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)

June 16, 2017

New Age Instrumental Review: Peter Calandra-The Road Home

Release Date: July 1. 2017
Label: PCM

If you have a proclivity for instrumental music of the new age flavor, I have just heard a recording you will love. 

Peter Calandra is ready to unveil The Road Home. It will be released just before the July 4th Holiday. There aren’t a lot of fireworks going off on this album, it is more like a compilation of tracks meant for those of us that require an outlet to release tensions. An interval from all the thoughts, responsibilities and pressures of daily life.

The peace that Peter brings you is mainly through the keyboards however there are other instruments that successfully populate the compositions. Peter is a multi-hued professional adding percussion, acoustic guitars, synthesizers and melodica.  The melodica gives the music a distinct European color and atmosphere. On “The Cat’s Eye” it creates a picturesque scene like you are floating down a river in Vienna. You can see the scene developing in your mind’s eye as the music plays.

Great music has the power to deliver thoughts, colors, emotions or a scene from an ongoing movie that comes to life inside your head. The style and pace are different in each track; the artist controls the flow beautifully and he uses the synthesizers to his advantage. He creates layers of textures that are soft yet impactful and at times sound like a mini orchestra pushing the music to higher levels.

The moods are ever changing on The Road Home and Peter is driving it all home with his musical expressions. I appreciated the variety offered in this listening experience. It is the mixture of instruments and varying degrees of intensity that made it so interesting for my ears.

Peter Calandra has my respect and he continues to impress me with each successive release. Let his music be The Road Home to a place that only you know and find peace in.  It worked well for me so give it a listen and let it sweep you away for a while, day or night.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 16, 2017

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. The New Dawn (feat. Joy Askew)
02. Mi Amore
03. Morning Dove
04. The Road Home
05. Night into Day
06. The Cat's Eye
07. Points in the Sky
08. Nocturnal Moods
09. At First Sight
10. Distant Dreams



June 3, 2017

Merrill Collins-Ethereal Escapes-Echappées Ethériques II

Release Date: July 21, 2017
Label: Spiraling Music

Ethereal Escapes-Echappées Ethériques II is a sequel album. I did not hear the first installment of this beautiful and healing music but I am sure it was a great experience. The recording features Pianist Merrill Collins with Laura Halladay (flute) and Maksim Velichkin (cello).

There are 16 tracks to take in and enjoy on this release. If you read all the tracks in sequence it is a poem and the first volume was set up the same way. I think it is a very clever way for artists to express themselves besides making the music. There is a very spiritual message delivered through Merrill’s poem. So, words are part of the overall presentation however you must take the time to listen, read the tracks like you were reading a story, in this case a poem. As the artist expressed to me, the words get lost in translation due to the digital age not allowing the font formatting (lower case letters and punctuation). It would be more obvious to the individuals looking at the back of the CD that it was a part of the presentation and a piece of artistic expression to accompany the music.

It is all a healing experience as I believe much of the music I hear is, even if it isn’t new age instrumental. This is very contemporary and strongly influenced by classical. This aspect of what I have heard over the years however prevalent, is the difference maker. The classical base takes the music and approach to another level that simply cannot be reached by adding some layers of synthesizer and some babbling brooks. Those elements are good however the foundation of classical music are the keys to the kingdom.

Merrill Collins holds the keys on Ethereal Escapes II and unlocks the door to your inhibitions and they just melt away with the sounds. The musicianship is superb from start to finish. Subtle yet powerful, this music works on you one note at a time with tenderness, energy and the true spirit of our human nature. The mystical flute is always a nice touch and the cello and piano set it up perfectly, it is reciprocal with all the instrumentation. Although Merrill is the featured artist she gives equal time to her partners so they all complement each other. It is like listening to a musical language that can only be interpreted by you the listener and it comes from the inside, there is nothing superficial about it. For my ears that is the pure beauty and focus of music like this.

The title of the tracks say a lot and the music is always right there in the forefront displaying the suggested images. This is music to contemplate, relax to, focus upon and just listen without a thought. Whatever your purpose happens to be now, Ethereal Escapes II is therapeutic in every way. It comes as no surprise that Merrill has a Master’s Degree in Music.  She is a master and knows how to make the music to allow all the therapeutic values of it to take hold.  Much like the label she created Spiraling Music, her recordings are like a spiraling staircase of sound with each step taking you into a different space and time effortlessly.

5/5 Stars


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

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks:
 

01. The fountain of jewels activated!      
02. Our ears tingled                                
03. with every heartbeat,                        
04. listening with our ancestors.             
05. Our peaceful uprising continues    
06. flowing directly to love.                     
07. We heard Earth weeping,                 
08. remembering the emerald.              
09. In the bigger picture                         
10. with our timeless elders,                 
11. we are whole together,                    
12. living in harmonious worlds.          
13. Particles in space                           
14. returning home,                             
15. riding on waves of gold,                 
16. triumphant upon arrival! 
      
 

May 27, 2017

New Age Instrumental Review: Timothy Wenzel-What We Hold Dear

Release Date: April 25, 2017
Label: Coyote Floe Music LLC

What Timothy Wenzel states is so true: “One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have.  As a reminder of that I titled my new album What We Hold Dear and each of the musical themes reflects various aspects of life that are especially meaningful to me.”

In January of this year I covered Perpetual Motion-RearView featuring a phenomenal violin player name Josie Quick. Timothy very wisely made Ms. Quick a part of his What We Hold Dear album as well as Jordan Schug, who was a great addition on Cello

 

Timothy is a former scientist turned musician. That I would say is one of those paradigm shifts of life that immediately makes an impact on all concerned. Fortunately, those of us that enjoy contemporary music of the new age instrumental flavor, become the immediate benefactors of this enormous change one individual went through.

 

There is always a story behind the music.  I have found over the years that ironically music without words has more depth and soul than most music with so called meaningful lyrics. Timothy solidly backs that statement with 12 tracks that capture you in the triangle of life - mind, body and soul. His keyboards lead the way while Josie and Jordan provide an excellent layer of exquisiteness. As with most music of this sort it has a strong foundation in classical that carves a path to other inroads, which becomes the contemporary new age instrumental sound that is the final product. 

 

It takes patience and a natural gift to create and present music so close to heaven and our creator. My personal space is always ready to receive these wonderful gifts that recording artists such as Timothy give us.

 

Like a road to your destiny What We Hold Dear and the concept of that, can change with one listen to this music. There is a rhythm and cadence to each track that breathes life into a room. It is like a heartbeat you cannot physically hear or touch but you know it’s there pumping and giving you what you need. This is music that brings gratefulness and satisfaction with your surroundings, or should I say what you hold dear?

On the cover of this CD there is a storm off in the distance yet the sun is breaking through that storm, as you hang on to what you hold dear - family, friends, or a nice thought from the past or the day. If you have some sort of trouble or storm brewing inside remember that the truth and light can shine right through and clear skies are ahead. For me that is what the picture on the CD says and then the music plays the story out from track to track. Listen and find out what it means for you, that is the perfection and an invitation that great instrumental music can deliver.


5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 27, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks: 
01. Murmuration (feat. Josie Quick & Jordan Schug)
02. What We Hold Dear (feat. Josie Quick & Jordan Schug)
03. Appalachian Waters
04. Ascension (feat. Jordan Schug)
05. A Spring Day in Autumn (feat. Josie Quick & Jordan Schug)
06. Hypnotized (feat. Josie Quick)
07. Incantations (feat. Josie Quick & Jordan Schug)
08. Moon Dance (feat. Josie Quick)
09. In a Little While (feat. Josie Quick)
10. On a Quiet Night (feat. Josie Quick)
11. Desert Dream (feat. Josie Quick, Jordan Schug & Sarah Joerz)
12. Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea (feat. Josie Quick)
 

May 19, 2017

Instrumental New Age Review: Gina Lenee-Red Diamonds

Release Date: April 7, 2017
Label: Independent

Red Diamonds is Gina Lenee’s 7th studio album. 

Here is some essential information from the artist website to get an idea of how effort went into the recording and who contributed…

Red Diamonds was produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton and engineered, mixed and mastered by Tom Eaton. Featured guest artists appearing on the album are Charlie Bisharat (violin), Eugene Friesen (cello), Jill Haley (English horn), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Marc Shulman (electric guitar), Premik Russell Tubbs (EWI and sax), Tom Eaton (fretless bass, guitar, vocals) Will Ackerman (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Noah Wilding (vocals).

The status quo for Imaginary Road Studio is to bring in the best group of musicians to help each artist create their own musical masterpiece. This was no exception to the rule as superb musicians gathered to create Red Diamonds. The collaborative effort brings out the best in everyone. The goal and result is always the same, to create music with a purpose and vision.  I think this was accomplished successfully and the passion and storytelling in the ivory keys comes flowing through Gina’s soul. The entire album sounds like an invitation to a romantic getaway. And whatever you consider romantic becomes real while listening to these tracks.

The English horn, violin, cello, sax and flugelhorn lay down a bed of textures and colors that Gina takes full advantage of. Some of the subtle vocals added were a real nice touch on tracks like “The Moment” and “River.”  The angelic and trance like female vocal persuasions are just right, like the proverbial icing on the cake as it were.

Listening to Red Diamonds was like free form artistic expressionism in motion. The canvas in this instance is you, the listener. As Gina paints the music with broad strokes, it eases you into your own comfy chair that lives inside your mind and soul. This is not a physical object; this is something that is esoteric. I have always felt the need to express the spiritual power that music possesses and ultimately that energy translates to a healing for this listener. If you have not found that place yet I would advise listening to this music and use it as a guide to get there.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 17, 2017May 19, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks:
01. A Thousand Days Without You
02. Soulmates
03. Carry Me Away
04. The Moment
05. River
06. Red Diamond
07. The Beautiful, the Broken
08. Art of Life
09. What No One Knows
10. Forever
 

May 8, 2017

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Review: Timothy Crane-The Fall of a Sparrow

Genre: New Age/Contemporary Instrumental
Release Date: 2017
Label: Independent

This is my first exposure to Timothy Crane’s music. The Fall of a Sparrow is as prolific as it may sound. It can be a cross reference to many instances in life if you think about it for a moment. Leonard Cohen came to mind when I looked at the title. I am fond of his poetic music and was saddened by his passing. In this case that was a fallen sparrow for me.

Timothy is an expert with the ivory keys and the additional instruments added to the mix play an important role as well. The viola for instance is like the violin. It provides a certain melancholy and atmosphere that accentuates the pace of the piano and the mood that is being projected onto the listener.

The orchestration of the tracks is a good mix and the opening track “Albion” is an electrifying way to get a listener’s attention. I felt uplifted by the richness and images of the track. It truly was an epic beginning to a very strong recording.

I look for the flow and consistency in an album and The Fall of a Sparrow certainly provided me with what I was looking for. The music swept away any possible mood I was in and put me in a different space.  I simply fell naturally into it without a thought. The flow of rain, snow, or a river is a natural occurrence and my belief is that instrumental music such as this should be the same. I believe it fits that description.

In the 15 tracks on The Fall of a Sparrow Timothy proves to be a virtuoso leader. While his piano takes charge it also allows the other aspects of the music to blend in nicely. Like a musical blender each ingredient is added to formulate the final product.

This is a beautiful soundtrack to relax and take your personal inventory to. It allows an individual to focus entirely on the sounds being absorbed and yet it leads you to introspection and reflection through your soul. As dreams are the window to the soul, so is music if you can let happen, it is as right as rain.                             
      
The Fall of a Sparrow is the closest thing to musical perfection one could hope for.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 8, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Albion
02. Come Holy Spirit
03. The Sound of Snow
04. To Rise and Go
05. Father and Son
06. Alone
07. Star Cross Moon
08. The First Day
09. Festival De Musique
10. Slowly Awaken the Dawn
11. The Fall of a Sparrow
12. Promise
13. Daniel's Dream
14. Chansonnette
15. At Home in the Garden