May 19, 2018

Instrumental Ambient Review: Jon Durant-Parting Is

Release Date: January 18, 2018
Label: Alchemy Records

When I heard the name Jon Durant it made me think, I know that name. I also felt like I had heard a similar sound somewhere. That is quite likely however as it turns out when I had the muzikreviews.com site running, one of my staff covered the Colin Edwin and Jon Durant release Burnt Belief. That was in December 2012.

What I really can appreciate in the music industry is artists helping artists. That is exactly what Jon does on his own Alchemy Records. Who understands a musician more than one of their own? Today this is commonplace and it should have happened eons ago. With that being said, Jon knows how to create some of his own significant pieces of music as well.

Parting Is (such sweet sorrow?) the latest release by Jon. It came out in the middle of January 2018. He uses no synths on this recording (you could have fooled me), which I found quite astounding. 

Jon uses a broad selection of PRS (Paul Reed Smith) guitars which includes an electric 12 string, cloud guitar, Koll Tornado fretless guitar, Klein electric guitar, and the Spector Fretless bass. With this amazing array of electrified guitars, the talented Mr. Durant takes guitar-based music to another place. It is like taking a journey into unchartered waters or space beyond our own galaxy. As this artist explores these new soundscapes you will find yourself wondering how this was all this was accomplished on Parting Is. I believe the cloud guitars are the instruments that create the synth sounds, that just makes sense to me.

When you look at the cover art of this recording you wonder what Jon is trying to convey. I think most artists are sending a message with the cover art although some just like using certain colors or a fancy image they saw. As simplistic as this image seems it does tell a story, a developing story. I see peacefulness that has an impending change, the calm before the storm? Parting Is what? Perhaps parting from the serene colors that the picture shows and the grey (area?) clouds signaling that the rain is coming or a violent storm. But there is light shining through the darkness which gives you hope. Is this a reflection of life itself? We can see things are looking terribly dreary then suddenly a light comes shining through to cast out the darkness and bring things back into focus. This my own personal musical hypothesis, surely everyone would have their own.

I really enjoy the process that an artist can present with art and music. The music on this nine-track CD is beautiful, elegant, haunting, and most importantly, full of musical emotion and colorful imagery. This music lives and breathes and tells the story, but the best part is it can be your story, just look a little further, inside the music…

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May. 18, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. Clouds in Advance
02. Open Window
03. Travels Within
04. The Room Where She Waits
05. Before the Rain Falls
06. Evolve in Place
07. Ecliptic Shadows
08. Returning to the Departure   
09. Willamette Fog


May 15, 2018

New Age-Classical Review: Christine Brown-Ascend

Release Date: October 1, 2017
Label: Key Image Music
It has been 4 years since I had the opportunity to enjoy writing about a Christine Brown recording. I covered Souvenirs in 2014. Looking back into the archives I see that I was ill at the time of my first listening experience and her music helped me get in a positive frame of mind and get well again.

Ascend was released in October of 2017, which now seems ions away with the warm weather upon us in May. As people find ascension in life it can come in many different forms, and it also can be disguised as something else that is happening. Even the definition of the word can take different forms such as to move upward, to slope upward, or to conduct nerve impulses toward or to the brain.  

I think in this case those definitions can apply to all fourteen tracks offered on the recording. The beauty and simplicity of solo piano music is something special. I look at it as an uplifting and pure representation of an instrument. The ivory keys in the right hands can bring heaven to earth and peace to one’s soul. I realize that is a prolific statement to make about music however that is the way I truly feel.

Ascend had a positive effect on me. The nerve impulses to my brain engaged my thought process and released all of those good endorphins.  I liked the way Christine explained the process of making the album. She stated in one passage in a sentence in the liner notes “Creating music is a beautiful and evolving process. Each piece develops through many stages, slowly transforming until each song is ready to be released, just like the life cycle of a butterfly, until it finally emerges from the chrysalis.”

That is a brilliant comparison to one of the miracles of nature. This is an accurate statement to make, in my opinion, about the birth of a track from start to finish. I have always looked at the creation of each track as a bit of a miracle, and those that are able to create on such a level are the blessed that walk this great planet of ours.

If you want to Ascend from daily life, relax, absorb, reflect and heal, music can get you there, just let it take you. Christine Brown will gently push you there if you cannot just fall into it and be swept away like some fortunate listeners. This is a journey and one that can be therapeutic in several ways. Ascending from self, sidestepping the ego of our humanity, and letting the music take over is the best choice you can make. Look what happened when Christine let the music flow through her fingers…

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 14, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:
01. Ascend
02. Love’s Legacy
03. Magic Carpet
04. Gravity
05. Closer
06. Forest for the Trees
07. Ivory Wings
08. Lotus Breeze
09. Floating Colors
10. Soar
11. Cherish
12. The Departure
13. Amethyst Sky
14. Safe and Sound


May 10, 2018

New Age Review: Kevin Wood-Eternal

Release Date: May 4, 2018
Label: Real Music
Website


Eternal  is Kevin Wood’s fourth studio album. He is the penultimate indie artist, helping many other artists that make spiritually enlightened music with his company New Vision Music.

Kevin has been recording for quite some time now. We do have something in common, we both lost our beloved Mothers at a young age. Similar to how Kevin has dealt with that loss, I used the passing of my Mother as inspiration to carry on and always believed she was my guardian angel. Sooner or later like-minded people connect and realize they have the same goals and purpose and this case it feels that way after finding out more about the artist.

Eternal is an amazing tapestry of sound, vision, and voice. Typically, the new age music I have the opportunity to hear and share my viewpoint on is all instrumental. Little by little I am being introduced to more albums with vocals and finding enjoyment.This was a different journey for me. I heard some gorgeous vocals on this recording and did not understand a word, nor did I have any idea what language was being used. I do know one thing, it felt right, it moved me, and most importantly I sincerely appreciated it. The universal language of sound remains a true wonder to me every time I hear something new. 

The music and vocals seemed like they were meant for each other. I am sure once this album circulates amongst other artists, therapists, yoga teachers and the like, the news will travel fast that listening to it will provide many benefits to an open-minded audience. To be more specific, I mean listening with an open heart, mind, and spirit. This is the kind of experience that is three-fold, the triangle of life, that which encapsulates our existence as sentient beings on this planet.

Eternal has the power to take you to another plane that will help you heal and rejuvenate your soul. For my ears and spirituality, it stimulated me and made me realize I really do not have to understand what the words mean. What it was meant for is a relaxing way to look inward and realize the importance of reflecting on your day. This music carries the hope that you will generally be feeling better about yourself and your surroundings. Music such as this puts things into proper perspective and helps you to realize even more how we are all connected regardless of where we are from, what language we speak or what religion we may practice. We all want the same thing, peace, love, harmony, and basic needs. Music with power and a bright shining spiritual light tends to bring about a clear and pure thought process. It always does for me.

I hope everyone can listen to Eternal and garner something from it like I did. I stepped away from the listening experience with gratitude and thanks to Kevin Wood for creating a real piece of art and music on a single shiny disc that just happened to make my day.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 10, 2018

Founder of:
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Tracks
01. In Search of Meaning
02. Light Shines Through
03. Father’s Love
04. Love’s Embrace
05. Time for Change
06. Grace Eternal (Pachelbel’s Canon)
07. Peace Begins With Me
08. Compassion Reigns
09. Blessed Awakening
10. Life Eternal
11. Atonement (Bonus Track from Kindred Album)
12. Stillness (Postlude)



April 13, 2018

Instrumental New Age Reviews: Jill Haley-The Waters of Glacier (Music For Glacier National Park)

Release Date: April 2, 2018
Label: Independent

The beauty that mother nature bestows upon is a gift. Many people feel this way and that is why we need to protect our lands and the environments that flourish there. Jill Haley is one of those people that appreciates and celebrates her surroundings wherever she is.

On The Waters of Glacier is her twelve track specifically for Glacier National Park. The area served as great inspiration.

Glacier National Park is located in the U.S. state of Montana, on the Canada–United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges, over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This incredible pristine land is one of our wonders of nature that is protected and revered.
The Waters of Glacier was brought about by one simple choice. Jill was looking out the window of her residency there at the park and it was raining. Rather than complain and fall into self-pity she decided to enjoy the blessing of water. This was the beginning of creating some very beautiful music fit for such a grand location. The great outdoors can inspire many things but when you are a multi-faceted artist like Jill, it is literally music to her ears. And now that inspiration and vision are documented on CD with a booklet and some great pictures of the area of the park.

Jill Haley plays the oboe, English horn, piano, and handbells on the album and she is accompanied by David Cullen (guitar), Dana Cullen (horn), Tom Eaton (electric guitar, keyboards, and bass) and the incomparable Michael Manring and his distinct bass playing.

The Waters of Glacier continues a string of recordings dedicated to the environment. I have always enjoyed her offerings not only for the superb music but for the subject matter. Nothing is more precious than our planet, the giver of life. To see all pictures gathered inside the CD for this recording and the music telling each story, well, it was like I took the trip myself. The music is so engaging and picturesque and certainly, that is the intent here. I think Jill really did a great job putting this project together and making an impact on listeners in several different ways. It is emotional because of our ties to humans and the earth and the serenity found within the mountains of Montana and subsequently in the music. The music is alive and as it flows through each track, the feeling of your own personal connection to nature clicks instantly on the very first track then intensifies with each succeeding track.

The Waters of Glacier is a gorgeous representation of new age instrumental music with a divine purpose in mind. It is twofold, the first being the music to calm your soul and focus, and the second the moving sounds and atmospheres that reinforce the importance of national parks and the pristine nature that we can still find. In a world that is polluted and misused frequently, this is a wakeup call to reality. And first and foremost, it is a reminder of where we came from and what our job is as the stewards of this gift of life and beauty that is all around us..

Thank you for the reminder and the wonderful music again Jill.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 13, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks:

01. Clouds on Apgar Range
02. Rain on Huckleberry Mountain  
03. Glacial Lakes
04. First Passageway
05. Running Eagle Falls   
06. Falling Gold   
07. Frost Tinged Evergreens   
08. Montana Rivers
09. Ox-Bow Point
10. Ripples on Two Medicine Lake   
11. October Snow
12. Solitude

April 8, 2018

Instrumental New Age Review: Michael Kollwitz-Serenity II

Release Date: April 13, 2018
Label: Independent

Michael Kollwitz is set to release Serenity II. I had a great pleasure last year of enjoying Serenity I.  This, of course, is a continuation of the first set of tracks. So, expect more of the same excellent relaxing music you heard before to be your experience this time around.

Kollwitz is one of the few masters of the Chapman Stick. Tony Levin comes to mind immediately when the subject of the stick arises. The instrument reminds me of the Sitar is some ways. It is a very versatile instrument that has the unique ability to combine the guitar and bass together to formulate one effective sound. Most impressive is the fact that the tracks for Serenity II were written, performed and produced by the artist.

The person that plays the stick must be extremely focused and versatile. Based on what I heard from the first Serenity album and what I am hearing on volume II, Michael is performing at a very high level.

The sixteen tracks offered on Serenity II are crisp and clear. They can melt away stress easily as the artist presents each of the tracks. The consistency is the key to the presentation on this recording. One track flows into the next seamlessly, like it was a force of nature, a normal occurrence. I found that kind of musical command is exceptional with this music.

Because of the way each track unites with the next I find difficult to pick anyone out in particular, they are all exceptional. This is more like one listen then a track by track experience. Although each composition may be dissimilar, the beauty and ease of the Chapman Stick allow such peacefulness with a listener that it becomes one piece of music. For my ears that is a powerful statement to make. It sets me at ease early on and maintains that hold on me until the music stops playing. 

Serenity II is a strong follow up to the first volume. I will be interested to see what direction Michael goes after this release. I would not expect a volume III, at least not without him releasing something that takes the listener in another direction. The thought of that alone peaks my interest. For now, I will kick back and let this music take over and let my worries of the day disappear.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 8, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01. The Presence
02. Wrapped In Love 04:14   
03. Climbing The Mountain
04. Clear Passage
05. Live And Let Live
06. The Balance
07. Blue Skies
08. Pure Signal
09. Welcome Home
10. A Greater Purpose
11. One With Nature
12. Shaman's Cave
13. Easy Does It
14. Breaking Free
15. Beyond The Clouds
16. Way Of Knowledge

 

April 5, 2018

Instrumental New Age-Chill-Classical Review: Richard Dillon-Terra Incognito-The Space Between Us

Release Date: February 14, 2018
Label: Independent

Before settling in and taking in Terra Incognito-The Space Between Us, I thought about the three albums I had the pleasure of covering last year.  I got to know Richard through Ring Around The Moon, Irish Mist and The Land of Nod Lullabies for the Listless. There is a saying…familiarity breeds contempt, in this that could not be further from the truth. Having a comfort zone before I started made it even easier for me to get into my mindset for listening.

Although I do have that zone with Richard’s music, I certainly never know what to expect from him one album to the next. The only realistic expectation I have is that his music will be a great experience from start to finish.

Terra Incognito is unfamiliar territory, a new path or journey one is experiencing. A similar term, Terra Incognita, is in reference to territories that have not be mapped. To put it in layman’s terms, this is the unknown. Like Captain Kirk and his crew aboard the starship enterprise, we embark upon a journey with wonder and excitement, with no prior knowledge of what will come our way.

Terra Incognito-The Space Between Us is everything that I just discussed. Such diversity presented so well deserves a hearty salute and tip of the cap. Richard manages to record 24 tracks and some redux’s with an energy and grace that comes flowing through the music like a steady running stream. 

The colors are changing all the time on this recording. From track to track you just do not know what is coming next. It is like having Christmas at your own private music shop and Richard is the sole proprietor. The reason this recording is so eclectic is that it takes past recordings and weaves them together to encompass orchestration and licensing going back to 1984 all the way to present day.

It is music for movies, documentaries, commercials, just about anything you can imagine. Instrumental music is much more flexible when it comes to using it for various media purposes. I really appreciated the ground covered musically and the titles range from “In Search of Chocolate” to “Leonardo’s Flying Machine.” There is no connection whatsoever with those two tracks but yet they find a home here in this collection.

Terra Incognito-The Space Between Us unites us as listeners and human beings even though it is unchartered territory, our similarities and the world around us is what makes us one planet and one people. It is like taking a “Light of Peace” to heal us and help us to grow in many ways. The universal healer and language of music once again can be the answer.


5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 5, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

01. Whalesong (Redux)
02. Green Flash (Redux)
03. The Space Between
04. Dust Devil
05. Ice Dancer (Redux)
06. Color Me
07. In Search of Chocolate
08. Leonardo's Flying Machine
09. Beside Still Waters (Redux)
10. Papillon (Redux)
11. Lead Kindly Night
12. It's All Right (Redux)
13. Cars
14. Voyager
15. Into the Mines
16. He Leadeth Me Beside Still Waters (Redux)
17. A Different Time a Different Place (Redux)
18. Light of Peace (Redux)
19. Goodbye for Now
20. Sea of Forgetfulness
21. Ha Long Bay
22. Missing You
23. January Moon (Redux)
24. I Could Care Less



April 2, 2018

New Age World Review: Darlene Koldenhoven-Chromatones

Release Date: June 1, 2018
Label:TimeArt Recordings

It is a pleasure once again to have the opportunity to cover the musical journeys of Ms. Darlene Koldenhoven. It was nearly a year ago that I was introduced to her fascinating Color Me Home CD.

Now Chromatones has arrived. I figured it would be hard to top the previous release, however after 3 tracks I got the feeling that she has set the bar even higher. The new age and world elements come together in an explosion of sound and bright colors, painting your consciousness into the music effortlessly.

There are a number of important contributors from the New Age community that help to make this a great listen. Steve Shepherd (engineer, mixer, sound effects), Joanne Lazzaro (flute, alto flute, piccolo), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Al Jewer (English Horn), Tom Scott (clarinet), Wouter Kellerman (flute, bass flute), and there are many more. This is like having an all-star musical team to back her on this recording. And of course, the shining star of the show, Darlene, who not only composes, produces, arranges and engineers the tracks, she provides piano, keyboards, synths, and the Native drums and shaker.

The first track that really moved me was “Red Savannah.”  Its complexities and textures are like an intricately woven patchwork quilt.  The selection of instruments and the mix of them makes for an outstanding listen from the very first note to the last. 

“Native Bloom” with its earthy tones, rhythms and select instruments like the Native Flute make you feel like you stepped into a time capsule back to the time when our first Americans inhabited the land. It’s a strong yet beautiful reminder of how important these gifted people were and how their influence and heritage shaped our nation. I would advise putting your headphones or earbuds in and sitting back and letting the music form the thoughts and images in your mind’s eye. It is so healing to hear this music and it is presented exceptionally well.

There is so much to offer on Chromatones and I only scratched the surface of what is in store if you get this music (you can pre-order it April 25th). I think Darlene Koldenhoven has hit a high watermark with this recording. As I said about Color Me Home, I think this will be in the running for a Grammy. This is music for the heart, soul, and mind of any listener. 

For my ears, this kind of music and the quality of the production serves many areas in the world of media including soundtracks for nature specials, movies or sound bites for commercials, or for the most important audience, for those looking for solace and healing.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 2, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tracks: 
01.Golden Dawn
02. Morning Dew
03. Red Savannah
04. Swans on the Seine
05. Terra
06. Native Bloom
07. Vibrant Worlds
08.Chromstones
09. Prism
10. Painted In Time
11. Waltzing in Planetary Time