July 10, 2020

Jon Anderson Interview With The Final On Vinyl Podcast

Listen To My Interview With Jon Anderson As We Discuss His Incredible Solo Album 1000 Hands-Chapter One. It was quite an honor for me to interview the legendary vocalist/musician Jon Anderson of Yes fame and incredible solo work. Thank you kind sir for all of your time!

July 9, 2020

New Age-Classical Review: Ronald Van Deurzen-Imaginations

Release Date: April 17, 2012
Label: Independent

Before I sat down to take in Ronald Van Deurzen’s recording from 2012 Imaginations I had to take a look at the album’s one sheet. Also, the reason I am covering it now is that it was just released on Bandcamp.

This is what was said about the album: The songs have been composed throughout the years of Ron's journey exploring the nature of Sweden. A country of vast forests, ice, snow, and ethereal sunrises. An environment that inspires thought, reflection, and creativity. Imaginations tries to simplify and communicate the beauty that can be experienced in this far northern area of the world. It speaks to the listener in images of the imagination.

I think it helps the listening experience to glean some information like that. It most certainly works for me prolifically at times. Ronald is from the Netherlands and he is a pianist, composer, and teacher. For the listener, this is a lesson for an all-encompassing musical experience. This is realized after knowing how this music was created of course. Although each listener is an individual with their perceptions of colors, light, and sounds, the basic premise holds for us all. Music is the universal language that speaks to everyone. Ronald especially does that through his music while creating an ongoing script or movie in the mind’s eye.

The one track that reached me instantly was “Moon Flower,” in fact I felt it should be placed on my NAMR Spotify Playlist. Every track is excellent but there are always one or two you happen to connect with better than all the others and this was the one for me. Ronald’s classically influenced new age journeys are created and enjoyed in different platforms such as music soundtracks, movies, and most of all for the pleasure of you, the listener, who stands to gain the most benefit from listening and letting this music whisk you away to another frame of mind or space that allows for healing and simply quality listening enjoyment.

“Momentum Figures” is the longest track clocking in at 7:22 and it is an eclectic composition with varying paces and emotions weaved through it like a musical patchwork quilt. I can see why it took up that much time and the various layers of music and instruments that come into play make it a real treat for senses. It is serene, exciting, and joyous. All of that is pieced together in segments for you to feel and absorb. For my ears, it was a delightful trip from one end of the musical spectrum to another. It is the most complex work on the recording.

“Midsommar Känsla" is Swedish for "midsummer feeling." It is a gorgeous melody and as picturesque as one could imagine. This was another track that moved me and touched my inner spirituality. That is the spirituality that we keep captive at times buried deep down so nobody can break the barrier and come in. With all your defenses down and no triggers of negativity, you have nothing to lose and everything to completely enjoy and feel without someone talking to you, arguing a point, or just making you feel uncomfortable. This is the reality of our days and life on this planet at times and we must find healthy outlets that demonstrate something that turns that switch on to bring about our true selves and a one-way line to our higher self or higher power.

That is what this kind of music helps me to accomplish while I am writing about it, I cannot explain it fully but the music inspires me and brings out these thoughts and images that I feel compelled to put in words. This is much like the process of making the actual music and it is my role to provide an interpretation of the sounds I am hearing. It is my honor to do so, every single time I do this.

Imaginations is the most appropriate title for this recording and if you have not had the pleasure of hearing it now is the time to go sample it at Bandcamp or listen right here and now as I have provided the media player as well. Don’t miss out on a chance to hear some classic new age piano-based instrumentals from a clever creator.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
July 7, 2020

Track List:
01. Little Falling Flake (4:45)
02. Early Years    (5:21)
03. Moon Flower (3:43)
04. The Beaches of Heaven (7:44)
05. First Lights (4:40)
06. Midsommar Känsla (3:41)
07. Come Back Because I Love You (3:19)
08. Winterdrops (3:30)
09. Autumn Park (3:08)
10. Momentum Figures (7:22)
11. Stuck In A Dream (5:06)

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

June 11, 2020

Instrumental Acoustic Guitar: Chris Haugen-First Light

Release Date: June 5, 2020
Label: Real Music

Chris Haugen is no stranger to success. He has released four albums before the latest release First Light. The list of collaborations and performances on his website is very impressive and reading that you come to realize you are listening to one of the finest six-string benders that are actively recording music. 

Chris’s label Real Music says "Haugen's creativity abounds through a variety of guitars, Weissenborn, lap steel, and banjo combining to conjure flavors of India while Haugen’s countless hours with the ocean gently reveal some of surfing's allure."

That is one synopsis of a multitude you will likely hear and of course, I have my own to share. First and foremost, my love for instrumental music found great satisfaction listening to First Light. What happens a lot of time for me is the thought “This would sound so amazing on vinyl.” That is a format I grew up on and have been addicted to ever since, except for getting lost for several years with CDs. I had to add that because Chris’s music is so clean, pure, and it resonates with a deep and soulful sound and approach. His playing is superb.

The title track kicks things off and gets you in the groove. He is acoustically driven with a blend of roots, blues, folk, and everything else you could imagine an acoustic guitar can do. The slide playing is excellent as well, which gives it that bluesy feel and a sense of depth. I thought because it made such a big impression on me and drew me in, I had to add it to my NAMR Spotify Playlist.

“Distant Shores” was one of my favorites. The effects and layers of Haugen’s six-string are mesmerizing. Reading the one sheet provided with the music mentions how Chris does a deep dive into his 30 years of yoga and surfing and interprets all of that experience through his music. As you read that you can imagine him on the beach strumming away as the sun starts to pop out over the water’s horizon. Very much like his joyously beautiful album cover. That image tells the story, this is a man living his life and following his path. The beauty of that being so right is that he is generous enough to share his abundant talents with those of us in need of his healing and relaxing sounds. Count me amongst the needy!

There is something special about music like this. It comes from a place in the heart, its spiritual, and the person playing it has a god-given talent. I look at all musicians that way. The best part is having the time and place to take in all the sounds and become completely encapsulated in the music. It feels natural to me as I am that kind of listener. The music either finds me or I find it, it is kismet.

The final track is titled perfectly, “Path of Light.” After starting with “First Light” you end the album but he gives you a path to follow. It is the way it was meant to be. Although this is instrumental guitar music it most certainly finds its way into a new age sub-genre, which it belongs because of the meaning of the tracks and what the music accomplishes for the listener. 

First Light
will be enjoyed by a large cross section of listeners that date back to early Windham Hill label and artists like Alex De Grassi etc. I remember it all so well, so for my ears the recollection is fond and the present that much better thanks to Chris Haugen.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 9, 2020

Track List:

1. First Light 04:30
2. Waves 03:03
3. Peaceful Dream 03:30
4. Beyond 05:11
5. Fjord 03:35
6. Wanderlust 10:13
7. Path of Light 04:18

June 7, 2020

Adult Contemporary/New Age Review: Richard Shulman-Life Seasons

Release Date: July 1, 2020
Label: Richheart Music

Richard Shulman has recorded 28 albums and collaborated on dozens more. The soon to be released Life Seasons is the next proper album.

I like the thought of the seasons theoretically and how it fits each individual's age and current life situation. For instance, the winter of your life would likely be your seventies or eighties dependent on your health.

I would consider Life Seasons as a new age album thematically but musically it is adult contemporary with different elements sprinkled in. Richard’s beautiful piano playing takes center stage and he creates each track like the colorful pictures on the album cover.

“Summer Solstice” is performed by Richard’s trio. The lazy season is given the proper treatment with some cool jazz-inflected laid-back sounds. In the same frame of reference “Bohemian Summer” is a nice jazz number to kick off your shoes and soak in. As the notes are created your mind is set at ease, imagine just floating on a soft billowing cloud.

As we move into the changing seasons “Pre-Autumn” segues into “Sweet Autumn.” The tides of the music change with the season as the paces slow down and speed up in different parts of the composition, intimating the real-life changes you can see when nature does its magic. As autumn ends then we go “Spinning Into Winter” with a nice vocal performance from Wendy Jones, to follow is a solo piano performance from Richard titled “Winter Solstice.” His solo playing is very elegant and appropriate for the distinctiveness of the winter season and all its beauty as it covers the mountains and trees.

“Winter Solstice Dream” continues our seasonal walk through one of mother nature’s most celebrated seasons. It is the most prolific track that includes a spoken word performance from Wendy. The dialogue is significant and reflects much more than the actual season. It goes beyond relating to us as humans and how we translate mother nature’s work. The track runs for 9:52 with a backdrop of Richard’s tinkling ivories leading down the path of realizations as the spoken word continues telling a fascinating story. It is an exceptional track and presented beautifully.

The cycle continues with “Hope for Spring” and the beginning of the thaw with “Early Spring.” Richard’s piano is alive and thriving with exuberance and a consistent rhythm.

Now that I have heard all of the piano instrumentations, I have the belief that the foundation of this music was derived from classical and morphed into a new age, contemporary, and jazz leanings type of listening. All of it made for a perfectly enjoyable listen from beginning to end.

Life Seasons
is quite the journey, offering each listener a taste of every season through the eyes and hands of many talented artists through the piano and other assorted instruments. Everything that went into this recording is just as dissimilar as all the seasons. That is the one element that I found the most interesting and relatable. Of course, every listener will find something different and that is what makes it so unique and special to those that choose to listen.

The personal for this diverse musical collection includes:

The Trio:
Richard Shulman - piano, all compositions and arrangements,
Zack Page - bass on all except #8,10, 13.
Rick Dilling - drums on all except #8,10,13

Vocal Quartet:
Wendy Jones - soprano #4,7,9,10,13 and flute on #7
Paula Hanke - alto #1,4,9,13.
Sherman Hoover - tenor #4,9,13.
Bob Bencze - bass/baritone #4,9,13.
Ron Clearfield - cello #1,7

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 5, 2020

Track List:

01. Life Seasons - 5:00 - vocal feat. Paula Hanke
02. Summer Solstice - 4:40 - trio
03. Summer Night - 4:02 - trio
04. Bohemian Summer - 4:13 vocal quartet
05. Pre-Autumn - 5:13 - trio
06. Sweet Autumn - 4:33 trio
07. Spinning into Winter - 3:30 vocal feat. Wendy Jones
08. Winter Solstice - 3:39 - solo piano
09. Velvet Shoes - 3:22 - vocal quartet
10. Winter Solstice Dream - 9:52 - spoken word feat. Wendy Jones
11. Hope for Spring - 5:20 - trio
12. Early Spring - 5:36 - trio
13. The Fairy of Mystery Blue - 3:14 vocal quartet

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

June 4, 2020

New Age Review: Lia Scallon-Invisible Light

Release Date: June 12, 2020
Label: Sounds of Sirius
I feel compelled to share what the artist Lia Scallon has to say about her new release Invisible Light. Here is the impetus behind this recording…

On the March Equinox 2020, I received strong Guidance to create some special music to counteract the fear, grief, and isolation being triggered by the Corona crisis. There was a sense of urgency to this prompting, so in a leap of faith I booked the studio and on March 31st began to pull through from the ethers the music now called ‘Invisible Light’. What followed was an intense labor of love.

The purpose of Invisible Light is to offer comfort, solace, and serenity in the face of the multi-faceted Covid-19 crisis. I hope that this music will soothe the soul of the listener and help awaken that spark of self-empowerment that lies within.

Lia is one of many talented people among this human race that can offer something positive and some hope. She is giving away this recording for free as an MP3 download now. That is her gift to the world in dire need of some light, divine light, the rays of hope we can see on the horizon. For some of us, we may be stuck in a dark place, prisoners of our thought process, letting the outside events control our emotions. Pent up anger and frustrations have taken to the streets in many cities across the U.S. I watch in disbelief at how uncivilized some of us have become. With music, we can always heal and progress to another level of existence. This I hold with conviction and strength, and I know in my heart that the music can do so much for us.

The Invisible Light is a source of energy, power, belief, and compassion that every human has within. So, for my interpretation I see this light hiding in some of us, and for others, it may be invisible but we absorb it, believe it, and share that feeling with those close to us.

Lia’s recording is very unique in that she narrates some of the thoughts and meanings that pushed her in the direction to present this music and words to the world. The one thing she said that made an impression on me was her thought of how the Corona Virus has brought out our primal instincts, such as hoarding food and other essential items for survival. It is indeed a dark and desperate place for humanity to be in and then the attacks on each other and their very livelihoods for survival are being destroyed by angry and vengeful crowds for the wrongful death of another human.

The track “Primal Cry” encapsulates and replaces the dark with the light in the long-running track (close to 8 minutes) filled with new-age sounds that soothe the soul and energize the tired, relieve the stressed, and give clarity to the confusion. These, my friends, are the ultimate tonics and elixirs we all seek and can easily find and use as a tool to bring change. This one track I feel carries the most impact on the entire recording so I added it to my NAMR Spotify Playlist.

As I listen to Lia’s angelic vocals as it lusters the equally beautiful music, I am engaged, feeling everything that she is through the music. Music has truly been my savior many times during my saddest moments. I have felt the lowest lows and the highest highs and music has always been there to lift me or bring me back down to earth and reality. Thank you, Lia, for all of your gifts to humanity and for the amazing work you have provided through Invisible Light.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 2, 2020

Track List: 
1. Prelude 1 - Invisible Light
2. Primal Cry
3. Prelude 2 - Invisible Light
4. Light Emerging
5. Prelude 3 - Invisible Light
6. Renewal
7. Epilogue - Invisible Light
8. Lia Scallon Profile

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

June 1, 2020

New Age Instrumental Review: Bernward Koch-Becoming

Release Date: May 15, 2020
Label: Myndstream

Bernward Koch is a German multi-instrumentalist and Becoming is his fourteenth proper recording.

On Bernward’s website, he says "Music gives wings to a brighter life“ That statement is so true especially with what the year 2020 has brought the world. With all the pain and suffering on this planet, we are desperately in need of more artists like Bernward to keep making music that heals.

I also found something else noteworthy on his website that touched my soul. The US organization "Massachusetts Fallen Soldiers" uses his music to heal suicide-prone soldiers who have come back from crisis areas in different places in the world and often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I am from Massachusetts; I am a vet, and my father served in WWII so this means so much to me. Thank you Bernward.

This music is graceful, filled with beauty, and ultimately a wonderful tool for relaxing, meditation, contemplation, or simply listening enjoyment. That is without a doubt the entire reason this man makes his music. I am sure every time he records it is a process but a labor of love at the same time. He gives away sheet music on his website for two of his albums! I find that so generous of him to do that. Aspiring piano players can learn and play his music. So, the fact he gives us such beauty and peace through his music is one thing, then to give his actual sheet music away, well that is just amazing. May all of that good karma come back to you tenfold sir!

Listening to this music really helped me today. I had to walk away from the news that has been coming across our TVs and step back and take a breather. We all need it, especially now. I personally need to know that there are still loving and giving people out there and Bernward is surely one of them.

“Sparkling Eyes” was one of my favorites and I added it to my NAMR Spotify Playlist. It reminded me of my wife when I first met her and she still has that sparkle to this day. It is a gift to listen to this music and go through so many feelings, memories, and at times, sadness is coaxed out of me but I still feel good when the music finishes. This is music that puts me in a place that is not of this earth, we call it heaven. Maybe there is some truth that we choose our parents and start in heaven and return once we leave our bodies. It is possible, anything is if you believe.

is a very significant word. It can mean any number of things dependent on who you are and what frame of mind you are in when you are listening to this music. For me, it is about being me with no mask or wall to protect me, just me taking all of the sounds, textures, and colors in, then processing it all. What I get in the end is something very special, spiritual if you will, whatever one can call it, it is a blessing that I receive with a lot of gratitude. Every second of my life I am Becoming who I am, evolving, learning, growing, and sharing my experience, strength, and hope with everyone I know and meet.

I hope each and every listener can find a road to take within this music that allows healing. You just never know where Becoming is going to take you but that is exactly what makes it so intriguing. Every listener will find their way through this music, whether it is intentional or not, I am guaranteeing that these tracks are going to affect in you in a prolific manner, but you must let it happen, just listen and Benward, he will take you there.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 30, 2020 

Track List: 
01. A Magical Dream
02. Lavender Fields
03. Moments of Love
04. Sparkling Eyes
05. Alone on the Way
06. Becoming
07. Mysterious Afterglow
08. The Bright Spring
09. The Harvest  
10. A Swan Dream
11. Floating Leaves
12. September Impressions
13. Long Long Time Ago

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

May 29, 2020

New Age Vocal Review: Prem Vidu-Encounter – Medicine Songs from Ma

Release Date:  June 4, 2020
Label: Independent

Prim Vidu and his newest offering Encounter – Medicine Songs from Ma was a pleasant surprise for my new age tastes. Normally the vocals I hear on releases are some background embellishments. This however is all vocals with the traditional instrumentation you would come to expect from a new age release.

I had no idea what I was in for with this album, I just trusted that Prem was a new age artist looking for an opinion on his music. Well he asked the right person and everything does happen for a reason. This is Prem’s first release and everything was composed and performed by him and his team. Besides singing he plays a multitude of instruments. It is quite impressive as this album is his first and an independent release. This is about belief in your life, love, gratitude and the pureness of one enlightened soul.

Some of the instruments used are nylon guitar, shakers, kit acoustic guitars, electric guitars, mandolin, piano, synths, fretless bass, flugelhorn and trumpet. And that is the short list!

To create an album with all vocals and to have that new age color, depth, and meaning, you need all the right instruments. Based on what I heard, things were done properly and Prem and his fine team of musicians pulled out all the stops and present one beautiful recording.

The one and most important instrument is Prem’s vocals. I found an immediate attraction to his warmth and flowing vocalizations. The lyrics are from the heart and soul of a man that has found his true path through the music and spirituality. Prem says “"There is no shorter umbilical to your soul than singing!" How that rings so true for me and I am sure countless others that will enjoy Encounter – Medicine Songs from Ma.

At this particular moment in time I feeling some back pain and, in the music, and words of Encounter – Medicine Songs from Ma I found comfort and healing sounds. Although I must admit some of the lyrics are not understood because they are not in English, however that did not matter. Prem’s voice is so inviting and smooth that you just go with all the flow. The instrumentation is certainly quite excellent, which helps to get you at your comfort zone.

There is plenty of variety musically which keeps your interest besides the digging down deep lyrics presented on this amazing group of tracks. Anyone that can appreciate our humanity, spirituality, a variety of instruments, and incredible vocals, well, that about says it all doesn’t it. This is thoughtful words set to a magnificent array of instrumentation! You need to hear Encounter – Medicine Songs from Ma.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
May 27, 2020

Track List:
 1. Holy Divine Mother
2. May I Have The Strength
3. Cancel The Show
4. Oh Your Glory
5. Mighty Presence
6. Floating
7. Your Love Heals Me
8. Everything That Is Here