September 19, 2020

Ambient/Rock Instrumental (sub genre new age) Review: The Haiku Project-Gratitude

Release Date: July 17, 2020

Label: myndstream

Website

This is Henrik Hytteballe’s 5th album Gratitude, he is joined by Duduk on guitar and cello as The Haiku Project.

This is entertaining music. I have to say the guitar adds that extra element that makes an instrumental ambient album entirely different.

I would be hesitant to put this into a sub-genre to new age but there is enough there that qualifies it. There are strong elements of rock and some jazz woven into the ten tracks offered here. In other words, to be honest, this is not music that is easily defined but I loved it. It is the guitar that reaches over that line into new territories when you are discussing instrumental music of the ambient nature.

Now I am wondering what the previous four releases from The Haiku Project sound like and I will have to explore that realm some more. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to explain what it is I am exactly hearing. There is a lot to listen to and absorb and that is good thing for any listener that needs some variety and wonderment of what is coming next. That for me is the brilliance of artists that have the wherewithal to produce an entire recording that holds your interest from start to finish.

In 2003 Henrik began studying at D.A.R.K. The Alternative Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, with piano as his main instrument. He is a very progressive artist and the development of his sound is apparent on this release. It surely is alternative, and alternative to any typical ambient or electronica album you may hear. His studies there surely brought him to an entirely different mindset and approach to what kind of music he would create.

One listen to “Hummingbird” tells the story here (look at the album art). Everything that is cutting edge and cool about the world of instrumental music comes bubbling to the surface on this track. Again, I have to say I am loving every minute of this and would love to hear it all on a vinyl LP, filling my entire room with all of its many colors, textures, atmospheres and brilliant musicianship. There is more, much more to engross you in, but I felt that track was one of the best tracks that showed off the diversity of the music and how it all comes together into one cohesive unit of sound.

I think the theme or concept if you will, has all the markings of a new age thought pattern. Musically this is a different road and one I would not mind traveling again real soon. I do have Gratitude for Henrik Hytteballe and Dudek for this amazing soundscape I have enjoyed on The Haiku Project.

If you enjoy instrumental music in particular, I have no doubt you will find a lot to enjoy on Gratitude.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 17, 2020


Track List:
01. Choices 4:48
02. Before Sunset 7:22
03. Another Spring 6:24
04. I Receive 4:50
05. Wide Open Space 4:14
06. Rivendell 4:40
07. My Life 5:14
08. Hummingbird 6:04
09. Fjord 3:52
10. Gratitude 6:14


September 11, 2020

Instrumental World/New Age Review: Blue Monk/ Michael Whalen- Karmic Dreams

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Label: myndstream

Websites: https://www.michaelwhalen.com

https://www.realmusic.com/artists/bluemonk-rasull-soon



Sometimes the best and worst things in life are unexpected or spontaneous. For musician Michael Whalen getting Covid19 was unexpected and not welcome. On the other side of that was his music and another door to healing. To all things in life, there is the ying and yang. Sometimes it takes another person to make things happen and that is exactly what happened when Blue Monk came into the picture.


Blue Monk (Rasull), is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist on the Japanese shakuhachi, piano, synthesizer keyboards, acoustic guitar as well as concert flute and erhu. The multitude of world instruments you will hear on his collaboration with Michael Whalen is titled Karmic Dreams.

This will be Michael’s second release this year after the March release of Sacred Spaces. This is what got him back on his feet and healed him from the virus. I have always believed and supported the use of music for healing purposes. In this case, it was the first level of the musical experience, creating it. Michael received the music from Blue Monk then added and mixed his parts in and what you will get to hear in September is the result of that amazing collaboration titled Karmic Dreams.

From the first track “The Secret Garden” I was relaxed and entranced by the instrumentation and atmosphere it created. From that point forward, for my listening viewpoint and experience, it was all linked together. So, for this listener, it was an all-encompassing experience that is easy to convey in words. First, I look at my state of mind and being before listening. I am heading into a week long vacation and have quite a struggle clearing my head and changing my energy, in other words, knocking it down a few levels to enjoy getting some rest and doing things I enjoy more like listening to music, reading, or watching one of my favorite series on TV or Netflix. My strong sense of responsibility to my day job, my role, and contributions there daily keep my energy flow extremely high and one of my main releases is exercise, meditation, or new age instrumental music and sitting down and getting my thoughts down for potential readers and listeners. That is not a chore it is my way of meditating and getting another frame or space where there is no clutter of thoughts or resistance.

The beauty of the instruments that Blue Monk plays gives this recording an ancient worldly feel. He demonstrates exceptional command of the tools of meditation and spirituality. He found what he sought and is now sharing with us, the listeners and seekers of the same. It works very well indeed! All you have to do is prepare the mind, body, and spirit for the transition the music brings and in seconds you can be in another frame of reference where healing and joy exist. It is that simple if you open that invisible portal.

I have to personally relate to this music to give an honest overview with the hope that all of those people that happen to come across my review or listen to samples and eventually buy the music to support these incredible artists, find what I find waiting inside the music.


The flutes are what makes this music so special and feel so mystical. Then as Michael adds all of his production values and synthesizers, electronics, and percussion, what you get is the beautiful combination of the old world meets the new world. This is the kind of mixture you find happening a lot in the new age genre, and I love it.

Michael Whalen and Blue Monk have created a new age world masterpiece that will be a tool for all those seeking comfort, healing, and solace in this very difficult time we are all experiencing on some level.

Your karma and dreams do converge and send very important messages to your soul. Karmic Dreams can be the gateway to where you need to go right now. Give it a listen and let it work its magic, you will not regret it.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 19, 2020

Track List:
1. The Secret Garden (4:52)
2. The Way of the Samurai (7:21)
3. Cherry Blossom Heart (5:50)
4. Moonscape (5:30)
5. The Trance (3:52)
6. Boundless Love (7:02)
7. Karmic Dreams (4:29)

 


September 9, 2020

Guitarist Dennis Haklar & Percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo Journey Into Inner Worlds On New Album “Transcendance”


Guitarist Dennis Haklar & Percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo released their new album “Transcendance” on August 15, 2020. This collaboration between guitarist Dennis Haklar and Grammy award winning master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo began as a studio improvisation, and developed into a journey to another world. Appearing on “Transcendance” is the beautiful and mysterious Steffie Moonlady adding her ethereal vocals.  Moonlady was instrumental in the overall production of “Transcendance” which offers healing energy to our Planet during this challenging point in time.


“Transcendance” is a journey into inner worlds. It is the process of release through sonic meditation. Travel inward, unafraid, with full belief in yourself, knowing that what others think will not disturb or deter you. Tune into the vibrations of sound and transcend to the “Inner”.


Says Dennis, “Gio and I got together at my studio, ‘Europa’, in Orlando. We recorded a series of improvisations. The sessions were so intense that they lasted for days. I had hours of material to go through and sonically sculpt into what has become ‘Transcendance’. At first it was overwhelming sifting through the best of moments, but that is the beauty of improvisation, you never really know what will happen until you are in the moment. This is a 180 degree spin from trying to create music through online collaboration, or playing to previous recordings, or even to composed music. Improvisation is an art that can take a lifetime, or perhaps several lifetimes to get ‘right’. On the other hand it can happen effortlessly. The key is not to be restricted by expectations of the industry, not to play according to your genre.

 

Giovanni has a huge fan base in the Latin jazz genre, when he and Dennis did this they agreed to be themselves and not be restricted by anyone or anything. The pieces on “Transcendance” were not composed in the conventional sense of ABACAB form, or any form even remotely related to that. Essentially, the duo strove to create a new genre. The music is hard to classify, they will leave that up to the listeners...


Says Dennis, “Living with the tracks, I studied them and began to extrapolate what were the most powerful moments. I then added my sounds and created the transcendant textures. At the point where it began to really take on a life of its own I decided to bring in Steffie Moonlady to add her vocalizations rounding out the textures with a beautiful female touch. Once she completed her tracks, I presented it to Gio and asked if he was cool with his tracks. He came back to add some fine points, icing on the cake. The mixing took months to complete. On certain pieces, I had over 64 tracks to mix. Moonlady was very instrumental in helping me find the right balances, pans, and textures.”


Dennis Haklar first started performing music at Rutgers University.  During this time, he joined the Improvising Structures Ensemble lead by minimalist composer Dan Goode. The group also featured jazz saxophonist Eric Kloss. They performed the music of John Cage, Terry Riley and others. After a few years playing with this ensemble he left to work as a session guitarist at Pyramid Recording Studio. He eventually became the chief engineer of the studio and worked with Gloria Gaynor, Kool and The Gang, Whitney Houston and many others. Dennis released his first solo work “Lizard’s Tale” as a composer, arranger, engineer and producer utilizing what he learned over the years. The album featured Larry Coryell, Jon Anderson, Mark Egan and Thierry Arpino. After working with Larry Coryell on “Lizard’s Tale”, Dennis got to know Larry Coryell better and they started working together more and more. They became close friends. Coryell asked Dennis to work on the final Eleventh House album “Seven Secrets”. He composed “Dragon’s Way” with bassist John Lee and played acoustic on the album.


During his career, Giovanni Hidalgo has worked with Bola Abimbola, Sikiru Adepoju, Art Blakey, Muruga Booker, Jack Bruce, Don Byron, Candido Camero, D'Angelo, Paulinho da Costa, Steve Gadd, Sammy Hagar, Kip Hanrahan, Zakir Hussain, Cassius Khan, Airto Moreira, Charlie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Paul Simon, and Carlos “Patato” Valdes. Hidalgo received a Grammy Award for his contribution to the album “Planet Drum” performed by an ensemble of the same name led by Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead. He played on another one of Hart's Grammy-winning albums, Global Drum Project and on the album Danz√≥n (Dance On) by Arturo Sandoval which won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Performance. In May 2010, Hidalgo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.


“Haklar and Hidalgo seamlessly blend their talents across a sonic landscape that evokes a wide emotional range, at times both energizing and tranquil, resulting in an impressionistic feast for the ears. With its tasteful use of ethereal guitars, globe-trotting percussion parts, and spacey vocal flourishes, ‘Transcendance’ provides a vastly rewarding listening experience.” - Paul Sky


In closing Dennis has this to impart, “It is our hope that our music will give you a sense of inner peace. We are here together on this planet dealing with challenges as they happen. We all have the innate ability to Transcend. Reach inward and outward knowing that we are part of a something greater. Release by taking a moment out of your day through ‘Transcendance’. Love and Light!”


Tracks

1. Bongui

2.Timba

3.Venus

4.Flamas Azul

5.Crystalline

6.Inner

7.Crotales

8.Mara

9.Shekere

10.Invo

11.Frames


Giovanni Hidalgo: All percussion including Congas, Tablas, Bongos, Chekere, Crystal and Metal Bowls, Shakers, Rainstick, Wooden Sticks, Bodhran, Bells, Chimes, Synthesized Percussion.


Dennis Haklar: Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass Guitar, Citera, Synthesizers including Roland Guitar Synth, Moog, Arp 2600 Modular Synth, Samples, Analog Tape Effects.


Stefanie (Moonlady) Haklar: Vocals, Processed Voices


Recorded at Europa Studio, Orlando, Florida 2020

Recording, Mixing, and Mastering Engineer; Dennis Haklar

Assistant Engineer; Stefanie (Moonlady) Haklar

Produced by; Dennis Haklar, Stefanie Haklar (Steffie Moonlady), and Giovanni Hidalgo

Compositions by; Dennis Haklar and Giovanni Hidalgo ©℗ 2020

Moon Phase Publishing (BMI) / Hidalgo Speaks Music (ASCAP)

Graphic Design (Album Cover): Erik Haklar


To purchase:

https://dennishaklar.com

Amazon Music:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=giovanni+hidalgo+and+dennis+haklar&crid=IWBHFYZ43PG6

Apple Music:

https://music.apple.com/us/album/transcendance-feat-dennis-haklar-giovanni-hidalgo-steffie/1527138426

Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Giovanni_Hidalgo_and_Dennis_Haklar_Transcendance?id=Bfhnlncj2lafdxiymqzgbt6oc6i&hl=en_US


For more information:

https://dennishaklar.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dennishaklar


Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 1-828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

September 8, 2020

New Age Vocal Review: Ananta Govinda-Mirror of Desire

Release Date: August 28, 2020

Label: Independent

Website

 

I have heard some very unique spiritual new age music this year. This surely aligns with what a unique year 2020 has been. Using that terminology pretty much sugar coats what kind of experience we have had up until now. It has been a terrible time with a pandemic, civil unrest, wars, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and floods devastating cities everywhere. We are seemingly on the brink of extinction at times. Mother nature is very upset with our mistreatment of her sacred offerings and all living things are paying a price.

With all of this in mind, some artists are responding to all of the pain and suffering with some very good music. One of those artists is Ananta Govinda with his recent release Mirror of Desire. The cover of the album reminds me of the colorful graphic novels that my son got in the early 2000s.

From The Artist Website:
Mirror of Desire is 3 part musical journey that is part of a multimedia juggernaut that will see an accompanying book, set for release on Amazon on October 30th, and an immersive show in a 360-degree projection dome, where he is forging new creative styles for combining music and visual storytelling into a groundbreaking presentation (once live events return).

Now, that is exciting and promises to be transformative for anyone that attends. I say that because this kind of spiritual outreach is normally contained in the music and artwork or words to the tracks, this is going to be a memorable experience once it arrives.

From an entirely musical perspective, I enjoyed this recording. I am gradually hearing more new age-related releases with vocals. I do have to say I was not sure at first, and if I could adjust or accept this after many years of strictly instrumental albums. It has been a pleasant experience that I fully embrace and artists such as Ananta Govinda have assisted in bringing me down that road to this destination. That place is acceptance which in turn brings about change and the subsequent growth from that positivity of moving forward.

“Mazes of The Mind” was my favorite track. I felt it symbolized the very essence of this presentation and the vocals and musicality of it all were amazing. It made me smile inside and delivered the necessary message to me swiftly and convincingly. The mind is a complex maze of thoughts and emotions and if you stop and think about how many things that go through it minute by minute, second by second, day by day, it is a wonder. Science tells us we only develop a very small part of our brain while we are alive and as we get older the sharpness of our minds begins to deteriorate. I think the key is to always be learning, thinking, and using our abilities, and then it will continue to grow and expand. Music does help the activity in the cranium and it affects our brains immediately upon listening. For me, it opens the door to possibilities that under normal circumstances would not come to mind.

What I recognized about this album was the different types of music that come to a boil in an all-inclusive melting pot. The styles come at you with a trajectory straight to the heart and mind and with a definitive impact. It touches all of your senses at once. This will make an impression upon anyone that hears it. There is a mixture of pleasing vocal styles, world, jazz, new age, and a meditative essence that takes hold right at the beginning of your listening experience and it gets stronger and clearer with each passing track. Time is of the essence as well with every track ranging from 4 to over 6 minutes except for “Room of Darshan,” clocking in at 2:10 minutes.

There are many contributors to this project and it is one of healing that we all need to hear. Deep down I know the earth and its inhabitants will have a spiritual awakening so we all can heal and take the earth along with us. This is my Mirror of Desire that I pray will become our reality. This kind of music is a reminder from whence we came. It touches our inner being and brings about positive thinking and a desire to translate that through the music to all the people you come into contact with. After all, we all want the same thing, and, in the end, music is another tool to get us all there.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 4, 2020


Track List:

1. Mirror of Desire (5:44)
2. Self Writing Book (feat. Indubious) (4:18)
3. Golden Goddess (feat. Will Calhoun) (5:48)
4. Mazes of the Mind (feat. Lili Haydn)(4:24)
5. Onto the Timelessness (5:02)
6. River of Time (feat. Pierre Edel) (4:16)
7. Room of Darshan (2:10)
8. Mantras of Paradesha (6:38)


September 5, 2020

Contemporary Instrumental New Age Review: Chris Field-Beneath The Sun

Label: Tosca Road
Release Date: September 4, 2020 
Website

Chris Field has a name in the music industry for his cinematic instrumental music in some well know music trailers. Now for his second full-length release Beneath The Sun, he continues to create instrumental music that is energizing, beautiful, and incredibly mesmerizing. I would describe it as contemporary instrumental and new age.

The epic tone of the opening track “Time Will Tell” features the beauty and the impressive rising energy of his compositions. I can tell from the very first track why he has made a name for himself with many well-known movie trailers.

Beneath The Sun
will most certainly show the diversity and all-around talent this artist commands. Chris produced, composed, and performed all the music except for the Ethnic wind instrument that is credited to Sandro Friedrich on the inner CD sleeve. With all of this considered, there is a lot to listen to in each track presented.

“From The Heart” is what I say all music comes from and I like to write about it the same way. The song starts as a true cinematic adventure. I could picture some footage of a beautiful sunset or the peak of a majestic snow-capped mountain top. That is the advantage of music such as this, it allows you to encapsulate your entire being while letting your imagination take over. Watching a movie of your own making prompted by music is a beautiful thing. It is truly a gift.

The combination of instruments and effects utilized gives each track its personality and atmosphere. I certainly appreciate the diversity offered from track to track so it kept my ears glues to the speakers, wondering what was coming next. Take “Summerland” for instance, it is a total step away from the previous tracks with and a modern funky beat, jazzy keyboards, and beautifully layered orchestrations for all that to glide along on like a musical magic carpet. It was one of my favorites and it had a great rhythm and movement to it all. I could picture Times Square in NYC with all the people walking in the streets and traffic buzzing by. If you have been there pre-virus times you would understand what I mean.

Beneath The Sun
is a cinematic new age instrumental recording coming from the basic foundation of classical with elements of jazz and funk peppered in between, depending on what track you are listening to. This music continually builds and evolves, which makes Chris a multitalented artist with a true vision within each track.

“Eucalyptus” is a slower-paced track with a kind of sadness to it. Like watching the story of a child growing up, going to college, getting a job, then starting a family. There is joy in watching that progression but if you are a parent, you long for the days when the children were little again and life revolved around them and all the joy that brought.

These are the ever-changing tides of life in the music. It is altogether exciting, energizing, picturesque, beautiful, and more importantly entertaining. The title track “Beneath The Sun” was effortlessly flowing and it pulled on my heartstrings so much I had to select it for my NAMR Spotify Playlist. I particularly enjoyed the guitar passages and the way the keyboards were layered and how it all moved together effortlessly. It was a ray of sunshine for this listener and very inspiring. “The Prophet” was also very uplifting and positive, it gave me a good injection of high energy and optimism, like knowing you can conquer anything that comes your way in life.

Beneath The Sun
is an absolute joy of sounds, colors, and textures that any music appreciator could enjoy. For music without words, it says a lot about who we are and how creative and wonderful music can be and how it pushes a listener to places that can only be reached with its help. This can be a soundtrack to your life, a movie, or simply an incredible listening experience that you will never forget.

Remember the name Chris Field, and his masterful instrumental collection of songs titled Beneath The Sun!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder
July 26, 2020

Track List:
01. Time Will Tell
02. Metamorphosis
03. From The Heart
04. Summerland
05. Eucalyptus
06. Beneath The Sun
07. Interlude
08. The Prophet
09. The Vision
10. The Journey
11. In Motion

 

September 2, 2020

THE FINAL ON VINYL REVIEW: Howard Givens & Craig Padilla-The Bodhi Mantra

Release Date: June 26, 2020

Label: Spotted Peccary Music

Website

The Bodhi Mantra was a real treat for this addicted vinyl collector. The fact that I love to hear music on vinyl is the driving force behind this addiction. So, I am thinking, when can addiction be a good thing? Ok, I thought for a minute, when the music makes you happy and the vinyl is a beautiful teal and blue splatter and looks very cool when you hold it up to the light. There is my justification. I’m sold- But seriously…

Howard Givens & Craig Padilla unveiled their third release in June this year and it is an instrumental blessing of sound and textures. A little bit of history is good to know before you listen to this immersive slice of vinyl. The artists use analog, digital, and modular keys and synths to create their multitude of sounds and spiritually with an exceptionally enlightened approach. This version of The Bodhi Mantra is a deluxe 140-gram 12" vinyl record pressed on teal and blue splatter colored vinyl with a premium polylined sleeve and color insert.

I pulled this info off the artist Bandcamp page to give more meaning to the album title: Bodhi is a Sanskrit word translated as “enlightenment” or “awakening” which relates to a Buddhist concept of spiritual awareness, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana - being freed from hate, greed, and ego or the unenlightened identity. The Mantra is the musical expression of this serene offering.

That certainly puts things into proper perspective from where I sit. I am interested in comparative religion and have a fascination with the ancient healing arts and all the music these enlightened musicians create. On the other side of all that for the listener that is not seeking any particular path of enlightenment and has a desire to hear some wonderful ambient new age sounds, this is a great listen. There can be a multitude of purposes for music like this. I happen to look at every aspect possible like the album art, the inner sleeve that comes with this album, the credits, the equipment used, and the color of the vinyl, and finally, the all-important sound.

The first side offers one track titled “Prana” which clocks in at 13:01. The mellow and immersive sounds gradually relax you and the tones, wavelengths, colors, and textures go through some changes during the time that fills over 13 minutes. It sets you up for side two which is more complex.

“Serenity, the Peaceful Place” runs for 9:29 and it is perfectly titled. It says it all giving the listener an imaginary comfy chair in your mind's eye to slide right into a melt into the music. The sounds are an invitation to reach down in an explore your soul and find the truth. Our daily lives are so fast and busy that we stop only because of mental or physical exhaustion, or both. This is time to unwind and heal, to recharge those batteries so your inner light can shine again.

“Leaving Behind the Now” runs for 18:50 and it is their ultimate track to close the curtain on their synthesized delights. I find myself thinking of legendary performers such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. I reference these two bands frequently when I hear music that flips that switch inside me. This track did right away and even though it was nearly 19 minutes long I did not want it to end! It just kept getting better as it progressed with the different layers of keys. It starts as a small quiet stream of water then gradually builds to a mountain full of sound. Some of the stronger heavier sounds got the Tangerine Dream thing happening for me.

This was an album that was an awakening to two very talented artists sharing their path with the world. Music, good music, has the power to do that. Do not miss out on The Bodhi Mantra.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder

August 31, 2020

Tracks:
Side One:
1. Prana 13:01
    
Side Two:
2.Serenity, the Peaceful Place 09:29
3.Leaving Behind the Now 18:50