Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Forest of a Thousand Songs By Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen

Forest of a Thousand Songs
Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I must be honest here, I have now listened to this album 3 times in a row and I’m really having a hard job pulling away from it. Forest of a Thousand Songs by Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen is probably one of the finest examples of flute and string based ambient music I have heard for absolutely years.

Arja performs so soothingly with her instrument of choice the Kanteles, a member of the zither family, while Phippen is his usual masterful genius of flute, in this case Shakuhachi and Ocarina.

From the very opening offering we are drawn into an utterly abundant world of serenity, the track is Night Born and it sets the scene perfectly for the entire release.
I cannot really say I have a favourite here as all 8 tracks would reach that pinnacle, but this next one was marvellously transcendent and called The Waters Mistress; mystical, floaty, and performed from the very depths of the soul.

The special thing about this release is that it is so easy to listen to, and tracks like Aspen Meeting, Why Do You Weep, Wooden Bark? and Sun-Bird, all have such creative narratives and are so serene in their content, it is so very easy to get lost within the tapestry of their intent.

Then we have the pleasure of And the Great Oak Sighed and the charming Risen from Stone, two tracks which are stunningly graphic in composition and performance, but the gentle and carful use of natural sounds is a blessing of layered magic.

The album concludes with the track Ten Seeds, and this flourishing, uplifting finish allows the listener to come back to their own personal dimension, having enjoyed what must be one of the best new age music releases I have heard this year with ease.

Forest of a Thousand Songs by Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen is an album to float within whilst in dream time, it would be perfect for meditation and utterly sublime to just chill too, it is an album of outstanding natural beauty; it will become one of those releases that will be a favourite go to album for many over the eons ahead. The performances by both artists are bathed in a blissful perfection that you really never want to leave, and as such I really have to urge each and every one of you to add this entire release to your musical collections, your mind, body and soul will love you forever.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Perfect Love By Annie Locke

A Perfect Love
Annie Locke
Written by
Steve Sheppard

It’s been a pleasure to have watched the growth of many female pianists over the last few years and one of those artists who has excelled and literally gone from strength to strength is none other than the crafted genius of passionate tone in Annie Locke.

Her latest single A Perfect Love has an abundance of heart and honesty built into the weave of a blissful composition, in style it reminds me of the gentle influences of the UK’s Mike Rowland back in the 90’s; but Locke seems to excel with each and every arrangement and one can see with ease that her fans, followers and listeners are going to be dancing with delight at this brand new offering, a wonderful heart felt release from the pianist and on that should with ease usher in another huge hit for her.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Blue Butterfly By Darla Bower

Blue Butterfly
Darla Bower
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I have now listened to this latest release by Darla Bower called Blue Butterfly no less than three times in a row, there is just something about it that creates such a beautiful sense of ambience that I cannot leave alone. That is a truly wonderful reality for any album to have, and this album has it in abundance. Darla Bower plays with such smoothness and its calming repose creates for us eager listeners, something so very addictive indeed.

From the first point of departure Woodland Fairy Dance, we are gifted a journey that will create a serene and magical landscape within our hearts, the performance here does what it says on the can, and allows us to visualise a wonderful forest glade and the fluttering of gossamer wings as Fairy’s fly by.

Blue Butterfly is dedicated to Darla’s mother, who passed in the same year as my mother 2017, and indeed I would agree with the artist it does change you forever. This is, as you would expect, an incredibly deep arrangement and one that is very moving as well, but even so, there is a wonderful colour of performance that radiates from the composition.

A very sweet short form track is up next and one that celebrates the life of the artist’s dog and entitled Gentleman Bailey. There is a quite lovely symbiotic major minor segment here that I love; the piece is far reaching musically despite its shortness in duration.

I remember listening to the Mourning Doves during my times in the states, what an incredible sound they indeed do make. Here Bower manifests a deliberately slow tempo that at times is quite dark, but there is a fine juxtaposition being played out here, with opposing light energies that flow through this musical narrative, in what I regard as a truly clever arrangement.

November Skies brings us a fine representation of this time of year, autumn is my favourite time of year and the colours are quite amazing, those of us who are lucky enough to live in warmer places will get this. Bowers skill at drawing a wonderfully warming composition from the subject matter must be applauded, and the melody is as bright as a November morning.

The gentle nature of performance by Darla Bower on Falling Petals is nothing more than timeless and inventive genius. This is one of those pieces that you may scroll back to listen again to, many times over, and with ease one of the most melodic offerings off the album.

I used to love to watch the elegance of swans swimming, and then marvel at their most awkward nature on land; here on The Swan's Song, we have a track that has a mournful repose, and then from its imploring narrative perhaps something is being done for the last time ever, this is one of the most emotional offerings on the release.
It is now time for Sleepy Star Lullaby, so close your eyes and rest you head the sandman is coming, it’s time for bed. I say that purely with reference to this track being the one I actually did fall asleep to on my first listen, it has that kind of mesmeric effect.

The pristine start here portrays with ease Spring Rain. This is my second favourite season and the rains are always welcome. The tender and extremely careful performance is indeed redolent of the subject matter, which is something we have come to expect from a true multi-natured artist like Darla Bower.

So we plunge deeper into the weave of the overall nature of the album and we arrive at one of my personal favourites entitled Blue Day. This is a splendid mood filled composition, one layered with some particularly nice blues motifs that create a certain depth and artistic quality to the piece.

The penultimate track on this quality album, is an arrangement of a timeless hymn which most will know, it is called The Lord's My Shepard, the inventive side of Bower comes to the fore again within this offering.

So amazingly we have arrived at the last doorway of the album and this last musical gift is entitled Prelude - New Beginning, It could be a track that answers an unanswerable question, is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning! One thing is sure, we will all make many transitions along our own personal life times and beyond, and this clever musical gift will no doubt help us along our way, in what is a truly crafted ending of a composition.

Blue Butterfly could accurately be described as an utterly cathartic journey for the artist. This is one incredibly stylish performance and an album that I am sure Darla’s mother would have been extremely proud of, perhaps actually is. Technically sublime, the crafted and timely use of the pause, a combination of reflective melodies and all arranged with such care and attention to detail. This may have been one of the hardest albums for Darla Bower to release, but one to look back on with a smile, because solo piano albums really don’t come any better than this.

Dawn Contemplation By Lisa Swerdlow

Dawn Contemplation
Lisa Swerdlow
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I have seen many sunrises across many parts of the world, and each time I do, I give gratitude for being able to receive such a beautiful sight again. Dawn Contemplation is as close to the soundtrack you can get for those halcyon moments of divine inspiration of mine.

Its beginning is soft and delicate, but as the sun gains power and intensity a wonderful sense of fulfilment can be found from the multi instrumental nature of the composition. In my view this has to be one of the best performances on piano I have heard from Swerdlow, so when you add in the crescendos, the strings and orchestration, you have a sure fire winner of a single.

A special mention should also go to Doug Hammer, who orchestrated the album for Lisa.

A fine example of a mixture of classical and movie soundtrack elements can be found here, on what has to be Lisa Swerdlow’s best work thus far.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

But Everybody's Gone, So I Will Never Know By Scott Lawlor

But Everybody's Gone, So I Will Never Know
Scott Lawlor
Written by
Steve Sheppard

Life does indeed throw up some strange coincidences, when I was a teenage lad I wrote a short story based on a man who had been in a submarine for months working, he had heard turmoil going on above over the radio chatter, and when he eventually rose to take a look he would find that a pandemic of a truly evil nature had wiped out the entire human race, leaving him as the last man on Earth.

Flip that in the aspect that this Scott Lawlor album is similar in content, but from outer space, then you have a journey that were all partially involved in right now with the album But Everybody's Gone, So I Will Never Know, except in the case of this story and mine from yesteryear, the virus keeps mutating until it destroys all life on the planet. We all of course hope that never happens in our world, but this album is a very graphic voyage of a man stuck in orbit trying to get home, and listening to the airwaves as they tell tales of utter desolation and distress from below.

From the very first track to the last Lawlor has created a true masterpiece of an album, I have got used to this constant flow of genius from the artist, but here on this work he very cleverly combines, suspense, fear, hope, and desperation into each and every piece.

Pandemic Unfolding begins the journey and relays a constant narrative of media chatter and sounds coming across the coms system; something we have all experienced lately, we’re locked in our homes and still the news comes thick and fast and the deaths pile up on our screens.

Departure from Space Station Omega is artistically manifested with an extra sense of urgency written into the weave, through Lawlor’s synths and keyboards one can really feel the astronaut’s agitation and eagerness to do something, the piece is incredibly intense and readies us for the next offering entitled Shelter in Place, a calmer composition that continues this dramatic musical narrative, a slow but defined sense of movement can be found here as we drift onward.

The longest piece off the release is entitled Quarantined in Space. Imagine, you are locked away, safe, but alone, secure, but you have that feeling of dread and a very tangible fear about your own love ones, are they alive, have they survived, or, have they succumbed. The piece gets even deeper at around the half way marker, voice and com chatter and sounds of suffering break into the system, and the sheer tension of this piece and growing apprehension of the entire album is absolutely palpable.

A couple of months ago this happened in reality to our planet, World Closing Down, the pandemic which has ravaged our life, began to close its fingers around our global throat, strangling the economies of even the largest nations and the streets emptied, humanity had been humbled. Here Lawlor portrays that with such a clever artistic endeavour and such a deadly hand upon the keyboards, one can feel and hear the energies of a population now totally lost within the refrains of this piece.

As you can imagine it was too much for our man and he made a decision that would be against his orders, but did that even matter now? Approaching a Condemned World explains a narrative of frustration, he now knows he has condemned himself to death, but the drive to find out all that he can is now far stronger than any survival instinct he has, and through Lawlor’s chilling content the small craft moves closer to a devastated home world.

From this point, our penultimate track off the album, we can now view the utter breakdown of society and the carnage of a world of ghosts before us, within the offering But Everybody's Gone, So I Will Never Know. This dream like interpretation quickly manifests energies of nightmare proportions, the end is no longer near, the end is here, the final cogs and wheels of life are slowing down, the world has moved on, and into the loving arms of a global entropy, and through the medium of the last composition Empty World, we are left with one final visual, decay has replaced despair, hope has been replaced by emptiness, we are now for a last few moments looking upon an barren landscape, and into the very heart of the never ending void itself. Lawlor’s piano here was so poignant and played with such a tenderness of spirit.

I’m not sure how many times I have said this, but each time I do so, I truly mean it, but I believe that But Everybody's Gone, So I Will Never Know in my view is Lawlor’s best work so far. Lawlor has brought into this reality an album that tells a story of something we are all currently living through right now, a terrible pandemic, obviously what we all hope for and what seems to be the case, is that the end game of our nightmare does not follow the same line of narrative as Lawlor’s terrifying tale. However this is one magnificent offering, the artist has stood back, changed the perspective of the current global pandemic, and come up with an album that is so addictive to listen to, so hauntingly real, and so truly disturbing, perhaps it is true that Scott Lawlor is fast becoming the Stephen King of Dark Ambient music.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Synth Harmony By Don Slepian

Synth Harmony
Don Slepian
Written by
Steve Sheppard

A fascinating project is on offer for fans of quality synth music from artist Don Slepian, this intriguing collection of artistic visual podcasts goes under the overall banner of Synth Harmony, where currently, 21 extremely crafted performances can be found.

I have been a fan of synth based music ever since my introduction to artists like Vangelis and the late but still great Isao Tomita. Slepian’s ability to create fascinating narratives within synth music is well known, but in my view underrated, you only have to listen to my starting point on this project to understand the construct further, as Picture Impressions: Overture is very Tomita in style and extremely artistic.

Pictures at an Exhibition has always been one of my favourites classical works, by both Mussorgsky and Emerson Lake and Palmer and now I can also enjoy Slepian walking hand in hand with Mussorgsky, through Picture Impressions: The Walk Continues and Picture Impressions: Swans On The Lake, both many faceted compositions.

This final chapter for the artist is entitled Picture Impressions: Symphonic Escapades, through this composition it is as if we have marched with the Red Army beyond the Great Gates of Kiev and right up to the hut of the Baba Yaga herself.

The smooth presentations here are incredibly listenable and fun to watch; this next selection inspired by the works of the poet William Blake. Love and Harmony is transcendent in its beauty, energy just flows with a kindly texture all of its own, while Flowing Waters, Part One caresses the essence of one of my favourite instruments in the classical guitar, the sounds that Slepian has created here on keyboards are both warm and layered, the added floating synth projections take me to a world where there is no time, a dimensional portal to a natural tranquillity of sorts, one that is further emphasised by Flowing Waters, Part Two, one that has its own beautiful ambience in abundance.

I will freely admit that I was deeply moved by these next two tracks Grandeur Parts One and Two. The symphonic gestures here were nothing more than outstanding, the depth of composition and arrangement were undeniably classy and film score in style. Part Two gifted us a sublime moment of change through phrase and melody, and an almost astral projection of ethereal voices float over ones musical soul.

Another glorious partnership can be found on Mystic Harmony Parts One and Two, there is also a divine tone of intent and an ethic of mystery built into the weaves of these tracks, which make them both so very compelling to listen to. Part two was amazingly fascinating, a really lush Jazz mood can be felt here with a wonderful walking bass too; now this is a piece that will move the feet as well as the soul.

The next duo of tracks entitled Bamboo In The Rain Parts One & Two is upon us, there is a certain lightness of structure here that I enjoyed immensely. The floating and eastern motifs are beautifully composed and arranged, the keys and string sounds, simply move in a totally symbiotic pattern, taking the listener on a veritable perambulation, perhaps around a beautiful meditative Chinese garden.

The bass walks us into another wonderland of a Jazz styled composition in Morning Stroll, something you won’t get any arguments from me on, as a Jazz fan and radio host of a Jazz Show, this is one those offerings I would love to see played live, but watching the performance here, is the next best thing. The piano here is simply delightful and floats smoothly into the arms of a little blues ethic.

We now move ever onward within the realms of this project called Synth Harmony by Don Slepian and as we do so we come across wonderfully fluent piece entitled Melancholy Fanfares. There are some fascinating keyboard segments here that contain elements of a regal tone, but one seemingly sliding back in history to the middle ages whilst doing so, this is a truly remarkable artistic sojourn.

Happier Fanfares gives us an ebullient musical journey to enjoy its excitable tone and cheer filled musical narrative, perhaps tells the story of a cheer filled day ahead, but then comes Covid-19 Bathrobe special Continued and Interrupted, and life is changed forever, this for me is a song so very redolent of our current global perspective, and one that fondly reminded me of Tomita’s interpretation of Debussy’s Golliwogs Cakewalk.

On Mid Night Reflections there was something quite emotive that I found quite riveting, also one that would lead me on nicely to the piece Grasshoppers. This up-tempo electronic arrangement has a sparkling dynamism about its construction, which would bring a musical smile to anyone’s day.

The penultimate offering is entitled Elven Dances and this short form composition has a warming sense to its overall narrative, the electric piano never sounded so crisp, but at the same time mellow, a piece to enjoy a moment of reverie with indeed.

So as we knock on the final door to this collection of crafted opuses, we are finally gifted a track called Prehistoric Grasshoppers. There is a certain humorous content within this piece that is both entertaining and attractive, regardless it brings to an end this current walk through the dimensional portal entitled Synth Harmony by Don Slepian. It was so good to touch base with the artist again and once more swim in the musical oceans of his muse, of a multitude of memories, it was a sojourn I was glad to have taken and I hope you will find these waters as equally as fascinating, and enticing enough to want to dive deep into as well.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Celtic Fairy Dream By 2002

Celtic Fairy Dream
Written by
Steve Sheppard

Fresh on the heels of their record breaking double number one, A World Away, 2002 are back and on familiar territory as they once again deliver to us ever eager listeners, another delicious slice of Celtic music in the guise of an album named Celtic Fairy Dream.

2002 are no strangers to this land, this has to be one of the most pristine offerings I have heard for a long time; for example the opening piece entitled Castle of Dromore is so perfectly performed by Sarah Copus it is a total pleasure to swim in its pools of serene bliss for the duration.

The following sumptuous musical narrative would become one of my personal favourites and called The Green Fields of Autumn (Coinleach Glas an Fhomhair). Autumn is one of my favourite times of year and here the band not only do the season justice with a sensitive mournful repose, but they also add a sprinkling of magic into the proceeding’s too, along with some extremely delightful instrumentation that seems to hover and float like the mists of a late October sunrise.

Lullaby (Suantrai) is our next port of call; the harp opens a new portal to a realm of music that is utterly transcendent. Copus on vocals hits the heights with an absolutely perfect performance, which sets the scene for a tapestry of great beauty to unfurl from the bands vast array of musical genius.

A lush instrumental offering is upon us now within the track South Wind, the nuances within this composition are crafted to perfection, the gentle backdrop of keyboards sets a scene for one of the most sparkling performances on Harp I have heard for some time, even the crescendo’s were tempered to perfection in an extremely warmly played arrangement.

The mid way segment would now usher in a piece called David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen). For some reason the melody seems very familiar to me, and reminds me in part of an adagio, but it is easily one of the most haunting offerings on the album. If you ever wished to hear the best performance by Sarah Copus of all time, then you need to go no further than this track, her skills on this composition alone are simply outstanding and show a wonderful maturity.

The flow and fluency of this track was completely transcendent, its delicacy seems almost palpable at times. Close Your Eyes (Dun do Shuil) has that star kissed quality about its performance and production, that is musically akin to a loving hug from a really good friend you haven’t seen for ages, this is a truly warming composition that manifests one of the most serene moments off the album.

Now you can’t beat an old classic, and I was glad to see this included on the album, there have been some stunning versions of She Moved Through the Fair over the years, and this one must be right up there with the best. The instrumental efforts here are sublime at manifesting a slow and careful progression, whilst Sarah Copus’s immaculate vocals were literally faultless and pure with every note sung.

We are now swimming in the deeper waters of the album, and as we do so we come across a very sweet offering entitled Genevieve's Waltz. The flute (Pamela Copus) created a masterful lead role here, one that elevated the overall tone of the arrangement, and allowed the multi-instrumental nature of the piece to shine through, especially the sensitive work on guitar by Randy Copus.

We find ourselves now at the penultimate offering off the album, and this sparkling gem of a tune is called Little Bird (Einini). Once more the enchanting flute of Pamela Copus set the scene, one that is utterly idyllic and so redolent of a small bird flapping its wings. The movement and flight of this piece was a pacifying panacea to cure all stresses and worries, in what has to be one of the most peace filled arrangements on the album. 

So here we are at the end of another 2002 album, while it is sad that this sojourn of great music must come to an end, we do have one more musical gift to unwrap, and one that is placid and calming too, it is called Across the Waves (Trasna na d'Tonnta). A fine selection of a track to end with, and a clever finish as well, by concluding the project how they started, with an anthem like offering that is undeniably beautiful.

Well we were all waiting for the follow up to A World Away, and while the style is different, 2002 have done it again; they have manifested something that is of the highest quality and opened up the Celtic genre, and made it totally accessible for each and every listener. Celtic Fairy Dream is an album of great imaginative textures all weaved together by a family of musicians who truly wear their musical hearts on their respective sleeves, and thus have probably once again created an award winning album that will once more top the charts with utter ease, this is one of those releases that is literally impossible not to recommend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Beyond the Airwaves Vol 3 By David Wright

Beyond the Airwaves Vol 3
David Wright
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I don’t think that I have personally played a David Wright album as much this century as I have Beyond the Airwaves Volume 3, it features on many of my shows and playlists, simply because it is in my view one of the most stand out albums Wright has created for quite some time.

I’m not the only one who says this, during my plays I have had friends and neighbours ask me who this is, I have had listeners rooted to the spot enjoying this extremely classy musical narrative, created by one of the founders of modern day electronic music.

The whole journey may be just three tracks, but each of the three pieces has its own unique musical perspective, there is the lush and empowering adventure of Castlerigg, whose hallowed halls take us on a sojourn of plenty that has references to Code Indigo, and even at times Pink Floyd built into the weave. The purposeful build and progression within this offering alone is simply outstanding.

Then the middle track entitled Citadel, this could be classified with ease as a masterful work of art, one that takes the listeners by the hand, guides them through a multi-dimensional universe of EM and never let’s go. The synths here are a pleasure to bathe in, and this perambulation of tone and timbre is utterly fascinating at every twist and turn of the composition. The elevation of intent on this piece is amazing and as one approaches the 10 minute mark, this constant manifestation of a crafted performance is once more something to behold, by the time the arrangement has concluded, you will not even notice that over 30 minutes has passed.

The final doorway of musical genius comes in the guise of our parting track entitled The Presence of Motion. Here you will find a composition of galactic proportions, the space ethic and the drifting synths paint us a weave of a slow but gentle onward movement in the early stages of the opus, even though the tempo and intent is increased during the song, the ambience of the moment of is never lost, and thus this would have been a superb inclusion for a film soundtrack to a movie akin to Bladerunner.

Beyond the Airwaves Volume 3 by David Wright is an album I have utter respect for; while there may be just three tracks on the release, the sheer quality of the musical journey is of the highest possible, and in my view is Wright at his very best. Beyond the Airwaves Volume 3 by David Wright is a land mark release; it is everything you would expect from the master and more, and a very easy album to recommend to anyone who adores really good music, or one who has a passion for long crafted skilful soundscapes, of undeniably great electronic music.

WolfSong By Carys

Written by
Steve Sheppard

Following on the back of her last successful album A Different Kind Of Normal, Carys is back with a new release entitled WolfSong. There can be no doubt that folk music is making somewhat of a comeback as a genre these days, this renascence is highlighted further with the release of this new offering, one which is most agreeable and incredibly listenable.

WolfSong is a 13 track collection of compositions, and has many stand out offerings along its journey, the opener being a great place to start and called The Old Straight Track, the Andrew ’Spud’ Sinclair of Steeleye Span guitar and the constant onward movement from the vocals and percussion, is a superb starting point to begin with.

There are ballads a plenty and Reynardine is fine example of the delicacy of the vocals of Carys. This at times gave a little Kate Bush feel to the proceedings, while tracks like Silver Lady manifest a tale told well by the artist, one that utilizes a fine array of musicality along the way.

There is also a little mystery built into the weave as well with probably my personal favourite of them all, with the dark and classic Black Dog Rides Tonight, you can picture this perfectly, almost to hounds of the Baskerville’s proportion, clever percussion and vocals that created such a wonderful narrative that was so easy to follow, and with such drama.

WolfSong is a very agreeable album indeed, an release packed with charming compositions like Gather In, Freyja's Embers, and of course the title track and the last composition off the album WolfSong, a mantra that is a story book all of its own, but performed with style and such class, and one that takes the listener along with it with ease.

WolfSong by Carys is a further step in the right direction for the artist; she is proving herself to be a singer of supreme story telling ability, and the pieces she sings are chapters weaved into a tapestry of sound, song and enchantment, once you have pressed play on this recording, it will be near on impossible to pull yourself away from it until it’s final conclusion, a riveting album indeed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

New World By Nipazen

New World
Written by
Steve Sheppard

In these times of trouble, our music helps us through, it allows us to reach areas of peace that have previously been denied to us, a fine example of music that helps us heal is this incredible new single by Nipazen called New World, perhaps something we all wish for now more than ever.

The build and construction of this multi instrumental moment of genius is quite breath taking, a steady narration on piano leads us by the hand through the composition, and New World begins to develop with a stead percussive beat, one that gives us hope and brings to the table of instrumental music, a feast of tone and style that is so rare, but in the case of Nipazen, a gourmet meal of an arrangement can be sampled and enjoy to the full, this is one very recommended composition indeed.

Spiritual Particles By Claudio Casanueva

Spiritual Particles
Claudio Casanueva
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I have now listened to this brand new single by Claudio Casanueva several times in a row, and I think I may have experienced one of my most beautiful musical moments of the year whilst doing so.

Spiritual Particles is a vast ambient work that literally floats and drifts within linear time. Here you will find a timeless opus that is so peace filled, yet uplifting and soothing as well.

Casanueva has stepped into his absolute power with this track, and I believe it is also a composition that could well give people some much needed solace in this global time of great stress and trouble, this singles is utterly recommended at all costs.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Mediterranea From Raighes Factory

From Raighes Factory
Written by
Steve Sheppard

A truly interesting concept came my way this morning, and from a location that I know only too well, the project is called Mediterranea, by a collective of fine musical geniuses, all in a contemplative solo piano, neo-classical styled album, being even more intrigued I gave it a listen, and was completely chilled and extremely impressed at its conclusion.

The opener is gifted to us by Michele Nobler and a more fluent and impressive beginning you would be hard pressed to find, there was something quite reflective and emotive about Isola Luce del Mare that I found quite enticing and soothing as well.

Golfo Degli Angeli is brought to us by pianist Ada De Antonio, the composition is craft-fully played and has a very sensitive energy about its construction, the performance is extremely gentle in its tone, and this restful narrative is indeed a charming composition to come across.

The person behind this entire concept is one Roberto Diana and here he is under the guise of the artist known as Claus Egan, with an arrangement entitled Isola dei Gabbiani. Here we have a piece that is seemingly bathed in many memories, but one that also has a sublime sense of beauty about its enactment as well.

We now move to track four by The PianoPlayer, it is called Rosa Dei Venti. Once more there is a deeply thoughtful narrative here to enjoy, one steeped in a classical style that gives us a wonderful European flavour to revel within.

A delicate and subtle dimension of natural sea sounds herald the arrival of this next offering entitled Sorrento, and brought to us via Gian Marco La Serra & Andrea Moro. This piece has such a soft and serene nature about its construction that it is a simple delight to listen to, perfect for the sun bed upon my balcony in the Mediterranean.

As we approach the half way marker we come across a wonderfully modern composition entitled Bajda Ridge. This chilled arrangement has the potential to become a chart hit with the right lyrics, and the melody was a pleasure to swim within, in what was a very special performance by Lorenzo Tempesti.

With one tentative foot we now step into the second half of the release and come across one of my favourites off the album called Biserta, played by pianist Christophe Luciani. Short form it maybe, at just over a minute, but to create such colourful art in just 76 seconds is stunning to say the least.

I gaze out over my balcony and look at the vast swathes of the lapis coloured Mediterranean, and delight in listening to this track called appropriately Sea by KeyPiKo. This one had a gloriously grand quality about its presentation, the performance by the artist was powerful, yet layered with a feeling of sensitivity too; another personal favourite of mine was found within the realm of this utterly splendid offering.

As we move into the deeper waters of the release we arrive at the musical portal marked Aurelia Aurita. This is a composition that literally sparkled like a blanket of lights upon a night time ocean horizon, the slight repeating, yet changing motifs, gave me a wonderfully ambient and gentle energy of movement within the music, in what I regard as a cleverly played performance and by non-other than artist Manuel Zito.

This next track made me think quite deeply, it is entitled Ad un passo dal Mare, in fact I was entranced by this offering. At times this reminded me in style and performance of Debussy, but one also bathed in the elegance of a lullaby. This is certainly one of the finest pieces off the album, and one that is all too easy to drift off to sleep whilst listening to, an utterly magnificent offering indeed, thank you The PianoPlayer.

One will find a blissful composition on this next arrangement entitled Passeggiata a Caprera. The performance by Collettivo Armonico also known to us as Roberto Diana, is unreservedly excellent, the steady neo-classical crossover with a little new age piano was radiant in its presentation, and craft-fully played too.

As we draw near to the end of the album we now come across our penultimate offering, it is entitled Tavolara by Ebe De Antonio. A slight sense of mystery can be found within the narrative of this fine composition, and played with such a deft hand that it left me waiting for the next segment; the use of pause here was brilliantly executed as well.

Our last track is entitled Verso Lampedusa and performed for us by Igor Longhi.  This marvellous neo-classical offering finishes the album off with a flourish, a clever weaving of sensitivity and intent can be found here of what is a clever and skilful way to end the release.

Mediterranea is an album of style and elegance brought to you by 11 different performers, and is without doubt one of the finest collections of solo piano work I have heard this year with ease. There are many stand-out offerings within this vast compilation of skilful performances, but taken as a whole, Mediterranea is an album that every discerning piano lover should be running out to add to their collections as quick as they can.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Broken Pieces By Lynn Tredeau & Joseph L Young

Broken Pieces
Lynn Tredeau & Joseph L Young
Written by
Steve Sheppard

Two artists that share a total love for music have joined together in a symbiotic musical partnership, to bring us one of the most chilled singles this year so far. The piano skills of Lynn Tredeau weave a reflective musical narrative with the saxophone of Joseph L Young and the result is absolute magic.

When I first heard the refrains of Broken Pieces a blissful sensation drifted across my mind, it reminded me in parts of “Love Theme” from Bladerunner by Vangelis, now that’s no mean comparison. Regardless this extremely talented duo have manifested something very special here indeed, that I think is going to be a huge success with the fans and in the charts, this one get a 10 out of 10 from me with ease.