Monday, January 25, 2021

Dancing With Darkness By Bruce Petherick

 


Dancing With Darkness

By

Bruce Petherick

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something about the work of Bruce Petherick that ticks all of my emotional and musical boxes, I love the moody styled opuses that offer up much thought and reflection, and through this latest offering by Petherick entitled Dancing With Darkness, we have that and much more.

I recall the deep and meaningful tones of Winter Stillness from the artist back in 2018, and revelled in its moments of inner calm, and now with this new album, I am set free to explore another wonderland of thought and reflection within music.

The opening piece is idyllic and simply perfection, and of course is the title track Dancing With Darkness, this lush long form composition gives me plenty of time to wonder within the performance, enjoying all the nuances and mood filled moments, this for me was 12 minutes of my time gratefully spent in a performance that was warm, all-encompassing and extremely gentle in construction.

The longest piece off the release is On Being Present; this offers up to me what are indeed noble truths. Being in this moment is the most important aspect of our life, it is the only real thing we will ever experience, and this sense of newness gives me a 13 minute creation that is both meditative and all embracing, the lightness of touch by the artist on this track in particular is utterly beautiful to enjoy, with every single touch of the keys.

Giving thanks and being grateful is a daily mantra for me, in fact I am doing it right now, I am allowing myself to be so whilst I listen to the next offering, On Being Grateful. For me this has to be one of the most ambient performances upon the album, and one that I found hard not to just leave on constant repeat, there is a delicacy about this piece that I found so appealing, one that had such a careful but attentive flowing melody that just hovered within the floating confines of the arrangement.

The deep start to On Being Truthful to Yourself is sublime, it is like a musical statement, one of complete honesty. The depths of this 10 minute plus opus are wonderfully created and manifested with such a moving sense of emotion, one that is easily felt and deeply appreciated. Through this one simply blissful yet utterly honest performance on piano by Petherick, I feel like the observer of my life thus far, it contains the resonance of acceptance and tones of the undeniable truth.

How often is it that when a person asks you how are you today, you simply respond, I’m good thanks, when that’s clearly a lie. On Learning to Say: I'm Not OK we are liberated without really having to give a reason why; the fluency of performance here is something to truly enjoy, when one creates long form tracks sometimes it is easy to find yourself going off on musical tangents, sometimes this works, but not always, here Bruce Petherick gives us a track that is once again completely honest, but a piece that stays within the confines of its original manifestation.

As we arrive at the penultimate offering of the album we come across an utter gem entitled Summer Solstice Sunrise. This one is very personal for me, as my wedding anniversary is on this date, and as such means the world and more to me. The artists careful and extremely artistic endeavour here is crafted so well and manifested with such style, one could easily be there with him watching the cadence of the day unfurl, this is one of the most artistic and colourful offerings from this fine collection of tracks, also pay very close attention to the change of energy towards the conclusion of this composition.

Last year Bruce Petherick released Embracing The Darkness as a single, now we have the album version to enjoy, for me this was a wonderful moment of reflection through music that I thoroughly revelled in, and here on this fresh offering we can do so again, and of course by the very nature of the title, it also makes it the perfect ending composition off the album.

Dancing With Darkness by Bruce Petherick is a truly outstanding album, it offers us, the ever eager listener, a place of sanctuary to go to, it offers us a musical sojourn to explore when it’s time to reflect on life, but it also offers us some of the most meaningful and emotive performances to enjoy as well, and in my opinion these can be found in the best work of the artist so far on this latest release, Dancing With Darkness, this is one album that must not be missed at all costs.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Warrior of Light By The Song Gardeners

 


Warrior of Light

By

The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This has to be the most important single released this year so far, it is entitled Warrior of Light, you will find some very poignant lyrics within this superb single, so please listen carefully and then become that warrior you know you can be.

A smooth and beautifully produced offering once more, quality is something we have come to expect from The Song Gardeners, but this must be the most empowering piece yet, and coming at a time when the whole world, for one reason or another needs to heal. A smart and tranquil song with a ultra-positive message, all done to the backdrop of a truly beautifully performed arrangement.

The video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/501907093

The streaming/download link is here: https://ffm.to/qqpx8e2


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Aqua Luna By John Tinger

 


Aqua Luna

By

John Tinger

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The delightful energy that flows from this pristine offering by John Tinger on guitar is sublimely warm to bathe within. The fluent performance on this acoustic production is such a treat, and one that fans of this genre will adore.

Aqua Luna is seven plus minutes of a magical performance you never want to end, Tinger’s finger style is both precise and melodic and cleverly crafted as well, the musical narration is a story within a larger rock pool of tone, and one that I can see being adored by the instrumental lovers of really good music alike.



Monday, January 18, 2021

Water Sign By David Lanz

 


Water Sign

By

David Lanz

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can only be one pianist, who through the ages has consistently produced quality album, after quality album, one man whose attention to infinite details of performance and musical structure cannot be matched, and one man whose love of really good music has shone a beacon of beauty through every willing listeners musical windows, that man is David Lanz and 37 years on since Heartsounds, we have his latest offering Water Sign, an album which is about to take the solo piano world by storm.

The first tentative footsteps within this release can be taken by following the bright and effervescent enthusiasm of the opening piece, My Aphrodite. This is a song so very close to the heart of the artist and myself, as we both share two things in common, our lives on the island of love, and our own Aphrodite. This is the perfect performance on piano for us to set sail and truly enjoy the journey with.

The charm with which Lanz plays has had me spell bound for some years now, and if we listen carefully to the crafted tones and the care and attention to detail on the piece Sol Dance, we can see why. Here lies a clever offering, a little reflection, but the overall energies of a summers day unfolding into the realities of our lives is easy to visualise here.

The fluency of an artist of David Lanz’s standard is of course something to both admire and respect, when you listen to a blissfully serene offering like Ponte del Amante, it is easy to see why he has such a massive reputation, and a vast well of admiration from other musicians, this is a very romantic composition, and perhaps one filled with a hope of love, and bridges that may need to be crossed along the way; a truly remarkable offering indeed.

The trickle down beginning on Angels Falling set the scene perfectly, the following melody and sublime flow on this deeply attractive arrangement was something incredibly artful and picturesque, and dropped into the mix a delicate sense of reverie too, and as I contemplated the tone and timbre, I was once more entranced by what is a film score standard composition.

Now we take a journey within a journey as the next 6 pieces form part of what is known as the Water Sign Suite, the powerful and full flowing Wonder Wave starts this secondary sojourn off with the artist, one that creates lush musical currents and drifts into the eddies of Raindancer Returns, a piece that contains such delicacy, and a wonderfully melodic and pristine performance as well.

Being born under a water sign myself it would come as no surprise that I adore rivers, something we do not have in abundance in Cyprus. As Rivers Flow is a confident dance between emotions, refrains of happiness and sadness can be found here, with a little touch of Cristofori into the weave for good measure too.

The astrological energies of this album have not gone unnoticed, and are exemplified further with one of the most stunning songs off the album entitled The Water Bearer. This Aquarian delight is a work of genius, boarding on the lines of the classical and possibly even soundtrack in style, but as always that deft Lanz pause and performance, guides the track to its classy conclusion.

This pure stream of musical wizardly continues with the charm filled and wonderfully warm opus of Moonlight Lake. This is a timeless composition of a glistening radiance and one to just float with whilst looking up at the night sky perhaps; this is one of those peaceful moments of a performance on piano you simply never want to end.

Our last stretch of water to be navigated is entitled Neptune Dancing and ends this proud and graceful 6 part suite. There is a mysterious mood built in here that is wonderfully compelling and addictive to listen to, one that retains a sense of a deep mood, built with true Lanz mastery is more than it seems, the energy is increased to manifest an almost pop styled classic, one that perfectly sums up the proceedings tracks that make up this amazing suite, please also listen to the very end of this track, and yes I mean the very end.

There are times when you hear something special, and every inch of your musical senses screams at you and yells, that you have just heard something that will always be remembered and forever played through time, and this is what I feel now as I wander through the hallowed halls of the heartfelt opus entitled If I Could Write A Million Songs, I would have to add in brackets to the title “And If I had, I would write them all for you” this will become a Lanz anthem, and a much cherished moment of musical magic for sure.

Helen Anaïs is our next port of call as we swim forever deeper within the realms of the album; Anais which I believe can trace its origins back to the word Grace could be very well named indeed, the graceful intent of this piece is like touching a fine crystal goblet and experiencing the resonance, this is a sublimely delicate, but poignant piece by the artist.

Our penultimate piece off the album is entitled My Little Moonbeams and has such a sweet childlike energy to its textures, with elements of movement and dance, one can almost detect a slight hint of Beatles within this composition to, which is very classy indeed. Lanz plays here with his heart on his sleeve, in a moment of pure gratitude and unabashed love.

So we are here, we can now dock our musical boat and prepare to leave this jetty of sound, but before we do so we can enjoy the last gift from the artist and it is entitled Lover's Waltz, there is an interesting segue from the last track to this piece that I found fascinating, and one bathed in a wonderfully complete blissful reverie of tenderness.

Water Sign by David Lanz is the album we all needed so desperately to lift us out of 2020 and into the arms of hope in something better. Lanz keeps moving onward and upward, his creational genius is unbound, and his masterful performances on the piano must have been what Cristofori was dreaming about. Water Sign is an album that is packed with such emotion, passion, and tenderness, and has to be one of the most honest performances on an album I have heard for ages.



Now The Silence By Juan Sanchez

 


Now The Silence

By

Juan Sanchez

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There are a small number of musicians, that when they play and perform, you sit there utterly mesmerized, now this is my first time listening to the work of Juan Sanchez, but after three listens to Now The Silence, I can see with ease he would fit into that masterful category, as a storyteller of musical class with great simplicity.

This journey of piano with added instrumentation starts with one of the most emotive compositions your likely to hear, and entitled Very Young Old Man. This title moves me, as it is how I see myself, I may be in my early sixties, but the man in the mirror is still the vibrant 30 year old that once was, this is the soundtrack to my mental perambulations of those far flung days of youth.

The gentleness on keyboards on Luz de Luna is simply divine, the fluency here is so crafted, and the added inclusion of strings manifests something as gentle as an early summer breeze, one that drifts across the mountains on the first glance of a moonlit evening, a track of outstanding natural beauty indeed.

Now The Silence, the title track of course is our next offering, for me this piece really caught my attention, and I keep coming back to its tones time after time. Here is a beautifully performed opus on piano and one that excels in its energy of a mysterious nature, a track that creates a meditative ambience, but at the same time a haunting refrain also.

We now move to a track that seemed familiar to me and entitled Alma, for me the strings once again enhanced the overall composition, and did so dramatically manifesting a piece that for me, would be film score standard; the repeating motif on piano drew an aged narrative, one also touched with the element of reflection.

We have now arrived at the half way juncture, and as we do so we come across a light and easy offering called Woolgathering. Sanchez’s memory palace of a performance once more crafts images of a nature theme, one so soothing to listen too, and so easy to draw images from.

Our first tentative footfall into the second half of the album comes courtesy of this piece entitled Tolworth. I know a location named as such in England, this is as lush as that locality. The most crafted element of this track is the utterly stunning symbiosis of piano and ethereal vocals.

It is interesting that this next composition is called Idyllic, as it is how I would describe the entire album in one word. The track however, is a moving opus of strings and piano, melded together with love and a heartfelt intention, this is a piece that will literally caress your emotions, and allow your sorrows to fly free.

We are in the deeper waters of this release now and as we glide on our musical boat within these musical currents, we come across one of the darker arrangements from the release entitled Remembrance. It is the musical equivalent of sitting alone on a hill in nature, and watching the late autumn clouds drift past, whilst remembering the days good and sad of your life, a deeply moving offering indeed.

Our penultimate track is also our shortest piece off the album and called Siempre, which I believe translated to English means, always. This is a simple but very effective dance of piano and strings, one that is so effective at drawing a profound sense of kindness and good intent from the musical narrative.

So we arrive at the very last doorway to this wonderfully fluent musical sojourn and it is called Blue Nights, which at just shy of 6 minutes, making this the longest track off the album.  Blue Nights is one of those tracks that as a musician you hope and pray for, a perfect ending arrangement to an album, and perhaps even one that sums up all the pieces that have preceded it, the good news is that it succeeds with ease, and allows us to leave the album with a sense of peace, tranquillity and calmness.

Now The Silence by Juan Sanchez has to be one of the most soothing musical journeys I have been on for quite some time, each and every track on the album has been crafted to such a pristine quality, and produced with such a deep care and attention to detail. Now The Silence by Juan Sanchez is that album you have been waiting for to accompany those moments of meditative bliss with ease.



Friday, January 15, 2021

Kisahkihitin I Love You By Rhonda Head

 


Kisahkihitin I Love You

By

Rhonda Head

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I needed a boost today after some early negative news, so to hear this simply beautiful song by Rhonda Head, not only elevated my mood, but made me smile, a smile of appreciation, after all it is not often I get to hear someone singing I Love You in Cree, such an honour and a treat.

Rhonda Head with Kisahkihitin I Love You has manifested something here that we all needed to hear now more than ever, and brought us back to the seeds of humanity to do it. Here is a song of love sung across the boundless and borderless musical realms of time, a smooth performance, a wonderful textured vocal, a symphonic backdrop and a calming piano, now you can’t ask for more than that can you.



Monday, January 11, 2021

The Eighth Fire By Vicki Logan

 


The Eighth Fire

By

Vicki Logan

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The music of Vicki Logan is always inspirational, she not only makes her flute sing, she makes it dance as well, and that is a perfect statement with which to describe this latest offering by the artist entitled The Eighth Fire. Here is a single bathed in the fires of a Native American energy, and forged in the flames of her expertise on flute.

Her passionate performance on this single is sublime, and with an utterly symbiotic percussion, it the is the driving force, the engine room of the piece, it’s vibrancy alone is guaranteed to manifest a huge hit in the singles chart with ease, and is a track that most seekers of stunningly good music would be proud to have within their respective collections.


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Microcells By Claudio Casanueva

 


Microcells

By

Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can be no doubt that Claudio Casanueva has to be one of them most prolific and talented composers and performers in the Electronic and Ambient music field today, and here we have a rarity as the artist gives us a standalone album of two beautiful and unique pieces entitled Microcells.

There are artists that just seem to have that magical ability to create vast soundscapes at will, very few have a far ranging talent like this, but I believe on Microcells, Casanueva is easily up there with the likes of the UK’s Kevin Kendle, and US keyboard supremo Jonn Serrie.

This two track offering is simply perfection and one can float within it with ease, Microcells Part 1 has utterly lush synths, filled full of a soothing narrative that is an absolute joy to sonically bathe within, there is also a memory filled tapestry of a blissful wonderment here, and all wrapped up in one of the warmest performances to date.

Microcells Part 2 of this grand opus is like being on a spaceship itself, with the audio chatter, references to Area 51 and some clever and creative slices of selected audio that fit this more EM based beginning. This is a journey that is fascinating, and in a way, it is almost like being inside a musical documentary, one that I found deeply intriguing and fascinating to listen to. This is electronic musical prowess at its very best, and a truly intelligent composition that floated across the great divide on the galaxy with such consummate ease.

Claudio Casanueva is an architect of sonic mastery, a master builder of tone, and a creator of all that is good and classy in this vast realm of electronic and ambient music. Microcells is a two track album of brilliance by the artist, long form it maybe, but trust me, place your head phones on, press start, and it will be a voyage of musical genius you will never want to come home from, space music at its very best indeed.


Monday, January 4, 2021

Haze on the Mountain By Eric Chapelle

 


Haze on the Mountain

By

Eric Chapelle

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This amazing new release by pianist and composer Eric Chapelle is a slice of musical genius that best sums up the start of this brand new year for me, if this is the standard of music that 2021 looks likely to offer, then it’s going to be one of the best years in the business I’ve had.

Chapelle is on a roll, and has once more has produced an extremely classy work with his new single Haze on the Mountain, a piece redolent of the subject matter, and I should know, I have two mountain ranges not that far from my home.

The flow is utterly beautiful, the composition, creation, symphonic gestures, string work and piano manifestations are sublime, with elements of Grieg’s Morning and even touches of Philip Glass. This is a master work by Eric Chapelle and a guaranteed Neo-Classical chart hit for certain, if I have ever heard one.



Monday, December 28, 2020

NEWT [At Whose Feet is Eternity] By Anantakara

 


NEWT [At Whose Feet is Eternity]

By

Anantakara

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Anantakara (Phillipe Wauman) the man behind the music, is a specialist in creating lush and fantastical art works of sound and tone, and I have been a follower of his ever since I came across Momentum Lapses in 2018, and have been hooked ever since.

Here on this brand new offering entitled NEWT (At Whose Feet is Eternity) exploring the realms of Nut the Egyptian goddess of the sky and the night, we have a glorious new release that is as far wide and reaching as you the listener will allow, but this splendid ambient soundscape is a truly amazing mood filled journey.

The careful and almost apprehensive opening offering is called She Holds A Thousand Souls, the atmospheric construct here is wonderfully artistic, it builds and creates a vast dimension of tone to wander through, whilst In Whose Hand is the Always, has a totally different energy and style, and is at times almost classical in its progression and manifestation, the repetitive but growing and expanding mantra on keyboards reminded me of the late but still great Darshan Ambient (Michael Allison) in style, the compositions progression is an art form all of its own, in what is an extremely addictive opus.

Lady of the Sycamore our third piece of creative genius is a much darker offering, there is a sense of movement within the weave of this offering I find particularly alluring, and the structure of the overall composition continuously and symbiotically uses its electronic mastery, to bring us one of those tracks that is difficult not to leave on repeat for hours.

The longest of the 5 musical offerings is She Who Bore the Gods at well over nine minutes long, and employs a crafted musical narrative that is inventive as it is artistically sublime. At around 3 minutes in, the energy of the composition picks up and drives us head long into an arrangement that is like a veritable beacon of sound, and then allows us to pull back and float in its utter ambience, this would be my personal favourite off the album and one that reminded me of another late but great musician in Harold Budd.

The last track off this simply superb album is called One Who Hears; the composition has a sense of finality about its construction, which of course makes it the perfect ending track off the release, the keyboards and the performance by the artist here is so moving and deeply creative, and one that I could with ease listen to many times over, and still it would creative an emotive backdrop to my day.

NEWT (At Whose Feet is Eternity) by Anantakara is and was one of the finest electronic ambient works of the year, a year we can’t wait to see the back of in 2020. Here is an album that has five creative and very classy arrangements contained within, and in my view his best work so far.

NEWT (At Whose Feet is Eternity) by Anantakara is an album of stylish electronic compositions, created by an artist who I rate up there with Al Gromer Khan and Darshan Ambient, it is creative colourful and descriptive, and the ambience it manifests is simply compelling. 


Monday, December 21, 2020

The One World Music Radio Top 30 Tracks of 2020 Written by Steve Sheppard

 


2020 has probably been one of the hardest years for us collectively to endure, thank goodness for music the panacea to cure most ills, most musicians have been ultra-creative this year during the many and ongoing lockdowns due to the global pandemic, ones likely to stretch well into 2021 too, but this has given a plethora of opportunities for artists, even me, to create new music, whilst we sit at home and stare at the freedom of clouds, and the rise of nature.

I have had time therefore, to create a top 30 of tracks officially for One World Music Radio, ones that have been heard on the station during the year and now are to be recognised as the media outlets top 30 listing, so let’s get this underway.

#30: Jim Ottaway with “Diamonds in the Rain” from the album “When Eternity Touches Time”

#29: Lissa Kathe with “By Nature” from the album “Harp Dreaming”

#28: Lynn Tredeau & Joseph L Young with their single “Broken Dreams”

#27: Michael Whalen with “A Metaphysical Morning” from the album “Sacred Spaces”

#26: Michelle Qureshi with “Shores of Atlantis” from the album “Within”

#25: Andrew Colyer with “Strings in the Ocean” from the album “Mists of Time”

#24: Rodrigo Rodriguez with his single “The Enlightened Face Of Buddha”

#23: Jon Durant with “Tributaries” from the album “Soul Of A River”

#22: Joey Curtin with the single “From the Beginning”

#21: Anaya with “Cathedral” from the album “Secrets”

#20: Bernward Koch with “Lavender Fields” from the album “Becoming”

#19: Jaimie Black with “Violet Flame” from the album “Season Of the Witch”

#18: Holland Phillips with “Our Sweeter Days” from his album “A Momentary Pause”

#17: Hiroki Okano with “Mother River” from the album “Peace On Earth”

#16: Dulce Joya with “Yes it’s You” from the album “Devotion”

#15: Andy Rogers with “Skylark Above The Dunes” from the album “When the Land Meets the Sea”

#14: Prem Vidu with “Holy Devine Mother” from the album “Encounter: Medicine Songs from Ma”

#13: Pam Asberry with her single “Floating”

#12: Kirsten Agresta Copely with “Winterbone” from the album “Around The Sun”

#11: KeithTim Anderson with his single “Evermore”

==============

#10: Joseph Sullinger with “Drawn by The Wind”, released as a single from one of the most accomplished acoustic guitarists in the business, technically brilliant, creatively colourful.

#9: Samer Fanek with “Just Like The Wind” released firstly as a single, Fanek has time on his side to become one of the greats on piano, his flair, passion and musical interpretations will open many doors wide for him in 2021.

#8: Tayu with “Shores Of Atlantis” from the album “Incantation”, featuring the talents of guitarist Mark Barnwell, our surprise album this year on OWMR, but what a stunner, for one I hope to see more of Tayu in 2021.

#7: Vin Downes with “Oak Lane” from the album “Good Light To Go By”. Downes is an artist who you know always releases a quality album when the time comes, there is never a weak track and here is a performer that has all the abilities to reach the peak of the acoustic guitar world in 2021 with his emotive and memorable compositions.

#6: Wayne Bethanis with “The Return Of The Cherokee” released as single and utilising the talents on flute of the brilliant Marcus Sjöwall. Bethanis followed up his mega hit “Tribes Of The City” with another classy moment of genius, I see even bigger things for Bethanis in 2021.

#5: Chasm with “The Silence Between The Words” from the album “Wood, Wind and Skin”. This was one of those songs from an album that became so addictive in 2020, it is one of those magical songs that just has something about it, the construct of the minor and major elements with a wistful sense of refection made this song for me truly special.

#4: The Song Gardeners with “Love Flows”, one of many splendid singles from the new age band, but one that seemed to resonate the most with the station. It was a timely release, when we all needed to see the love flow as well, but the creative genius of this band leaves me to think that 2021 could potentially be huge for them.

#3: Roger Eno & Brian Eno with “Obsidian” from the album “Mixing Colours”. Here we have true mastery from the duo, that shouldn’t really be a surprise of course, but this track with its mysterious and unreal organ sounds created for me one of the most ambient pieces of music I have heard for decades, filled with soft reflective textures and great colour and mood.

#2: Kevin Kendle with “Laniakea” from the album “Deep Skies 6: Laniakea”. It was a long time in the waiting room for this one, but boy was it worth it as Kendle brings us his best Deep Skies album since “Deep Skies 2: Lagoon Of Eternity”, the title track here was filled with a deepness of power and grace, a rich mood filled melody would gift us one of the best space styled tracks of the year, and see the UK artist at the top of his game.

#1: Cadence Spalding with “Trust In Love”, a single earlier on in the year, but one of those pieces of music you could see being played at the end of a concert with people raising their lighters or is it mobile phones now, above their heads in salute of this absolute anthem. Spalding is lyrically perfect, compositionally sublime, likened to Enya yes, but in my view warmer, and my prediction to be the break our star of 2021.

So there you go folks, be ready from the new awards season which starts in January 2021, as we will see for the first time all of One World Music Radio’s awards given on the same night, in a huge evening of award giving, in the meantime, light is just around the corner, keep the faith and trust in love.



Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Fourth Candle By FLOC

 


The Fourth Candle

By

FLOC

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The new EP from FLOC which features the artists George Landress and John Clarity is now upon us and entitled The Fourth Candle. This superbly produced five track collection is a real joy of contemporary instrumental music to listen to. Getting the release off we have the fast paced but fluent opus of Coming Home to enjoy, trust me on this, use headphones to listen, you can enjoy all the textures and stereophonics so much more.

The Path follows, with a slight global percussive ethic, and is one that morphs into a more chilled out style once the 6 string bass of Clarity joins the dance; this is utter class and music to listen to on a warm summers day on the balcony, or perhaps by the pool, the distinct sense of movement within this track also layered an added dimension to the overall weave of the song.

My personal favourite would be the title track The Fourth Candle. The performances on keyboards by Landress and the sublime bass work of Clarity, brings us something so good and something that I haven’t heard the like of since Carpenters, Assault on Precinct 13 in parts, but there is even more here, as the construction of this grand musical narrative holds a blissful global ethic in its weave too.

The Pickins takes us into the latter half of the EP, and gives our ever eager ears something light and refreshing to bathe within, its overall narrative has a delicious eastern groove and mood to enjoy; the percussive arrangements here are extremely addictive, and create a layered chilled mood.

The acoustic openings of our penultimate offering Pull Me Up were delightful and created an opening to a piece that was as smooth as an early sunny Sunday morning, whilst the finishing song Pack It Up, beautifully manifested a perfectly tranquil, yet almost sensual vibe to the conclusion of the album, one that even contained a little rock ethic within its construction as well.

The Fourth Candle by FLOC is one of those releases you really never want to end; each and every track has been carefully created and produced to the highest of qualities, and more so, each musical narrative is openly accessible to all who like to listen to quality compositions and chilled vibes. Contemporary Instrumental music is such a vast genre to understand, but in my view The Fourth Candle by FLOC is a fine example of the best it has to offer.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Spirit Rising By ZEN Seraphine

 


Spirit Rising

By

ZEN Seraphine

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The strings and percussion, and the build and progression on this latest single called Spirit Rising by ZEN Seraphine, are both addictive and urgently compelling, this global pastiche of brilliance is simply stunning, it would be virtually impossible to keep still whilst listening to it.

The beat and very soul of this composition is so beautifully crafted, it is a joy to listen to, ZEN Seraphine has manifested something with a true heartbeat, the slow and purposeful construction is superbly arranged, and the added vocals layer that extra world feel, to what could very well be a massive hit single. If you like rhythm and a global feel to your music, this has to be a must to add to your music collection at all costs. 


Infinity By Javi Lobe & Fransoafran

 


Infinity

By

Javi Lobe & Fransoafran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The latest single entitled Infinity, by Javi Lobe & Fransoafran is a lush neo-classical contemporary musical moment of utter magic. I have bathed musically within the realms of this latest offering from the artists a few times now, and each time I do so, the beauty that flows from this composition is simply incredible and deeply moving.

Strings and piano combine to bring us one of the most fluent and reflective singles of the year. The idyllic nature of this piece and the performance that brings it to us is simply gorgeous, and should be a hit in the singles chart with ease if there is any justification in the world.


Realms By Stephen Weber

 


Realms

By

Stephen Weber

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It was truly refreshing to hear this new collection of electronically based arrangements by Stephen Weber today on the album entitled Realms, I had just been mulling over a few melodies with my muse earlier too, and I found a depth of inspiration from Weber’s beautiful compositions that may well help me.

The artist has created a fine array of songs here for us to enjoy, like the smooth opus of The Realms of the Cerebral and the Visceral, the opening piece to the release, one that seems to contain energies of movement within as well as creating a portal to a classy artistic realm of electronic music.

The whole album is rich in texture and tone, one of my personal favourites was The Terrestrial Realm, a place I would be more than happy to visit in dream time. Weber’s keyboards and synths manifest something quite tranquil yet equally graphic to float within, in this brilliant eleven piece album.

This is without doubt one of those albums that has that essence of longevity and timelessness about its compositions and manifestations, examples of this can be found on works such as the smooth calmness that can be found on The Realm of Memory, or why not take a moment to explore the inner workings of sound, with the quite clever and crafted opus entitled The Realm of Daydreams, another fine example of the artists in depth musical thought processes.

I am always open when listening to a new artist and a new album for the first time, but I am more than happy to say that Realms by Stephen Weber will be getting many years of constant listening and playing from me, this is ambient electronic music at its very best, an intelligent offering, one beautifully thought-out and composed, which makes it so very easy to recommend.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Immortal (2020) Orchestrations and arrangements by Ignacio Ramirez Performed by Matias Bacoñsky

 


The Immortal (2020)

Orchestrations and arrangements by

Ignacio Ramirez

Performed by

Matias Bacoñsky

 

The proud and empowering orchestrations of Ignacio Ramirez are akin to a beacon of light radiating upon the land of the two towers, his powerful arrangements early on in this track set the scene beautifully, and this full flowing and incredibly arranged piece takes the listener into the realms of a world that stands alone.

The tone and timings of crescendo are vital here, to bring us the ever eager listener a quality film score product to enjoy. There can be no doubt in my mind, and from my many years of experience in the music business, that I am listening to one of the brightest new faces of a new era of soundtrack music, composers and arrangers in Ignacio Ramirez.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Little Drummer Boy By Joey Curtin

 


Little Drummer Boy

By

Joey Curtin

Written by

Stephen Sheppard

 

In my view this is a little used composition when artists choose a selection of Christmas tracks for a single or album, so when the latest seasonal single entitled Little Drummer Boy landed on my desk to review I was elated, I have much respect for Joey Curtin, she has produced some splendid work during her career, and with this new release she can add to that ever growing list of musical success.

Her performance here is delightfully soft and respectful, but one that contains a steady onward movement, the drum roll and added keyboards also gives the piece a seasonal Celtic feel to the song as well. Curtin should be proud of this one, it is utterly addictive.


Reflections By Stephen Wallack

 


Reflections

By

Stephen Wallack

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

To be honest I am amazed that each year artists release a Christmas album and still somehow find a way to make the whole process and outcome completely fresh, new and exciting, this can be said nicely to sum up Reflections, the latest album from pianist Stephen Wallack.

The very beginning is a fine example of my aforementioned statement, Wallacks version of We Three Kings is bright, sparkling and extremely empowering, and the performance here is utterly radiant and uplifting.

I always look for something new, something creative at this time of the year and Wallack has gifted that to me with ease; take a listen to his rendition of Rudolph, a classic from every single Christmas I can remember, but here Wallack creates a new and fresh energy, in fact it is almost like you are hearing the song for the first time.

The tempo of this next offering, We Wish You A Merry Christmas is clever, it has a teasing slow to start, then bursting into life, the charming refrains and structure used here are truly crafted and once more outside the box, but easily recognisable.

We Three Kings is a memorable composition that just about everyone who loves this time of year will have their own reflections of, Wallack manifests something much deeper here than expected, his performance and the beautiful use of the minor chords bring us something quite emotive and deeply moving to revel in.

The journey continues with Away in a Manger, Wallacks arrangement here has that wonderful new age style feel to its construction, it has a gentle fluency, but a wonderful musical purpose to enjoy.

One of the most fun pieces at this time of year is Jingle Bells, here however is a totally different view on the composition, the slow and carful beginning is part of a crafted build and progression, which manifests one of the most colourful and beautifully performed arrangements on the album.

Frosty, well it never is here in Cyprus, but I can just about remember the days of building snowmen! Wallack brings energies of a reflective nature to this offering, but it’s one that also retains its original essence; this light hearted reverie is actually quite ambient to listen to.

The five notes most recognisable at this time of year probably come from the well-known and renown piece Joy to the World, they are here on this wonderfully light offering from Wallack, his performance is also a musical narrative that is filled with hope and happiness too, something we all need right now more than ever.

Our penultimate composition is a real anthem like opus, and of course called Oh Christmas Tree. Stephen Wallack’s ability here to manifest something new and fresh is simply riveting to behold, the keen ear and willing musical mind of the artist once more breathes a new purpose into a much loved arrangement.

The last track off the album is probably one of the most well-known Christmas carols of all time, so I must be referring to Silent Night and of course I am, what Wallack has done so well here, is not only to leave the album with a classic, but to add some creative nuances to the piece, whilst allowing it to retain its original overall form.

Reflections by Stephen Wallack is an album that most families would love to have playing on Christmas day, each is a memory palace to a personal place of reflection, and all are created with the love and intention that an artist of Wallacks standing can do with such ease. To manifest something clear crafted and deeply enjoyable is a wonderful thing indeed, which of course makes me think that it would without doubt make an excellent present too.


Stories By Stephen Wallack

 


Stories

By

Stephen Wallack

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Stephen Wallack’s last album Chapters stormed the charts last year and reached the grand spot of number one and deservedly so, this year, a year so difficult to deal with for us all due to the pandemic, has brought its own challenges, but to Wallack this global hiatus has no doubt given the artist much time to be creative, and indeed this new release shows a fine array of very classy and thoughtful musical narratives to enjoy, and collectively called Stories.

The sojourn within the realms of this collection of fine tunes starts with the slow but ever upward energies of the track Sunrise; the artist has it spot on, as we could easily listen to this offering whilst watching the yellow orb rise in the sky.

Rain is a wonderfully energetic track that literally falls down upon us musically with a sparkling reverie and a blissful shower of warm notes to bathe in, the performance here by the artist is truly uplifting and incredibly well played, one indeed has to admire the fluency here of Wallack’s style.

This is an album that has such a beautiful flow to its stream of charming music, and for me it’s always going to be about tracks like this next one that light up my heart, and called Children. The mood and performance is so moving and deeply heartfelt, that it is a pleasure to listen to and be dragged back in time to when things were just so simple or at least they appeared to be.

We now drift into the open arms of a composition called Excelsior, there is a feeling of a colourful grandness about the foundations of this glorious offering, but also one that is carefully created and played, the piano sings a song of a grand past perhaps, and the performance highlights that energy perfectly.

At the midway point of the album we gaze over the tor and look across this horizon of beautiful piano, to come across a track entitled The Dancer, this is one of the most fluent and exciting pieces off the album, one can picture with ease the dancer styling and profiling each and every move, to this quite breath taking opus.

My Love calms the waters and gifts us a moment of peaceful reflection to enjoy, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed this arrangement, it gained a momentary pause, a delicate hesitancy of breath and time to simply listen to the warm performance and bathe in this anthem like musical narrative, one that in my view is one of the top tracks of the release.

On our next presentation, I allowed the heart felt reverie of Cousins float over my senses and was very glad I did so, the artist has really excelled here, bringing us a moving moment of life’s rich tapestry, the change of pace and tempo highlighted for me the many memories we carry around and can access at any moment, this is one truly amazing performance to be enjoyed from the positivity it was created from.

There was a colourful moodiness about this next track that I really adored, the piece its self was called #8 and whilst I am unaware as to what this refers to, I am aware that there was something quite poignant about this track, that manifested a stylish sense of melancholy about its construction, one that as it moved onward, blossomed into something quite encouraging and anticipative.

I must admit I am a bit of a fan of Monet, I now hope that this track is dedicated to his works of realism and modern art, something I like to create myself. I must admit I was deeply impressed with the melody of this track; the colourful nuances were delightful and perhaps even, the truth of nature!

Our last doorway to this musical realm now known to us as Stories by Stephen Wallack is entitled, and quite appropriately Goodnight, a musical look over the shoulder at life perhaps, and a respectful and maybe even wistful gaze at the journey thus far, in a clever and quite idyllic conclusion to the release.

Stories by Stephen Wallack is another step up the ladder for the musician, in my view it is his best work so far, and one that contains ten incredibly well performed and arranged offerings that draw in the listener, and never lets them go. If you are a fan of the solo piano genre, you really want to have Stories by Stephen Wallack within your collection post haste. 



Cosmic Dawn II: Star Child By Andrew Kinsella

 


Cosmic Dawn II: Star Child

By

Andrew Kinsella

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have followed the musical path of Andrew Kinsella ever since the album Evolution back in 2008, his impressive climb up the ranks for class acts electronically speaking has been exciting, and now with this new offering, in my view Kinsella has manifested his best work so far.

On the heels of the huge success obtained by Cosmic Dawn the first part of this collection during 2018, Kinsella is back with number 2, Star Child, something we all are of course; the beginning of this voyage of sound is incredibly impressive and called Nebula. The synths here swirl and transport us to this location with such ease and many comparisons could be drawn from the space works of Kevin Kendle on this opener.

Born of Light follows that stunning opening foray and what a beautiful piece it is indeed. The ambience and tenderness of this track is so prevalent and deeply touching, this is one of the most soothing musical narratives I have thus far heard from the artist, and I am sure you will be floating in a state of bliss whilst listening to it.

There is always a wry smile of pleasure that floats across my face when I see that a long form composition is about to come into my view, and that is what we are gifted when we reach the title track off the album Star Child. We are all but stardust, and as such we are all children of the universe, this statement has now got a musical soundtrack, it is one of the most exquisite arrangements your ever likely to hear. Star Child is fluency in perfection; the sounds of the keyboards almost create a whale like cry at times, that seem to fly across the great divide of space, in an ethereal composition that is simply timeless in its construction.

Vortex is a really compelling offering, I found a real depth within this piece that I personally found really endearing, and greatly attractive, this is truly masterful music that will elevate Kinsella into one of the elite electronic space music artist’s top 10 with ease. Vortex has a little Jarre in there as well and is one of the most addictive offerings off the entire album.

The shortest track off the release is the mysterious and deep Dark Matter; at just shy of three minutes it gives an insight into the multi layered aspects of the mind of Andrew Kinsella, short this track maybe, but as far as performance and production, simply top notch.

We have now entered into a region of space so far unknown to the gaze of humanity, and as such this track entitled Emerging is perfect for the occasion. From its gentle synth pads we can with ease see our vast craft appear from the nebulous gasses of a system we have just passed through, and as soon as we do, we view the beauty before us, the tones of the music break into a colourful and moving segment that leads us gently by the hand, to the final collusion of this most charming arrangement.

Ascending is now before us, this suspense filled offering morphs into something quite spectacular and eventually manifests into something ethereal and almost angelic at times. I must say I felt completely moved by this composition, it has been so beautifully created and musically drawn, and the synths are so delicately played, that it made it my number one favourite off the release, one that at times reminded me of Flame Nebula by Kendle, but lighter and less dramatic in texture. Kinsella has in my view manifested something here that is beyond special, it is one of the best compositions I think I have heard from this genre for some ten years or so.

As we move to the end of our space journey we arrive at a beautiful blue M class planet and decide to place our ship into a Higher Orbit, this will no doubt give our science officer time to scan the surface for life forms, without them being aware of us doing so of course. Now you see how easy it was for me to slip into Sci-Fi writing mode, and really it is no wonder when you have such excellent music to inspire you. At times there is a feeling of awe here that is mixed with a little reverence too, in what is possibly one of the most picturesque pieces off the release.

The sad part about listening to and reviewing albums like this, is the point when it all ends, and this is where we are right now, but the upside is that we go out of the album with a track that is just shy of nine minutes long and called Solar Logos, we end with something almost new age in melody, but bright and energetically positive in its overall construction.

As many will know, I’m a big fan of this style of music, I love what it brings to the mind and soul, and here Andrew Kinsella has done it, he has truly created a work of art that will never be forgotten, I do actually believe it, to be his best work so far, and Cosmic Dawn II: Star Child will become one of those landmark albums in many peoples collections. Kinsella has taken his time here, he has played with his heart and soul combined, and manifested an album that is destined to be a classic in this genre.