New Age Ambient Instrumental Review: Stephen Peppos-Celestial

Release Date: February 20, 2023

Label: Independent


will be the fifth release from Stephen Peppos that I have enjoyed listening to. His new-age ambient journeys are the musical chicken soup for the soul we all need.

There are eighteen tracks on Celestial. You get the complete treatment of the new age ambiance he so expertly produces album after album.

Ce·les·tial-Positioned in or relating to the sky or outer space as observed in astronomy: "a celestial body"

That is the primary term and title of this album. And beautifully illustrated on the cover art with a giant bright moon behind a tree. It was likely the stone age when the moon was that close to the earth, and what a sight that must have been!

I had always had a fascination with astronomy going back to when I was a little boy. That interest has never waned. It has become stronger over the years. I always look to the stars to feel a sense of wonderment about what kind of life could be millions and billions of miles away. It makes you feel small in the big picture of the universe.

Music makes a person feel whole, and at times the sounds put you into a trance-like state or in the space of meditation. Whatever your choice, instrumental music filled with synths, color, the tinkling of bells, etc., presented on Celestial, will allow you to move on to a different level of freedom and existence. For my tastes, that is very important to find that release point where the thoughts of the day melt away, and the focus is on the music alone.

If you are looking for calm, serenity, and the magic healing powers of music, it's time to take a trip on the "Celestial Highway." That is how this recording starts with that track, and it is a beautiful introduction to what you will hear and experience along the way. Track by track, you can take the journey with Stephen and listen to (what I call) experiential music. You, the listener, decide how the door opens and closes on this recording.

There are stars and galaxies so far away that we will never discover them, even with the most powerful telescope. Here is your chance to create your universe with the sounds to soothe and penetrate your being. Your mind and body become one with the music, and you can discover new worlds within your mind's eye and realize you could not go during a typical day without the help of this music. That is the point of music such as this, to step away from the norm and experience something out of the ordinary, relax, and recharge those batteries for another day.

Celestial gave me pause to reflect. All the layers of ambient keyboards reminded me of some of my favorite artists, such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, and similar groups. 

As all artisans were appreciated thousands of years ago, they are still today. People like Stephen Peppos are an intrinsic part of our lives and help to enhance our world. So, please sit back, listen, and let the chaos of our planet and perhaps your day, disappear with music from Celestial.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
March 16, 2023

01. Celestial Highway
02. Night Sky Revealed
03. The Sun Sphere
04. Ambrosia
05. Celestial Interlude part 1
06. Look To The Quivering Sky
07. Celestial Longing
08. Fields Of Stars
09. The 4th Dimension
10. Celestial Interlude part 2
11. Heavenlies
12. Celestial Joy
13. Wonder
14. Beautiful Cry to the Universe
15. Celestial Interlude part 3
16. Celestial Dawning
17. Celestial Traveller
18. Celestial Dance

Instrumental New Age-Meditation Review: 2002-Clouds Below

Release Date: January 7, 2023

Label: 2002 Music



Introduction from the artist: Clouds Below was inspired by opposites - contrary forces that depend upon each other to exist and evolve. The sun above by day and the moon at night share a magic moment when they briefly mingle before one yields to the other. 

Clouds drift along regardless of day or night, and they appear below when we soar in an airplane, climb above them on a mountain, or a chance to see them reflected in a pond. The songs on this album explore the beauty found all around us, above and below. The music reveals unexpected paths, inviting us to follow.


Are you ready to follow? It is another blessing when I can cover a familiar artist. Music is a gift to all humanity, and animals and plants enjoy it. Listening and following can be a spiritual experience; with this family group of Pamela, Randy, and Sarah Copus, that has always been the case for my tastes and needs. I need music daily to inject energy into my body and uplift my spirits. It’s like wearing a watch your entire life, then one day, you forget to put it on, it becomes a part of you, and you feel incomplete. Music soothes our souls and completes the circle of life. 

A family relationship like this is a beautiful thing to develop in music as they (and us) go on an aural journey.


I know that sounds prolific, and it can be for everyone. Walk through that door and find your “Soulmate,” whether that is a person, a cat or a dog, or the music itself. It can all be interchangeable. If there is a “Glimmering Hope,” you can find your “Landing.” It is not intentional that I find a connection to tracks like that; it just happens and makes sense as they unfold and dovetails into one message. I hope this makes sense to many of you. It’s not complicated if you just let the music and you become one. 


The ethereal layers and colors presented on each track on Clouds Below are meditative examples of new-age ambient instrumental music with an objective. For instance, the interspersing of a saxophone on “City Blue” gives you a glimpse into the eclectic world of the Copus family. The quiet storm of jazz creates an alternate universe and takes a listener elsewhere. However, it does remain relaxing and meditative. Each member’s contributions are significant and in sync from beginning to end. 


At the “First Light of Dawn,” the cosmos grants you another day of life on this beautiful planet, and as you take “The Flight Home,” the “Clouds Below” reveal the beauty and awesomeness of our world and the “Everyday Miracles” that we can witness. We must open our eyes, hearts, and minds and let the music in. It’s simple and direct, resulting in healing and a feeling of blessedness we cannot find anywhere else. 

The Copus family are gifted purveyors of magical instrumentations and sounds you will appreciate. Their journey as artisans continues, and I am grateful to join them on their cloud for a short time and rejoin them any time I choose, and so can you!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder

March 5, 2023


01. Soulmate 4:53

02. Glimmering Hope 5:38

03. Landing 4:16

04. City Blue 5:56

05. First Light of Dawn 4:35

06. The Flight Home 4:12

07. Clouds Below 4:33

08. Air and Light 4:26

09. Riding the Current 4:32

10. Everyday Miracles 4:28

Contemporary Instrumental-New Age Review: Orchestra Indigo-Requiem

 Release Date: March 10, 2023

Label: Independent


Last fall, I had my introduction to Orchestra Indigo-the creation of long-time blues artist Rick Randlett. His first album was titled Farewell To Memories. I was impressed with the musical paradigm shift that Rick successfully made. 

Now Requiem, his sophomore release, is ready for release. 

Rick Comments: Requiem comes from a lifelong fascination with the form, growing out of college performances of both the Verdi and Mozart requiems. In my version, I've tried to create the same flow and emotions without using any Latin text but with piano, synthesizers, and vocal sounds.


Those who can appreciate classical music's importance and timelessness undoubtedly appreciate what was accomplished in this release. And in some instances, listeners that enjoy contemporary instrumental, ambient keyboard-based, and new-age music will find appreciation with this listen. I can feel gratitude from all aspects; however, I am unfamiliar with Rick's inspirations that propelled him to a place of creative essence. After listening to his progressive versions, I understand his fascination and passion.  


I remained focused and relaxed listening to this fantastic concept and tribute to some great composers without previous knowledge. And therein lies the key for listeners who may be like me. If you can present a thought process or feel about anything and use music to make it come to life and be believable, then you have completed the circle and reached your goal as an artist. That is what Orchestra Indigo achieved on this release.


I felt transported from an existential plane to the ether in the eleven tracks. The dreamy synth sequences and wordless vocals felt regal and heavenly, making me think of centuries ago when incredible people created great classical music. Telling a story is very important in most music and challenging in instrumental music.


So how does a lifetime of the blues transform into something like Orchestra Indigo? I don't have an answer to that. I know one thing; Rick Randlett is a very talented individual who stepped out of his comfort zone, took a big chance, and created something beautiful that all listeners can enjoy and appreciate any time of day or evening. 


Requiem is quite different from Farewell To Memories. I did not know what to expect but was genuinely impressed.


The tracks have a nice flow, and I found it easy to get into that rhythm and sense what this means to the artist and realized what it became for me. I felt moved emotionally and spiritually. In essence, I found everything I hoped to see inside the music. That is all anyone can ask.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

February 23, 2023


01. Introit 4:00

02. Kyrie 3:34

03. Dies Irie 4:34

04. Hostias 3:29

05. Lacrimosa 5:12

06. Offertorium 4:09

07. Sanctus 4:00

08. Agnus Dei 3:43

09. Lux Aeterna 3:51

10. In Paradisium 3:27

11. Libra Me 4:46

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Robin Spielberg-All The Best Returns

Release Date: November 18, 2022

Label: ‎Independent


Robin Spielberg's All the Best Returns celebrates resiliency, hope, and the power of positive thinking. That is the first thing I read about this album before listening. This is the music we all need to hear and a message we should embrace. She is a world-renowned Steinway artist celebrating the release of her 22nd album.

I have always found appreciation, comfort, and joy in the music Robin creates. This new EP clocks in just under 20 minutes.

As the recording unfolds, you get a sense of this being the listen that will lead you down a particular path, which is an intent more strongly than any music with lyrics. It must reach out and grab you and touch you in some way. Right from the beginning of "In Search of the Forest Fairy," you find the enchantment that the artist is hinting at on the cover art.

The only track that hinted at any sadness was "The End of Summer." The sun's brightness will stay present in many of these fall and winter months; however, the temperature will surely drop. Depending on who you are, that is a gift because you are into winter sports or enjoy being outside regardless of the weather, or something you dread and would rather stay in a warm house and go out only when you must. Whatever your choice is, this song is relatable.

"Shche ne Vmerla Ukrainy" is Robin's gift to the brave and resilient war-torn Ukrainians as she performs their national anthem elegantly. I saw a video of some of the folks in Kyiv lining up to get water. They were smiling and said they had no intention of leaving. I had to look at myself and ask what I would have to complain about.

EP's do end much quicker, unfortunately, so you must savor each minute and give it a chance to process within your mind and senses. From the artist's viewpoint, it takes more of a compact focus. I can assure you that Robin makes every second count, so however fleeting it may seem, it sure is lovely.

Robin Spielberg is like a musical clairvoyant interpreting and delivering all the music through her fingers. The flow is smooth and natural, with exemplary production values. And everything about this music brings forth good feelings and hope. 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

November 6, 2022

Instrumental World-New Age Review-Diane Wheeler Dunn-Peace In Our Hearts

Release Date: August 31, 2022

Label: ‎Independent


The native American flute is very simple, earthy, and spiritual. That is one thing that never changes. I am grateful for that and talented artists such as Diane Wheeler Dunn. Peace In Our Hearts is her second album release.

I think Diane’s story is inspiring. She is a retired transportation worker turned musical artist with something to say. And she does so quite elegantly throughout this ten-track release.


The addition of additional instruments makes this music so complete and beautiful. There is a steel guitar, dulcimer, upright bass, harp, Cajon drums, etc. The flute leads the way like a spiritual guide taking the other instruments along to accentuate an already sacred path to enlightenment.

What an incredible healing the Native American Flute can be. It takes me to a different place than other music. I think of the importance of the Native Americans and how they lived. They treated mother earth with respect and took only what they needed. If only we had followed their way, we would not be in the situation we are in now with pollution of all sorts and the devastation of forests. I have a deep respect for them and always will. I cannot help but have these thoughts whenever I hear this music. While that carries a weight of sadness, I can still move forward and let this music work its wonders on my soul.

“Kaia Malu” has a hint of sadness about it. It is very placid, and it relaxed me. I suppose it depends on who you are and what frame of mind you are in when you listen. That is with any music; however, for me, there is a bit more thought and reflection that goes into instrumental music. And particularly music so earthy and sacred as this.

“Imaginal Realm” had a different feel and atmosphere. It was more of a methodical piece, particularly with the Grand piano. The flute is divine, and the keys were there to enhance the importance of the main instrument. The keys make their presence known, but the flute is out front, as it should be.

Those are only two examples of the diversity of this music and how the flute can encompass so many realms and invite the other instruments to partner cohesively.

Diane Wheeler Dunn keeps your interest from start to finish rather than lulls you to sleep. I am sure it can be used for meditation or general relaxing listening. For my ears, it engaged so many thoughts and feelings. I am grateful for the artistry that makes me feel so good and gives me hope. Every track is so different, and I think that is a significant accomplishment utilizing the Native American Flute.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

November 11, 2022


01. Petunias are Stars : Flute in F#, Congas, Ambient Pad, Acoustic Steel Guitar

02. Kaia Malu: Flute in C, Finger Bass and Ambient Pad (A tilde goes over the A in Malu)

03. Imaginal Realm: Flutes in A#, Grand Piano and Ambient Pad

04. Follow the Sun: Flute in Low D, Dulcimer, Acoustic Steel Guitar, and Ambient Pad

05. Float the Boat: Flutes in E, Panflute, Upright Bass, and Ambient Pad

06. Peace in Our Hearts: Flutes in D and A, Flute Ensemble, and Ambient Pad

07. Be the Flame: Flute in Low D, Cello, Harp and Jazz Guitar

08. Mystery in the Mist : Flutes in High C and High F, Ambient Pad, and Pluck

09. While the Rabbit Sleeps : Flutes in Mid A and Low A, Cajon Drums, Ambient Pad

10. Pause for Peace: Flutes in A and E, Grand Piano and Ambient Pad.

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Michele McLaughlin-Luminous

Release Date: November 25th, 2022

Label:  ‎Independent


This will be the seventh release I have listened to and covered by Michele McLaughlin. I had not given it any thought, but she must be the most frequent artist I have had the pleasure of hearing since 2015. Luminous, based on the first glance of the album art, gives the impression of something spiritual coming right from the soul. It is a commonplace for this artist, however. 

Her solo piano works are portraits of a grounded individual with the innate ability to speak to listeners through music.


Michele said this about the new release:

This is a special edition album written and created using a softer and more delicate playing style by utilizing some of the more expressive features of my piano in order to change the tone and timbre of the sound and to illuminate the more expressive aspects of how it can be played. In doing so, I was able to immerse myself into a softer and quieter style of writing to compliment the changing elements of my beautiful piano. The music on this album is themed around different aspects of light and dark.


And indeed, that does put it all into proper perspective. You will feel the sadness of "When You Hurt, I Hurt," and the ever-changing colors of the bright "Kaleidoscope" will lift your spirits. Thus, the experiential journey through the dark and the light. And masterfully depicted may I add. I am not surprised by this in the least. Michele has been one of the most consistent and on-point artists I have enjoyed.


This year, more than any previous, I have heard more sadness in the music. I am sensitive to what is happening worldwide, which certainly has much to do with my perception. I am not mistaken, however, as many artists have released "pandemic" themed recordings. The many pressing issues we now face on our planet reflect our times. Hence the music that you will hear will envelop your consciousness. Even though there is that element of sadness, we can always find hope and healing in this talented individual's simplistic beauty.


With Luminous, you will find the light inside just like Michele did. She offers you that doorway to where it is and helps you realize that music is just a tool to get there. We all have it inside, and some of our light has been extinguished by life events over the last three years that changed us forever. I feel blessed that I have not got sick, lost anyone, and kept my job. That doesn't mean I don't feel the world's pain daily and realize my mortality with each passing year. It makes me very concerned and sad.


Hearing Michele making her way through these ten tracks of instrumental contemporary grace and beauty puts a different perspective on everything. And honestly, that is the goal of any artist, so mission accomplished once again, Michele!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

November 1, 2022


01. Droplets of Grey 5:06

02. When You Hurt, I Hurt 5:12

03. Kaleidoscope 3:56

04. Shimmer 3:20

05. Moonlit Shadows 2:59

06. The Golden Hour 3:43

07. Luminous 3:09

08. Fireflies 3:37

09. Adrift 2:22

10. Lanterns In The Sky 3:40

Contemporary Instrumental Classical Reviews: Dream Cloud Orchestra-Nocturnes

Release Date: November 15, 2022

Label:  ‎Independent


Dream Cloud Orchestra is the music project of Michael King, a composer and recording artist. Nocturnes is his debut release.


Michael found a fascination with the progression of piano and then heard that same music set to a live orchestra. He endeavored to create Nocturnes to emulate that same sort of energy. 


Creating the entire album at home with the unique technologies we now have available was a key to accomplishing what he envisioned. When he saw some silent films accompanied by an orchestra, it amazed and inspired him.


Every track is complete with beautiful orchestrations, pianos, and synthesizers. Painting music onto a blank canvas and picturing the movie unfolding in his mind, Michael creates ten tracks, which encompass an hour and a half. Tracks like "Summer Night Wonders" and "A Slumber Journey" clock in at 10:57 and 13:33, respectively, while the curtain closer roles in at a substantial 14:55. Those three tracks push this beyond the typical 45 to 60 minutes most recordings are.


The strength of the music is well suited to an extended relaxation period, or I can see it used for soundtracks and other media uses. The absolute beauty in this music will give any astute listener satisfaction of time well spent.


I began watching silent films at a very young age, found appreciation for their art, and felt compelled to know more. I sought books about these artists, such as Chaplin, Keaton, etc. I can understand Michael's fascination with how the music related to what he was watching and how it added to the story and created another ongoing element of emotion to fit the scenes. Understanding that relationship helped him complete this project and attain the desired results.


In "A Slumber Journey," you will hear laughing to ensure the element of humanity is present. The laughing tone creates different moods that, in turn, go with the ever-changing flow of the music. The artist portrays his silent movie in his mind, accompanied by music. With the concept of the nocturnal world encompassing his thought process and the music to match, you have a blended script perfected.


At first, I was a bit daunted by the length of the tracks and was concerned I might lose interest too soon. That did not happen. The reason is that the artist created something so accessible and exceptional musically that you find it hard to resist listening to each track to its completion. It is all enjoyable and very relaxing and, at times, thought-provoking. What helped me was understanding the project, what inspired it, and the previous references to my similar interests. To enjoy this music to its fullest (not a necessity, just a recommendation), read the about section on Michael's website. It will give you food for thought before listening.


The fact that Nocturnes is a debut release bodes well for the future in music for Michael King and his Dream Cloud Orchestra.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

October 30, 2022


01. A Twilight Walk

02. Night Clock Waltz

03. The Gates of Dreamland

04. Summer Night Wonders

05. A Slumber Journey

06. Sleepy Dog Lullaby

07. A Mysterious Dream

08. Traversing the Darkness

09. A Handful of Stars

10. Slumber’s Wisdom