that you will come to expect from this music. I had set the bar very high for Samer on his sophomore release and he came through with another instrumental masterpiece.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
December 10, 2018

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 

01. Grand Opening
02. Long Time Ago
03. Newborn
04. Now You See
05. Guide Me
06. Guardian
07. Before Dawn
08. Chasing Time
09. For Lila
10. Sense of Purpose
11. Back to Hometown

 



December 7, 2018

Holiday Review: Dan Blanchard-The Spirit of Christmas

Release Date: December 7, 2018
Label: Peaceful Vibes  
Website
Dan Blanchard has created one of the more unique Christmas albums I have ever heard. The Spirit of Christmas is the title, which is about as generic and traditional as you can get but don’t let that simple title fool you. This is a significant music project and a tremendous accomplishment for the artists involved.

Dan has some incredibly talented people join him on this release and since there is the song “Twelve Days of Christmas,” he gives us 12 tracks to enjoy and guess what the twelfth track is? Everything seems to fall in line so far…just wait.

What Daniel sought to create was a musical holiday adventure that was steeped in traditional Christmas Carols and Indian Classical Music. This, of course, provided the opportunity to combine these elements with some improvisation. The cross-section of instruments included on this recording includes Sitar, Santoor, Harmonium, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Tanpura, Tabla, Percussion, Bansuri Flute, Indian Slide Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Violin. Just stop and think about the kind of sounds all of those instruments can make and you will be filled with anticipation before hitting the play button.

This is exactly the type of Holiday album I love to hear actually, rather than the same songs year after year with no expectations of change or any kind of new experience. I do respect these traditional songs and from whence they came, however, I do enjoy an artist that is willing to try something entirely different with enough confidence that it is going to work. When it does work, a listener can become mesmerized and also very appreciative of the worldly experience that is being offered.

The core foundation of Indian Classical music is three components, Drone, Rāga and Tāla. The Drone is the part of the music that is continuous throughout the song, the Rāga is the melody and the Tāla is rhythm. So, what you get are two classic traditional forms of music intersecting for a fantastic combination of sounds, rhythms, textures, and color.  Think of it as big Christmas tree with a multitude of different colored lights, that is what this music is and it’s absolutely beautiful, meditative, spiritual and joyous.

Dan’s love for both traditions is what inspired this album and why it turned out so well. I usually get the “Bah! Humbug!,” feelings when I see all the holiday things coming out the same time just before Halloween, it just feels so artificial and money driven. So along comes musical projects like The Spirit of Christmas to put it all into a proper perspective and allow me to focus on the true meaning of the holiday and the pure beauty and worldliness of the music.

Music, the universal healer, it makes the world a better place and this kind of release make you think about the entire planet, not just your own community in a town or city. This is a worldwide spirit that comes in many different forms, languages, and sounds, it really is a beautiful thing and I am grateful for the reminder of that. Thank you, Dan, for transforming me from the Scrooge into old Saint Nick! This truly is The Spirit of Christmas.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
December 7, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
02. Ode to Joy (Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Movement 4)
03. Jingle Bells
O4. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
05. We Three Kings
06. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
O7. Carol of the Strings (Bells)
O8. Silent Night
09. Joy to the World
10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
11. Good King Wenceslas
12. Twelve Days of Christmas

 

November 23, 2018

New Age-World-Electronic-Meditation Review: Rigzin-PROTECTION ~ A Ceremony of Protector Prayers

Release Date: November 9, 2018
Label: Rigzin Music
I had strong feelings that I was about to embark on a music spiritual that I would never forget before listening to the recent Rigzin release PROTECTION ~ A Ceremony of Protector Prayers.

I received a gift last Christmas, a book titled 365 Dali Lama Daily Advice From The Heart. I have faithfully read these passages every day and it most certainly has piqued my interest and changed my outlook on life. This is the path I have been on seeking spiritual enlightenment through New Age music. I have had some amazing music to listen to over the last three years and it just got more interesting when I received the third release in a sacred trilogy from Rigzin. If anything, it has increased my knowledge and curiosity about the practice of Buddhism.

Rigzin has dedicated her life to the practices of Tibetan Buddhism. She had trained intensively to sing the prayers of elaborate ceremonies, during her traditional 3-year retreat, which now stands at more than 30 years ago.

So where do I begin with such a unique artist and the messages she is imparting upon the human race? This is not a simple task but then again what good is a listen if it does not present a challenge and time to reflect?

This work of musical art can be described as new age, world, meditation and electronic. Each track delivers all of those elements in a most prolific and thought-provoking way. One of the lines I heard loud and clear was “Love will defeat hate.” I like that line and I believe it holds true and will be the world’s saving grace if we only take heed. 

There is so much going on with this recording, at times you just cannot put it into words. There is chanting and worldly sounds and electronic textures and above all, a rhythm flowing through this music that is inherently spiritual and pure. That is something I find very appealing and can find some guidance from within. This music will speak to your soul. If you are a spiritual individual you will find great value in this music. I really enjoyed the complexity and all of the tools used to make something ancient and trusted into a more relatable, listenable, and then freshly interpreted, for a person of today. You could call it a spiritual morphing.

The tracks that had the most impact on my mind, body, and soul (through the ears) were “Bodhicitta,” “Prophecy” and “Wrathful Guru.” These tracks are epic translations of spirituality driven by the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism. The messages are clear and concise and they will make you rethink everything, I can promise you that. You may already agree and be aligned with these thoughts and beliefs and came to a realization long ago about where you stand spiritually. Even so, this will still call out to you to reaffirm and possibly bring to light more of what you need. 

The music of PROTECTION ~ A Ceremony of Protector Prayers drives and steers the words and feelings straight to your heart, even if you do not understand the language of chants, somehow it all it works and very well at that.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 21, 2018

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Call to Awaken 01:16  
02. Buddha 00:53  
03. Red Lotus Dakini 03:46
04. Prophecy 03:12
05. Wrathful Guru 03:30
06. Protection 06:11  
07. Vajrasattva 08:15  
08. Kilaya 06:42
09. Protectors of the Land 10:40
10. Heart of the Lotus 07:28  
11. Bodhicitta 04:58

 

November 9, 2018

Instrumental New Age Piano Reviews: Brian Hagen -You're The One

Release Date: November 15, 2017
Label: Independent

Brian Hagen began piano lessons at four years old. That is a very young age when most children are not even in the first year of school. It looks like the lifelong commitment to the mastery of the ivory keys have paid many dividends.

You're The One is Brian’s third proper album. His range, acumen, and styles encompass contemporary classical, new age and jazz. All of the music is straightforward piano instrumentals with no accompaniment.

What I find most compelling about music like this is the way it can hold you from start to finish. The piano is so pure and unconstrained - it flows, bends, moves and shapes your emotions. It is all dependent on the pace and timing of the composition. What is simplistic at first blush can be just as complicated as several instruments playing together and so can the emotions you have that follow. It is a powerful and effective instrument.

Artist like Brian Hagen and recordings like You're The One continue the tradition of great solo piano recordings. The torch is being carried and burning ever so brightly for gifted musicians such as this.

You're The One transports fourteen tracks of pristine beauty, relaxation, and contemplation. It awaits your calling. The listeners have the easy job, we just sit and take it all in. The creator of the music is the gift from the heavens that brings us peace and joy through the music. It is work but it most definitely sounds like a lot of joy and love goes into the creation of these wonderful sounds.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 8, 2018

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. You're The One
02. By The Limpid Stream
03. Nocturne
04. Contemplation
05. Diabelli Sonatina
06. Fantasie
07. Lonesome Road
08. Beethoven Sonatina WOo 50
09. Afternoon Waltz
10. Let It Flow
11. Now and Forever
12. Autumn Afternoon Homecoming
13. Kleine Studie
14. Sunflower 


November 5, 2018

New Age Piano Instrumental Review: Brian Crain-Piano and Night

Release Date: March 1, 2018
Label: Crain Records, Inc
Brian Crain was a musically inclined child, but he was never formally educated in music, and yet has still found success as a pianist/composer.  His passion was baseball however he found his true destiny in the ivory keys.

Based on what I have heard on Piano and Night, Brian Crane’s 17th album, he is doing exactly what he was meant to do. He has quite the back catalog that prospective listeners can explore, for now, we shall explore his latest effort that was released in March this year.

Brian composed and performed all 11 tracks on Piano and Night. What the title suggests to the listener is the magic of nighttime can be yours to enjoy. It does not have to be the basic fact that the sun went down. Look at the cover of the CD with all the beautiful Chinese lanterns floating upwards like little stars going home to the heavens, and Brian is off in background playing his piano to this dance of light. This is what the nighttime was meant for, star gazing and the solo piano music of a talented composer and musician.

Piano and Night is slow dance under the stars so you, as the listener, can picture in your mind's eye the beauty of the nighttime and all its offerings. Brain Crain makes the suggestion of these thoughts and then makes it a reality through his music. One man, one piano, and the nighttime are all you need to enjoy this music to the fullest extent. It was a very relaxing and comforting journey to partake in for this listener and it most certainly put a different spin on the night time, and that is exactly what this was meant to do. Mission accomplished to all within listening range.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 5, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
 
01. Dreamsong
02. Starry Night
03. Paper Lantern Sky
04. Sleep Nocturne
05. Moonlight Waltz
06. Time Lapse
07. Firefly Stars
08. Forest of the Night
09. Dream of Wild Horses
10. Lullaby Sonata
11. Smile

November 1, 2018

Holiday-Instrumental-Classical Review: Andrew Colyer-Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations

Release Date: November 16, 2018
Label: Inner Nova Music

Well here it is almost Halloween and me, I am listening to a Christmas album! So why am I doing this right now instead of waiting until its closer to Thanksgiving? My answer to that is I knew it was going to be a different type of recording, an improvisational type of piano excursion with dissimilar influences peppered into the final recipe to make it more interesting and tastier.

For Andrew Colyer Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations is a big step away from Circuline, a progressive rock band he is part of. I covered the band’s Counterpoint album in 2016.

So, knowing this I was getting ready for a real treat. What Andrew decided to do was to record live off the floor. Everything is completely spontaneous without arrangements or refinements. That, by all means, is a big risk to take for any recording artists. All I can say is, this man has a lot of confidence in his abilities. Magically, all of this works out very well.

I really enjoy covering improvisational holiday music, particularly on solo piano. The inherent risks and difficulty level are very high. Most folks want to hear all the traditional holiday songs performed without any improvisation because it’s a yearly tradition. That is all fine with me but it is a wonderful thing to hear a piano player take all of his talents and create eleven tracks of holiday cheer with elements of jazz, classical, and new age all mixed in. It's like a musical hot toddy with some extra spice thrown in for some bite and to make sure you remember that last sip.

Andrew really appreciates George Winston, as do I. If you happen to be a musician by trade then you take that interest in George’s music to another level. He does that nicely with his ode to Charlie Brown on “Christmas Time is Here” (part 1 & part 2). He cleverly spreads the two tracks out from #3 to #9. Then of course track 8 is the obvious “Ode to George.”  Another well-done song that I am sure Mr. Winston would appreciate, in fact, I think he would enjoy this entire album.

It is great to see an artist not only step out from a musical comfort zone but to do it all without any plan or design of what to play. A free-form piano improvisation is more than just fine with me and I enjoyed every bit of it. This is solo piano music that can be appreciated any time of year actually. For this listener the timing was good, it is helping me get in the frame of mind that old man winter is right around the corner. I need to prepare myself mentally with a good attitude and be grateful for the four seasons and what they bring us. Thanks for Christmas Time-Piano Improvisations and the shot of positive energy Andrew!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 30, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Silent Night
02. Jingle Bells
03. Christmas Time is Here (part 1)  
04. Melancholy Holiday
05. Let It Snow in New Orleans  
06. A Night in Brooklyn
07. We 3 Kings...in 5
08. Ode to George
09. Christmas Time is Here (part 2)
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
11. Hawaiian Healing Meditation [Ho'Oponopono]