Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Tree Tales By Bernward Koch

 


Tree Tales

By

Bernward Koch

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Bernward Koch has been on my personal music radar ever since the release of Walking Through Clouds back in 2005, however the artists musical linage can be traced back much further to 1989, a time of great change in the world of music, skip forward to today and we are celebrating the release of this his brand new album Tree Tales, and what a beautiful journey we are about to embark on indeed.

The gateway opens as we turn The Key and take a step into a lush world of colour and tranquillity; one thing to know about a Bernward Koch experience, is that you will always get complete consistency throughout the whole of any project he undertakes, and at its conclusion you will feel relaxed, calmed and quite a peace.

From its mellow beginnings we move to a track entitled Inner Light, this would be one of my personal favourites from the release as I adore the interplay between major and minor so very much on any arrangement.  Here Koch does just that, and brings us, an offering that is both sincere and soothing.

Lonely Pinwheel is a fascinating track; there is a certain hymnal quality about its construction that I found most intriguing, but a piece never the less, that creates a steady onward movement within its overall presentation.

Just the title alone sets the scene with ease here; this next piece is blissful and called Warm Fall Sun. The soft palate of sounds behind the keys of Koch, are like watching an early morning October mist rise into the ether, this is a tranquil musical moment of genius that reminded me greatly of days of old, and artists like Mike Rowland and Stephen Rhodes.

The melody in this next piece will remain with you for hours after even just one listen; the piece is called Hidden Dream, underneath the layers of textured beauty lays a gem of a composition, one that contains a slightly mysterious ethic, and perhaps even a film score segment too, a very special creation can be sourced here from the artist.

Many create music about a lone tree, but I believe this is the first time I have seen one brought into existence about a Single Young Tree. I adored the hovering intensity here, whilst the artist almost carved out a presentation on the keys of such an imploring nature, one could feel the wind, one could sense the delicacy of this new tree, all in all, this for me was a remarkable performance by Koch, one that will stay in my heart for a long while to come.

When you reach the song Sweet Memory, you will have graced the half way marker, this colourful piece will allow you a moment of musical reflection, one that is done with such a beautiful hand on the keys, if this one doesn’t move you, I’m not sure will.

Hills And Bushes begins our downward decent from the green vales of musical magic, this is indeed a composition that contains a steady onward purpose, there is also something quite moving about the track as well, its under-pinned and respectful narrative, is dramatic in parts, but in the way you would gaze over a vast land from a great vantage point, a halcyon musical moment indeed.

The lightness of touch here on Free In The Air was so very palpable, whilst listening to this song I gazed from my studio window and watched a swift rise majestically upon the thermals, and thought to myself, this song is certainly a great soundtrack for this event; the freedom one finds here is so very calming, and so very effortless.

Beech Woodland is a piece that also moved me greatly, at times the piece wanders down the footpaths of nature with an almost classical feel to it, then it seems to drift into a reflective eddy, thus manifesting somewhat of a cinematic texture to its proceedings, without doubt this was one most enticing and colourful compositions on the album.

As we drift slowly down the stream we come across a sight so very pretty indeed, as we gaze upon A Rare Flower. This piece for me shows all the skill and expertise of Bernward Koch as he pulls from his magic hat of talent one of the most delightful tracks off the release, everything is perfect here in this world of trees, and a composition like this that floats on the cadence of the day, is a memory filled opus that will never be forgotten.

The skill set of Koch shows its many qualities on this next offering, as he brings us a slow and aged composition that offers up much knowledge and comfort and called Dark Old Trees. Whether or not it’s just that I am getting old myself now, but I loved this track with a passion, it contains wisdom, perception and sagacity, whilst the performance gives us a slow and carful presentation, it also delivers us one of the most meaningful arrangements on the album thus far.

Sleeping Leaves is out penultimate offering, where did the time go? It seemed just moments ago we set off on this journey of trees with Bernward Koch, for the artist to manifest an anthem like arrangement like this, at this juncture of the album is nothing less than genius. The bass here was also a vital cog in the wheel of brilliance, and for me it became a track that I just wanted to hit repeat on many times over, perfect in elevation and such a gentle crescendo too, an outstanding offering indeed, one for some strange reason reminded me of Pavane for a Dead Princess by Tomita, composed of course by Ravel originally.

The final parting gift from the album would be the piece Autumnal Landscape, our voyage has seemingly taken us to the very hem of winter, there is nothing quite like the beautiful scene of a late October nature panorama, and here on this moving construction of crafted cleverness, Bernward Koch leaves us with a picturesque and magical musical offering, the perfect choice to end the release with.

Tree Tales by Bernward Koch has to be the artist’s best work thus far, it’s his 15th album, and still like the trees, he grows, matures and constantly pulls masterful performances and creative compositions from his hat of magical manifestations. Here is an album that any listener seeking solace, comfort or perhaps a sanctuary of peace, would be glad to have in their collections, as Tree Tales by Bernward Koch is the epitome of all the is good in the world of creative instrumental music in the 21st century. 


Monday, May 23, 2022

Soft Harbour By Ethereal Planes

 


Soft Harbour

By

Ethereal Planes

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a fine art to creating truly good ambient music, Eno created the space in between spaces, Al Gromer Khan manifested a quietness of mood of a location, and G.W Deuter crossed both boundaries and brought peace and tranquillity to all of his listeners, here Ethereal Planes with this new single Soft Harbour, have painted a vision of an utterly picturesque ambient new age styled landscape, and it is easy to get lost within the realm of this masterful opus, but one I willingly would wish to do, I am on my 4th play right now.

The floating textures and keyboards build up a wonderful atmospheric mood, one so vast and all-encompassing, its dream like reverie is a delight to bathe within, and a home, or perhaps a musical sanctuary has been created here by the artist in a long form arrangement that is a sublime 13 + minutes in duration, Never a better time has been spent drifting on this tapestry of tone and tranquillity, in a manifestation of music you simply never want to end.


Gratitude By Mad Dog Blues

 


Gratitude

By

Mad Dog Blues

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It is so good to hear some truly organic Blues again, and via the medium of Mad Dog we can enjoy such a reverie, and what a fresh and inspiring number has been manifested here, called Gratitude.

The lightness of this new single is just what the world needs right now, and being grateful is something we should all express with abundance. The guitar on this single is sublime and brings a whole new look at the world of Blues, Roots and Boogie.

Mad Dog Blues have manifested a single here that is addictive to listen to and easy on the ears, it’s a song that I warn you, will be in your head for days after just one listen, and that’s exactly what any artist would want to hear.

 


Friday, May 20, 2022

How To Fall Down By Marcello Liverani

 


How To Fall Down

By

Marcello Liverani

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have been blessed recently, as I have had a few albums to review that have brought a blissful sense of ambience into my life, this new album from Marcello Liverani not only gives me that, but also takes me on a journey through some of the finest examples of instrumental music you’re likely to find, all this is on the album How To Fall Down.

I am of course very familiar with the work of this sublime artist, and the Italian composer of incredibly moving soundscapes is always a master in the art of creating sensitive and emotive moods through his creations, like the opening piece Chasing The Sky, a track I just had to listen to several times over this morning, or the quite breathtakingly beautiful A Glimpse, there are things in this life that calm the senses, this amazing composition would be one of them, it is so very easy to listen too.

There are six stunning tracks on this album, each and every one of them are inner dimensions of their own existences, rock pools of creative ambient constructs that drift and hover throughout reality, however I must say that my favourite of all would be A Fragment of Stillness, this simply splendid composition took me back to the great days of ambient music, and reminded me very much so of the late but superb Harold Budd in its performance.

The final offering is entitled Where I Come To An End and it is a fine example of Liverani’s musical intelligence, each and every note has a place to go, and a home to live in, and at times reminded me of Mike Oldfield in progression, style and intent.

How To Fall Down by Marcello Liverani is one of those albums I am oh so very grateful to have come across, it is a sublime collection of ambience meets piano, and in doing so manifesting a whole new reality of tone and vibration, one that brings a tranquil energy to the table with ease, but in doing so, the artist layers each note with a mastery that creates a veritable tapestry of tender musical textures, I would recommend this one very highly indeed.


A Letter from Mars By David Gómez

 


A Letter from Mars

By

David Gómez

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

David Gómez is a new name to me, so I was eager to hear the contents of this brand new offering from the artist entitled A Letter From Mars, at its conclusion I felt truly moved, the essence of the album was quite profound and would remain with me for the remainder of the day.

The opening piece is wonderfully ambient, yet has tinges of a reflective and almost mournful mood. I am referring of course to the title track, A Letter From Mars, and one simply has to respect a musician who places this artistic beginning of all canvases at the opening piece on the album; I have played this piece several times now and still I find It incredibly emotive.

The album itself is a 10 track collection of ambient piano with added instrumentation that carries with it a special energy, one that is akin to holding the keys to a memory palace of musical reflections, a fine example of that is the mood filled opus of Live in Another Life.

We can drift through the eddies of tracks like Spacewoman, a smooth and incredibly fluent offering that holds an emotional mood beautifully, or the light-hearted reverie of Thousands of Pianos Floating on the Moon, all just go to highlight what a sublime album this most certainly is.

The penultimate track also has a resonance of its very own with its symbiotic string and piano construction in the song Between Jupiter and Saturn, a piece that seems to coalesce around itself, and the concluding composition in Welcome to Nuwa, a track that holds textures and layers of a happier refrain and arrival within its overall arrangement.

A Letter from Mars by David Gómez has to be the most unique album I have had the pleasure to listen to this year by far. The artist creates an ambience to his music, which then manifest’s into a warm comforting pastiche of colour, where the listener can simply float and drift with the music as they wish.

A Letter from Mars by David Gómez is an album I would have in my collection at all costs, as this is a release that offers something different, yet still holds the security blanket of musical comfort firmly between its fingers.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mars Dawn By Shambhu

 


Mars Dawn

By

Shambhu

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I watched along with millions of others as the Mars rover began its voyage and eventual sojourn on the red planet, and having always been one who has wondered about the mysterious nature and realities of space throughout his life time, I felt the thrill of excitement vicariously through the journey on our screens.

Here guitarist Shambhu manifests that first morning on this new world for your delight, within the medium of his latest single Mars Dawn.  His guitar is a brush stroke of pure genius; rarely in this acoustic field will you find a performer with as much soul and connectivity as Shambhu.

This delightful offering is added to by a blissful cinematic and symphonic back drop of sound by Nathaniel Wolkstein and an outstanding performance on EWI/French Horn by non-other than Premik Russell Tubbs, whose joint efforts would reveal at its conclusion, one of the most impressive, artistic, and serene pieces of instrumental music of this year thus far with ease.


Morning Drops By Andrea Sertori


Morning Drops

By

Andrea Sertori

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something so very calming about this new solo piano release by Andrea Sertori entitled Morning Drops; one can feel energies of happiness within the performance, it is as if one is literally watching the cadence of the day unfurl before our very eyes, whilst the simplicity of nature just creates its own melody, dancing to its own tune.

Sertori is a fine composer of great colour and fluency, and on this single he has once more brought into manifestation something both beautiful and serene, with this his latest work, Morning Drops


 

My Immortal By Matias Bacoñsky

 


My Immortal

By

Matias Bacoñsky

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

First before you listen to this new Evanescence cover of My Immortal by Matias Bacoñsky, please open up the art work to fit the screen, and then press play.

The effect is dramatic and poignant, the music and performance by Bacoñsky doubly so, the artists ability to bring drama, colour and intensity into a project us almost unparalleled in this genre.

My Immortal by Matias Bacoñsky is a profound new single by the artist that will leave the listener like they have literally been taken to the location within the subject matter, and to have actually touched the hem of immortality itself, a simply outstanding cinematic and symphonic performance by pianist Matias Bacoñsky can be found here.


Embers of Freedom By Timothy J.P. Gomez

 


Embers of Freedom

By

Timothy J.P. Gomez

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Timothy J.P Gomez has been a musician of interest to me ever since the release of his album The Awakening way back in 2014, and since then I have eagerly awaited a new album release with absolute pleasure, however that wait is now over with the release of the artists new collection of songs entitled, Embers Of Freedom.

The magical art of creating great flute music backed by quality added instrumentation is a crafted exercise, but one done quite brilliantly by the artist, and on the opener we have a fine example of a symbiotic performance, one perfectly balanced by Timothy J.P. Gomez on Call of The Wind; the artist manifests an almost light rocky element with acoustic guitar and pertinent percussion, to gift us the perfect start to this new album.

We have all been touched, some of us literally by the pandemic, it certainly brought a huge artistic change in my life amongst many other aspects, and here on Embers Of Freedom we see another project birthed from the despairing and confusing times of 2020. On Dawns Deliverance we see another aspect of those days; the flute is imploring and almost crying out for guidance, whilst the guitar manifests some delicious minor chords to add colour to the moment.

Now we arrive at one of my personal favourites of the album with the track Rite of Passage, the tabla and percussive efforts added a wonderful flavour to the piece, but the guitar was magical in setting the initial scene, and almost reminded me of the opening chords to Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, which I know is perhaps a little bizarre, but the song itself, and the flute performance by Gomez was incredibly powerful and exciting.

Again on The Will To Soar the artist brings a solid foundation with the guitar to start our new journey on this riveting composition. There was a nice mixture of folk meets rock, meets native flute on this offering, that I found most attractive and a song that changed its intensity, flow and purpose, almost like the composition itself, as it breaks free from its original substance.

So carefully we tread into the second half of the release and as we do so we arrive at my favourite track off the album entitled Embracing the Storm, using the power and natural sounds of a storm, the artist creates a track that is so addictive to listen to and one that reminds me of an old Johnny Whitehorse album from 2006, that same sense of intensity is there in the artist performance, and that very clever use of percussion also created one of the most inventive and artistic tracks I have heard thus far from him.

Phoenix Rising continues our theme of a multi-instrumentational flavour, and here Gomez ups the tempo, and through the flute performance and percussion, we are gifted one of the most rhythmic tracks off the release, we were the Phoenix that would eventually rise from the ashes of this tragic event.

As we move ever deeper into the album, we come across a piece entitled Under Open Skies. Here is a wonderfully warm offering that contains a global feel to its overall musical narrative. If ever there was a single to be released from the album it would have to be this one for me, vibrant, exciting, a memorable melody, and all wrapped up with a world styled rhythm that is simply undeniable.

One place to seek guidance in times of trouble is from ones Spirit Guide, I must admit, meditation and such exercises helped me through the worst of those times, and here on this penultimate arrangement we have a mysterious yet sincere offering, one that through its structures and the performance of the artist, gives us something we will always need, hope, although at times it was hard to see where that is actually going to come from.

The last musical offering from Timothy J.P. Gomez is called Earth Unbound, a piece that has a sensitive, yet rustic mood to its overall narrative, the organic nature of this perfect concluding track is sublime at creating a mood that sums up the picture of the album beautifully, and it’s uplifting resonance perhaps reason enough for carrying onward and upward.

Embers of Freedom by Timothy J.P. Gomez is in my view the best work from the artist to date, there is a balance and flow here that is pronounced, there is an energy here that is incredibly artistic, and the overall message from the album is deeply expressive and incredibly cathartic, without a shadow of a doubt, Embers of Freedom by Timothy J.P. Gomez is an album that is going to create waves of excitement within the Flute genre and the vast realms of lovers of truly good music.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Fire By Sukha

 


Fire

By

Sukha

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The vibrational energies of this new album by Sukha are quite special and manifest a feeling of oneness and completion, and all within an uplifting nature of tranquillity and peace, so let’s introduce to you the two parts of the whole who make this mantra band so appealing, Nicole Fagone (Sukhmani), she utilises a sweet and tranquil talent that brings forth some of the most serene, yet heart felt vocals and Steven Fagone (Sukhman), who adds to the vocal structures of the release and creates some of the most tender tones on acoustic guitar I have had the pleasure to listen to for some time.

The expansion of mantra music has really taken hold recently; we are seeing a resurgence in this genre, one that reminds me of the early part of this century through artists like Deva Premal. This of course can only be a good thing, and with the opener we are gifted Om Bhavam Namah, this is one of the most ambient, yet utterly transcendent places with which to start our spiritual journey, the addition of Jared May’s Synthesiser was a stroke of genius, and added much to the already smooth and flowing composition.

The vibe of this next piece offered up a fascinating arrangement, a folk styled ethic can be heard here and the acoustic work of Sukhman, which is a key component to this manifestation of tone. This is an expressive and an impressive mantra, one entitled Om Vardhanam Namah. The elevation in tempo added a layer of energy into this piece that makes it totally accessible to everyone.

I still to this day adore the use of natural sounds on compositions, I do it myself from time to time on my creations, and a charming sense of nature is created by the bird sounds that open the piece Om Kriyam Namah. The symbiotic partnership of both Sukhman and Sukhmani truly became very evident here on this track, also notable mentions must be given again to May for his use of synths in this offering, and the quite rhythmic palate brought into existence by percussionist and drummer Tripp Dudley.

The longest mantra off the album, at well over 11 minutes in duration, is one of my personal favourites and entitled Om Daksham Namah. The guitar here is sublime in all its aspects, it manifests a wonderful mood between major and minor, and brings a further state of bliss when combined with the sensitive yet flowing vocals of Sukhmani, one must also add a big thumbs up for the addition of the flute on this track, a tip of the hat to Amar Khalsa for that. 

As we move into the deeper waters of the release now and come across a truly friendly offering entitled Om Ritam Namah, there was and is something about this mantra that is so warm and all-encompassing to listen to, the symbiosis between percussion and guitar worked magically here, and at times it even manifested an organic energy into the proceedings.

The penultimate offering before us is the mantra Om Anandham Namah. This would also gift us a fast based and folk driven moment of musical majesty to enjoy. The multi-instrumentational nature of this piece gave it a multi-dimensional manifestation, one that contained an imploring and passionate vocal performance from Sukhmani and one that drove the composition home with much intent and purpose.

Our last mantra is Om Varunam Namah, and as it would happen this would be another personal favourite of mine, I would have this resonating in my head for most of the day onwards. For me the combination of all the artists involved here worked beautifully, and the mantra itself I found so very uplifting and fluent, and without doubt the perfect piece with which to end the release with.

Fire by Sukha, it has to be said, was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had for a while, the musicianship within this album alone is sublime, and given the added talents of the two artists headlining the project, you the listener are onto an absolute winner here regardless of if you are into the mantra styled music that is created here or not, for here is a release that is picturesque, calming, uplifting and empowering, and totally accessible to all who have an open mind enough to listen.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Sambarama feat. Lao Tizer By Carbe and Durand

 


Sambarama feat. Lao Tizer

By

Carbe and Durand

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

One of the finest duets in the Latin acoustic genre is back with a bang, and this time they bring with them a supremo of the smooth Jazz genre in keyboardist Lao Tizer, and together on Sambarama they produce one of the most addictive songs so far this year.

The Latin vibe and rhythmic beat is a beautiful thing, with J.P Durand on acoustic guitar you have a master of his art, with the amazing Liza Carbe you have one, if not the, best female bassist in the world, and the smooth chilled grove that Lao Tizer brings on the keys, must surely make this single one of the biggest hits of the summer of 2022.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Eras Para Mi ft. Serena By East Collectors by Jimmy Østbygaard

 


Eras Para Mi ft. Serena

By

East Collectors by Jimmy Østbygaard

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something quite sweet and soothing about this new single released by East Collectors by Jimmy Østbygaard, the fluent mood swings the mind into a passive place of relaxation with great ease and the charm filled voice of Serena brings us to a beach of tenderness and tranquillity.

Eras Para Mi ft. Serena from East Collectors by Jimmy Østbygaard is a song that glistens in the noon day sun of a Latin backdrop, with a delightfully played acoustic guitar and a mood filled moment of love and happiness; it would seem almost inconceivable if this little delicacy is not a big hit for the artists.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Affinity By DM Ascension

 


Affinity

By

DM Ascension

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The new DM Ascension release Affinity must surely be the best chilled single of the year thus far, this smooth and deliciously ambient vibe is so listenable that one could just program repeat, and be in a state of bliss all day long, to prove that point I am now on my third play and loving it.

The keyboards and brass sections are completely harmonious, combine that with the sensual bass line and mesmeric percussive beat, and you are onto a total winner here. This song is one to take into the long hot summer days ahead, and a single that I feel could well be sailing high up the charts, an idyllic composition indeed, one to certainly kick back to.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Never To Return By Ryan Judd

 


Never To Return

By

Ryan Judd

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Ryan Judd is a composer of mellow acoustic guitar compositions that seem to have such a delicacy about them, that they create a meditative vibe whenever they are played. The soft and tender nature of this new single by the artist is therefore a most valuable addition to his ever growing catalogue, and entitled Never To Return.

The crafted and well thought out ambience of this piece is simply blissful to hear, and listening to Never To Return is like floating gently down the stream, and wondering if it all was in fact a just a dream. Smooth, calming and very beautifully performed; a single that needs to be appreciated and given as much love as it gives out, certainly one to keep an eye on.


Passages of Time By Eric Heitmann

 


Passages of Time

By

Eric Heitmann

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Eric Heitmann has been in full flow lately, his musical muse is operating on ultra-creative mode, and through this latest single it truly shows just how vibrant and yet touching the music of this sublime pianist has become.

Passages of Time is a mood filled opus of grandeur and charm, its halls of resonance manifest something so imposing and demanding to be listened to, but within this grand opus there is a layer of sensitivity as well, one that brings the whole project towards an arrangement of what can only be described as cinematic in stature. Passages of Time is a fine piece indeed, and one that should bring the artist a vast amount of success to the composer.


Moonlit Echoes By Eric Heitmann

 


Moonlit Echoes

By

by Eric Heitmann

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a time, an inner dimension of sight and sound, where this piece by Eric Heitmann entitled Moonlight Echoes can just drift on the ageless winds of peace and tranquillity. This new single, one that contains the lightness of touch on guitar by Patrick Zelinski, is brimming with the serenity of the moment, and as one listens to the overall construction of the offering, we can see it is so very redolent of the subject matter.

Moonlit Echoes is one of those tracks to shut down the day with, just to stand and watch the silver orb across the ocean is enough for me to be grateful, one that I am experiencing this halcyon moment, and two, that this simply idyllic offering is now in my life. An utterly bliss filled reverie of tone can be found here and simply deserves to be a hit.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

All For You By Melany Thompson


All For You

By

Melany Thompson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I do very much appreciated the opportunity that arose this morning of being able to review one of the finest piano with instrumentation singles I have heard for many a month, and called All For You, and by the simply outstanding Melany Thompson.

This cinematic soundscape is deeply moving, full on emotive and packed with such passion and positive intent; the orchestration was simply divine and hit the resonation button with me with ease.

Melany Thompson on All For You has manifested a track of pure passion from her own open heart, and in doing so, has created one of the best singles in this full flowing romantic piano based symphonic style, that I have heard for simply eons. If this isn’t a huge hit, then I will be shocked to my very core


 

Unraveling By Pam Asberry

 


Unraveling

By

Pam Asberry

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can be no doubt that pianist Pam Asberry has been making her way up the league table so to speak of piano composers, and must now rank as one of the leading components of her trade today, in this vast realm of what we call the solo piano genre, and this brand new offering entitled Unraveling is not only another giant step forward, but a hugely cathartic journey through something that affected us all, the global pandemic.

Her first footfalls into the album is the creation of the most powerful piece she has ever done called Storm Clouds Gather; this is such a poignant offering, one that shakes the cadence from the day, and reminds us of those early days of terrifying fear in 2020, her performance here speaks for us all, as we gazed out of our windows in trepidation, with only a sliver of hope as our companion.

The title track says it all, and of course is entitled Unraveling, the day when the world stopped us in our tracks, and the kitten of Karma pulled apart our ball of fluffy expectations. Asberry has a wonderful flow here, one that creates a tempest of tone and confusion, as bewilderment drifted on the waves of insecurity. This piece is almost classical in style at times, but once more Asberry pours her very heart and soul into this magnificent offering, with dramatic pause and intention.

This 11 track album is a musical narrative that will be very close to our own hearts and experiences, and the long journey we all took to just peak and the sun lit uplands drifting on the horizon of hope before us, tracks like Bluebird as nature cared little about the pandemic, other than those pesky humans were out of the way, Dark Places, that all who visited those dungeons of depression and anxiety of those days will remember it well, and Labyrinth, the war we all had to endure against Facebook scientists and conspiracy theorists, the utter confliction of those who were supposed to have our interests at heart, and who instead created a confusion that would seem to me, and perhaps the artist too, of manifesting a Labyrinth of tall tales and exaggerations that would inevitably lead us back to the start of the maze; an almost snakes and ladders performance can be found here from Asberry, on one of her most clever performances of her career.

However hope is expressed beautifully by the artist on the tracks This Time with You and Metamorphosis, two blissful compositions that highlighted the positive aspects of those dark days, and our hope of transformation into not just what we perceived as normal, but hopefully something much better and more considerate, these two arrangements specifically, are with ease two of the most emotive and moving compositions I believe Asberry has ever written.

Unraveling by Pam Asberry has to be the artist’s best work to date, she has taken something that affected us all, and created a musical interpretation of her feelings and ours too on the piano, and the result is a literal masterpiece and something to be deeply proud of. Unraveling by Pam Asberry is a healing journey of great significance, and should be purchased by any serious musical aficionado, on an album that you truly cannot be failed to be moved by, and is indeed ground breaking work from the artist.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Peace Begins With A Smile By Kluane Takhini ft James Hill

 


Peace Begins With A Smile

By

Kluane Takhini ft James Hill

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The latest single by Kluane Takhini has created a whole world of chill around the halls of the instrumental genre, as Peace Begins With A Smile is unleashed upon a desperate world, here is also a composition that contains the crafted brilliance of Trumpet performer James Hill.

This multi-instrumental moment of musical magic contains many crossover moments, from chill out to smooth jazz and contemporary, all of which can be found here with a delicate but classy performance on acoustic guitar, a serene but heart felt trumpet from Hill, and of course the magician himself, the composer Kluane Takhini, who brings this moment of musical mastery all together with consummate ease, a sure fire hit must be on the cards here for Peace Begins With A Smile.

Why not check out the YouTube video too: https://youtu.be/QtHCjrV9xw8


Monday, May 2, 2022

The Learning Tree By Mike Ian

 


The Learning Tree

By

Mike Ian

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Mike Ian has been on my musical radar for some years now and ever since his acoustic works in 2015 and I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every second I have spent in the company of his music, on this brand new offering entitled The Learning Tree, we’re about to go on a journey of musical exploration and much more, so let’s set sail on a sea of tone and delight with the artist.

The opening foray is utterly splendid, a little tabla lights our way into a progressive rock styled opus; the string sections added a wonderful layer of depth, but A Pirates’ Dream literally bursts into action at just under the two minute marker, in a track I rate to be the best creation thus far by the artist and his vocals doubly so, simply put this is one of the best opening tracks you could ever wish for to start an album.

Our journey is long and eventful, and as such, by the time we cast eyes on the shore of this next offering we are truly blown away with its brilliance. Happily Ever After starts with a wonderfully Celtic feel; the pipes were a bliss filled addition, one that drifted into the artists classy vocals on an anthem like composition; Mike Ian has pulled out all the stops here, on an album that will reign supreme in the eyes of the music aficionado, I must also add with regard to this specific song, listen to the very end as well.

Cast In Stone has a delicious New Age beginning with some floaty keyboards and then Ian’s acoustic nature kicks in, with a folk styled vocal that then manifests into something that John Young formally of Greenslade, Asia and now of course Lifesigns would be proud of; this has to be one of my personal favourites from the album. I have been fortunate enough in my life to have heard so much good music, but the vocal structures, combinations of harmonies, and minor major chords on guitar, make this one of the best rock styled pieces I have heard for many years.

However this journey of perfection continues with another classic entitled Hereafter, the gentle beginning was sublime, partnered with the soothing narrative this incredible song with its Beatles like ethic would morph into a song that Neil Finn of Crowded House would have been proud, and another anthemic master piece from Ian.

At the half way marker we come across a song entitled Next Stop Anywhere, a ticking of a timeless clock edges us into the offering, a chilled breath, a strum and then, a moment of acoustic magic to enjoy. This is Ian treading on home turf and adding a resonating rock vibe into the proceedings; a song that powers the listener along on a bed of such beautifully produced and arranged musical magic, and then adding that tearing guitar riff at around 3:15 was a moment of utter genius.

I could go on about this album for days; this is a style that I have loved for more years than I dare mention, so by the time we get to another master piece entitled Saved I am in rapture. The engine room of bass and percussion here really elevated the energy of this track, and the overlaid supporting and backing vocals added to some of the most crafted guitar performances I have heard for simply years, could I be listening to a hit single here?

The acoustic flavours of Letter To Home actually hit me emotionally, the content and song writing reflected partly my story, however in my case, time ran out of my home town, and I had nothing left to return to or for. However this grand and empowering rock anthem really resonated with me, the minor major effect was in full flow here, so was the rasping guitar adding so much determination and grit into the composition.

The penultimate offering of the album starts with a careful piano, and we’re underway within the dimensional reality of Something More Nothing Less. If any budding musicians wanted to understand the concept of build and progression of a track, then they need to look no further than this wondrous piece, one that at times reminded me of Mike and the Mechanics mixed with The Jellyfish, and that cannot be a bad thing.

We now see our safe harbour approaching on the horizon and as such the artist has one final song to gift us before we part ways, it also just happens to be the longest arrangement off the album at just under seven and half minutes long, and contains sounds of the ocean and a bell to signify our arrival at this last and most dramatic of offerings.

Shine On has to be one of the best conclusions to an album that I have heard for ages and a piece that would be the perfect final track at a concert with its anthem like vibrations. I recommending listening to this track multiple times, once for the sublime song writing, once for the outstanding musical production and performance, and then thousands of times over for the combination of an experience you will simply never forget.

The Learning Tree by Mike Ian is with ease the best album produced by the artist, it is one that has made its way onto my playlist of timeless choice, and it is one of the finest works in the rock and progressive rock genres I have heard for at least the last 5 years, this album is that good, is it totally unforgettable, and my advice to all those thinking about purchasing this album is, don’t think, buy it now, your senses will love you forever.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

Call of the Desert By Samer Fanek

 


Call of the Desert

By

Samer Fanek

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can be nothing better to broaden the mind than travel, a global perspective enhances the world view of a person, and should make them more understanding of the ways and traditions of societies that reside on this planet. That aforementioned statement is an explanation of some of the musical vibrations I have found within this album, as I come from the so called west, but now live in a Middle Eastern country, but life here in Cyprus is a mix of multiple cultures that I personally adore.

That colourful statement also enhances my view of this quite stunningly brilliant album from the artist, the journey through it starts with Call of the Desert - Part I, as our sojourn with Samer Fanek begins. This is one of the most cinematic arrangements I have heard from the artist, a full flowing mix of melodies and moods as we make our way across the hot sands until the next caravansary is reached.

Fanek is indeed an expressive and passionate pianist, but now surrounding himself with a multitude of instrumentation that touches the very soul of this region, a sublime moment of genius indeed. Listen to and enjoy the refrains of Nighttime Celebrations, and particularly enjoy the percussive addition, where a rhythmic pastiche of sublime class can be found, until there is nothing more left to do, other than to dance.

A more reflective piece can be found on the mood-filled and emotive composition entitled Where Did the Time Go. Time as it passes, leaves not a mark upon the hour glass of the day; it slips through the fingers and into the oblivion of an endless night. Here Fanek seeks to explore a slightly darker room with a view, the darkness is the well of memories, the view is what lies ahead; a powerful performance on piano can be found here, one that I found very profound and deeply emotional.

Into The Sun, when we reach this track we are minded that our location is one of the hottest on the planet, and this piece is certainly played with a fiery passion by the artist; a percussive power base can also be found here, one that when mixed with the added instrumentation, particularly the strings, almost gifts us a little Middle Eastern rock to enjoy.

The Old Arabic Shop is a wonderfully happy piece, one that reminds me of when we go to our local markets and enjoy the energy, the fun, the banter and excitement of the moment, when we meet old friends, share a coffee and have a chat. This is a perfect description of what I think the artist is trying to portray in his music here, and if so, he has captured this timeless moment of social interactive magic beautifully.

As we step with one tentative foot into the second half of the album, we come across an offering that contains a certain level of tension and expectation built into the weave of the arrangement, on Dramatic Encounters, the added middle eastern instrumentation here works wonders to build on that mood, and it seems as if the pace is building all the while, one which will of course will lead up to a spectacular conclusion.

Samer Fanek could have written this one for us in Cyprus, it is entitled Mediterranean Moments and trust me our day is full of them, this one suits my location perfectly, as it mixes both western and eastern cultures through its arrangement craft-fully, this full flowing rhythmic and addictive offering has a sublime sense of movement, laced with a textured tapestry of a deliciously smooth back drop of sound to utterly enjoy.

The deeper waters of this release are full of picturesque moments of music, a good example is Pleading to You, a sumptuous piano leads the way into a deeply emotive composition, the intensity here is sublime and the power of the moment through its wonderfully layered and interlaced global narratives, are simply a sight to behold musically.

We find our penultimate doorway creaking open to reveal the track Desert Rush, an apt name indeed as the tonal vibrations are amazingly powerful and commanding, the multi-instrumental nature and almost symphonic gestures here, manifest a piece with the capability of pleasing all that will listen to it, and enticing those into its realm who are testing the water into this genre, this is a breath taking cinematic opus that does nothing more that please with each and every note played.

We return to the beginning for our last offering as we reprise Call of the Desert - Part II, a more tempered composition can be found to lead us out of the album, but one that leaves us with many memories of our journey along the way.

Call of the Desert by Samer Fanek is without doubt the best work of the artist thus far, it has it all, the artist has embraced his roots, combined his motifs of east and west, and come up with what is without doubt his best work with ease. Call of the Desert by Samer Fanek, is an emotional roller coaster of a multi-cultural delight, one can almost smell the roasted nuts and taste the Falafel; here is an album that will take you to a place that you will never want to leave, a wonderfully inspiring album indeed.

You can purchase the album here:

Friday, April 29, 2022

Imaginary Trains By Michael Whalen

 


Imaginary Trains

By

Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

My journey through electronic music has so far taken some 50+ years, and I have been on this Imaginary Train ride through one of the most expressive mediums of music via varied genres, a multitude are artists and albums have come and gone, from ELP, to the amazing Rick Wakeman, from Isao Tomita to Vangelis, and more recently from Jon Serrie to Kevin Kendle, there are too many to mention, but from all of the above, I found influences of within this quite breath taking new release entitled Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen.

There can be no better place to start than the opening track, one of the finest in my opinion that Whalen has produced; for me it also became personal, pulling forward memories of a very painful train journey out of London many years back, that day in ‘99 Eno helped me home, within this quite emotional opus, elements of Kendle’s crescendo brilliance, aligns with a Berlin styled arrangement that hugs warmly a Vangelis moment or two, and for me makes Imaginary Trains, one of the most sublime starting pieces from Whalen ever.

Nothing like having a Grammy winner on board with your project, we have just got off the back of one with the sensation known as Ricky Kej, and here he is on track 3 entitled Across the World to Be With You, the production on this piece is phenomenal, and if you also add the classy and creative flute of Ravichandra Kulur into the mix, you have a composition that could with ease fit pretty much any movie soundtrack, simply put, it is that good.

Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen is an album that bears his soul electronically, that opens his heart for us, so that we may enjoy the process and the melodic genius that lives quite happily inside. It is an 11 track collection of crafted musical magic that must be respected, examples of which can be found in pieces like The Wayward Sun, a mournful repose into a soundtrack melody, the light but fascinating The Ribbon of Time, or perhaps the 80’s influenced Dream Together, a ballad to raise an open lighter and sway too.

There are also 4 added specials within the album, remixed versions of the track Across The World, one happened to include one of my favourite rock drummers in Simon Phillips, who I once watched pound the skins of The Michael Schenker Group back in the day, all of these remixes were perfection and wonderful additions to an already masterful album.

Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen is without doubt the best work of the artist so far, he has embraced all that he loves, and handed it to us on a silver platter, this is one of those albums that you are going to adore, for like the title suggests, you will go on an imaginary train ride through all you know musically, and Whalen’s wondrous collection of sublime arrangements, will be the perfect accompaniment to take along the way. This is not just a good album; this is the finest cut of electronic music I have had the delight to have sampled so far this year, a guaranteed winner without a shadow of a doubt.