Friday, September 18, 2020

Love Revolution Arise By Freja Eriksen

 


Love Revolution Arise

By

Freja Eriksen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Fresh from the success of her last hit single It's Time - For A Sustainable World, Freja Eriksen is back with a brand new single entitled Love Revolution Arise. The lyrical content is once more powerful and what is more utterly undeniable in its statement.

The symphonic gestures and style, mixed with a little global ethic is brilliant, Eriksen’s vocal prowess is stunning, and the depth and passion that can be found within this brand new offering guarantees two important things, here is a song that will capture the heart and the moment, and secondly, a global hit that must be on the cards once again for the artist and rightly so, here is a message that really needs to get out there.


Altered State By The Song Gardeners

 


Altered State

By

The Song Gardeners

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I would think that any sane person who can see this world for what it is, and the occurrences that are happening upon it, would relate completely to the lyrics of this song. Who wouldn’t give to live in an altered state? One free from negativity and control, a place of positivity and forward thinking and happiness.

The Song Gardeners are on a roll at the moment with hit singles like Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu and the every brilliant Love Flows. Altered State keeps that classy momentum going, an upbeat and vibrant offering indeed, perfectly arranged and exciting to explore, Gospe and her team are totally in the flow here, and this new single has the words huge hit written all over it.


Sands of Time By Kerani

 


Sands of Time

By

Kerani

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Kerani is a woman on a mission to bring to you some of the most amazing neo-classical contemporary instrumental music her muse can bring, and once more she, who I like to call the female Vangelis, has succeeded.  Sands of Time explores a wonderful and wide musical narrative from early Greek philosophy, with the title track Sands of Time, an outstanding opus, to the lessons of letting go through the track Shores of Gold, a beautiful composition bathed in a colourful and sensual tone.

Following on from her last release Small Treasures, Kerani moves another step up the ladder with this quite breath taking new offering, at times utterly transcendent and always peppered with moments of cinematic bliss, this is an album of pure unadulterated quality, with tracks like the passionate Echoes of the Past and the blissful opus of The Touch of Love, these are but two pieces that will touch the very inner soul of the listener.

Kerani is becoming well known globally for manifesting lush and full flowing neo-classically styled opuses that melt the heart, and one can find this on compositions like Moments of Beauty, the arrangement and orchestration here is magnificent, as are the vocalisations, and of course my personal favourite the Road To Wisdom, a path I personally have been on for eons; the depth and textured brilliance here is beyond remarkable.

Sands of Time by Kerani in my view is her best work to date, the build and progression; depth and quality, and cinematic nuances are simply stunning, here lies an album of natural outstanding beauty, one created by a woman who is clearly in touch with her musical muse, and has honed all her skills to bring us a release like Sands of Time. This is one of those albums I would insist that you have in your musical collection post haste; it will resonate within you for decades, and bring you a sense of complete musical satisfaction at its conclusion.


Notturna By Raighes Factory

 


Notturna

By

Raighes Factory

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

If ever an album could be described as peaceful piano, this is it, this collection of fine piano compositions is one of the most beautiful I have heard for quite a few years. A stunning 25 tracks adorn this collection, and each and every one of them is a total winner.

Raighes Factory has many people working within its concept; let’s start by mentioning Dario Crisman, who opens the album with a melodic composition of lush classical motifs entitled La notte ci divise. Dario also gives us the penultimate offering entitled Scivolando nel buio, a delightfully slow and tranquil piece, which at times reminds me in style of the late David Sun.

One of my personal favourites off this mammoth album was this one, entitled I tuoi occhi sotto la luna. The gentleness here is profound, and took me back to childhood refrains from days of old, in a stunning performance by Alessio Zucca.

This is one of those albums that you will find yourself leaving on repeat for hours, it is so easy to listen to and allow the movement of the passages to just float around you; examples of such beautiful fluency can be found on La notte di lampi e tuoni, by Andrea Carri, Chiar di Luna by On Piano and Clepsydra by the creative Carlo Corazza.

The balance and energy that comes from this release is utterly blissful, creating such a mood seems easy for ThePianoPlayer, who gifts us Sogni d'oro and towards the end of the album, the colourful and crafted Sonnambula.

My personal favourite though was this one entitled Toccami, the tempo and the narrative of minor and major was utterly addictive to listen to; there was a wonderful flow to the performance by Luis Berra that simply won my heart over.

The moods within Notturna are many and cater for all tastes, a little reflective heart from Michele Nobler with Un Mare di Stelle, and a light and repeating motif to raise the energies from Ebe De Antonio with Brina, and an almost Debussy moment with Manuel Zito as he gifts us Notturno 69.

There can be no doubt that this super collective of pianists have brought us something dear and close to our musical hearts, another classy personal favourite for me was Aspettando Neowise by Claus Egan, a song that would transcribe to a movie with great ease.

The sensuality of the performances here is also part of this wondrous journey; listen to Crepuscolo by KeyPiKo, or the sublime delicacy of Voce di Luna by Maya Sand then add to that list of crafted emotive offerings, Ombre di Luce by Collettivo Armonico, all beautiful, sensitive and romantic.

As we move ever onward into the deeper reaches of the release we come across a composition that literally sparkles across our musical night sky, and called Fiore Notturno by Lorenzo Tempesti, a piece coloured wonderfully by its artistic endeavours.

The aforementioned Michele Nobler finishes off the album with her composition entitled Soli nella notte. This is a very classy and well performed last track that rounds off this vast album splendidly and with such style as well.

Notturna by Raighes Factory and the artists that are contained within the hallowed halls of this peace filled oasis of piano certainly deserve a standing ovation for manifesting one of the most serene and calming piano albums I think I have ever heard, it may be an old cliché, but there is truly something for everyone here.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Song for a New World By Wayne Bethanis

 


Song for a New World

By

Wayne Bethanis

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

How can one not just adore the works of pianist Wayne Bethanis, his emotional charged opuses, and his magical fluency is always enough to brighten my day, and this can once more be said for the latest single Song For a New World, which is to be released in October.

Boy do we need an anthem to spark us back into life, and perhaps this could very well be it, Bethanis is in irrepressible mode on this new offering, and one due to its multi-instrumental nature, specifically the electric guitar, almost touches the musical hem of a certain Mike Oldfield in style and performance.

A truly clever change in direction for the artist, and in my opinion one that could well land him even more success within the charts, without a doubt, you would have to say that Song for a New World is not just good, it is something truly special.


A Summer's Day By The River By Annie Locke

 


A Summer's Day By The River

By

Annie Locke

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

When I first heard this new single by Annie Locke it brought back so many memories of happy days with my family by the river, in fact rivers, many a sunny summers’ day we would be there, enjoying the moment and the views, and happiness abounded like a never ending august afternoon.

For me, when I hear Locke’s composition my mind is drawn back to those beautiful days, and this is indeed the energy with which this track is birthed from; one can feel the sun, the joyous moments of laughter and ripples on a gently flowing stream, as the reed beds danced in the soft warming wind, all of that and more is within Annie Locke’s stunningly transcendent performance on piano, on this offering.

There can be no doubt that this new single, A Summer’s Day by the River, exemplifies completely the artists ability as a narrator of idyllic arrangements, this one should be a huge hit for Annie its own right as well.


Confrontation with Fate By Tim Neumark

 


Confrontation with Fate

By

Tim Neumark

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Tim Neumark like many others during this global pandemic has allowed his muse full reign over his creational abilities, and it is working overtime. Confrontation with Fate his latest single is a mournful repose bathed in the classical style with a little new age in the mix too.

It is inspiring to hear this for me personally, as I too am in the midst of creating something reflective on solo piano too. Here the far more skilled and experienced Neumark has pulled out all the stops, and manifested a truly emotive encounter.

For me this dark reverie is so powerful and passion filled, but there is also a little hope built into the dominant arrangement too, Neumark has produced some amazing reflective and heart rendering material of late, and this falls firmly in that category as well, and as such it is a single that is almost impossible to stop playing, due to its addictive moving energy and nature.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Thinking of You By David J. Peña

 


Thinking of You

By

David J. Peña

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I had felt in the need today of something filled with a little passion to blow away the stresses and strains of 2020, and boy did I get that with this illustrious new album by David J. Peña entitled Thinking of You, with orchestral arrangement composed by Judah Earl.

We start this most emotive of journeys with a piece entitled Renaissance, this is a beautifully fluent composition that has a subtle hint and flavours of music from ancient times contained within. The build and progression here from its soft start is marvellous, and something to behold, and of course the perfect starting offering.

Serenity is our next port of call, something we all need these days, the performance is very mood filled and emotional, the symphonic gestures are most agreeable, and once more that attentive build within the arrangement is exciting to follow. If there was ever a track that could be used as a film score from the album it is this one.

Next up is a composition entitled Piangere Per Te which I think translated means “Cry For You”; my emotions were activated and I was taken back to the early 70’s and a track called Mockingbird from Barclay James Harvest. This is a truly amazing musical opus of great sadness and reflection, the strings and piano combined with the orchestration made this for me the stand out offering off the album, yes indeed, one of many.

On Wild and Free, there was a wonderful sense of lightness to the song; the energy of performance too was glowing and ebullient, this would be one of those pieces that you would request to hear played at a live concert. Peña’s representation here was powerful, cinematic and utterly brilliant.

On the horizon, we now see Smoke Signals Rising. The only problem I have here, is that just when I think I have heard my favourite track, then along comes another one and blows it away. This dominant yet moving opus has it all, a glorious orchestration that is sublimely arranged, and a compositional structure that just keeps you moving at full pace, almost like riding a musical horse at full pelt across a dusty prairie.

As we reach the half way juncture we come across a dedication with the track Good Day - Uzziah's Song. The tempo and construction here are beautifully crafted and an utter pleasure to listen to. Peña’s performance here is majestically delicate, but with a positive intensity to its narrative.

Grace sees us move into the latter half of the release. This is a track with such a sensitive nature, that it literally draws great emotion from the listener as we create our own images and beauty from the music. This has to be one of the most serene and compositionally beautiful tracks off the album, and one that just flows like an autumn stream in full flow.

We now move forever onward, and into a garden of musical delights known as Mystify, for me there was a colourful energy of an almost wonderland of a narrative, perhaps not one that Alice walked through, but this symphonic moment of genius reminded me greatly, of something we would have heard from David Arkenstone many years ago.

A moment of quiet is upon us at the start of this new offering entitled Farewell, the gentle and soothing piano manifests such a tranquil mood, and the hovering intensity of the orchestration gives us the perfect opportunity to ride the waves of this utterly transcendent composition.

Thinking of You, yes it is time to unveil the title track. This is the ultimate musical canvas with which the artist builds all that is around him. The crafted development soon flows into a soundtrack of a musical narrative, reminds me in parts of something we may have once heard drifting across the fields of the shires on the road to Rivendell. Here you will find a very classy composition, one filled with a performance that will rivet you to the spot, and demand to be listened to.

As we approach the last few musical meadows of the album, it is time for another dedicational offering, this time it is given to us as, Anaiah's Song. This one is quite a breath taking opus as it seems to be packed with joyous refrains and textured passages, which make this offering such an endearing composition.

So, we have now arrived at the penultimate offering off the album and it is entitled Yesteryear. I felt a certain familiarity with this piece, perhaps because I had been thinking about summer’s days with my parents recently, but yesterday does have its own soundtrack, and this is probably it. An upbeat progression can be found here, but one that morphs so cleverly into a virtual memory palace of melody and tone.

Our last port of call is on the shoreline of the album and is entitled Lighthouse. The tranquillity of the start seems to build like the waves around the lighthouse themselves, and one could easily envisage many small sailing boats with their sails unfurled scurrying around the bay, in what is simply the perfect ending song to finish the album with.

Thinking of You by David J. Peña is just what the genre of piano with instrumentation needed right now, it is jam packed with top class compositions and arrangements, it is overflowing with musical melodies that will be running around in your head for days on end, it is almost impossible to see a scenario where this album is not part of one’s musical collection, this release is that good.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Lonely Boy By Daniel Cook

 


Lonely Boy

By

Daniel Cook

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something really engaging about this new single from Daniel Cook; the title Lonely Boy may well speak for many of us, so listen carefully to the lyrics, the narrative is clever and poignant, sing it loud and sing it proud.

This acoustic guitar vocal based offering has a truly organic appeal; this is real music, a song from the heart, to the heart, with a few crafted chord changes to boot as well, adding a little extra flavour to the preceding’s.

This one will resonate with many people, at times like Dylan, but more emotive, Daniel Cook with Lonely Boy hits the spot with ease with the release of this new offering.


As the Seasons Change By Kinslea Rae

 


As the Seasons Change

By

Kinslea Rae

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This is indeed a very timely release indeed as we enter autumn, but this would be a single that totally entranced me for more than that one reason, here is a slice of solo piano that speaks volumes, and manifests great colours as it plays.

Kinslea Rae’s performance on this her latest single is so redolent of the subject matter, and each note that fell from her piano were akin to the layers of multi-coloured leaves that drop from the tired branches of aged trees.

She has a depth here that is sublime, a tempo that so very cleverly played, one that paints the picture of this beautiful change with ease. I would also like to give credit to her art work as well, on my first listen I just gazed at the graphic, listened to the music and I was there, top marks Kinslea Rae, a guaranteed hit.


Frankenstein By Claudio Casanueva

 


Frankenstein

By

Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The genius that is Claudio Casanueva is a musician that is as inventive as he is skilled; he is literally not afraid of taking on a single subject, and then from that pen, comes such greatness.

On Frankenstein his latest single, Casanueva manifests something so haunting and scary that you may have to play this composition with the lights on; the sound effects and spoken audio are brilliantly inserted to give maximum effect.

This is one of those electronic masterpieces that pulls you into its own reality and never lets you leave. Mary Shelly once wrote. “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” Here on this brand new single, Casanueva has given this child of music its first breath, his stylish arrangements have given it life, and one must say most urgently, this is one of those works you really do not want to miss out on.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Falling Leaves By Karen Biehl

 


Falling Leaves

By

Karen Biehl

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Autumn is always a time of mists and differing moods, the end of summer and the beginning of a long walk through the darker nights, for us all change has been thrust upon us, but the seasons still roll on by like sand dropping from an hourglass. This mood has been captured perfectly by musician Karen Biehl, who has taken the aspect of Falling Leaves and created something truly emotional and heartfelt.

The performance here by the artist is so redolent of the subject matter, and the full flowing passages are indeed a musical representation of leaves that are now departing and on a downward journey, as life begins to change again. I must say I have heard a lot of compositions about this time of year, but this has to be one of the best for absolutely ages.


Monday, September 7, 2020

A Momentary Pause By Holland Phillips

 


A Momentary Pause

By

Holland Phillips

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It is always a total pleasure to listen to the music of Holland Phillips, my earliest memories of his outstanding compositions goes back to 2015 and Daydream Alley, and I have been a fan ever since. His colourful and artistic ability to create such memory filled arrangements and truly moving opuses, still pleases me greatly to this day, and now I am elated to be reviewing the artists latest release A Momentary Pause, a 10 track collection of superb music to enjoy.

The beginning of this album starts with one of the most picturesque offerings the artist has created for some time in Upon Awakening; the delightful keyboards of Phillips manifest a wondrous song of new beginnings and fresh starts, as a soft late summer sun filters in through the curtains, in an idyllic opening indeed.

Whispers is our next offering and allows us the ever eager listener, to wander freely within its uncomplicated tones, the gentleness of the arrangement and the care and attention to detail by the artist is truly something to marvel at; this is such a soothing musical passage, that the quality of its compositional structure is like musical chocolate for the soul.

This next piece is Phillips in his traditional hunting ground with this fine melodic offering entitled Our Sweeter Days, the rise and fall of the mood to this track and the sheer emotional content is a blissful thing indeed, as are the subtle but clever chord changes that cleverly emphasise a reflective mood.

There is a certain mournful quality about this next composition entitled Stepping Stones, but one that also offers up a shining beacon of hope within its construction too. This is one of those pieces you might play when deep in thought about your next steps in life, and how to move on from what has just passed, this is a beautiful symphonic offering by Phillips that touches the very inner realms of the heart.

At the half way juncture we come across a beautiful flowing musical narrative called Dreaming on Ice. The sense of movement is incredible and one can feel from the arrangement an energy of wonder and possibilities, ones that are craft fully created on this most gracious and happy composition; the guitar sounds mixed with the ever onward piano was simply perfect.

As we take a tentative step into the latter half of the release we come across an almost mysterious offering called Palindrome. The musical journey on keyboards here is truly crafted and cleverly arranged, and gives us the ever eager listener, a momentary pause, no pun intended, to think and re-imagine our thoughts both forward and back. I also loved the hint of music from ancient times that seemed to flow deep within the weave of the composition as well.

As we move ever deeper into this collection of truly splendid songs we now come to the doorway of a track named Study in Patterns. This powerful opus certainly hits the musical spot, and the added tension and sense of suspense gave the piece a lush cinematic feel to the arrangement.

One of my personal favourites would be this one; it sits beautifully within the last few tracks of the release, and is perfectly placed to receive much joy from its listeners.  Casting Shadows is classic Phillips, that emotive sound, that mix of moods, reflective and joyful; they’re all here in one amazingly moving arrangement.

A Holland Phillips title track is usually something to really look forward to and this continues that theme with great cheer. A Momentary Pause is also the penultimate offering off the album, and easily a piece that could be released as a single too. The performance here by the artist is breath taking, if you ever wished to hear a track that sums up just who Holland Phillips is in the world of New Age music, this anthem like opus would be a perfect example of his cultured genius.

So sadly it’s our last piece for another album, it’s time to snuggle down your weary head, the sandman said it’s time for bed, and your dreams are waiting. We can do that by bathing in this last creative composition called Bedtime Prayers. This song is the perfect ending track; it has everything, a gentle refrain and also a grand but sensitive symphonic gesture, in a final and touching composition from Phillips musically inspired mind.

A Momentary Pause is Phillips ninth release and another perfect collection of wonderfully worked pieces from the artist, whom with each album becomes more creative as time goes by, as well as more colourful in texture and tone. A Momentary Pause will be one of those releases that will enrich your mood, and possibly even be the soundtrack to your life’s journey in reflection, it is that good and so easy to recommend.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Carry Me By Cadence Spalding

 


Carry Me

By

Cadence Spalding

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Cadence Spalding is back with a brand new single and probably the most emotive one so far to date, the soft piano progression and the heart felt and gentle vocals were sublime, they washed over your senses with utter pleasure, but the additional symphonic structures and segments added a beautifully lush layer to what just has to be another major hit single for the artist.

Cadence Spalding is one of those artists who musically cannot put a foot wrong, and with Carry Me, her ever growing legion of fans will be more than happy to rush out and purchase a copy, of what could well be classed as a Spalding anthem in years to come.


Metamorphosis By Attila Gibson

 


Metamorphosis

By

Attila Gibson

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It had been around a year since Attila Gibson’s music had graced my personal airwaves, so as you can possibly imagine the sense of pleasure when a new offering was on the horizon, and then the sense of honour of being able to write a review for it, and what’s more, I can say that this is one truly powerful collection of really good songs.

The best place to start is always at the begin, and waiting there for us is one of the most commercial and full flowing musical narratives we have heard thus far from Gibson, with the track Wise Men Don't Speak.

There is a wonderful sense of fresh energy about the artist on this release; you can hear it in the colour of his tones on tracks like Time and Space, just shy of two minutes but almost cinematic at times, and of an even shorter piece entitled Ryssa where we hear the sensitive side of the artist in a composition that seems filled with memories of the past.

The curiously flirty jazzy offering called Mind If I is up next, the offering creates a certain powerful mixture of emotions as it plays out its crafted and clever arrangement, almost at times mixing a Jazz ethic with a global vibe, in a wonderfully inventive offering.

Last Night is a beautiful opus that sets the scene with great style and class and could easily be the follow up timeline wise to the preceding track, the smoothness and care that Gibson performs this song with, is quite outstanding.

As we take one tentative foot into the second half of the album we come across the title track. Metamorphosis has a hovering sense of ambience about its construction that I adored; it plays with the cadence of the day then explodes into action only to pull back once again. I also found a hint of an European motif here that was fascinating; one could feel that this piece would not have been out of place on an old black and white movie. Title tracks are usually the apex of the album, and this one certainly is the grandest of them all.

Why Do I, may well be a question, but it also the title of our next musical port of call, again a blissful layer of sensitivity and reflection can be found here, one that builds gently and manifests a certain sense of musical strength, but never loses its structural energy of ambience, in what I rate as one of the most intelligent and well thought out pieces off the album.

So we are now in the deeper waters of the release, and as our boat glides through the reed beds of tone, we come across a track entitled Lady And The Cat, this may seem like a fun arrangement is about to explode onto the scene, but Gibson in fact pulls off one of his most moving and emotive performances in just barely 90 seconds.

I Wanted To is another reflective moment to enjoy, this is one area Gibson has embraced wholeheartedly, and here on this track he caresses that side, and partners it with his natural full flowing nature, one that will lead us happily to the door of the penultimate piece off the album entitled Ghosts Of Notes, now this is something to really enjoy, there is a darkness here that is truly pleasurable, it is almost like the composition is trying to pull from the gloom and into the light of day in a cleverly performed haunting composition.

As we knock on the door of the last piece on the album, we find a sensitive number entitled Hidden Pain, the mood here is thoughtful and artistic, and an ending arrangement that allows the listener a little glimpse into the reality of another life, one very craft fully played indeed.

Metamorphosis by Attila Gibson has to be the artist’s best work so far, his full flowing style is partnered by a heart-warming layer of gentleness, and the two energies combined manifest for us an album that is both utterly listenable, but also a perfect musical journey of great talent and passion.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Gratitude By The Haiku Project

 


Gratitude

By

The Haiku Project

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Each day I take a breath I am grateful for all that I have, and all the lessons learned and for the life I lead. Gratitude and being grateful is a huge part of my life, as it seems to also be to The Haiku Project aka Henrik Hytteballe as well, whose latest album is now before us in all its glory and entitled Gratitude.

Hytteballe formed Haiku back in 2006 and with each and every album, perfection is the master stroke that has gone into creating some of the finest contemporary instrumental music of the current age.

This new offering is a continuance of that sublime quality of production and musical genius, just listen to Before Sunrise and you will find its refrains so redolent of the subject matter.

New age music rises a whole new rung of the ladder with this album, and the track Rivendell is one that will lift the soul of the listener to new heights, its careful fluency and delicacy of production is a thing to really enjoy, especially the electric guitar segments which seamlessly gives it a mix of light rock and ambient pleasures.

This ten track album is over flowing with utter beauty and masterful creations, an example of this, is the clever and exciting offering entitled Hummingbirds, one that seems to increase in pace and then slightly falls back to become a crafted percussive moment of quality.

The ending composition just had to be the title track Gratitude, the piano mixed with the almost ethereal backdrop of sound is the perfect anthem styled opus with which to leave a truly beautiful and well performed collection of wonderfully calming compositions.

Gratitude by The Haiku Project is another masterpiece of music to hang in the ever growing gallery of musical art for the artist. Hytteballe is a man who clearly knows his genre well, and relishes creating each and every brushstroke of tone for the listener to enjoy and get the most out of, and as I end this review I now finish by hanging a tag on the release, one that says, this is an absolute must buy at all costs, contemporary instrumental music really doesn’t come any better than this.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Leaving Cygnus By Dan Palladino


Leaving Cygnus

By

Dan Palladino

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have been blessed today with some really good music to listen to and review, this brand new single by Dan Paladino is now added to that list, if you are thinking, I know that name, well you should, as Dan won the award for the Best Ambient Album of 2019 with Pastoral Memory. This offering continues in the mood of brilliance that the artists manifests with ease, and brings to our musical table a wonderfully exciting, yet perfectly balanced, eight plus minute opus of sublime electronic instrumental music.

The delicacy of Leaving Cygnus is so enticing and warming to listen to, there is a beautiful fluency within this offering that is really charming, and all bathed in an ambient sense of positivity too.

Full marks Dan Paladino, you have once more created something truly magical for us all to enjoy.


 

Incantation By Tayu

 


Incantation

By

Tayu

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

For this review we go close to home, far from anything you have ever imagined, and travel to lands musically familiar and brand new, confused? Don’t be, this brand new offering by Tayu (meaning, as of yet unnamed), is that breath of fresh air that breathes new life into the new age music industry I have been a part of for some 20 plus years.

Incantation is one of the most vibrant openers you ever going to wish to find on your musical sojourns and Myriad on vocals sets the scene perfectly, while Mahhrk adds such a flavour to the percussive proceedings with a full flowing guitar. This one reminds me of two personal friends in Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer, in there days as Riven or perhaps Global with that wonderful pagan styled vibe, it also made me miss the tree frogs from the stream that runs close to my home.

We now move to the offering Gaia, oh as humanity, how we test the patience of our mother, the more expected Spanish guitar drifts across this composition from Mahhrk, while the strings, both Violin and Viola, (Melisa Cox) are in perfect harmonic resonance with the ethereal vocals of Myriad, a track that contains a lush sense of a global energy, with notes of an eastern flavour.

The short form track Prayer moves us ever onwards, Myriad gifting us the floating vocalise to enjoy, before we once more bathe within the musical ocean with the track Breath. Cox on strings creates such a reflective mood, which of course only the Violin and Viola can do, then an almost rock guitar from Mahhrk drifts across our oasis of pleasure, in a style I have not heard since the album War of the Worlds, (Jeff Wayne, Chris Speeding).

Enchanted Forest gave us Mahhrk’s acoustic guitar to revel in; the natural sounds set the scene perfectly, while a little hats off goes to Digidave, for well yes, the didgeridoo arrangements, which made this one for me one of the most fascinatingly different, yet fluent offerings off the album.

Mahhrk and the Spanish guitar may seem familiar to you, and so it should, you have heard him many times on the radio, but I’m not going to spoil that for you, you’re going to have to buy the album and investigate yourselves, however it is both beautiful and soothing, and transports us to a land I know so very well indeed, in fact right up on the sands and beaches of the Shores of Atlantis themselves.

Now this is where it gets a little freaky, as many of you who know me, will also know I broadcast a show called Shores of Atlantis on the radio, and many will also know I live in Cyprus, which is said by many, Plato in the main, to be part of what eons ago would have been known as Atlantis.

Now I have played this piece several times, and each time I do I feel the urge to walk the 10 minutes or so to the shore line and listen to this live whilst bathing in the energies of Atlantis itself. Musically this is utterly sublime a wonderful joint effort, Mahhrk excels and also on Native American flute, now that’s something I didn’t know about him, and with Myriad’s other worldly vocals, manifests the best composition from the album with ease, perfect tempo, creative arrangements, one that builds a splendid vista of the said location and more.

Incantation by Tayu is without doubt the best new age album that’s come across my desk in a long while; its production quality is lush and colourful, whilst each and every performance within this fine collection is absolutely brilliant. It is so nice to hear an album like this again, a classy collection of truly enjoyable songs, that is not afraid of being New Age and proud, this one is easy to recommend.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Karmic Dreams By BlueMonk & Michael Whalen

 


Karmic Dreams

By

BlueMonk & Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Fresh from his success with his chart topping solo album Sacred Spaces, Michael Whalen has team up with flute master BlueMonk to bring us a sublime new album of utter multi-instrumental fluency entitled Karmic Dreams.

This album has been literally born out of the pandemic that rages across the globe, and Michael Whalen’s infection by the Covid 19 virus was met with an unexpected series of compositions electronically from flute supremo BlueMonk, ones that would gift us eventually one of the most inspiring and spiritual albums I have heard for many years.

This coalescence of genius starts with the vibrant opener The Secret Garden, there can be nothing more important that the opening track of an album, and here on this piece the symbiotic partnership with Michael Whalen’s keyboard mastery, and the skill set of BlueMonk on flute, is felt to the max in a starting offering that is a perfect scene setter.

The Way of the Samurai is our next musical doorway, this amazing composition is one that I could have sat in for an eternity, colourful visions of temples in the forest, mist topped mountains and a lone Samurai in a meditative pose can all be found here, in what would be one of my personal favourite offerings from the album.

The chimes call us into the clearing where we will find the artists performing the next arrangement entitled Cherry Blossoms. The sonic backdrop created by Michael Whalen is mournful, but in a meditative way, and the flute performance by BlueMonk is one of the most superior presentations I have heard for eons with ease.

With great care and respect we now move into the second half of the album, and as we do so we come across a charming musical narrative entitled Moon Scape.  Michael Whalen’s sublime sensitivity and his crafted skill of knowing just what it needed next is so evident here. Layer upon layer of soothing musical tone can be found within this realm, textured keyboards and the distant refrains drift from a mystical flute, all of this creative magic can be found right here.

A percussive wall seems to shift our musical consciousness with the first refrains of this new arrangement called The Trance. The vast and resonating vibrations lift us into a whole new musical dimension. Now this symbiotic partnership is in full flight across a myriad of harmonious avenues. This offering contains that deep sense of character and reverberation that we all desire to find within our music, and as such, a masterful performance can be found here from the duo.

We now find ourselves at the penultimate composition off the album and Boundless Love has the symphonic gestures and flute mastery that will caress your very soul. I have been looking for a track that I can meditate to and deliberate on the workings of my heart centre, and I can now state that thanks to Boundless Love that quest has been successful. This is one of the most emotive and powerfully moving pieces I have heard for a long, long time, and a true stand out song off the release with ease.

I have sadly come to the last track off the album, and it is with a heavy heart that I have to leave this release of outstanding natural beauty; however the good news is, I have one more track to utterly revel in before my departure has to be made, and it is the title header Karmic Dreams.  This fine combination of Michael Whalen and BlueMonk seals the deal with this parting gift, one filled with a sense of happiness of completion, and an awareness that all will be well in the world again.

Karmic Dreams by BlueMonk & Michael Whalen in my view is one of the best albums I have heard across all genres for decades, it has a beautiful sense of balance, a mystical floating perspective, in-depth musical nuances that are simply irresistible, and flute and keyboard performances that will move you to the very core of your being. Karmic Dreams by BlueMonk & Michael Whalen is an album that you must have in your life at all costs; it is the musical panacea that cures all ills.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Traces of Your Past By Claudio Casanueva

 


Traces of Your Past

By

Claudio Casanueva

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something incredibly transcendent about a Claudio Casanueva composition that always captures the imagination of the listener, and takes them on an exciting journey of ambience through what at times could be described as a journey through many musical dimensions and realms.

That aforementioned statement can once again be made about this brand new single from the artist entitled Traces of Your Past. The synth work is mesmeric and the percussive sounds impressively pertinent. It’s always noteworthy to mention the arrangement style and compositional structures within a Casanueva song, they are vastly superior in quality and at times reminds me of the late but great Isao Tomita.

Traces of Your Past is a compelling and very pertinent musical narrative, it is deep, current and wonderfully performed, and holds the attention of the listener with ease for the full ten minutes plus of the composition, a riveting offering indeed.


Monday, August 24, 2020

16670 By Matthew Mayer

 


16670

By

Matthew Mayer

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

These times in which we live are emotionally powerful ones, change spreads across the face of our world and one must embrace this or fall. Back in the Second World War change brought with it an evil that I hope we never see the like of again, and it is from this time frame, and prisoner 16670 in one Rajmund Maximilian Kolbe, that we have our musical story, one that will without doubt move you to the very core of your existence.

The story of this man’s heroics I would like for you to read about by purchasing the album, but the deed done was far greater in love and generosity that anyone you could wish to name in history and there are few who could make that decision.

Matthew Mayer has produced a heartfelt plea at a time when some global governments are backsliding into the realms of hatred and vilification themselves, we have to be the change that matters, and for be the good that shines brightly for all to see.

Mayer’s narrative is sublime and deeply moving with the extremely powerful opening start on the title track 16670, and then one of my favourite compositions Simple Humanity, its tone and timbre are so reflective and mournful, but one that speaks a million words with each note played.

Matthew Mayer has been long regarded as one of the most sensitive performers of his day, and here on 16670 he utterly excels, listen to pieces like Visions (Dreams 8) a track that literally moved me to tears.

The ambience of Block 11 is only emphasised in its disposition by the sadness and mood that the mind perceives through the song. I say to you, a more powerful album you will not hear, and of course the ending had to be about our hero Kid Rajmund, the delicacy of performance is noteworthy and salutes the sensitivity of the pianist. Mayer also brings the concept to close here, with a little slither of hope in the well of darkness within this final composition.

16670 by Matthew Mayer is the most moving album I have heard this year with ease, the entire album has been researched, created and performed with an open and honest heart, and one of the best performances of this style for literally ages, it is an album that will take you on a journey and allow you a moment to live in the shoes of one far less fortunate, it is a story that should never been forgotten, and by purchasing this release you will have your very own poignant musical reminder that generosity of heart, through unconditional love, is something open to all of us at any time; 16670 by Matthew Mayer starts this beautiful ball rolling once again.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Survivors By Fransoafran

 


Survivors

By

Fransoafran

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This is one of the most moving slices of instrumental music I have heard for quite some time, and certainly the most poignant. This new single by Fransoafran which features Lena Matienko on piano could well have a duel meaning here, the art work clearly relates to the Australian bush fires and an animal trying to survive the flames, but could this sensitive opus also relate to us, the human animal trying to survive a global pandemic?

Whatever the tale and the truth, Survivors by Fransoafran  is a beautifully performed piece, filled with a charming but caring symphonic gestures, and a piano that takes the narration of the arrangement by the hand, and leads us forever onwards, into a deeply moving and superbly performed composition indeed.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Space Anomaly By Alan Hanslik

 


Space Anomaly

By

Alan Hanslik

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have always been a fan of the genre of space music, this flavour of electronics has always resonated with me and always will, to traverse the great galaxies within music like this is as close as I am ever going to get in my life time, so we are lucky today as we’re about to break orbit with a brand new album of this elk by composer Alan Hanslik entitled Space Anomaly.

Our first gaze into this musical cosmos is the title track and Space Anomaly, allows us to drift away from our star fix to enjoy an inventive and mystery filled opus on synths by the artist, this is indeed a superb scene setter and the longest track off the album at well over nine minutes long.

That sense of movement garnered by the last piece takes us into a new solar system of tone entitled Cosmic Swarm. This is a stylish offering, giving us a crafted performance on keyboards and synths in an almost peppered style, as a myriad of cosmic life forms swarm around our musical ship.

One of the most impressive offerings on the album in my view was this next track entitled Sleeping Giant. One with ease could visualise an old gas giant, a star that has lived for many eons and still struggles on. The deep resonance of the keyboards here, and the aged textures make this a truly magical offering, tinged with a little reflection as well.

Someone once said, and now it’s time for something completely different, and here it is, as this next piece gives us a whole new edge to the coin of what is known as electronic music. Swallowing Stars is a truly clever song; it has that crisp mechanical edge to it that makes it addictive to listen to, the imagination could with ease create a black hole of universal proportions.

The light-hearted and clever composition Planetary Playground is now upon us. There is indeed a playful energy in this stellar nursery of a track, the performance here indeed employs some forward thinking, as it manifests with clarity the birthing ground of stars and worlds through its almost percussive sounding arrangement.

One of my personal favourites off this album would be this next composition entitled Infant Stars. One could say it is a natural extension from the previous opus. I loved the performance here, a nice backdrop of sonic sound bathes and washes over the listener, whilst the infant stars begin to pop into the universe with all the energy and vigour that youth has.

Our journey has taken us to the very dark realm of deep space, and as we move with great care we come across an arrangement entitled Innerspace.  This has a great sense of movement and speed built into the composition, the synth effects were also really exciting too, and Hanslik’s crafted skill at producing such a clever form of art and space is felt here with such clarity.

Our last but one break from warp comes now as we drop out at a new realm, with an old energy entitled Dormant Galaxy. This penultimate offering is pure genius and one that I cannot stop playing, it offers a hovering sense of anticipation, mixed with in an almost spectral like mood, close your eyes and simply drift in this reality of a galaxy that stands on the very edge of time itself.

Before we land our craft we can gaze at the clouds of Cosmic Dust that swirl around us, these particles create a myriad of fractal shards of light as we turn our ship and prepare to land, the representation on this track and its presentation is idyllic, and of course redolent of the subject matter, as well as being a natural and calming way to leave the album.

Space Anomaly by Alan Hanslik is a wonderful work, created by an artist who clearly has a feel for space the universe and everything, his cultured efforts here are blissful to bathe with in. He retains moods created hence by the legends of space music like Serrie, Tomita and Kendle, and steps into his own power by manifesting a different view, a refreshing gaze into the infinite; a truly fine album that is easy to recommend indeed.