Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dusk to Diamonds By Timothy Wenzel

 


Dusk to Diamonds

By

Timothy Wenzel

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have long been a fan of the work of Timothy Wenzel, I was Running Away in 2019, I rode with the Distant Horseman in 2016, but it all started with A Coalescence of Dreams back in 2012, and all the musical journeys in between have been sojourns of utter blissful contemporary instrumental music, now we arrive at one of the most beautiful collections of all time with the heart-warming release of Dusk To Diamonds.

This tale of plenty starts with the opening piece Ghost, a haunting reverie indeed can be found here, and I noted that the more I listened to this track the more I could feel from its delicate, but respectful arrangements, a memorable offering and one bathed in reflective nuances, so tender.

Listening to a Timothy Wenzel release is like Christmas coming early, as you know each and every track off this 12 track album is going to be just what you always wanted, like the almost folk style song  Opening, a redolent energy of less complicated times on sun kissed mountains, could be found here.

The title track is always one of my most favourite musical moments, it is when we hear the total overview of the album from the artist, and Dusk To Diamonds is a total classic, containing the sublime string work of Graeme Cullen on Cello and Jeff Haynes on percussion, if ever a track stood out as a fine creation in the art of contemporary instrumental music, this is the one you would point to.

Wenzel’s keyboards are his pen and paper, and each musical narrative has been cleverly thought out, much can be said for the sombre and almost classical tones of Our Stories, almost a Pavane of its time, hovering mournful strings and a wonderfully layered back drop of sound. This was one of my personal favourites from the release, and a divine Cello performance by Cullen can be found here too, it must be said.

Dusk To Diamonds is a journey across the sea of sincerity and love, and when we reach Ask Me To Stay, we find another incredibly moving track that has a nice build and progression, with a wonderfully melodic tapestry to its construction, a gentle performance, but one with a meaningful purpose.

The string sections on this album, like of Wenzel’s other works, are something to be truly admired, listen in-depth to this next offering entitled How Will You Know? You will find a careful beginning, but one that will unfold with a flute sound that is so tender.

As we step with great care and attention into the second half of the album we come across another personal favourite of mine in Enchanted, this mystical creation has a slight Celtic ethic to it, and a beautiful nature based energy about its construction, one that reminded me in parts of another great American contemporary artist in Holland Phillips.

Is it, we ask ourselves, time to Dance Forever, the clever percussive backdrop by Haynes added a layered dimension to this crafted offering, one that also contained the magical hands of Jill Haley in the mix, and this symbiotic partnership weaved it’s almost sixteenth century spell across my imagination; a wonderful combination of creation and manifestation can be found here.

 A track with a certain purpose is up next and called Awaken Me, at six and a half minutes this would be the longest piece off the release and rightly so, this may well go down as an anthem for the artist, its smooth tones and refrains spin a web of freshness and life across the window of the day ahead, listen also to the rustic vibes created by sublime violinist Josie Quick.

The mist slowly clears across the pathway to reveal a cemetery long since fallen into decay, barren branches of trees wave in the autumn wind, as we watch the Dance of the Dead. I just keep piling up the favourites, but this one is another stand out for me, and film score standard with ease, the haunting sounds and vocals are amazingly enhanced by the efforts of both Vicki Smith and the Teen Angels, this is a must listen to, leave on repeat composition, one that I shall revisit many times over.

The curiously entitled Fox and Butterfly is up next, this vibrant yet chilled penultimate offering sits proud as yet another wonderfully manifested slice of classic instrumental music, to date I don’t think I have found an album this year, that upon it so many favourite pieces sit, and yes, this is another one. Hats off to Jeff Haynes here, adding a wonderful layer of classy percussion.

Amazingly we have come to the end of our musical journey with the artist and we end this voyage with one final piece, and that track is entitled Walking So Sweetly, textures of music from ancient times and a gently weaved instrumental moment of utter dedication, Haley is sublime on this track, while Wenzel finishes with an utter top notch performance, bathed in complete honesty and love.

I had been longing to get my hands on a copy of Dusk to Diamonds by Timothy Wenzel and now I have, I feel I can state on the record that I believe this album to be the best work done so far by the artist. Wenzel has captured the art of composing reflective pieces with such precision on this album, that I believe the journey to its final manifestation may well have been a cathartic one for the artist too.

Dusk to Diamonds by Timothy Wenzel is a must have album for all lovers of truly good music, as wonderfully created moments of musical reflection can all be found here.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Future Shock By Michael Whalen

 



Future Shock

By

Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Future Shock by Michael Whalen has to be one of the most original released albums this year. Whalen, who is still fresh from chart topping success with his last offering Sacred Spaces, has created a splendid blended collection of fine songs, that range anywhere between progressive jazz to electro-funk and more.

The opening piece is our title track, the grand and all powerful composition entitled Future Shock, a mixture of driving synths, an all-consuming engine room of percussion, give us a undeniable opening moment of electronic magic, one that floats it’s manifestations between funk and chill out.

The slightly Jazzy motifs of Hop, Skip And Jump are truly addictive, and at times reminds me of a group from history that we all might know in the Average White Band, however Whalen’s keyboards and synths extend that further and almost into the realm of a Keith Emerson textured performance, this is something amazing to behold, and perhaps single material as well!

Smooth, sensual and layered, that is a fine description for our next track entitled La Hermosa Noche, lush and colourful Latin vibes are here, and the textured and tranquil global Jazz patterns really make this piece one of the most beautiful to bathe within upon the whole album.

Lights Of Home is a composition filled with expectancy, the gentle build and progression on keyboards is something one would have expected from Tony Banks of Genesis back in the day, then the saxophone break by Bob Magnuson was simply sublime; this tempered and soothing musical narrative would be one of my personal favourites from this wonderfully cultured album.

As we approach the half way marker we come across a song that is as radiant as the day is new, it’s called Memories Of You. This is one of those compositions that could easily suite a TV series as its theme tune, apart from that, the wonderfully fluent Jazz ethic here is so creative, and conjures up some really warming images of times past and times enjoyed.

Whalen’s love for Jazz and his own interpretations for it are well known and much appreciated, and on Poly Jam we find that utter uniqueness that is the very heart and soul of the artist. It’s time to push the boundaries with this effervescing and exciting offering, from funk to progressive rock, from ELP to Yes and back, this piece simply has something for everyone.

How can you ever come across a track like Miracle Mile and not utterly love it, bathed in the energies of Caribbean ethic, and swimming with the heartbeat of bands like the UK’s Level 42 or Spyro Gyra, with that ever addictive funky drum beat and percussive vibe, this is Jazz Funk at its best, with Whalen’s keyboards creating some of the most emphatic moments ever.

The light and artistic Morning Song is up next, one could with ease imagine playing this as part of a spring waking ritual in early April, this is a wonderful composition and a beautifully chilled piece as well, where one can enjoy the symbiotic partnership between Magnuson and Whalen on Sax and Synths, this track is a true breakfast anthem.

To grace us with a penultimate piece like Wanderlust was a real gift from heaven, its fast and vibrant tempo manifests a huge well of musical energy, and one has to tip the hat for an utterly outstanding performance on percussion by the simply amazing Simon Phillips, a man who if I remember correctly, I watched perform with The Michael Schenker group back in the early eighties, and rated to be one of the world’s best ever on the skins, whatever genre he performs in.

The last chilled offering off this quite breath taking release is entitled Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss, I mean what a great title. This has to be the sexiest arrangements off the entire album, here is a piece that exudes sensuality through performance, and of course, leaves you wanting more at its conclusion.

Future Shock by Michael Whalen is a journey of musical class you’re all going to want to travel, it’s funky and soul filled compositions are all produced with such quality and precision it’s impossible to resist, in fact resistance is entirely futile. The tip of several hats has to go here to his collective of stunning musicians including Simon Phillips (Drums &Percussion) Bob Magnuson (Sax and more) and Tony Levin Basses galore, each artist’s imprint of perfection is upon this album, and Michael Whalen’s sheer brilliance on keyboards has brought to the world one of the most desirable albums to enjoy this year with ease and named Future Shock.


A Wish By Fransoafran

 


A Wish

By

Fransoafran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Such bliss emanated from my speakers this morning as I floated for just under two minutes with the artist Fransoafran. This neo-classical moment of utter heaven is called A Wish, and I think by listening to this heavenly piece I must have made one this morning.

The composition is lush and deeply moving, the symbiosis between piano and violin was simply perfect, and my only complainant was I could have swam in this musical heaven for at least another two more minutes or even longer. This is music that transcends beauty itself, and another big singles hit for the artist surely.




Amethyst By Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

 


Amethyst

By

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran are back, and they have aligned themselves with the talent and skill set of Hans Christian on this brand new single entitled Amethyst.

It’s good to see this pairing back on the recording scene and embracing the singles culture with this sparkling new offering. There is so much here to adore, the essences of a fine new age composition are created with beautiful flutes, keyboards and percussion.

Amethyst as a song is a fine example to hold up as truly excellent contemporary instrumental music, its tones drifted around my room with utter freedom this morning, the compositional structures and artistic endeavours here should reveal a big chart position for the artists.



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Measures of Light By Wayne Bethanis

 


Measures of Light

By

Wayne Bethanis

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Wayne Bethanis has to be one of the most creative and passionate pianists on the planet today, his desire to manifest great and outstanding works in the industry is growing with each passing day and is well known, and with the arrival of Measures of Light, his latest album, we may well have seen that star rise to its highest point thus far.

To start with such power and intensity is not only a stunning thing to do, but the breath taking opus of The Legend of Tartaria is something one is more likely to see on the grandest stage of all, the movie fil score. Bethanis has elevated his performance here to one of an incredible emotive soundtrack of a starting composition.

Tuatha Dé Danann has all the Celtic charm it deserves, Bethanis manifests a soundscape for the original gods of Ireland, and does it with such an effervescent style, that it is hard to listen to without feeling every nerve on your body stand to attention. This glourious opus is bathed in a proud refrain from days of glory and happiness, and is a sparkling arrangement to lift us into the realms of a very well-known next song.

That next piece is indeed the world beating Song for a New World, a huge hit single for the artist, this is one of those fast paced, up-tempo offerings you simply cannot do anything but fall in love with. The performance is like a thousand stars all playing in harmony; this in short, is what really good instrumental music should sound like, a wonderfully paced piano and a sublime Oldfield like guitar, utter magic.

Wayne Bethanis now creates a tender moment for us all to enjoy, through the refrains of this next offering entitled I'm Always Here. Here we have a heartfelt track that simply cries honesty and unconditional love through the keys of the piano, a powerful and emotional illustration of classy instrumental music indeed, one that also contains utterly perfect crescendos too.

As we move into the second half of the album we come across a beautiful piece entitled Butterfly Cluster. This would become one of my personal favourites off the album. The performance on the keys is a perfect depiction of thousands of migrating butterflies, and I should know, a year back I stood within a coloured realm of a billion butterflies crossing continents, and this music would have been perfect for that amazing moment.

The curiously entitled Unexpected Prophet has a lush colourful and smooth feel to its construction; the symphonic moments only enhance this further, this is a delicate offering, but one played with a deep sense of respect and understanding of a far bigger picture of reality perhaps. I adored the performance on this piece; it is one of those that you never wish to end, and has that comforting ‘arm around the shoulder’ feel to its energy as well.

The shortest track off the album is These Years, the overall nature of this track is fascinating, in as much as these years have been very tough for all of us, but the music plays from a different angle, suggesting perhaps that these moments may be of far great importance that we at first realise. Musically this is a fun piece that in some way makes me think it could be used in a TV series, like Cheers.

Now, how can one not simply fall in love with the start of this next arrangement entitled I Will Return to You. A bell chimes and the natural sounds of water can be heard to usher us into what I believe to be one of the stand out pieces off the release. This is musical drama, bathed with a whole range of romantic overtones that makes it so utterly desirable; The perfect multi-instrumental album track, with a lush symphonic backdrop and the inevitable cinematic crescendo, a piece that I believe that even David Lanz would have been proud off, such bliss indeed.

This final offering you really need to listen to purely, when I say that I mean with no distractions. The Gods of the Egyptians is a tale told by the artist, with all the expected dramatic nuances of the region contained within. The wonderful global ethic with the Tabla and percussive instrumentation, created with the artist’s piano, is a track that is as addictive as the pyramids themselves, without doubt, if performed live this would be a moment of standing ovation with ease.

Measures of Light by Wayne Bethanis is without a shadow of a doubt the best work from the artist ever, the grand gestures, the wonderfully colourful musical narratives, are all akin to creating music that will allow you to travel with tone and tide through each and every track of this amazing new album.

Sometimes when we create something so vast, so compelling and so good, it becomes undeniable, as is Measures of Light by Wayne Bethanis. If you don’t buy anything else this year, make this that purchase, it will be one of the best musical decisions you will ever make.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Arrive and Disappear By Tom Caufield

 


Arrive and Disappear

By

Tom Caufield

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a wonderful sense of ambience created by the new album by Tom Caufield entitled Arrive and Disappear. Without a shadow of a doubt Caufield can count himself as one of the best acoustic guitarists of this modern age, and with this brand new release we can enjoy further, the beauty of this man’s transcendent musical creations.

I believe that the opening piece has to be one of the most layered and textured multi-instrumental acoustic compositions I have heard this year. Arrive and Disappear the title track, is both memorable and utterly smooth in its overall ethos, and allows us to enter the project with a warm sense of calm and tranquillity.

There are eight magical tracks on this new release to bathe within, like the transcendent Ommadawn. A track so soulful and emotive, I adored the mix of strings, and the constant energy of guitar that manifested such a soothing serene quality to the proceedings.

I adore music that tells a tale, one that weaves a narrative that one’s imagination can create something wonderful from, and I would recommend Tomorrow's Road with regard to that, a bright, but ever onward composition that is filled with hope and potential.

The penultimate offering off the album really deserves a mention too; it’s called The Little We Choose. The simplistic energy of this track and its respectful chords and notes makes this one of the most heartfelt offerings of the album, and easily one of those that could be left on repeat for hours.

We shouldn’t be surprised about the quality of a Tom Caufield album release as it is always bound to be totally top grade, but Arrive and Disappear may well have even found greater heights, its constant soothing narrative, it’s charming calm sense of tone, and the timeless performances of serene brilliance, all go to suggest that perhaps this is the best work so far from the artist and to be honest, if you’re a fan of really good contemporary instrumental music, then Arrive and Disappear by Tom Caufield should be in your collection at all costs.


Orenda: Breath of Angels By Dyan Garris

 


Orenda: Breath of Angels

By

Dyan Garris

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I had only be talking to a friend the other day about the lack of albums about Angels in the New Age music scene these days, when up pops this splendid new release by composer Dyan Garris, and her latest offering, a fine collection of beautiful tracks we can now know as Orenda: Breath of Angels.

This is the artist’s 14th album and her experience and fluent artistry, dare I say, may have seen created one of the best albums of year in this genre by far, with wonderfully flowing pieces like the opener, Every Time You Breathe feat. Juliet Lyons, VOX & Sherry Finzer, to the soothing narrative of the following offering Another Place.

The title track Orenda is truly something to admire, the keyboard performance by the artist seems to literally hover all around you, it is as if the very tones and timbre of this most marvellous composition, are touching your very soul; when I hear music like this I am filled with joy and abundance.

Here is a joyous album that takes us back to the golden days of classic New Age music, and I can see that this is going to be a real permanent fixture on my player of choice, as is the track Timeless Traveler feat. Sherry Finzer, a piece that utilises the perfect flute performances of the flautist once more.

This is an album that it must be said is utterly translucent, and its radiance shines with each and every track, and one that concludes with the beautifully named 5th Eye Trance feat. Rebekah Eden & VOX, this is one of the finest offerings of angelic ambience I have heard for literally decades.

Orenda: Breath of Angels has without doubt been created by an unconditional connection to the angelic realms, this is the breath of fresh air this industry needs, and Garris must be proud of this her manifestation, for it has set free the genre of New age music once more, and Orenda: Breath of Angels by Dyan Garris will be the flag bearer at the front of this new revolution of sight and sound. This album deserves the high chart placings, and the inevitable awards it will get, simply and breathtakingly outstanding.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Heart Awakening By Shambhu

 


Heart Awakening

By

Shambhu

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This latest single by Shambhu is like a ray of sunshine breaking in through an early morning window in spring. I have not heard a warmer performance this year, and the acoustic guitar of the artist is that musical embrace that just completes the day, and soothes the mind from its constant chatter.

Shambhu and Heart Awakening is one of the most delightfully comforting moments from the acoustic genre you could ever wish for, its slow and caring progression is like a musical panacea to cure all daily woes, and this composition sits on the edge of being a huge chart hit because of its outright friendly and loving connection to each of our open hearts.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Uto' Pians Vol 2 By Various Artists

 


Uto'Pians Vol 2

By

Various Artists

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I needed an ambient experience this morning, Wednesdays are a day of stress for me for personal reasons, and so it was the medium of music I sought to ease those concerns, and fortunately for me I would be taking a look at and reviewing this latest album, by a collective of various artists entitled Uto’Pians Vol 2.

Mirage by Raphaelle Thibaut started my journey of bliss with a short but scene setting offering that just floated towards me with a performance that was so easy on the ears. While the delights of the piece Temporary Shelter From The Storm, by Arthur Jeffes, truly created something wonderfully fluent and ambient to bathe within, this chilled presentation was simply idyllic.

Uto’Pians Vol 2 is a mixture of melodies and creations that contain a strong bond between piano or keyboards, and added instrumentation, but all manifest something very addictive and listenable, much can be said for the next offering entitled Optis Nocturne by Christopher Dicker, the piano here was simply delicious and that slight classical motif made this dish of music even more palatable.

My day grew better with each passing composition, For a Kinder World by David Wenngren took me to a place of sanctuary and serenity, while the multi instrumental nature of Hyperspace created a little mysterious energy, one underpinned by a lush and colourful piano, and I thank Christina Higham for that beautiful moment.

It was at this time that I had noted a serene sense of calm had now come over me as I continued to listen; when I reached Inner Sights I realised I was probably listening to one of the most diverse and creative albums I had heard for some time, Patrick Delobel’s creation a prime example, with a little Jazz motif and all mixed with a sense of light classical energy as well, a possible soundtrack in the making here perhaps.

The midway point is reached once the track Tree Spirit is opened. Again the sensitivity of performance here truly brings home the eastern motifs and meditative spirit of the track itself, and confirms once more just how brilliantly varied this release actually is, top marks to Feryanto for this minimalistic composition, which would literally explode into life just over the half way mark in the track.

Keep Shining by Midori Hirano is our next brush stroke of genius, the artist manifests something on piano I haven’t heard the like of since Revelations by Michael Harrison in 2006. Hirano pulls of a top quality performance, and this slice of progressive ambience brings us full circle when we arrive in the arms of our next artist in Marie Awadis, who brings us one of my favourite songs off the album with Raindrops, the hovering synths and delicate keyboards birth a sparking composition, one that floats across the infinite sky above us.

The beauty of releasing a various artists album is that each and every track will have its own specific signature; the keyboards of Dominique Charpentie and the offering Parasol bring us something soothing yes, but also something quite reflective of the modern era in melody.

Dancing Trees is as wonderfully artistic presentation, one brought to life via pianist Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres. The movement of nature and the energy of the wind can all be found in the artist’s splendid composition, while the warm and healing keyboards of Wilson Trouvé create a musical panacea to cure all ills with his delicate, yet homely offering entitled The Hours, this would be another of my personal favourites, it’s seemingly timeless refrains are a real pleasure to drift off to.

Oskar Tena delivers our penultimate track off the album with the piece Alive, there is a slight tension built in to this track that is really appealing, the apprehensive yet grateful piano based nuances lead us perfectly by the hand to the concluding song off the release by Valeska Rautenberg, her vocals partnered with a sombre and reflective piano bring about truly crafted and clever end to this album with You Are Everything.

Uto’Pians Vol 2 an album featuring Various Artists is a well thought out, and wonderfully worked collective of likeminded individuals, that have brought about one of the most varied and listenable albums I have heard for quite some time. There is indeed something on this album for everyone, and added to that, if you wish to ease back against the rage of modern day life, this album is certainly one that will help you succeeded in your goal to do that.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Quiet Path By Lynn Tredeau

 


A Quiet Path

By

Lynn Tredeau

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Lynn Tredeau is a very special talent; she is a quiet composer of heart felt and emotive compositions, ones that flow from this great reservoir of emotions to this ever abundant solo piano genre and its ever eager fans. The artist has now released her seventh album, and in my view it is one of the most outstanding works she has given us as of yet.

A Quiet Path is an album that is similar to my own view on life; we live our lives in a sequence of moments, each to be taken on their own merit, and to be enjoyed by being present and in the moment, and with each personal breath. The first track is a reflective but simple offering entitled Kites & Balloons, just listen and allow your mind to visualise the movement through the air of such things, and you will have it, beautifully simplistic, but so artfully played.

Dappled Shade does exactly what it says on the can, remember sitting by a river or a lake, just watching the day go by, the delight of watching the glistening fractal impressions as the sun kissed the water, and then the sunlight that drifts across the edge of the clouds that ease by. Dappled Shade is a perfection depiction on piano about those moments for me.

One that had me in rapture was Meadowlark, we get many of them here, and to just stand and simply watch them is purely a blissful, in the moment segment indeed. The performance is easy and light; one can imagine with ease the gentleness of flight and the happiness of freedom, through Tredeau’s composition.

We now move to a piece called Many Faces of Cassiopeia, this for me was one of the most emotional tracks off the album, I used to gaze up at this wonderful constellation as a child, one filled with so much wonder, and now as a much older man, I still do the same. Tredeau’s performance here brings a lump to your throat and a tear of wonderment to the eye, it is that good.

As we approach the half way juncture we come across a blissful composition that will literally transport you to another location entirely, and called Moving Mountains. This is one very clever piece that flows like the ever undulating hillsides, and rises across the ranges like the mountains themselves with such consulate ease, if this isn’t a piece that would raise your spirits I don’t know what is.

The nocturnal senses are now stimulated with this next offering entitled Hush of Night. This is one of those tracks that could possibly have been composed in the small hours of a dark winter morning, when sleep wasn’t an option that would come. This is such a meaningful arrangement that it truly moves me, I feel I have been where this music has taken me, to a place of solitude in tone and composition in the blackness of the night.

Lynn Tredeau is an artist who literally pours her heart out onto the piano, I have said so for many years, now and through the piece Moon Gazing we can feel that within its structures and arrangements. There is a wonderful elevation of intensity here as if the moon is rising while we watch, but also for me this is a very personal song that we probably have all been under the spell of at one time or another.

The gentle refrains from this quite idyllic track is truly appreciated, as we listen intently now to Rest a Moment. This is probably the most meditative segment off the album as the artists performance and her playing style, one that is beautifully measured and gives us not only something enjoyable musically, but a moment to breath and just simply be as well.

I had to smile when I listened to this track entitled Sunday on the Island. I adore music like this that totally sums up my life and a specific moment; I was only lying next to Chrissie last week, as we opened the curtains of another stunning Sunday morning, and we breathed in the bliss of a new day, a beautiful blue sky, and light fluffy clouds, just eased on by. The warmth with which this composition has been put together, is one of the finest examples of an appreciation of a simple moment as I have ever heard, and yes, I do live on an Island.

Our penultimate offering is called Saudade, this has to be the most emotional track off the album, the piece has such a longing, such an emotive refrain of a need to feel again, perhaps the love of something or someone, that has been lost for good, and through a heartfelt exploration of those feelings, Tredeau helps us deal with any grief in our lives through the one true healer in the world, music.

The last track off this quite moving and artistic album is entitled Aeonian, it is the perfect way to end this collection of utterly transcendent offerings, a moment of musical magic that depicts the immeasurable and almost eternal passage of time, one that seems to last for eternity. This track was also cleverly placed, when one considers the juxtaposition to that of the previous offering.

A Quiet Path by Lynn Tredeau is in my view the artist’s best work to date, and I know that can be somewhat of a clichéd comment, but I truly mean it. She has given us the best insight through to who she is as a person, she has worn her musical heart on her sleeve, and this utter honesty and truthfulness through music, has revealed possibly the best album she has gifted to the world with ease thus far, now this is what excellent solo piano is all about.



Monday, April 12, 2021

Twelvemonth By Pam Asberry

 


Twelvemonth

By

Pam Asberry

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is nothing quite like the expectation and then the final gift of a new Pam Asberry album, it is certainly something to look forward to, and something to treasure once obtained. The artist has slowly made her way up the league table of solo piano performers, and must now be regarded as one of the best of this modern era, especially after the huge successes of releases like The Presence Of Wonder and Moods, Impressions and Souvenirs.

On her latest release Twelvemonth, Asberry celebrates and dedicates the album to the memory of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, a remarkable woman and stunning composer and pianist from the 19th century. Here Asberry explores the essences of her style and manifests 12 brand new offerings bathed in the energies of the inspiration, birthed from a collection of works back then known as, Das Jahr (The Year), and composed in 1841.

From the very first offering entitled Snow, you will note the explorative genius of this project; I must admit to have played this piece now 3 times in one hour and I still want more, it sets the scene perfectly for the album and is one of the finest compositions created by the artist all time.

The 12 tracks wend their way through a musical year to bring you many twists and turns of both nature, time, tide and change, like the amazingly powerful offering Wind, with Asberry in unstoppable form, and the dance like Maypole, with its happy rhythms and joyous refrains, a celebration of spring that I still remember to this day from England as well.

The natural performances on this album are utterly riveting, take Sparklers for example, a piece that has a wonderfully fluent melody and narrative, and one can with ease see the fireworks of a day of celebration rise and fall in the night sky with ease.

This collection of crafted songs is a true pleasure to dive head long into, even with the more moody filled opuses like Lament and Shadows, two perfect depictions of the oncoming seasons and autumn’s chilling embrace, which of course lead into the last two winter based offerings off the album, the last being the quite emotive and warming Hope, simply the best way to leave the release without doubt and full of Christmastide plenitude and optimism.

Twelvemonth by Pam Asberry is in my view a ground breaking release for the artist; she has fused a multitude of styles that reflect the subject matter of a year through music, and in doing so stunningly manifested an album of quite amazing quality.

There surely can be no doubt that Twelvemonth by Pam Asberry has seen the musician embrace the artist within herself, and in doing so has leaped up the long ladder of success, with what has to be a must buy album. 


 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Reveal By The Song Gardeners

 


Reveal

By

The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can now be no doubt that The Song Gardeners have brought about, and are bringing about, a musical revolution in this new wave of New Age music, their latest single comes on the back of the huge success of taking the One World Music Radio’s Oneness Award.

Reveal is another step in the right direction for the band, who are Mary Gospe, backing vocals, Corrie Dunn lead vocal and piano, and with David Scheibner guitars and producer supreme.

The song sings of freedom and empowerment, and its uplifting and driving messages of tearing down the walls of indignity and empowering the people, through peaceful solutions are a breath of ultra-fresh air in the genre and there can be no denying that The Song Gardeners have just released what is going to be yet another huge hit on their ever growing roll of honour.




Carried by the Wind By Max Jeschek

 


Carried by the Wind

By

Max Jeschek

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It was such a delight to hear this track this sunny April morning, with the chaotic turmoil that the world finds itself in, it was a blissful four plus minutes, just to be bathed in a warming acoustic guitar, through the latest single by musician Max Jeschek and entitled Carried by the Wind. The smoothness of performance carried my concerns and worries away, and listening to those wonderful major minor combinations by Jeschek was an experience that I will, and must return to again later.

Carried by the Wind is a beautiful composition, created with such care and attention to detail, mood and emotion, and the performance by the artist was wonderfully warm, inventive and artistically sublime. Through this manifestation, Max Jeschek has made the world of acoustic guitar accessible to all who are sensible enough to listen to its colourful tones and I sense big hit will be blowing into the musical courtyard of Carried by the Wind.




Highland Road By Rick Sparks

 


Highland Road

By

Rick Sparks

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The first thing I did before putting fingers to keys on this review, was to open the single art work of Highland Road; I sat there and gazed at its picture and allowed myself to get totally lost in the graphic and the music combined, the rolling hills, footpaths and tarns, all seemed to magically be alive, and it was Sparks brilliance on creating this Celtic driven opus that got me there.

What I adored about this single was that he didn’t overdue it, and through Sparks great commitment and crafted skill set, he has unveiled a magnificent work of ambience, and manifested something in Highland Road that will appeal to all who listen.

A chilled, but memorable ambient moment of musical magic is here, and one that is ready to transport you to its location with consummate ease.




Equinox By Ryan Marvel

 


Equinox

By

Ryan Marvel

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I truly enjoyed this latest single by pianist Ryan Marvel; it had such a delightful energy about its construction, so much so it was utterly blissful. Equinox is a really clever track too, with so many musical influences and nuances contained within. The melody is both warm and charming and this is one of those pieces that Marvel will look back on in the years to come, and be proud of his creation.

Choosing a single in the packed solo piano genre is difficult on its own, but Ryan Marvel has produced something that has a great narrative and theme, and is musically accessible to all, I have a feeling that this slice of solo piano magic may well reveal a big hit for the artist too.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Ambientopia By Richard Ross

 


Ambientopia

By

Richard Ross

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

My love for ambient music is well known across the industry, inspired by the works of Tomita in the 70’s, bathed in the soundscapes of Eno from then onwards, so much so, even I now record electronic ambient music to pacify my artistic muse. Here with this brand new offering by Richard Ross, we see the artist, who is one of the most adaptable musicians around today, take a gentle and careful step through the doors of the ambient music library, and bring us ever eager listeners something truly remarkable in the genre.

Ross is a master of all trades with a skill set to be proud of, everything he touches as a producer is simply sublime. Ambientopia is his land, his dimension of electronic wizardry that we can now float within, and no better place to start can be found than with the opening track Liquid Spheres, a composition that caresses your senses, and covers with its warm embrace, your entire being.

Alpha Particles has that little touch of Vangelis within its musical clothing, the experience, especially on this track wearing headphones, is truly something to enjoy. There is a mood of movement and flow here that is delightful, and listening to this track is like listening to the very birth of life itself, from the very primordial soup of the universe and onwards.

As we move to Beta Particles we find a more relaxed sense of growth, one that seems to be evolving through a gentle persuasion of nature, the New Age qualities also manifest within this offering, and create a wonderfully floaty composition that can become quite addictive the more you listen.

The synths and electronics of Ross are so magnificent, that when we have the honour of embracing the all mysterious Theta Particles, we realise we have been gifted a vast open portal of music that needs to be investigated by our imagination, there is also a decided galactically crafted feel to this offering, that reminds me in parts of some of the more ambient spaces soundscapes created by UK electronic supremo Kevin Kendle.

Mnemonic Fractals is a far more curious track to behold, the chimes and almost hypnotic synth patterns guide us through the curtains of a really in-depth composition, and one that has a marvellous reality of a seamless chaotic energy that resides within its inner dimensions, yet within the performance by Ross, it is so well created and manifested that this could also become a sanctuary of sound for the listener to explore many times over.

Our penultimate offering is entitled Inverse Universe; here we have a perceived sense of a dualistic mood that is truly compelling. I have long believed, and still do, of a multiverse with multiple fractal dimensions that ride on into infinity, and for me I believe I have now found the best piece of music that supports that view. Ross gives us a wonderfully uplifting energy here that comforts and raises our hopes that there is far more to life that which we can perceive, a brilliantly clever arrangement indeed.

Now for our last piece entitled Monadic Plane, my studies in both Reiki and Chakra’s would come into play here, but I would like you to research this for yourself, and do so whilst listening to this track and of course the entire album, you will find it fascinating. The manifestation here is otherworldly indeed, and I would think that this is a track that would most certainly aid any meditational practice too.

Ambientopia by Richard Ross has to be the best ambient electronic album I had had the pleasure to listen to this year with ease, it is an exceptional body of work that for me will become a regular go to place, this work has multiple uses, an album that helps you relax and just be, to a release that aids creativity by manifesting a reality within music to allow the creation of artistic projects, and possible even more, which overall makes Ambientopia by Richard Ross a must have album at any cost.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Ultraviolet By Vicente Avella

 


Ultraviolet

By

Vicente Avella

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are times in your life when you come across the sweetest piece of music, and your entire being responds in a moment of absolute reverie and bliss. That moment is now, and the composition of great quality that has brought about the change is Ultraviolet from Vicente Avella.

The performance is idyllic and incredibly smooth, there is a real warmth here that needs to be embraced, I also felt that this musical journey was one that could possibly be described as being cathartic in nature too.

Simply put, there is everything to love about this new solo piano single Ultraviolet from Vicente Avella, and as such I see a big hit on the horizon for it.

 


Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Shadow Behind the Sun By Cu-Sithe

 


The Shadow Behind the Sun

By

Cu-Sithe

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a different style emitting from the New Age genre, I’ve really noticed its acceleration even more lately, and this mixture of Electronic music and Progressive rock is creating some very tasty music to be enjoyed by us ever eager listeners. The Shadow Behind The Sun may well be an example of this, by creator Cu-Sithe, (pronounced Q She), The Shadow Behind The Sun is not only an album to watch, but one to dive headlong into, as it has something for just about everyone.

A smart space styled intro creates our portal into this collection of great music, and the first glorious offering greets our ears with the track Through a Sea of Stars, a truly fluent composition with a segment of layered and textured EM patterns, and mixed with a little Floyd styled guitar ethic, it really is a treat and a fantastic place to start.

The shorter arrangement of Coming Down is now upon us and its diminutive stature time wise, is a complete distraction from the breath taking and powerful resonance piece that it truly is, one that drives us into one of the most amazingly powerful offerings on the album in The Eye at the Heart. Once more the keyboards and electric guitar magic of Cue Sithe work their spell wonderfully, creating for us a moving opus of colour through music, and the resultant piece is like mixing Oldfield with Floyd, and that can’t be at all bad.

The addictive nature of this next piece is something I think I will be visiting many times over in the next few weeks, and is entitled The Depths. The gentle efforts here actually manifest something vast, yet comforting, the electronic wizardly and guitar, wend their way through the very depths of a grand musical ocean; if there happens to be a producer of graphic seascapes reading this, then this title and track may well be one you might like to look at using, it is most certainly cinematic in quality.

As we glide into the second half of the album we come across one of the most dramatic tracks off the release and entitled The Swarm. A sense of movement can be found within this piece, and the synths manifest a strangely warm atmosphere to this arrangement. The guitar and pertinent bass line manifest what in my view, would be a good single to release; a very memorable offering indeed.

The ethereal nature behind Pulsar is fascinating and calming, but distinctive percussion can also be found here, in a track that seems to hover above and all around us. Note please, the slow but crafted build and progression of this arrangement, it is simply a wonderful thing to behold, and at times reminds me of the old style new age works of Medwyn Goodall.

The energy picks up for the next offering entitled The Birthplace of Stars. The space ethic is back and in full flow, and a vast array of synths build a piece for us that has an undeniably empowering soundscape to enjoy, we could easily be travelling from the heart of a super nova and into a stellar nursery with ease.

Timestream continues the irrepressible pace, and now the mixture of prog, new age and EM is complete within its musical construct. This is one amazing offering without doubt, and a really stand out piece off the release; the symbiotic partnership of electronics, guitar and keyboards is something to really enjoy here.

Our penultimate track is called The Long Grey Shadow, a really clever creation can be found here, the musical narrative is strong, the sense of a quickening, a fast movement and an arrival, can all be found on this highly rated and wonderfully manifested piece, and as we stand at the portal of completion we have the chance to start all over again, but please listen to the audio within this track, your own analysis will make this clearer.

The preceding offering leads us perfectly into the captain’s chair for this next and final arrangement called First Flight. The energy generated here by a full flowing electric guitar pushes us onwards and into regions of space as of yet unvisited by humanity, this is indeed an amazing way to leave the album, but one that is so good, it may well have opened a rift in space and time for us to perhaps explore even more.

The Shadow Behind the Sun by Cu-Sithe has to be the most original album I have heard this year in any genre without doubt. There is so much to enjoy and like about this release, the performance and production quality is perfect, each track artistically creates its narrative from start to finish without ever being too long or too short, and the whole album itself is a tale from beginning to end, so much so, that you really will never want to miss a single second of its brilliance.  There is in fact a story that comes with the offering, so you may want to read that as you listen for yourself to the whole album.

The Shadow Behind the Sun by Cu-Sithe is a thoroughly recommended album indeed.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Sea Energise By Julia Thomsen

 


Sea Energise

By

Julia Thomsen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

One of the many beauties that lay willingly in the arms of this tapestry of creation by pianist Julia Thomsen, and entitled Sea Energise, is the really attractive and smooth textured pathways of musical delight from each of the 6 tracks on this release, they will have you drift into a calm bay of tone with ease,and you will be bathed by the essences that float from those very arrangements.

The opener is the title track and of course entitled Sea Energise, and is the most beautiful composition that you will find to start any album that contains piano with added instrumentation, one that leads us off with great care and attention towards to the shortest piece off the release called Evoke, I found something wonderfully haunting about this offering that I adored, it may be less than two minutes long, but it is one that you would come back to many times over with ease.

The kindly offering entitled Beauty Inside And Out is now upon us, its gentle refrains highlight the wonderful sense of empathy within the music, and the cultured yet caring performance that brings us one of the most heartfelt and loving pieces off the album is appreciated.

One of my all-time loves is nature, so to listen to Nature Interlude as we draw near to the end of the album is a delight that’s bathed with a reflective reverie by the artist, and the hovering symphonic gestures are simply nothing more than genius, this would also be one of my personal favourites off the album.

The penultimate offering is entitled Starlight, the performance by Thomsen here does exactly what it says on the can, and gifts us a sparkling arrangement that manifests a star filled sky perhaps, in the imagination of the listener.

So we have arrived at the very last portal of the release and this inner dimension of musical class is called Blended. There is an ambience here that is delightful, the build and progression of this arrangement is something to really enjoy, and of course the perfect way to leave this collection of fine compositions.

Sea Energise by Julia Thomsen is one of the gentlest yet enjoyable albums I have heard for quite some time in this genre, the smoothness of performance with which Julia Thomsen has manifested this album has created a lush, colourful and extremely warm collection of songs to listen to, and it indeed should be a release that brings much happiness and calm to all who listen to it.