February 8, 2020

Classical/World/ New Age Instrumental Review: Kim Angelis-Passages

Release Date: January 15, 2020
Label: Cantocielo Music
Website


Kim Angelis has recorded a lot of music over the years. Her most recent effort is Passages. As indicated in her bio on her website, her foundation in classical music is readily apparent. What comes after that foundation is amazing!

Passages
has some incredible virtuoso violin playing. What you will witness is an aural explosion of colors and sound. This a woman taking that classical foundation to new heights of progressive improvisation and turning into a fascinating gypsy-inspired sound with all kinds of elements mixed in for an original sound.

The recording has nine tracks that come at you one after another, full speed ahead. If you have enjoyed other violin artists such as Jean Luc-Ponty and David Ragsdale etc., you will find great joy in this album. I know that great players go back to the days of Bach, so perhaps that is where this talented lady first received the gift of inspiration and creativity that brought her to this place she is in now.

The very first track just blew me away to be perfectly honest. “Lavender Farm” sounds like it should be a soft and gentle introduction to this music that unfolds before you. Well, do not read into that title, this track has plenty of high-level energy and cultural magnificence driving it along. The farm she dedicated the track to is a real place in IIwaco Washington, which is a garden of delights according to track notes included with the fold-out CD cover. I did add it to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist without a second thought. It is the second-longest track clocking in at 7:51. “The Promise,” another full-fledged classic instrumental track, finishes at 9:19.

How many instrumental violin tracks have you heard that had consistency and grabbed your attention for that long? There are not many that can do that, the previously mentioned Ponty, could do it for me, but then again, I am far from being a violin expert or one that listens to a lot of this type of music presented this way. I do believe I am missing out on an awful lot, and I am sure there is more out there that is similar but will it be this good?

“Lost and Found” illustrates that moving and danceable gypsy sound that I find alluring. It is more than just a casual listen. There are other players involved in all this music that help to heighten the lead violin sound. There is the quintessential percussion, bass, classical harp, flute, clarinet, and kalimba (which is a thumb piano) that populate the various textures and sounds in every track. It all comes together stunningly, like the magic of a gypsy spell, it sweeps you away like a warm wave of heat coming off a campfire blazing long into the night. The warmth permeates your senses, you feel it, smell it, and breathe it in, the music comes alive, and fills you up with all of its vibrations and sounds.

These Passages of time wrapped up in these nine fantastic tracks will convince you that the violin can indeed be a lead instrument if played with as much robustness and talent as one Kim Angelis.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 6, 2020

 

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Tracks:

1. Lavender Farm
2. Sweet Botswana
3. Wait Until Summer
4. The Promise
5. Eagles
6. Lost and Found
7. Longing
8. Tango de Paco
9. Sequoias (Resurrected)

 
 

February 3, 2020

Acoustic Instrumental Review:New Latitude-Wood, Steel, and Grace

Release Date: January 20, 2020
Label: New Latitude Music


Dave Erickson (acoustic guitar), Jim Carr (acoustic guitar), Deon Kuhl (drums & percussion) and Rick Brough (upright bass) are New Latitude. The former bass player Bob Strickland played on 5 tracks. Their latest release is Wood, Steel, and Grace.

This would serve as my introduction and a new discovery, so that starts things off with a lot of anticipation. After reading some history of the band I could tell it was going to be something I would enjoy.

The cover of the album is wood with various colorings, just like the music you will hear on this recording It is acoustic instrumental with a melting pot of styles and genres offered on the nine tracks. New Age, Jazz, and Latin flavored tracks flow effortlessly through their instruments.

I have a kinship for Latin music and “Días Calientes” was a quick favorite. There is that irresistible and colorful rhythm that runs through the song along with some very fast acoustic guitar playing. If they could have picked one spotlight track for the album this would be it. The musical gusto of each member of the band is quite impressive and when all of their talents come together it is like a musical carnival of sounds. 

“Open Road” is a jazz track, the embodiment of the “quiet storm” label minus the R&B reference. 
It is a distinct sub-genre of that particular kind of music. The transition from the previous track is perfectly executed and a reminder that the genres are close cousins in the diverse genre that jazz can give a listener.

“A Serious Man” is a fast-moving track featuring uplifting nimble-fingered guitar interplay. It is a wonderful listen that also spotlights the unmistakable standup bass with well-placed percussion. The choice for bass is excellent for this type of acoustic instrumental presentation, it complements the guitar playing and is the driving wheel of each track.

“Old Friends” was more of New Age style, it reminded me of some of the Windham Hill releases that came out when Will Ackerman was signing on artists to his label and getting this kind of music a world stage. Now the stage is infinite because of the internet and streaming, which is a good thing for any artist looking for exposure. The title of the track was perfect, it was like seeing an “Old Friend.”

The curtain closer “Prismatic Sky,” which also had a New Age sound and atmosphere and consequently was an easy choice to add to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. It was a great way to end the album.

The range of musical style and expertise on display throughout the nine tracks is superb and I would most definitely appreciate another helping of this at any time. This is music for any time of day or night, or if you happen to be looking for something that will put a smile on your face and in your heart, then I would recommend listening to Wood, Steel, and Grace.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 1, 2020

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Tracks: 
1. Alpine Bliss (3:10)
2. Cruising Altitude (3:42)
3. Días Calientes (4:31)
4. Open Road (3:40)
5. Alpenglow (3:37)
6. A Serious Man (3:58)
7. Windmills (3:19)
8. Old Friends (3:12)
9. Prismatic Sky (3:03)
 

January 30, 2020

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental: Louis Colaiannia-Contemplation

Release Date: January 10, 2020
Label: louismusic

I have come to know instrumental piano music on a very intimate level. And because I hear so much of it, every new release has to be excellent and hold my attention. The magic has to be evident within the first few tracks or that special feeling I get, the wonder and amazement of what I am hearing, just falls short.
Louis Colaiannia is a veteran of recording with several albums behind him and his name is well known in the circles of new age music. He is part of that special community of artists that are connected in so many ways, contributing to each other’s releases like family. So, I am one of the fortunate ones that have been invited into that circle to listen to some amazing music year after year.

Louis just released Contemplation a few weeks ago to kick off the new year. Before listening, you must agree that word sparks a lot of interest. So, what does Contemplation mean to you? To be able to reach that level of concentration and thought process you must be accompanied by some soothing instrumental music, music so engaging and beautiful that it sweeps you away to another plane of existence or consciousness. This all must happen effortlessly and with joy. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that this will happen listening to the music of Louis Colaiannia.

The one track that set me on the right course was the second offering titled “Gentle Rain.” I immediately added it to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist that is on the sidebar of my site for listeners and artists alike to enjoy. The track was like musical rain inviting me to take a walk, as the drops of music and melodies consumed my entire being. There is beauty in those ivory keys and it takes some coaxing to get that out and be realized fully by the artisan playing the instrument.

When I hear musicians like Louis Colaiannia perform it’s like I am hearing a specific individual that was delivered from heaven above to bring joy and healing to everyone willing to listen. I am more than willing; I feel it has become such an essential healing tool of my life that I could not live without it at this point. If you are not involved in a particular discipline like Yoga for instance, or you do not have the focus or patience to meditate, listen to this music. I think Contemplation can help you down that path if you so choose or you can just listen and soak it all in and just let it flow and happen. That is what I do, and I am very grateful for this art and how it has helped me to listen and have the ability to express what it does for me in words others can understand.

Contemplation is beauty and elegance personified by Mr. Louis Colaiannia. The elements of classical, contemporary and new age are a perfect match for the ten tracks you will hear in this transformational listening experience. It is a must-have collection of songs for any appreciator of solo piano music.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 28, 2020

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks: 
01.The River
02.Gentle Rain
03. Believe in Peace
04. Contemplation
05. After Goodbye
06. Mystic Nights
07. Two Hearts Across Time
08. What If
09. I Am  
10. Forbidden Feelings


January 24, 2020

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer- piano2

Release Date: December 31, 2019
Label: Dreamworld Productions

Previous to Doug Hammer’s 13th proper studio recording piano2, I had the distinct pleasure to cover two entirely different releases. Christmas Lights in 2015 and Americana in 2016. The titles are self-explanatory however this title leaves you thinking what could be coming out of your speakers.
What I can say with unequivocal joy is that piano2 is as diverse musically as the last two I heard and reviewed. Doug likes to mix it up and play many different styles, touching upon a multitude of genres. 

There is new age, contemporary classical, like “A Rainy Night with You” or some jazz-inflected honky-tonk like on “Chasin’ Possum.” Or one of my favorites that I added to my New Age Music Review Spotify Playlist, “The Sunshine in You.” That one sounds as bright and energetic as the title implies. If the shoe fits wear it right? I believe that applies to all of this music, titles of the tracks are a lead into what you will hear. Everyone will hear something different but the one commonality is that if there is a love for instrumental piano music. The consequence of that is piano2 will be your cup of tea straight away.

The changes can be dramatic from one track to the next and that is exactly what makes it such a great listen. It will hold your attention from beginning to end. 

One thing that always fascinates me is the process an artist goes through creating a recording from scratch. This what Doug said about his process with piano2:

 “I would work on an accompaniment first and then listen to that and record melodic ideas on another track. Then, I would go back and refine the accompaniment and then again go back and refine the melody.”

So, the very beginning steps then turns into refinement on different levels of production. What you get after all that passionate piano playing and structuring of compositions is nothing but beauty. To be more specific, this is musical bliss that anyone could enjoy and or appreciate. 

My entire being is touched by music like this because I do not have to think about any lyrics, I just let the music take me to another mindset, a place where I love to go time and time again. I am giving thanks to Doug Hammer and every artist out there that has given me that gift. If you are looking for something like I am, then give piano2 a spin or stream it with the player provided right now.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 16, 2020
 
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Tracks:

 01. Shimmer in Disaster
02. You're the One
03. The Sunshine in You
04. Across the Plains  
05. Reaching for the Moon    
06. Strut Your Stuff  
07. Chasin' Possum
08. A Rainy Night with You     
09. The Uncertainty Principle
10. Round and Round      
11. Fanfare      
12. Celtic Heart
13. Walking with You
14. Shine Bright  
15. The Last Goodbye  
 



January 22, 2020

Pop-Rock-Contemporary-New Age Review: Mary Gospe-Time To Soar

Genre: Pop-Rock-Contemporary-New Age
Release Date: November 15, 2019
Label: Independent

Usually, when I cover new age-related music it is all instrumental and at times some chants and vocalizations. Mary Gospe’s Time To Soar took me right out of that little comfort zone I have been in for so long. That is by no means a negative connotation, change means growth!

One look at the album cover and you see a woman that is shining brightly with positivity and light. The mantra for the project is meant for each listener to embrace their authentic self with love, trust, joy, and freedom (Listen to “Free To Be Me”). If you are already doing that then this will just validate that purpose one step further.

Time To Soar is the message, plain and simple. Mary has a very nice voice that blends well with the music presented. Although the music is not new age, the subject matter is 100%. The music you will hear is pop, rock, and adult contemporary. It was all co-created with producer/multi-instrumentalist, David Vito Gregoli.

“We Are One” is a powerful message to the universe. The message certainly reverberates with me and hopefully, it will with everyone that takes the time to listen to this beautiful combination of lyrical prose and musical excellence. I choose that that track to be represented on my New Age Music Reviews Spotfiy Playlist (I also included the entire album for streaming here as well).

A lot of acoustic guitar playing is very good like on “I Choose Love.” This kind of accompaniment is typical of what you will hear on this recording. It is quality vocals with quality musicianship consistently. If you think about it, it has to be strong. If you want to reach an audience with your message you need a good bed of music to let ride on, and that is exactly what happens. It works well for Mary’s voice and choice of lyrics.

Just like she sings on “Pendulum,” give in to trust, surrender to love. It is simple and straight forward. However, for some of us, that kind of idea can be a task rather than a smooth transition. And that is why people like Mary and Vito are here on the planet, to help us move in that direction a little easier.

“Unity” has more rock elements than all the previous tracks. It is restrained but impactful with some nice organ to complement the electric guitar. There are no rough edges or anything that makes it a flat-out rocker, it is tastefully done to enhance Mary’s vocals and the background vocals. The track “Ride The Wave” has a political and world situation bend to it but is done nicely and gently pushes you into a more positive state of mind. Mary sings-I’m not going to succumb, I’m going “Ride The Wave” of a higher frequency and I’m going to rise above it and rise to a higher vibration. What a great message, and finally a song with those elements without any anger or negativity. It was so refreshing!

This was out of the ordinary for me in the new age realm which made me more selective and tougher from a critical stance. Mary passed with flying colors. If you are ready or if you are not, it is the Time To Soar and “Ride The Wave” to a higher vibration!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 20, 2020

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Tracks:

01. We Are One
02. Walk Slowly
03. The Black Crow Prophecy
04. Time to Soar
05. I Choose Love
06. Free To Be Me
07. Pendulum
08. Unity
09. Ride The Wave
10. Let's Break Away
11. Live From Your Heart
12. All Is Well

 

January 14, 2020

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Review: Stephen Peppos-And Then Came Love

Release Date: January 20, 2020
Label: Sonic Bear Records
Website

And Then Came Love is the third release I have had the opportunity to hear from Stephen Peppos. The all-instrumental new age and contemporary piano selections are all about the same topic, love.

Interesting enough the title track is the very last track. I have not noticed that too much on releases in the past. It is a good idea however, as it reminds you once again what the title of the recording is and the entire meaning of the fourteen tracks being offered. There is a reason for the order of tracks, I think if you asked any artists that, their reply would yes, and for many different reasons.

There is a common-sense thread with the way the tracks are titled and a definitive meaning and progression. Some folks may think that is not that important or even notice, but I do. I try to look at the entire package being presented including artwork, track names, and order or any lyrics. In this case, it is all instrumental so it is entirely up to each listener to find their meaning and interpretation of every track and in the end, what it means personally. After all, isn’t the subject of love a separate meaning for everyone? Whether it is for another person, place, event or a family pet. The word love can be applied to all of that and more.

Stephen plays a very expressive and poignant type of piano. The title and the track do fit if you can look beyond the music, then let it encapsulate your being and open your heart to whatever comes your way. Music like this has no barriers of time and space, it inhabits the space you’re in and moves you to another plane of thought and existence. And thank god for that. With all of those thoughts prevailing, the power and healing that this kind of music can bring you is boundless. You can call Stephen the Doctor of Music on And Then Came Love. Love is coming your way by the end of this recording, and yet another reason why to have the title track as the curtain closer!

The beauty and grace of the music contained on this album will be enjoyed by all those that come within listening distance intentional or not, it will catch your ear and warm your heart. To know there is such magnificence in one instrument is one of the wonders of life. Because of that realization, I find a tremendous amount of gratitude when I listen to this music. My suggestion would be to listen to this as much as you can, particularly if you need a reprieve from stress or a very busy day. And Then Came Love will turn it all around and put a smile in your heart and soul.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

January 11, 2020

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Tracks:
 

01. Love You
02. Meant To Be
03. A Love So True
04. Love & Affection
05. For A Lifetime
06. The Spark of Love
07. Everlasting Love
08. In Your Eyes
9.  A Playful Glance
10. Since I Found You
11. My Sweet Love
12. When We First Met
13. Forever In My Heart
14. And Then Came Love


January 7, 2020

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Reviews: Passions- Force For Good-Music That Makes A Difference

Release Date: February 1, 2020
Label: Sprout Recordings

Jonathan Sprout and Joe Mennonna is the Force For Good-Music That Makes A Difference and their maiden voyage is Passions.

When you go to the website you are met with these inspirational words:
“Let’s join in creating a bold, visionary world that is not driven by fear but inspired by hope.” — Jonathan Sprout, Founder 

The music presented on this sixteen-track CD is a new age flavored contemporary instrumental with the keyboards as the base instrument. Jonathan plays the acoustic 12-string guitar while Multi-instrumentalist Joe Mennonna played all keyboards, woodwinds and brass instruments, and performed midi programming including cello and bass viol, percussion, and strings, and in addition to all of that, he did all the engineering. Leslie Chew also provides electric guitar on five of the tracks.

Keyboard or piano centered music is very flexible with the amount of instrumentation that can be added to every track. This is the kind of project that illustrates that kind of mix beautifully. What you will find with this project is how the intent is to add imagery to the music via other media such as videos, like “Harmony” which I have added to this review for your enjoyment.

The CD case is a nice tri-fold cardboard presentation with many messages in the images and how it all fits with the music. If you look at all the titles of each track, they most certainly carry a positive message.
 
There has been a lot of negativity in the world for many years now, and projects such as this offer an olive branch to the people of the world. As another decade ushers in, we are all hopeful for change and the healing of mother earth and her inhabitants. All kinds of lifeforms are in danger now and we must unite to change that course. We all know this and it helps to see projects like this form and carry a message through beautiful music and images that everyone can understand regardless of race, religion, creed or culture. In the end, we are all the same and anyone can appreciate beautiful music.

Passions is perfect for films, videos or soundtracks for many types of documentaries. The multitude of purposes for this music makes it consumable on so many levels. The project evolved after the music was created then Jonathan started adding videos for the tracks. It pushed the entire project out over a 2-year period to sync all of the media into one amazing presentation.


I think it was important to point out the meaning of this project besides the music, which relaxes you and focuses you on the deeper meanings of every track. That it is how it worked for me and hopefully it will for those of you that wish to support this endeavor by purchasing the CD and subscribing to the You Tube Channel now. 

This is gorgeous instrumental music that will carry you through many emotions and thoughts. Any good music has the power to do that. Thank you, Jonathan, Joe, and Leslie, for creating such beautiful healing sounds with an incredibly important message to the world!

Another release is expected in February of 2021.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 7, 2020

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Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

TRACKS:
01. Force
02. Safe
03. Ice
04. Community
05. Refuge
06. Happiness
07. Exceptional
08. For
09. Organic
10. Solar
11. Harmony
12. Mountains
13. Courage
14. Hope
15. Grace
16. Good