Showing posts with label Indie Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indie Music. Show all posts

New Age Instrumental Review: Ryan Stewart-One Journey

Release Date: October 1, 2014
Label: Ryan Stewart Music

Ryan Stewart was given the gift of music by his mother. At the age of thirteen, she passed away from breast cancer and the event has forever left a mark on his soul. In One Journey, Stewart’s third album, he explores the continuity of human relationships. Not the type you find online where everyone is so focused on technology, but the kind of real connection you get with the people that make an impact on our lives. This songwriter and composer has a gift of emotional resonance that fluttered through me with every song. Guest artists on the album include: Monte Belknap (violin) and Nicole Pinnell (cello). Stewart has composed works for documentaries and many others.

“Under the Willow” is a meaningful piece for Stewart for multiple reasons. It was inspired by his childhood memories at the ages of twelve and thirteen. He would lie underneath a very particular willow tree and dream. Soft and melodic, the song drifts in like a cloud, swiftly changing to the poignant tones of a violin. The Celtic overtones in the piece bring harp and the beautiful vocals of Stewart’s daughter Aysia. His daughter was the same age as he was when he first found the willow tree so getting her involved in the project was especially meaningful. Wind instruments flex and merge into a composition that is truly breathtaking. Buoyant and full of wonderment, this piece is for all the dreamers out there reaching out to find the deeper things in life.

“Winding Road” begins as a piano sequence and continues as such. The imagery invoked is walking along a well-trod path, as your mind works out the troubles of the day. A steady melody, the piece keeps time as you make your way. With anything, you do not walk your path alone. There are loved ones that fall into step beside you and though the way may wind and at times be unclear, the journey is part of the process.

“Coming Home” is a joyous composition. A cornucopia of sound, this piece encapsulates the joy you feel as you stride across the doorstep of the place you call home. Violins, percussion and multiple instruments swirl together to create an uplifting feeling that is truly infectious. It is bending down to enfold your puppy in your arms after a long day at work. It is the twinkling eyes of your daughter as she meets your gaze or the unconditional love of your spouse. But most of all, it is musical symmetry and the artistry of Ryan Stewart and the gifted musicians that helped to create this piece.

Our life journey is one filled with opportunity and people who make a difference by word and deed. Ryan Stewart found such a person in his gifted mother, a musician who instilled in him a love for the craft. Today he spends time with his family and is thrilled to compose and perform music for multiple outlets. Each song on One Journey is like a vanilla cupcake and a cup of your favorite tea. It just goes down smooth and you never want it to end.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Under the Willow, Winding Road, Coming Home

Tracks: 
01.When We Met
02.Here and Now   
03. Brighter
04.Under the Willow
05.Innocence
06.Old Friend
07.The Portrait
08.Happy People
09.One Step Closer
10.Windows of Time
11.Winding Road
12.Our Story
13.Coming Home

 
Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
March 24, 2015          
    
Review Provided By New Age Music Review

New Age Instrumental/Classical Review: Philip Wesley-Transcend

Release Date: September 5, 2014
Label: Autumn Music Productions

Philip Wesley trained to become an athlete. When he was twenty he realized a new passion and thus began his journey on a path less traveled. One of the New Age industry’s top performers (Billboard Magazine, CD Baby, iTunes), he can be heard on Pandora and other internet radio providers. Seven albums into his career, Wesley hasn’t stopped to look back. Transcend is an emotive and impactful album full of the expressive solo piano we have come to expect from this master of the keys.

“Less Traveled” is stalwart look into the mind of the artist. Introspective and at times crisp and brooding, this piece delineates a conscious decision to do what the heart commands, no matter the outcome. With strident and piercing melodies, this title should come with an exclamation point on board. This is the athlete speaking. You have to persevere to get anywhere in life, especially when the road isn’t paved with roses. Sometimes you get dirt roads with potholes. The trick is not just the end result; it is the lessons learned along the journey. 

“Unbridled Spirit” awakens with a tentative piano sequence, the keys dancing beneath Wesley’s fingertips completing the essence of spirit he alluded to in “Less Traveled.” To walk a road that is hard, you must have spirit and not be afraid to scrape your knees. The most important lessons are typically hard won. With elegant composition and melodic style, this piece paints brush strokes across the sky and screams out a victory dance.
“Moonlight and Jasmine” is a fragrant piece that brings to mind romance under the stars. Tender and alluring, the solo piano creates a theatrical soundscape that lets my imagination take flight. A gazebo under the stars…a young woman dances with her love. Round and round they go, never ceasing even when the music stops. All to the scent of jasmine and the lunar glow of a breathless moon. 

“Haunted Past” in some ways reminds me of the movie The Secret Garden. A stone wall surrounds the hidden place of joy and tragedy, never to be seen again. Brick by brick and note by note the walls grow higher. Then, an unexpected guest finds the key. Sanctuary for all becomes not just a haunted past but the bare bones of a bittersweet future. Some ghosts want to be found if only to whisper goodbye. Take a moment to listen to this remarkable piece and perhaps you will hear yours…

Philip Wesley has a remarkable talent and I feel privileged to spend time with his music. It unlocks the whimsical parts of me and lets my imagination wander down his musical path. Both a teacher and an inspiration for all who want to learn more about piano, this artist is truly an inspiration and I look forward to listening to all of his works and am marking him as a must have for all future releases.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Less Traveled, Unbridled Spirit, Moonlight and Jasmine, Haunted Past 

Tracks:
01. Less Traveled  
02. Unbridled Spirit
03. Transcend  
04. Captivated
05. Distant Memory
06. Moonlight & Jasmine
07. The Chase  
08. Union  
09. Courage to Change
10. Haunted Past
11. Wanderlust
12. Gypsy
13. Echoes Through Eternity

Dana Wright Senior Staff Writer
March 7, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Music Review: Michele McLaughlin-Undercurrent

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Label: Indie

If you have not heard of Michele McLaughlin yet you must be living under a rock. You get a one-time excuse if you are not a fan of new age instrumental music. 
  
Undercurrent is her 15th proper recording. That is an amazing body of work in a fairly short period of time. And she did it all in approximately 15 years. 

This is instrumental music that moves you. Emotion and a sense of spirituality breaks through as if it were delivered on the wings of an angel. If you say the title Undercurrent out loud or to yourself you understand what it all means once you are immersed in this gorgeous piano music. Underneath every note in every track is a feeling, emotion, pain, joy, despair – quintessentially the undercurrents that run our life and motivate us to make decisions, live and love. The title says all of that when you make yourself an open book…the pages will turn and you will understand.

One of the more meaningful songs for the artist is “The Space Between.” It is about Michele moving 10 miles away from her sister after living right next door. That family bond and the special relationship one can have with a sibling is explored. 10 miles may not seem like a long way but when you are close to a family member it can feel like an ocean separates you. I understand the emotional pain involved and could feel how real that sadness was in Michele’s piano playing. The fact that the music is so beautiful does allow some consolation for the listener and hopefully a purging and healing process for the creator.

 
“Starstuff” is elegant and universal. Star dust we are indeed. I enjoyed the melody in this track, it is purposeful like letting go and allowing your spirit to soar and explore the universe. It is a perfect example of how music without words can hold so many meanings for each listener. Let it take you away, breath deep and transcend all that may be holding you back. I felt inspired and a few chills came over me while listening.

Speaking of inspiration, “Never Give Up” personifies that message. Michele receives emails from folks that may be going through a tough period and they say that her music heals and helps them to carry on and recover. I can say with complete certainty that is a fact. I felt renewed and hopeful after listening to this music; it brought me to another place. For this listener that is the primary purpose of music and if that is accomplished then it was a success.

Undercurrent is a standalone work of art that can be especially appreciated by anyone that understands the effort that goes into the creative process, whether it be a piece of music, a painting, or music that paints its own scenery like this fine album so gracefully does consistently throughout. It is a perfect group of songs with just the piano and Michele McLaughlin and I could not imagine hearing it any other way.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Space Between, Never Give Up, Starstuff

Tracks:
01. 11,000 Miles
02. Living in Awe
03. Changing Skies
04. Full of Love
05. The Space Between
06. Undercurrent
07. Starstuff
08. Never Give Up
09. Evolution
10. On My Own
11. Melody In Motion
12. Stepping Stones
13. Synesthesia

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
February 12, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Review: Reneé Michele-Seasons of the Heart

Release Date: December 20, 2014
Label: Independent

Seasons of the Heart is a journey that begins with a memory. Bitter and sweet, the days of our lives are full of winters and springs. Of summers where we dance and stark autumn moments when we grieve. In this beautiful celebration of the artist’s memories we walk with her through some of life’s most personal moments. Produced by Will Ackerman at the legendary Imaginary Road Studio, this album is also graced by Jill Haley (English horn), Charlie Bisharat (violin),  Eugene Friesen (cello), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Noah Wilding (vocals), Tom Eaton (bass), and Michael Manring (fretless bass) and of course Reneé Michele at the helm of the piano.

“Gone” is the devastation of a loved one’s passing. The loving memories of a life well spent, but the absence where there once was a presence. Some voids simply cannot be filled. Fluid piano movements and tender whispers call out to those we love in remembrance and thankfulness that our lives touched, if only for a moment.

“Forgiveness” is an evocative piece that tears into the tender places in the heart where some of the deepest emotions dwell. Who has not been hurt by a loved one or been the one to cause the pain? Love is a scary and beautiful thing, much like the resonating melodies presented in this piece. Careful piano movements and string presentations delve deep. Tear stained cheeks and eyes that smile through the pain that only true love can cause bring the joy of forgiveness.

“Seasons of the Heart” is an all-encompassing voyage through the dark hour of the soul and back to light again. Our lives, like this vision of melodic wonder, are rife with challenges, hurts, victories and celebrations. Love, life and laughter walk with us even as death and unfortunate events bring us to our knees. The seasons change and with it the ebb and flow of our inner tides. Poignant piano playing combined with multi-instrumentation brings out the deep emotion that only Reneé Michele can. She finds the perfect note and spins her song, leaving us breathless with the beauty of truth.

Our lives truly are seasons. Memories come to us from the summer and winter of our lives. Some are bountiful and some haunt us with broken promises and hurtful actions whether from ourselves or others. In true artful fashion, Reneé Michele takes each feeling and brings it to the surface in melodious fashion. These are the seasons of our lives; the sun, the moon, the seasons…new beginnings and bittersweet endings. It is the breath in our bodies and the secret smile on the lips. It is music. It is…life.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Seasons of the Heart, Gone, Forgiveness

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

January 7, 2015

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Instrumental Review: Lawrence Blatt-Emergence

Release Date: March 11, 2014
Label: Independent


Produced by Will Ackerman of the incomparable Imaginary Road Studios and written by Lawrence Blatt, Emergence is an album that will keep you company for many long hours. It is an album filled with images of the natural world in all of its wonder. Patterns. Diverse and seemingly simple, they can create masterpieces of form and function. Such is the case with Emergence. Artists involved in this project are: Lawrence Blatt (guitar, accordion, mandolin), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Lila Skylar (viola, violin), Eugene Friesen (cello), Sam Bevan (double bass), Jill Haley (English horn) and Richard “Gus” Sebring (French horn).

“Emergence” is the title track to the album. It features violin and guitar movements that evoke images of a new seedling bursting forth from the cocoon of mother earth. The trembling growth of a frail tulip as it stands straighter each day and turns its face to the light. One day at a time it grows stronger until it stands tall away from the green stems and leaves, bursting into burgeoning crimson glory. Violin and guitar dance as the repeating majesty of life and finally death and renewal comes again and again. Beauty. Grace. Life.

“Gar Du Nord” is the third piece on the album and it struck me utterly when first I heard it. Double bass, cello, viola, violin and guitar twist and undulate in chord progression and scale theory to craft a spiral of thought provoking effervescence. 

“Poloyne” is a pulse pounding dance that could be the background to a well-crafted romantic drama. Eyes meet across the room. Hands join as two flames connect on the ball room floor. Sweeping movements bent on seduction win the increasingly rapid beating heart as the tempo increases. Violin and guitar create passion with flamenco influences. A powerful piece filled with evocative imagery.

“Green Corn” is the last piece on the album and has a combination of French horn, guitar and violin. Truly artful, this is a tale that unwinds into wide open spaces and the freedom of land and prosperity. Jaunty and full of life, this track is as regal as it is masterful. The American Dream of land, independence and prosperity. This is our land. Green corn and fields of plenty…

Lawrence Blatt has succeeded in comforting the savage beasts in my household. Even as the thunderstorm rages outside, the soothing tones of Emergence have brought the canine residents of my abode into happy slumber. (Thank goodness for small miracles!) The exploration of patterns and progression of chords has truly crafted each work into a snowflake like accomplishment. I find it amazing that no written music was given to individual performers, letting them rely on music theory and the talents that come from deep within. This is a project all the participants should be very proud of and is one that will be in my collection for a very long time to come. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Emergence, Gar Du Nord, Poloyne, Green Corn

Tracks:
01. A Promise in the Woods
02. Emergence
03. Gar Du Nord
04. Walking Among Tulips
05. Passing Up Bridges
06. Entering the East Gate
07. The Place Where Monarchs Go
08. Poloyne
09. Where the Pines Once Stood
10. Say Hello Again
11. Illuminations
12. Green Corn


DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

December 19, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews



Contemporary New Age Instrumental Review: Michael Dulin-My Beloved

Release Date: January 20, 2015
Label: Indie

Michael Dulin has released several recordings over the years but never one as personal as My Beloved. It is his special ode to his wife.

Dulin’s style is flowing and purposeful and it always has been on all of his releases. He is an extremely talented pianist that is adept at translating his feelings through the ivory keys.

Each track focuses on an enduring love and the beauty and passion that it can bring in a couple’s life. Relationships are a work in progress and too many people run away at the onset of difficulties. This is a testament to his commitment to marriage and his wife.

“Beloved” is the most poignant and meaningful to the artist and as a listener I can understand why. Its sheer beauty and magnificence transcends all barriers and time becomes merely a concept to ponder.
“Devotion” has a title alone that supports the meaning of holy matrimony. It is the perfect follow up to “Beloved.” It goes hand in hand with the meaning and purpose of this recording.

The album closer “Rhapsody” exudes clarity and beauty with a definite accent on the different colors a musician such as Dulin can create within the music. The pace creates joy and peace but it maintains an energy and buoyancy that closes out the album with strength and definition.

Michael Dulin has produced a brilliant palette of tasteful instrumentals that brings one instrument to the forefront without a single distraction. The only focus is the piano and I found it very enjoyable and quite amazing how one remarkable instrument can convey so many emotions and a lifetime of love and devotion.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Beloved, Devotion, Rhapsody

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

December 14, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Instrumental Review: John Otott-Colors

Release Date: November 3, 2014
Label: Indie

I think John Otott has been referred to as an emerging artist. I am officially stating that he has arrived with Colors. The cover of the album is a mirror into the soul of the artist and within the music you will find yourself everywhere amongst the 13 tracks.

For creating music without words I really do not know how much more beautiful and prolific it could possibly get. Otott’s brilliance shines brightly in every track and when the music starts and “Tesoro” begins, you know you are in for a lot of special moments. The track was featured on our sister site RateThe Tracks.

If you are interested in getting a look inside some of these compositions I would recommend checking out http://www.johnotott.com/music-store/colors/.

John takes elements of new age and classical music and brings forth all the magic through his fingers seemingly without effort. We all know and recognize putting together an album is quite a project and I am not taking away any of that hard work and the trials one goes through but it all sounds so flowing and easy. 

“Song of the Willows” brings you closer to nature, its heaven and earth merging in the music. I found it so moving, I was feeling happiness and sadness then joy all at once with the ebb and flow of those ivory keys and the atmospheric sounds that weaved themselves into an unforgettable tapestry of sound and wonder. How one instrument can create so many textures and moods amazes me.

“A Memory” is an emotionally moving piece taking you through the life of John’s mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. John explains that he conveys all the emotional highs and lows one can go through watching a loved one overtaken by such a life stealing disease. Even with all the sadness the artist finds the light at the end of the tunnel were his music is the only release, then finally acceptance arrives and you move on to the next track. I was forced to take stock of my own life and realized how much I have to be grateful for after I read about what the song meant, then it hit home one step further.

John Otott’s piano improvisations are a gift from his soul to his listeners. When I take in this type of music the only thing I can think of is that when my time comes to leave this planet I think I will hear this kind of music playing as the angels invite me to join them. Music is the closest thing to heaven we have here on earth and Colors is another brilliant reminder of that.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Tesoro, Song of The Willows, A Memory

Tracks:
01. Tesoro
02. The Wind Song
03. Illusion
04. Colors
05. The Journey
06. Song of the Willows
07. Interlude
08. I Will Sail Away
09. A Memory
10, August and Life
11. Santa Cruz
12. An Evening Thought
13. Soaring
        

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

December 5, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Track Stream: Kathryn Kaye-Patterns Of Sun And Shade

Kathryn Kaye's music is highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike. The new release Patterns Of Sun And Shade, due out January 1st 2015, is destined to bring more accolades to the artist.

I thought it was appropriate to introduce the beautiful title track to an audience anticipating more of her wonderful sounds of grace articulated through the ivory keys.

Sit back, relax and enjoy "Patterns Of Sun And Shade," it is most certainly a spiritual experience that will lead down the path of enlightenment.

MuzikMan Rating 5/5 

More About Kathryn Kaye:

http://www.kathrynkaye-music.com

Kathryn continues to work with Will Ackerman and several other outstanding musicians, including Tony Levin (bass), Eugene Friesen (cello), Tony Bisharat (violin), Jill Haley (English horn), Jeff Haynes (percussion), and Gus Sebring (French horn). Heavy as a Feather and What the Winter Said, her next two albums, reached #2 and #1 on the Zone Music Reporter charts. Heavy as a Feather was nominated Best Instrumental Piano Album of 2012, and What the Winter Said won Best Holiday Album for 2013. Her fourth album, Patterns of Sun and Shade, will be released January 1, 2015.

New Age Instrumental Review: Michael Hoppé and Harold Moses-Serenity

Release Date: May 13, 2014
Label: Spring Hill Music
Michael Hoppe Website

Michael Hoppé is a talented composer, artist and musician. A Grammy nominee, his work has been heard on television series (The Sopranos and more) and is regarded highly by Jane Goodall, Sarah Breathnach (Simple Abundance) and Robert Cooper (Emotional Intelligence) among others. His work has earned him several platinum and gold records and Hoppé is also the founder of InterConnection Resources and a senior executive for PolyGram, securing such talents as The Who and ABBA in his long and distinguished career.

Harold Moses is an educator, composer, master violist, harmonic theorist, recording artist and works for Harmonic Research and Design specializing in vibrational health and wellness devices. 


In Serenity Harold Moses performs on the viola and Michael Hoppé delights us on the keyboards. Each piece is recorded in one sitting, letting each artist wind around the other in perfect symmetry. Each track is matched to a month in the year, each a reflection on the essence of each month. The first track is “Serenity I” and with fragile and elegant musings, the strings and keys come to flagrant life. Poignant and effervescent this piece will stir your soul. Having never encountered a Michael Hoppé album previously (living in a cave I think) my ears sighed and my heart just smiled. This is how music should be. It is the epitome of relaxation. If anyone has ever thought of the humorous but heartfelt phrase, “serenity now” you need to check out this album. It is just that. 

March swings in with wild tumultuous vigor in “Serenity III,” like a breath of storm on the horizon, waiting to pelt you with shivering rain. The tension is palpable and the feelings evoked, raw. Longing and bliss at the vibrant heart of this piece pulse and throb for a romp through windswept fields, weather whipping your hair about your face in a frenzy of activity. Joy in the act of living, even as the rain stings your skin in its veracity.

“Serenity X” has to be my favorite on the album. The scent of autumn crisp in your nostrils as October sets in. Burnt Orange and blustery winds lead you into the colder seasons of the year. Oh so brief, but so powerful.
December greets us in “Serenity XII” with an almost “Taps” finality. The year is winding to a close and the soulful fragile moments sprung from the echoing viola and keyboard call forth memories and thoughts of faith and family. Edgy and at the precipice of new beginnings, this piece leads right into the New Year with “Serenity XIII” a delicate and touching piece that is exquisite in its beauty and serene in its majesty. Beauty in the fresh breath of a new start, this piece winds up the album with a bittersweet and haunting melody that will make your finger itch to hit the replay button.

Michael Hoppé and Harold Moses have created something here that goes beyond words. These thirteen improvisations are truly masterful and each is paired with its own haiku by Brett Brady. If you could reach into the heavens and pluck down a ray of the essence of life, love and the reflections of what it means to be human and alive then here you have it. Tender and evocative, these two artists and composers set about to craft an album in one sitting and they did just that. Five stars all the way and I am forever a fan girl. Serenity Now. Seriously. You can’t feel any other way when you listen to this masterpiece. It is quite simply, bliss.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Serenity I, Serenity III, Serenity X, Serenity XI, Serenity XIII

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

November 30, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

World New Age Review: James Asher and Sandeep Raval-Drum Travel

Release Date: Nov 11, 2014
Label: Starfield Records

James Asher and Sandeep Raval are two incredibly talented men with the gift of knowledge that encompasses a multitude of instruments, mainly percussive so it is no surprise that the title of their recent release is Drum Travel.

There is a bit more to this than just the title Drum Travel. The artists refer to this recording as the Tipi Experience. The image on the cover is a pyramid with a swirling gateway or rhythm portal, as it is referred to on the CD cover, all brought to you by their Global Percussion. If you notice however there is a city on the water that the beautiful image is overlaid on. There is a message here and you are cordially invited to  find the meaning in the music and what is beyond the portal awaiting your discovery. It all makes more sense once you start off on your journey with Asher and Ravel.

These two amazing artisans are assisted by Simon Brewin (bass, guitar, Wit,The Discerning Don) and Carolina Maggio (vocals, charrango, painting, creativity and enthusiasm) and several other talented folks. These gents have a marvelous sense of purpose but also maintain a good sense of humor. After all, James plays a ton of instruments but gets credit for “Kitchen” so I am assuming he provided sustenance in the form of food and drink for his musical warriors whilst recording this endeavor.

Drum Travel is a two CD set comprising 13 tracks on disc one and 7 tracks on disc two, both clocking in at over 70 minutes. The very first track “Fugira” kicks things off in a marvelous way with splendid percussion, amazing rhythmic vocal styling’s (in Italian) and some fluid guitar lines. This music is a worldly blend; there is new age, world, jazz, blues and rock. Everything blends together superbly into a musical melting pot that will bring joy to your soul and aural beauty to your ears.

The instrumental tracks are a literal omnibus of musical delights. When Asher and Raval combine their efforts it’s like a wall of drums that envelopes you. It does not encapsulate you in a power driven sphere and take you away; it is like being swept away by a gentle wave then feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin and the best part is the wave never ends. You can respect the awesome power it commands but feel grateful for the retreat that it affords you into audio bliss.

“Bring on Brasil” is just that, you feel like you have arrived in that beautiful country and are suddenly taking in all the breathtaking landscapes and walking the city streets. It’s like world travel by osmosis. Then to change things again, “Beside The Blues,” delivers the blues and jazz sensations via the right percussion, keyboards and guitar flourishes. To say that this recording offers diversity is an understatement, you simply do not know what is coming next and that is what makes the listen so intriguing.

Chili Pickle Chaser” is a great example of the percussion collaboration of Asher, Raval and friends. It has an interesting name but let me tell you it is nothing but pure excitement that builds as the track plays out. 

“If The Earth Could Speak” is the first track I heard and was so taken with it I featured it on Rate The Tracks and to no surprise it jumped to the #1 position on the charts within a day and it continues to get plays. The title is quite prolific and so is the music. Everything that is good about what these people do when making music comes flowing forth like a river with a definite path to the ocean. It has meaning, beauty and first and foremost touches your spirit in a way that is most memorable.

Now if all of that was not enough they end the set with “On the Outbreath,” which is one minute short of 30 minutes. If there is one song that takes everything to another level it’s this one. There are some amazing creative juices flowing throughout this mix. This time frame made up an entire album in years past yet it is one song out of 20 that make up this implausible gathering of sound, elements and textures that capture your attention and engage your senses.

There is something true and natural about drums particularly when used in such a manner. It calls to you and invites you into their special rhythm portal. Listen, take the journey, you will not have any regrets.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Fugira, Bring on Brasil, If The Earth Could Speak, On the Outbreath

Tracks:
Disc: 1
 

01. Fugira
02. Takita
03. How it Feels
04. Bring on Brasil
05. Beside the Blues
06. Drums for the Dragon
07. Chili Pickle Chaser
08. Rhythm Network of Sparks
09. Neptune Skank
10. Percussive Kitchen
11. Pappadoms form Persia
12. Breaking Good
13. Seven Veils


Disc: 2
 

1. African Angel
2. Los Cuentos
3. Hey Wanaina
4. If the Earth Could Speak
5. Accelerando
6. The Great Transition
7. On the Outbreath
 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
November 20, 2014
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Instrumental Review: Neil Tatar and David Darling-Where Did The Time Go

Release Date: August 23, 2013
Label: Indie

Neil Tatar plays guitar, piano, hand drums and percussion and cellist David Darling accompanies him on their recording Where Did The Time Go. Once I read Tatar’s biography and understood all of his talents it was easy to pay attention to everything happening in each track. In essence every note played from any instrument stands out as relevant when you can listen in such a manner. The duo complements each other beautifully on all nine tracks.

Tatar is a diverse artisan that uses several years of experience to his advantage playing the guitar and other instruments with grace and strength while Darling provides his cello lines to make each piece a complete work of art.

The music set me at ease when the first track “Journey” started and I noticed a definite distinct sound coming from Tatar’s guitar. I found it engaging and so pleasing that it made want more. 

“Where Did the Time Go” came across as a lament to life itself and the reality of how fleeting it can be. I felt very sad while listening but also recognized the inner beauty and reflection so obvious in the music presented.

“Last Dance” is a slow burner with a sense of reflection and sadness but the beauty and elegance override those emotions as with the previous tracks. As the saying goes-beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. What I behold and translate while listening certainly would be different for someone else so it depends how it can relate to your own life before any particular emotion makes sense.

Where Did The Time Go is beauty in motion and in the same instance brings the listener an entire range of memories and emotions. Only powerful music has the ability to engage an audience in such a way. This is real gem and a must have acquisition for your instrumental library.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Journey, Where Did the Time Go, Last Dance

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

November 16, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

New Age Instrumental Review: Rick Sparks-Endless

Release Date: October 1, 2014
Label: Independent

Rick Sparks began his journey into music at a mere seven years of age with an old spinet. Over the years he has played in churches, been a music DJ, a broadcaster and finally an artist with several albums to his credit. Pop, gospel and classical all make an appearance and he was heavily influenced by Vince Guaraldi and George Winston and grew to love New Age. His new album Endless is a mix of original compositions an Irish hymn and four Scottish ballads with a song from Bill Leslie’s hit album Scotland - Grace of the Wild. The cover was designed by starscape photographer Ben Canales and the theme of the album is God’s everlasting love, always endless, always present even when sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

The album opens with Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 piece “Beautiful.” It then moves into the piece “Dream Angus.” When I first heard the title I immediately thought of last night’s dinner of a dreamy looking steak sitting on my plate and as I closed my eyes, my spirit was indeed replenished and rejuvenated. Whether by the thoughts of last night’s bliss or the beautiful piano music drifting over me, I felt the peace Sparks was trying to convey. Sleeping dreams can be had while we are awake if only we allow ourselves to see the greatness in all that God has provided us; sound and substance, melody and rapture, or even just a steak with some very lovely sauce. Piano and eloquence is the champagne of life.

“Endless” is the title track for the album. Delicate piano strains twist and turn into a provocative and thought provoking musical narrative. God is the endless sky…the eternal force that keeps the universe ticking. No matter the name-because names are fleeting-the energy is there. Always and forever. A breath of life and a sparkle in the velvet darkness.

“Wexford Carol” is an old song that makes me think of the holidays whenever I hear it. Full of hearth and heart, it calls to mind the gathering of family and friends to take stock in all that is truly important in this world. Percussion, wind instruments, piano and a myriad of instrumentation bring this classic song of hope and the majesty of the human spirit to life.

“Loch Lomond” is pure magic. The ethereal nature of this piece was a shiver of delight. Vast and eternal as the starry skies on the beautiful album cover, this song is a blend of vocals, piano and various other electronica. The blend of music and effects crafts a piece that dips deep into the primordial mysteries of a loch in the wilds of Scotland and I wouldn’t be surprised if a wee kelpie were to pop up and say boo. Of all the tracks, this song was one that reverberated with mystery and made me want to look into the deep to see what would be watching back.

Rick Sparks is a musician with several albums under his belt. His love of music shows in every track on Endless and the blend of original works, cover songs and historic favorites make this album a wonderful listen. He is a professor of mass communication and a pianist at his local church.  If you want a respite from the world this holiday season have a sit down with Endless. It is a joy to the world. Kind of like pie…

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Endless, Loch Lomond, Wexford Carol, Dream Angus

Tracks:
01. Beautiful
02. Dream Angus
03. Endless
04. Be Thou My Vision
05. Portree
06. Wexford Carol
07. Wonderful, Merciful Savior
08. At Rest
09. Loch Lomond
10. Be Still, My Soul

 
Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer

November 12, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Instrumental New Age Review: Marika Takeuchi-Rain Stories

Release Date: November 11, 2014
Label: Indie

A little over a year ago Marika Takeuchi released an impressive album titled Impressions. Now she has returned stronger than ever with Rain Stories.

Her piano playing is outstanding. On the opening track “Rain In The Park,” her music is built around one simple theme (which carries through the recording) and it is mesmerizing. The track brings forth, excuse the expression, a flood of emotions. Its beauty is so overwhelming it nearly brought me to tears. It is filled with a bittersweet sadness however I was really awestruck with the emotion it hit me with. The entire album is pure magic.

Marika’s music is influenced by classical compositions and as recognizable as that is, it still comes out sounding like a gorgeous new age instrumental. Every track one after the other produces different feelings and moods of what rain can bring. It is all transmitted through the talented fingers of this young artisan. I think what she has to offer is a gift from heaven and we are the fortunate recipients to have the opportunity to hear all of these healing sounds.

“Raindrops” actually sounds like rain with the way Marika lets her fingers dance along the ivory keys. Rain can fall hard or slow down to a drizzle and I think she really captures the delicacy and flow of Mother Nature so beautifully within the song. As they saying goes…a little rain can fall in everyone’s life but once the storm clears there are the warm rays of the sun and blue skies waiting to reappear. The entire piece, while audibly pleasing, is and can be very symbolic in anyone’s life.

“Koyo” or colorful leaves are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. Marika brings the beauty of Japan right to you with this song. With rain and dropping temperatures we get the foliage that the fall brings. I enjoy it every year and it looks as though God takes a huge paint brush in the sky and paints the landscape. It’s a wonderful thing to experience the changing seasons and even more captivating when envisioned through music.

Marika’s music is tremendously picturesque and moving. As I listen to this type of music more often I realize that it offers so much for each and every listener. It can serve as a time for relaxation, meditation, or used as soundtrack music for films or plays. It has a multitude of gifts to offer and the only requirement is to hit the play button, sit back and absorb all the color, textures and sounds.

Rain Stories tell many tales built upon one simple foundation, what comes out the other side are many musical delights. The seed planted is about what the elements can bring and once that germinates there is so much more to take in and realize inside this beautifully performed music. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Rain In The Park, Raindrops, Koyo

Tracks:
01.Rain In The Park
02.Misty Night
03.Tears
04.Lost In Darkness
05.Alone In Dreams
06.Raindrops
07.Koyo
08.Memories
09.Snowflake
10.After The Rain
11.Into The Sky

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

November 11, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews