June 12, 2019

Acoustic Instrumental World Fusion Review: Perpetual Motion-Dance of Two Souls

Label: Independent
Release Date: June 1, 2019

2.5 years ago, I discovered the group Perpetual Motion, thanks to the introduction of Josie Quick. Josie is a fabulous violin player with a stellar reputation in the New Age and music community as a whole. Her partner is Tom Carleno the six-string bandit that populates their Latin World Fusion sound. There is a lot of music on the new release that will find its way to world, jazz, Latin and new age streaming stations.

I covered Rear View and enjoyed every minute of it. So, there is no reason why Dance of Two Souls would not be the same experience. And just so you know, it was also a very enjoyable experience that was as memorable as the last release.

The music on Dance of Two Souls will make your body move, your heart smile, and your soul feel as light as a feather. In other words, you will be swept away most pleasantly by this recording. Along the way, you hear jazz, Latin, and acoustic splendor unfolding all at once within each song.

Even though the music is acoustic (not electric with lots of noise pinning the VU meter) it does pack a potent amount of energy, color, sound, texture, and range of vibrations that you will recognize from beginning to end. It is a non-stop musical serendipity. 

Tracks like the world infused “Diabla” and the incredibly rhythmic and soulful “Where Does The Time Go” which is something I seem to say every day in this phase of my life. Just wait, it will happen to you too. The good news that Josie and Tom impart upon us is that time moves constantly, only our perception of it varies. And that is so true, it is relative to one’s own world.  This is the pièce de résistance of the entire album, its progressive, rapidly moving (there is that time thing again), with a lot of instrumentation going on. It is without a doubt my favorite track on the album, very cool. Now let’s remember that pièce de résistance refers to the chief dish of a meal or an outstanding item or event: showpiece. The entire recording serves as a showpiece two this two great talents coming together and “Where Does The Time Go” is their showpiece.

This is clearly the Dance of Two Souls in complete joy, and, we the listeners are the fortunate recipients of that absolute musical focus. Whether you want to glide around a room, tap your feet or just kick back and take it all in, this album is a superb way to allow yourself that space in time for a little of your own musical nirvana delivered courtesy of Josie Quick and Tom Carleno.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 12, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Sunsplash
02. Diabla
03. The Happy Song
04. Déjà Vu
05. Dance of Two Souls
06. Troublant Boléro
07. Dos Gringos
08. Viaje del Corazón
09. Swinging Cats
10. Summertime
11. Where Does The Time Go?
12. Esmeralda
13. Por Causa de Você

 

June 8, 2019

Instrumental Ambient Review: Jon Durant-Alternate Landscapes

Release Date: May 3, 2019
Label: Alchemy Records

My introduction to Jon Durant came in 2018 when he released Parting Is. His unique use of guitars I found to be very intriguing. 

Alternate Landscapes is along the same path but an expansion of what he was doing on the last release, this time with the use of synths. The music is ambient and electronic with Jon’s cloud guitar signature driving the compositions.

I made sure to include the track times because without that as an indicator people would assume that this was EP. That could not be further from the truth as the shortest track is 6:56 and the longest rolls in at 20:32.

After looking at the track titles I had to wonder what each one meant. The only one I recognized was “Aragon.” Have a little fun and look up all the track titles to see what they mean. I can tell you this, they are all destinations. Speaking of going somewhere, you are probably wondering where this music will take you. All this music has a destination as indicated by the track titles; however, I do believe that is up to each individual listener.  So, before you give this music a listen, stop, think, then decide how you will use this music as a tool to achieve your own destination.

I really cannot qualify this music as new age, perhaps a sub-genre thereof would be the best way to put it. It is atmospheric, dreamy, and billowy like a cloud. It pulls you out of one space and puts you in another rather quickly. At times it gave me the feeling of being submerged in water and thus that “floating” weightless feeling of mind, body, and soul. It can be a beautiful thing if you can let the music work its magic.

I would think that the folks that work in film making should take a good look at what Jon Durant can offer for soundtracks and effects for all sorts of films and documentaries. This music is Alternate Landscapes in a definitive sense, musically of course. Most listeners that enjoy ambient or new age will really appreciate this release.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 8, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
 
1. Systravatn 15:56
2. Aragon 6:56
3. Ciel Du Cheval 20:32
4. Dinkelsbül 15:11 



June 3, 2019

Instrumental Piano Review: Milana Zilnik- Notte

Release Date: June 1, 2019
Label: Independent

According to the discography on Milana Zilnik’s website, on June 1, 2019, she will release her 13th album titled Notte (which means night in Italian). That is a very impressive library of recorded works. And the fact that I am not familiar with her work gives me pause to wonder why! Well, I am here to help those of you who are in a similar point in time I am and to take some time to listen to this music.

The artist decided, with the encouragement of her husband, to challenge herself and record a minimalist album. She is accustomed to making more complicated and colorful music. Do not be discouraged by that statement as what Milana has to say on the 12 tracks encompassing this ambitious effort is quite a lot. Not mention not uttering one word.

Stepping away from your comfort zone is difficult. It can be in any situation like work, or something that triggers those good endorphins. Music, really good music, should put you in your comfort zone. And why wouldn’t anyone want to do that? We can thank the artist for putting her best foot, or should I say fingers, forward on Notte.

Notte takes the listener through 12 hours of specific times, feelings and atmospheres. Each track intends to deliver a lapse of time and music to relate to the time (8 pm to 7 am) and title. The desire to see this to its completion was a success in every way. 

The minimalist approach is nothing new to these ears, especially when it comes to piano music. I hear a lot of it and I must say that I always enjoy it to the fullest extent. If it reaches out and touches my soul in some way it was a success from where I sit. For me personally, this has been an incredibly busy and at times very stressful time in the daily work setting. Having music like Notte to listen to is a very therapeutic exercise for me. The focus one can put on just the piano and the sounds emanating from it, can ease the mind which in turn slows the heartbeat, which then equates to a placidness that cannot be found during the course of a day, at least not for me. I am sure there are many people out there experiencing the same things on a daily basis. So, it is what you would call a healthy escape valve that I have access to any time I want it.

Notte is the right time to heal and regenerate our blood cells, minds, and attitudes for the following day. With the help of one very talented, not to mention brave, musician named Milana Zilnik, you to can attain a different state of mind and fulfillment.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 3, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. 8PM: Shadows
02. 9PM: Sunset
03. 10PM: Twilight
04. 11PM: Calmness
05. 12AM: Midnight
06. 1AM: Longing
07. 2AM: Echoes
08. 3AM: Silence
09. 4AM: Dreams
10. 5AM: Quietude
11. 6AM: Reflections
12. 7AM: Dawn


LINKS:


 



June 2, 2019

New Age Instrumental Review: Kathryn Kaye-Solace of Mountains and Clouds

Release Date: June 1, 2019
Label: Indie

Solace of Mountains and Clouds is the fifth release I am covering by the exquisite piano player Kathryn Kaye. It was like visiting an old friend when I gave this new recording my first listen. I received everything I have come to expect from an album created by this exceptional artist, top-notch musicianship, production, and sound.

If those three factors are in place consistently on your recordings there is a very good chance you will garner the praise you deserve and all the respect from your peers in the industry. You can tick off all the boxes in that category for Kathryn as well.

Solace of Mountains and Clouds is a direct reflection of the surroundings of the artist where she lives and creates all of her compositions. The inspiration of mother nature can be found in many different segments of the artistic communities. I must say after several years of listening to instrumental piano and new age music, that the images and music presented most definitely go hand in hand. The production elements are superb thanks to the Imaginary Road Studios and the fine stable of artists that contribute to this and many other recordings. The partnerships created are absolute bliss, with Kathryn’s recording being no exception.

A few of my favorites are “Slow Waltz at Summer's End” and “While The Mountain Sleeps.”  The track titles are as moving as the music. The images created by the titles and music are all at once prolific, calming, spiritual and rhythmic. There is an innate sense of musicality and tones emanating from those talented fingers that touch the ivory keys.

Solace of Mountains and Clouds is the soul of nature mirrored in the music and the colors, atmospheres, and vibrations of this wonderful music. It starts by touching all of your senses then it finds a way to your heart and soul. Any good instrumental music holds that magic but to do it so well and for so long is an incredible achievement and a gift to all that have the pleasure of hearing it.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 2, 2019
 
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Luna's Dream 3:57
02. For Love of Earth and Sky 5:12
03. We'll Be Home Tomorrow 4:13
04. Slow Waltz at Summer's End 4:24
05. Solace of Mountains and Clouds 6:06
06. Mountains Touching Sky 4:10
07. Finally Spring 5:16
08. Warm Sun, Gentle Rain 4:00
09. While the Mountain Sleeps 4:27
10. Stories Told by Trees 4:55


June 1, 2019

Instrumental Acoustic Review: Raphael Groten-Star Lullaby

Release Date: June 1, 2019
Label: Indie

I first heard an album from Raphael Groten in 2015 covering Journey Home. So now with 4 years between albums, we have a double-disc set to make up for the lost time. The new release is titled Star Lullaby. 29 tracks comprise his latest recording. 

Star Lullaby on disc 1 is all original solo guitar music produced at Imaginary Road Studios with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton. Disc 2 includes the same songs but with featured musicians Michael Manring, Eugene Friesen, Ron Korb, Charlie Bisharat, Jeff Haynes, Noah Wilding, and Will Ackerman.  This will provide each individual listener the opportunity to hear all tracks as they were meant to be heard with the guitar and then another opportunity to hear it all with instruments added. You will have the chance to compare and contrast each song, but most of all come to appreciate what a true artisan Raphael is with his six-string.

The picking and plucking of the acoustic guitar can create many soundscapes, textures, colors, and images. This is where the artist succeeds in seemingly effortless fashion. Certainly, it sounds very smooth as he transitions from one song to the next but surely this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Making your guitar the only instrument, then filling in all the spaces with the right tones and rhythms, must be a task. And then thinking of adding many other instruments and where to put them properly in a composition is another challenge. What you never have is a window into the process and obstacles one can run into on such an ambitious undertaking. That must have been more of a challenge from a production point than cutting the first disc with just guitar.

On the second disc, Raphael was very smart and made sure his guitar remained the main instrument. This does not take away from the added instrumentation. The artist commented: To be clear, the tracklist is the same for both discs, except Disc 2 which has a 15th track: “Star Lullaby” (vocals). (Which by the way, is very good).

Truly, my inspiration for the double CD came early on in production. As I began to overdub the featured musicians (which was thrilling!), I realized that while I expanded the sound for my fans, I also wanted to maintain their capacity to be able to listen to just the solo guitar

 I think that puts it all into proper perspective for the artist and for the listeners.

With that said, I found the additional instruments a benefit to the tracks, particularly with Michael Manring's distinctive bass style and tone.  The natural partnership of bass and six-string guitars are very evident when listening to these tracks. I also think because the guitar is acoustic, it allows the other instruments to shine and accompany Raphael in the most complimentary way possible. The beauty and simplicity of the first disc are very enjoyable and will be appreciated by guitar fans and those of easy listening or relaxation music. The same applies to the second disc but what you get is more layers of sound without any compromise from any one instrument, it all blends together beautifully.

There is just so much to enjoy on Star Lullaby that it would seem unfair to site any one track as a standout because they all are, it’s as simple as that. This is quite a treat for the ears and senses and the contrasts and variety are superb.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 1, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

Disc 1: Solo Guitar
 
1.  dawn
2.  waking
3.  mindfulness
4.  guidance
5.  levity
6.  star lullaby
7.  gratitude
8.  meditation
9.  compassion
10. opening
11. fledgling
12. eclipse
13. trust
14. prayer


Disc 2: Featured Musicians
 
1.  dawn
2.  waking
3.  mindfulness
4.  guidance
5.  levity
6.  star lullaby
7.  gratitude
8.  meditation
9.  compassion
10. opening
11. fledgling
12. eclipse
13. trust
14. prayer
15. star lullaby (vocals)


 

May 27, 2019

Instrumental New Age Review: Ann Sweeten-Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

 Artist: Ann Sweeten
Title: Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow
Label: Orange Band Records
Website


Ann Sweeten has a story to tell. This incredible woman and musician has suffered through 3 bouts of cancer. I found her words inspirational. She does not want anyone to feel sorry for her, she wants positive support and for people to stop and smell the roses of life that abound all around us. 

I covered the 2016 release Where Butterflies Dance and in 2014 Tapestries of Time So now I am ready for the latest offering Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow.

Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow is her story set to music. Words are not necessary with such talent at the keys. The eloquence and beauty of piano instrumental music reach new heights for the artist on this release. With everything going on in her personal life she has found the energy and inner spirit to push herself beyond any physical limitations and turn into something positive and wonderful.

The title track is a gorgeous heartfelt melody flowing like a stream of rhythmic in-sync spirituality. In other words, Ann becomes one with the music and the end result is extraordinary. “Philadelphia 22” is so emotional and full of the grace of the heavens. The power of her rolling piano passages finds its foundation in classical but the soul of the track is all Ann. The addition of the cello, English Horn, and violin give the tracks another layer that brings an additional emotive element and that classical sensibility.

There is sadness in the music however her piano brings out the joy and positive vibes that are within her and it will heal not only the artist but everyone that hears it. That is the beauty of this music. The story behind it all is incredibly real and it will touch many lives.

Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow will leave an indelible mark upon your soul. After reading about her tribulations, the music took on a stronger significance. Just knowing what Ann has been through, her great attitude and the messages she delivers in the music, it would give anyone pause. I heard the birds chirping last night and looked at my wife and said “Hear them chirping? They sound so happy.” That is the purity of nature and all the sounds, smells, and colors that are all around us. I am so grateful for that kind of awareness and the gift of this music, all music, that heals and takes me to another level of reality. 

This kind of instrumental music envelops you in a cocoon of tranquility that cannot be retrieved during a normal busy day. This surely is music made for those seeking healing that goes beyond words.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 27, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Across the Midnight Sky          
02. Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow      
03. Beyond the Clouds          
04. The Empty Swing          
05. Saying Goodbye              
06. Philadelphia 22          
07. Vanish                  
08. Lullaby for Blackie Boo          
09. Through Winter Panes          
10. Like Smoke Through a Keyhole  
   
 

May 10, 2019

Instrumental Review: Gerhard Daum-Songs Without Words

Release Date: April 26, 2019
Label: Tonework Records

The last time I heard the sweet sounds of Gerhard Daum’s guitar was in 2017 on Rural Renewal with his guitar and string ensemble. At the end of last month, he released Songs Without Words. The title says it all right? Well, not quite.

Gerhard’s guitar playing is outstanding and that did not come as a revelation considering his last effort was a 5-star outing. I decided to just call it instrumental in regards to genre. He covers some ground so making it all inclusive was the best route to take.

You will hear some biting rock and blues licks along with some electrified cinematic jazz moments (‘Told You So”). “Gentleman’s Way” really caught my ear, its upbeat and consistent rhythms and timings made it an instant favorite. “Gold Rush” was another ear catcher, it sounds like a made for TV soundtrack or commercial, actually anything cinematic that needed some added color or depth, then this track would add those elements to it and make it all complete.  “Timeless” was superb as well, another one for the highlight reel. One even better for the film industry would be “Walking On Clouds,” with its orchestrated layers and excellent reverberating jazz-inflected guitar notes.

To be perfectly honest, what is there on Songs Without Words not to like? I loved the entire album. Although I am partial to guitar-based instrumentals, I do require a high standard of listening pleasures and strong production values with everything I hear. This recording gets an A+ in every category and is an absolute joy to listen to.

I am sure Songs Without Words will easily find a home with the contemporary instrumental, jazz and easy listening stations streaming all over the globe. It has that durable crossover appeal because Gerhard goes from strength to strength so seamlessly, mixing all the genres. Every additional instrument to the guitar is just the proverbial icing on the cake. There are many great moments to enjoy on this album night or day, it all fits just like a glove to complete your day with a smile in your heart.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 10, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By MuzikMan.net

Tracks: 
01. Berlin Song
02. Talking Softly
03. Gentlemen's Way
04. All That Matters
05. Gold Rush
06. Timeless
07. Holding the Dream
08. Going My Way
09. Told You So
10. Walking on Clouds
11. The Early Passion

12. My Foolish Heart