August 9, 2017

Instrumental New Age Review: Holland Phillips-Under A Second Moon

Release Date: August 25, 2017
Label: Ageless Records

Around the same time last year, I got some music in from Holland Phillips. I had the pleasure of hearing and reviewing his Circles of 8 recording.

It is now 2017 and Under A Second Moon is getting set to arrive on our doorsteps.  Where Holland began his first journey he now continues, well in fact he never stopped. He just kept creating and recording. Again, he decided to concentrate on harmonics and vibrations. The results are superlative once again!

The production values are top notch and the use of keyboards and synths are brilliantly utilized by this creative maestro. Holland is not only a musician but an author as well. This is an outlet, a place where anyone can escape to. If its fantasy or real, or just a space in time to occupy for you to recharge your batteries, it is available through this music.

Each track seemingly blends into the next, gently beckoning your soul to participate in this atmosphere of sounds, textures and wonderlands of the mind. And most importantly it belongs to you the listener. Here is your chance to create your own little slice of heaven through music.

I believe Holland is an excellent composer, a multi-talented artist that can paint a picture visually with either words in a book or through his fingers into the instruments he uses.
I found Under A Second Moon to be a very pleasant listening experience and just as enjoyable as last year’s offering.  This a coloring book for the soul, the music are your crayons and you are the book. The title track was the one song that cemented the concept and meaning of this project for me, it colored my heart and mind. Adding the saxophone (Paul Christensen) was the finishing touch. And this was at the midpoint of the recording and I was already thinking that it could not get much better. That track was hard to top however the consistency and quality of the music held up as the stories weaved their spell throughout each succeeding track.

Each track was a different shade or color, a variation of moods that danced with the music. It all made me feel invigorated, joyous and glad to be alive. I do not always feel that way so once the magic of music casts its spell and it won me over again. Interesting enough “Long Way Home,” reminded me of early progressive rock or even band’s like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. I would really like to hear more of that style on the next album.

Thanks again for the trip far away from stress and worry Holland, your creative genius soothes my soul and wets my appetite for your next project.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 9, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Out of the Frying Pan
02. Taking the Road Not Taken
03. A Moment in Time
04. Possibly Maybe
05. Under a Second Moon
06. Love Comes Gently
07. Long Way Home
08. Deepening Skies
09. Looking Back
10. It Comes to This       
11. Fairytale Nights 

 

August 3, 2017

New Age Jazz Fusion Review: Christopher James-The Sad Waltz

Release Date: 2017
Label: Vai Gardena Music

There is one word that can explain what you will hear on the new Christopher James release The Sad Waltz, diversity!

Listening to instrumental music is a wonderful thing and at times it becomes similar, then I crave for something fresh and different. Well I got just what the music doctor ordered with The Sad Waltz.

The list of contributors on this recording is quite impressive. This is the reason the 14 tracks sound so complex and different. There is brass, percussion, acoustic bass, different layers of keyboards and many other sounds that make for a symphony of sound. This beautiful work is a real journey for the artist. James wanted to explore harmonics and different approaches to every track. The result is a constant flow of change with perceptions and colors that only music such as this can provide.
The opening track is very exciting and it sets the tone for the entire album. “Consequence of Intention” has some excellent guitar lines provided by the guitar maestro David Torn. While listening I was sincerely appreciating the sound and particularly the guitar. I nodded my head in recognition of Mr. Torn, whose name I recognized instantly. He is well a respected musician in the world of jazz rock fusion.

Where the album goes from there is hard to explain but I can tell you it is very good! The changing sounds and textures in each track is like watching different scenes in a movie. The movie playing is the thought patterns and feelings the music will create for each individual listener. For my listening pleasure, this is what makes this recording so special. And speaking of soundtracks, the bonus track is an alternate take of “How Can I Change Your Mind?” And it is a fantastic way to close the curtains on this amazing listening experience.

I found nothing sad about this music as the title may indicate. Of course, this can be interpreted by some as the word sad in literal sense or it can mean different things dependent upon your own perception. The album title and track was inspired by Randy Newman’s “Ragtime Theme.” The simplicity of the main theme was the core of the track but fair warning, to expect simplicity consistently with this music is way off base. The title track invites you to listen some more. The balance is finite and focused and what you will discover is an inventive and refreshing sound throughout the entire listen.

This is pure creativity and energy coming together to form a super nova of sounds. The Sad Waltz just made it into my top 10 instrumental albums for 2017.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
August 3, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Consequence of Intention
02. The Steppes of Mora
03. Ostinato Piano, Percussion, Strings and Electronics
04. I Can See It Now
05. Intremezzo Simpatcico
06. The Mighty Quinn (Martin)
07. Claude’s Clouds
08. The Sad Waltz
09. How Can I Change Your Mind?
10. Reverie
11. One Last Time
12. Close Your Eyes
13. Guardian Angel
Bonus Track:
14. How Can I Change Your Mind? (alternate take)


July 26, 2017

New Age Instrumental Review: Peter Kater-Dancing On Water

Release Date: September 1, 2017
Label: Indie

Peter Kater has quite a large catalog of music to offer. As his recorded works grow so does the audience desiring a peaceful transition from their day. It is artists like Peter that turn the ivory keys into a thing of magic and beauty. His variations on piano invite you warmly to experience the transitions to solitude.

To usher in the Fall, we have Dancing On Water. The parallel here is that the artist allows his fingers to dance over the keys which in turn will make your spirit dance. His playing seems so effortless and flowing and as you listen, one track blends into the next. It sounds like what it may be like when shifting from one dimension to the next. This is essentially what I do when I let this music sweep me away. My mind empties and then the body relaxes, which is a total paradigm shift for me. I can only speak for myself but I am sure there are many individuals that can understand how that is accomplished, particularly those that meditate.

I was just watching a show about the Akashic Records and how people can access parts of their brain that they rarely use. The idea of this is that if we can focus more and use that segment of our brains to access the universal knowledge of the cosmos then we would be living in a different world. This music makes me think of things like this. Humanity will certainly evolve and music can lead the way down that path if we let it. I have been espousing this for years now in my reviews. When I see all the turmoil in the world today I hope and pray that divine intervention will change it all. Heady stuff I know. The simple piano based music like you will find on Dancing On Water puts me at peace with a clear mind and spirit to envision the world and its people in a better place. The songs are about where all life emerged from, the water.

It is indeed a “Timeless Sojourn” (track 8) this life of ours. As the piano takes its steps to build the music you could shape a strong and resilient soul through the healing of the music, one step at time.  It does sound as if a transition like this would be easy, however, it is not for most people.  Being caught up with the day’s events and the numerous responsibilities to your job and other people can sap your energy.

I would highly recommend giving Dancing On Water the opportunity to change your mood, feelings, outlook and overall vibrations to a new frequency, a higher and evolved one that will shed the light on more than just one day. It works very well for me and I believe it can for any listener.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 26, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Dancing On Water
02. Waterfall
03. Rainfall To Rivers
04. Reaching For You
05. Rivers of Sunlight
06. Deliverance
07. Incandescing Voyage
08. Secret Ocean
09. Timeless Sojourn
10. Vastitude


July 6, 2017

Instrumental New Age-Classical Review: Kerani-Stardust

Release Date: May 8, 2017
Label: Kerani Music

Stardust is Kerani’s 5th concept album, which was released in May 2017. This recording is a 10-track space-themed project. It was recorded with a symphonic orchestra, a mixed choir and 10 solo musicians. In total, a jaw dropping 60 musicians participated in this work of art.

 
Inspired by classical musicians, which many of the new age artists are, Kerani’s music would be the perfect music to have playing while in an observatory. I went to an observatory laser show back in the 80s and have not been since so I can only imagine how wonderful it is now. The mystery and vastness of space are captured in this atmospheric soundtrack.

The layers of keyboards and the orchestra are reminiscent of Vangelis, Yanni and Tangerine Dream (one of my favorites). That kind of familiarity and recognition provides a welcome mat for listeners to really dive in and absorb all the sounds more readily (assuming you are familiar with those artists). It breaks the ice if you will. I simply enjoy this kind of music and do not need any kind of comfort zone as I already found it many years ago. That kind of thought process and feeling certainly allows a certain vibe that creates some anticipation.

Artwork is another emotional mover and the CD cover is the doorway to where the music intends to take you. The leaps and bounds of science and technology are fascinating. This is another aspect that got Kerani’s attention and provided inspiration.

Stardust is a relaxing journey into the realm of the unknown however where you end up is inside your own head and then you begin to follow your heart and soul. The result is a deep feeling of satisfaction and certainty that you can trust this process any time you wish. It is a beautiful thing. Music is the universal language of healing and once again it is validated by this ambitious and fantastic project.

4.5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 6, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

01. Stardust
02. Cosmic Sunrise
03. Rosetta
04. Perpetuum Mobile
05. Beyond
06. The Next Step
07. Infinity
08. Gravity
09. Worlds Unknown
10. Stars (Instrumental) [Remix]

 



June 28, 2017

Instrumental New Age/Contemporary Review: Robert Thies & Damjan Krajacic-Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries

Release Date: 2016
Label: Gentle Rain Music

Robert Thies (piano) and Damjan Krajacic (flute) form a duo that is in total sync spiritually and emotionally. That one factor to me equals a great listening experience.

Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries was formed through inspiration from renowned classical composers such as Debussy and Ravel. The sessions that were recorded were improvisatory, which make the music that much more incredible and inspiring. This album is a continuation and expansion of the first volume. I was not fortunate enough to hear that first session, but I am sure it was quite good.

The thought of these two men coming together and creating such beauty without a carefully mapped musical plan just amazes me. Some albums are done that way, and that is the norm. Regardless of how it was done, it remains totally intuitive for the listener. I found this to be an engaging journey for my mind, body and spirit. Yes, the triangle of life connects for me nearly instantly when listening to music like this.

The album offers 15 tracks of peaceful meditation for your soul to assimilate. You can also use the music to travel to another plane of existence, a place that you know and are totally comfortable with. This music becomes your guide. As the CD cover says, it is “Music From a Quieter Place.”  It is up to you to find it.

Blue Landscapes can be the ocean, or the sky, or a blank canvas of blue, like watercolors of the mind, painted by the music directly into your mental and physical being. Each track is a separate path from the next, and they all weave together like a patchwork quilt that warms the spirit and holds memories.

Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries is another doorway to tranquility created by two talented artists.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 28, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

01. Floating
02. Across the Open Fields
03. The Story of Your Heart
04. Into the Horizon
05. The Warmth of Her Embrace
06. Discoveries
07. Evolution
08. Dawning of New Worlds
09. A Love Remembered
10. Beacon over the Calm Sea
11. Winter's Chill
12. Morning Sky
13. As the Earth Awakens
14. A Gentle Breeze
15. Dreaming

 

June 25, 2017

New Age Instrumental Review: Fiona Joy - Into The Mist (Audiophile Edition-SACD)

Release Date: June 2, 2017
Label: Blue Coast Records

Fiona Joy brings her magnificent solo piano work to the world once again. On her recent release and 10th studio recording, Into The Mist, she reaffirms the status gained over the years. Fiona and her piano create some of the more prolific music an instrumental artist of her leanings could possible produce year after year.

This is a difference this time however, this is an SACD and special audiophile edition. It was recorded live to Direct Stream Digital 256 Quad DSD. Using the 1885 Steinway Piano, Fiona brings the listener closer to the live off the floor experience. It is referred to as a nearly holographic experience in the liner notes. I must agree with that assessment. It is a rarity to hear a new age instrumental album in this format and it certainly was an indulgence.

The thing about this recording is that the flow is seamless and seemingly effortless. Of course, anyone that truly appreciates how difficult it is to be a professional musician and create an album can look at the big picture. At least I have come to realize and appreciate that more with each passing year. One track invites the next and by the time it is done, and way too soon, it was like listening to one progressive composition.

So, with those thoughts in place it is not hard for me to garner great appreciation for solo artists such as Fiona Joy. What makes her art so pronounced and prolific is the fact that it is just her and the piano. It is like the merging of a soul with an inanimate object that suddenly comes to life. Her quintessential life force and spirituality shines brightly through the ivory keys. It becomes up close and personal in the SACD format, almost as if the artist is in the same room performing. These attributes make it so crystal clear in sound as well is the fact that it’s only the piano with no accompaniment or additional audio enhancements.

Into The Mist settles in and takes up all of your personal space in the most positive and enlightening way. This music is meant exactly for that - its vibrations, waves of colors and emotions that are interpreted through the fingers of one talented lady.

I cannot say too much more; this is a must have recording for anyone that appreciates new age instrumental music influenced by contemporary classical. It is a perfect 5/5 stars.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 24, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
 

01. A Walk in the Park
02. Moon over the Lotus Pond
03. Opus: Into the Mist, Pt. 1
04. Opus: Mist Rising, Pt. 2
05. Opus: Mist Before Dawn, Pt. 3
06. Through Cloud
07. Feeling Sunshine
08. Grey Sky Morning
09. Galloping
10. The Void

 



June 20, 2017

World-New Age Reviews: Elise Lebec-Origin – One World Turning

Release Date: July 21, 2017
Label: Bay Area Film Company Inc.


Elise Lebec will be releasing a very ambitious album on July 21, 2017. Origin – One World Turning may very well be one of the most interesting and diverse world-new age recordings you will hear this year. This is a year of evolving world change and we desperately need healing. We all should be getting on the same wavelength as this woman is.

Typically, the music I hear for review is piano based instrumental, which is wonderful however it can begin to sound the same after a while. Any genre can. What Elise gave me was breath of fresh air, a recording so different and unique that I felt engaged and energized after listening. The difficulty in arranging and producing a project like this on a scale from 1-10 is without question a 10.

Her goal was to merge the male and female energies together with synergistic music that combines an Egyptian Middle Eastern base with a new age conceptual vision. And there a few songs that have a rap tempo, which is very interesting and something I have never heard before. This is in all a different language which makes it more thought provoking and provocative if you only know English.

Much of the music I enjoy has a cinematic quality and Origin – One World Turning has that value and substance. This is music that has nothing but potential, potential for a multitude of uses in the world of media and technology used for films and art presentations.
Elise Lebec combines the timeless traditions of an ancient civilization with her beautiful voice, which serves as the main instrument in channeling the Gods and Goddesses of a time long past. She brings them back to life however who is to say they ever left?

Origin – One World Turning epitomizes the spirit of indie music and the heart and soul of creative expressions. An excellent example of that thought is “Sekhmet: The Goddess Awakens.” It is very ear catching and it has the power of transporting you like any good track should. The exception this time is that it is a literal time machine that gives rise of a Goddess. Like a phoenix she rises from the ashes in a blaze of light. The music brings about these visions, which was surely the intent.

Elise Lebec has accomplished a great many things with Origin – One World Turning and mainly getting my undivided attention and interest from start to finish. Anyone with an open heart and mind will embrace this music as a new journey that just may provide a different outlook on a new day.


4.5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 20, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
1. Taaly Maaya: Come with Me
2. Queen of Light
3. Cairo Morning (feat. Sheikh Mahmoud el Tohamy & Mahmoud Abu Zaed)
4. Bolero (feat. Sheikh Mahmoud el Tohamy)
5.Rumi Song (feat. Mai Mostafa & Mahmoud Abu Zaed)
6. Sekhmet: The Goddess Awakens
7. The Jam: Luxor, Egypt
8. Sufi Dance (feat. Marv Ellis & Mahmoud Abu Zaed)
9. Hob Elahy: God Is Within (feat. Sheikh Mahmoud el Tohamy, Turon Davis & Mai Mostafa)