Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Singles By Claus Jahn & Friends

The Singles


Claus Jahn & Friends

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Claus Jahn has been in a thoughtful mood lately, we have recently felt the beauty of the album created with the late Wolfgang Gesell, and here on this next compilation of tone and sound we are gifted some 10 tracks that are lovingly called The Singles, an album created with other musical friends as well as Wolfgang.

The musicianship on this release is quite breath-taking, and contains works that include the following artists Martin Neuhold, Wolfgang Gsell, Wolfproject, Ansgar Stock, Matthias Stock and Globotom.

This is a wondrous and expansive collection of works that are all extremely listenable and beautifully produced, such as the opening piece entitled The Last One by Wolfgang Gsell, Martin Neuhold & Claus Jahn, some eleven minutes of lush electronic ambience, then utterly fascinating, but beyond picturesque realms of the piece called The Return of the Dark Force, a track for me that contained a sense of operatic nuances, mixed with a shady reality of new age ambient tones, a masterful solo work from Jean.

I must say the quality and musical professionalism on this release is gold standard and we can be further enthralled by offerings like the fun, light-hearted and very rhythmic Cuba Cubana, or the vibrant and dance filled tones of Go Dance (Students Disco Edit) remastered version.

The Singles is truly one of those releases, that because of its very nature literally does have something for everyone who adores electronic based work, and for those who may be dipping their feet musical speaking into this genre for the first time, trust me you will find the experience quite enjoyable, so give it a try, I have a feeling you will be extremely pleased that you will have done so, and one must give a tip of the hat to all the artists who have dedicated their work to this most pleasurable collection of songs.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Hidden Flowers By Masako

Hidden Flowers



Written by

Steve Sheppard


The work of Masako has always been one that creates wonderful images and vistas within the mind, her last album Underwater Whisperer manifested a whole new reality of tone and sound for me. The good news is she is back in 2020 with a brand new offering entitled Hidden Flowers, and it is one very beautiful musical ride indeed.

We start with the passionate colourful and uplifting opus of Harajuku Memoir. This piece was inspired by a fashion town in Tokyo Japan and is the perfect launch pad for our sojourn within the realms of this latest release.

As soon as I started listening to this glorious album, it became very evident that here is a release packed with a beautiful depth and subtle textures, and such a blissful sense of sereneness; this much can certainly be said for the offering Age of Flowers, the smooth performance on the piano is translucent in its creation, and one of the most attractive pieces off the release.

Sounds of the ocean courtesy of Tom Eaton start our journey through the track Acadia. I can see that this one will go onto be one of my personal favourites off the album, Masako’s performance is so soothing, and the inclusion of brass supremo Jeff Oster was a master stroke. If this national park is as beautiful as the music that portrays it, it would certainly be something to see.

The energies rises slightly on this next offering entitled Remember the Rainy Day. How I wish we could have one or two of these during this long hot summer, however the country of my birth has rainy days relentlessly, and this track would be the perfect backdrop for one of those afternoons, watching the endless rain fall from grey laden clouds.

This next piece felt so familiar to me, Blossom River is just so beautiful it is possible that it touched so many halcyon moments from my life. Rivers are an emotive subject and of course an artistic well of plenty, the flute and piano performances bring forth amazing images of coloured petals floating down stream. Masako has created one very stylish track here; it is a multi-instrumental composition of natural outstanding beauty.

The half way juncture finds us Observing M31, this light and effervescent composition of great clarity is utterly stunning, and contains the work of the artists Eugene Friesen and Premik Russell Tubbs. The natural energies of this song is truly something to behold, and perhaps this could also be the first time we have heard an arrangement dedicated to the galaxy of Andromeda, whatever, this must have been a fun piece to have created and performed.

We have now taken a tentative musical step into the second half of the album, and as we do so we come across a charming narrative to explore entitled Forgiving. Masako’s creation of ambience is superb, and adding in the soothing vocals of Noah Wilding we have a truly soulful composition to enjoy.

I had a feeling about this track before I had even played it, my instincts were right, Eternal Bliss is a sun kissed offering that creates such a wonderful fluent sense of forevermore to enjoy. Masako’s piano manifests such a sparkling resonance, and when one adds the violin of Charlie Bisharat into the mix you have musical heaven.

The delightful minor major start on this next composition entitled Southbound Flyway may well become another life time favourite of mine by the artist. There is a sense of reflection in what is a powerful piece, one that once more contains Jeff Oster. I adored Masako’s performance here, one that seemed to be bathed in nature and flight, like watching a flock of birds flying south for the winter. Thankfully for me, it is the longest piece off the album at just shy of seven and a half minutes long.

We now find ourselves in the deeper reaches of this musical pool of delights, and as we float along we are gifted a composition to enjoy entitled Suddenly Cherry Blossoms. Masako manifests energies of respect and appreciation in a composition that is at times quite emotive, but in a positive way.

There is something to be said for this time of year, as we listen to Winter People I’m mindful of being so grateful for it, I live in an extremely hot climate, so a month of cool weather is much appreciated in January. Artistically winter offers much up for the musician to work with, and clearly the artist revels in this season, as this beautifully fluent arrangement and piano performance radiated a true warmth and passion all of its own.

Our last track is dedicated to a fascinating place I have yet to see, I came close on a brief visit to New York once, but had no time to spend walking the Central Park Retreat. Masako is leaving us with a vast performance that takes in colours, shades and shadows of a day in the park. Her performance seems to beautifully pick up on the constant energies of people going about their daily business in this beautiful area, in a splendid ending piece indeed.

It is so good to see Masako back with such a textured and beautifully played album, the multi-instrumental nature of the release is craft-fully manifested to give us a collection of utterly transfixing compositions. I would dare to say this is her best work so far, it is an album that seems to drift along with a loving intent. Masako must be one of the most fluent and creative story tellers of her genre and her day, and Hidden Flowers is a total gem of an album to be admired and played endlessly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Reflections (Solo Piano) By Karen Biehl

Reflections (Solo Piano)


Karen Biehl

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are many reasons in 2020 to be in a reflective mood and Karen Biehl has created here a testament to that mood by manifesting a truly moving composition called Reflections as her latest single.

This gentle and deeply emotive new release mourns the passing of her father and the depths of devastation and sadness brought about by the global pandemic which threatens us all.

The performance here on piano is quite breath taking and wonderfully beautiful within its own reflective nature, this I would imagine could well be an anthem for the mood of our global family currently, a piece played with so much heart and tenderness, that it is truly hard to contain one’s own feelings.

Aus der Stille Ward Schoepfung (From Silence Comes Creation) By Claus Jahn & Wolfgang Gsell

Aus der Stille Ward Schoepfung (From Silence Comes Creation)


Claus Jahn & Wolfgang Gsell

Written by

Steve Sheppard


From the depth of the past sometimes comes great beauty, and from its open arms a flow of beautiful energy that can be felt across the world, this is how I would describe this release from the artists Claus Jean and the late but much respected, Wolfgang Gsell.

This remastered version from the 2017 offering, credit to Frank Tischer here, is one of the most transcendent albums I have heard for months. Listen to pieces like the title track itself Aus der Stille Ward Schoepfung (From The Silence Comes Creation) beauty doesn’t just live within this offering, it gives up a sense of hope and total peace, and is one of my personal favourites.

This mixture of guitar and keyboards is examined further through the piece Das Weite Land Jenseits der Tränen (The Vast Land Beyond the Tears). There is also a delightful global fused ethic here to enjoy as well and some very pertinent percussion too.

There is indeed much to like about this release, its narrative is positive and forward thinking, however moments of utter ambience are also explored on compositions like the chilled, Stille Hoffnung unter Eis Bewahrt (Hope Kept Under Ice), or the fluent and choral class of the arrangement, one so laid back on Zeitenwandel (Time Change).

Aus der Stille Ward Schoepfung (From Silence Comes Creation) by Claus Jahn & Wolfgang Gsell has 11 wonderful pieces on offer, and none of them will disappoint the avid listener and seeker of really good music, and as such this writer is destined to slip back from time to time to add a track or three to his personal playlists. Here is an album beautifully presented, produced with such a charming sense of warmth and tenderness and of course with ease, one to recommend to each and every one of you without a shadow of a doubt.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bittersweet By Crusader Beach



Crusader Beach

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is something beautifully reflective about this brand new single by Crusader Beach entitled Bittersweet. The gentle energies of a delicate piano performance by the artist can be found here, and an opportunity to take a Waltz too. The reflective nature of this composition gives rise to a delicacy that David Lanz once found on Cristofori’s Dream.

The artist has in my view created something very special here indeed, it has a haunting presence, bathed in a loving remembrance of when two hands touched and love was found, perhaps a love that has now gone, but a heartfelt moment of the past is felt here, and longingly thought of.

I have now listened to this single three times in a row, it has a lush and moving addictive nature to its musical persona, one that I hope will attract you too. Bittersweet by Crusader Beach has to be one of the most charming piano singles I have heard this year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Amor Mundi (Life As An Infinite Flow) By Anantakara

Amor Mundi (Life As An Infinite Flow)
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I have been fascinated by the musical journeys that Anantakara have taken me on over the last few years; these sojourns of electronic majesty have really been deeply artistic and utterly transfixing. The delight here is that I now have the good fortune to write about this latest release entitled Amor Mundi (Life as an Infinite Flow).

This journey of sight and sound starts with the track Shimmering Times, a piece so addictive to listen to, its ever expanding narrative draws the listener into a whole new realm of electronic magic.

Show Me Your Wonder, has a delightful depth about its construction, listen intently to its tones and vast nature, then perhaps like me, you too will be pulled into a world of expressive and expansive brilliance, the staccato stringed elements and the percussive backdrop, is all cleverly manipulated into a weave of musical genius which would become something truly special to behold.

Chthonic Memories contained a few effects that I have created on my own electric guitar to open with; this would lead us nicely to a portal of crafted and extremely artistic segments of music, which seemed to all have their own musical spheres to rotate within.

As we move deeper into the album I would find one of my personal favourites, this gem is called Sister Moon. There is something so tranquil and peace filled about this offering, its repeating energies also reminded me a little of an old style Eno offering called Discreet Music. The build here was also well worked, and its electronic nature and heart beat could be felt throughout the remainder of this truly superb offering.

As we nudge the musical envelope further across the table of tone, we come to a really fascinating track called Amo Ergo Sum. Translated it means I love, therefore I am. This adds so much to its riveting ever onward movement; for me the underpinned fluency and explorative essence of this track made it another personal favourite.

The light textures of this next piece entitled The Riddle of a Soul, were ones that brought us a fascinating insight into the compositional structure of the album, here we would find subtle and haunting flute sounds that created a wonderful new age feel, partnered with the stylish electronic motifs, it took the piece to a whole new level.

We are now in the second half of this fine collection of compositions, and as we constantly move forwards we find ourselves at a doorway marked Riding The Flickering Crests. There was a tantalizing smoothness about this track that was deeply addictive, its subtleties altered ones perception in the middle half of the track, as a more percussive energy started to come to the fore, but always with the symbiotic partnership of the albums over all electronic nature.

Amor Mundi (Life As An Infinite Flow) is certainly one of those albums that you must not take your eye off, you may have to listen to it over and again to truly appreciate all the nuances contained within, like this next piece called Deus Sive Natura. The keyboards manifest an imploring narrative within this piece, while the backdrop of string sounds and percussion do a blissful job of creating a sense of expectancy and tension, in what is the longest track off the album.

We have now entered a realm that is almost multi-fractal in nature; it is called The Matrix Time-Walk. Here is a piece that would be all too easy to get lost within, and in some ways reminds me in music, of the artistic endeavours of the Escher great work entitled Relativity. It is a track that is infinite and ever expanding in its surrealist nature.

The depths we have travelled now become apparent, as we now listen to a composition called A Secret Might. Here the intensity of the offering is well hidden, allowing the natural order of the arrangement to come through on its own, and audibly grow; this is an amazingly crafted track that one could easily get carried away with, its beautiful sense of suspense and anticipation is a thing to revel in.

The penultimate offering is called Strata. The ever present probability of expectation seems to start to be realised here, as a rhythmic percussive beat joins the fray and the artist creates something spectacular and almost cinematic in Isao Tomita style.

The last piece off the release is entitled Irresistible and it truly is, and as an end composition one never really knows what is around the corner of this moment of musical cleverness, the bass work is perfect and the following electronic build and progression creates a dynamic and fluent end to what has been a captivating release.

Amor Mundi (Life As An Infinite Flow) by Anantakara is an album that all fans of electronic music, seekers of ambience and worshipers of truly artistic tones will adore, it’s a journey that never ends, but one that will create layer upon layer of expectation, intent and anticipation as you listen. If this appeals to your sense of musical perception, then you need to make this album a home in your musical world as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Lasting Impressions By Lisa Swerdlow

Lasting Impressions
Lisa Swerdlow
Written by
Steve Sheppard

Lisa Swerdlow has been producing a plethora of beautiful music lately, and the singles charts in particular have been adorned with some wonderful compositions from her from this release, so it is with glee that we see a new album from the artist, and Lasting Impressions is an album that will indeed last long in the minds of the followers of really good music.

The starting point is the dramatic yet melodic Listening from the Heart (solo) version, here is the perfect place to start, with a full flowing musical narrative and a performance on piano that is not only classy, but quite moving as well.

Slipping into Dreams certainly has that feel to it, that one is sliding into a night time reality of sleeping thoughts, imaginings so grand and poignant, visions of the mind that are perhaps bathed in the realms of fantasy. As you may gather this is my favourite piece off the album; Swerdlow’s performance here is really crafted and intelligently played, and presented in a way that it is really hard to leave the piece.

Dreams in Motion continues our sojourn through the reveries of the artist and listener, this truly moving opus plays with the heart strings as the performance grows. There is a certain grand nature to this offering that I personally found extremely attractive.

We now have to ask ourselves the question. Was It All A Dream? This thoughtful work is the conclusion to the preceding ones, there is a sensitive refrain here that is appealing, one that was so delightfully played to bring the very best from the arrangement by the artist.

As we speak, Dawn Contemplation is one of my favourite singles to walk within from the album; it has a certain dramatic flair and a cinematic posture that is not only powerful, but exhilarating, whilst Still Here is almost the exact opposite, yet at the same time still retaining some of the passion. The narrative here is calming and soothing as it unfurls.

A sumptuous string section joins Swerdlow’s piano on the track Pentimento. This adds a wonderful layered texture to the piece. Swerdlow’s performance on piano is both influential and commanding, and on a track that has a truly strong foundation.

Now we can slide right into the arms of the title track and another one of my favourite pieces entitled, Lasting Impressions. There is a slight European motif here that is delicious, and the light but pertinent percussion is perfect too, lets add some eventual strings as well, which makes the overall performance, at times, almost classical with a little Jazz, in what is a simply tapestry of musical craft at it’s very best.

The penultimate offering is the orchestrated version of the opening piece Listening from the Heart. Adding in a symphonic element to the arrangement is a stroke of genius, and the mark of a musician who clearly has an ear for what works.

We’re a long way off, but this is going to go on a seasonal playlist, the ending composition is entitled Sing Me of Winter. This is actually a really clever piece and the perfect way to end the album. The melody is deeply memorable and for a track about winter, the compositional structure is really very beautiful and emotive at times, but in an extremely happy way.

Lasting Impressions by Lisa Swerdlow is a delightful mixture of solo piano and the neo-classical, a pastiche of truly good music all brought together on one release! The ever eager listener will love this and in my view, it was one of the most listenable albums of its style for quite some time; Swerdlow’s interpretations and performances are blissful, beautifully played and colourfully portrayed, which makes it extremely easy to recommend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

First Light By Chris Haugen

First Light
Chris Haugen
Written by
Steve Sheppard

I fell in love with the work of Chris Haugen back in 2015 when he released the album Falling Water, Shimmering Strings, and still to this day I feature it heavily on my personal musical playlists of choice. Now Chris is back with a brand new offering entitled First Light.

For a coastal dweller like me, First Light is a magical time, fishing boats hit the sea, birds flock to gather for an early morning snack, and a hazy sun might well catch a surfer or a swimmer on their personal embrace with the ocean, and the title track off this album sums those thoughts up perfectly.

This is indeed a magical album, one that will hold dearly in the memory of many who have found solace at this juncture. Listen to the peace filled refrains on guitar of Haugen on pieces like Waves, a track that has an energy all of its own, and swiftly flowing into the arms of the ambience of Peaceful Dream.

The gentle performances by the artist hold strong right throughout the album, and as we reach one of my favourite pieces in Beyond, we can find an almost transcendent bliss to float with. The guitar of Haugen is sublime at creating a pastiche of magical moments to enjoy, like the organic tones of the composition Fjord, or the pool of musical tranquillity created on the long form offering entitled Wanderlust.

There can be no doubt that you will find fluency and calm in abundance on the album, and as you revel in the delicacy of the last arrangement called Path Of Light, you will be already thinking about just leaving this album on repeat, it is that good.

There is no questioning that once more Chris Haugen has created an album of outstanding natural beauty with this latest work entitled First Light. The performances are sublime and beautifully produced and completely redolent of the subject matter, so if you like the gentle, textured peace that the guitar can bring, I can suggest that this First Light just has to be part of your music collection as soon as possible.

Becoming By Bernward Koch

Bernward Koch
Written by
Steve Sheppard

Bernward Koch has been one of my personal favourite new age performers for years now, ever since I heard the utter delightful tones of Walking Through Clouds back in 2005, but now 15 years later it is a total pleasure to review this latest release Becoming by the artist.

The German composer has been bringing us tranquillity in tone since 1989, and over those years has honed his skills and talents to bring us peace filled musical narratives. That is exactly what you will find on this superb new album, like the soothing A Magical Dream, or the calming refrains of Lavender Fields.

You can always guarantee that when you purchase a Bernward Koch album, you will get wall to wall serenity and an ocean of bliss to bathe within, just listen to the tracks Mysterious Afterglow and A Swan Dream, these are but two fine examples of music that lifts the heart and soul, and at all times paints such a beautiful tapestry of music to hang on to with every willing desire to be at peace.

Koch’s abilities on keyboards are well known, but I’m sure he still improves with each passing album; Becoming as a release has layered textures as you will have never heard before, along with a veritable bed of tone to rest within, like the tracks September Impressions which is reflective, but over flowing with positivity, and the title offering of course Becoming, a piece so tender and loving to be a part of.

Bernward Koch is an artist that time after time offers up quality new age music, to bring you the listener a sanctuary of tranquillity to float within. A go to artist, a painter of tone and texture, and a musician who clearly is in touch with his musical muse, all this makes Becoming an album so very, very easy to recommend.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

In The Flow By Joseph Nimoh

In The Flow
Joseph Nimoh
Written by
Steve Sheppard

There is one musician who for the past few years has pushed onward to constantly produce absolutely classic material, his melodies have been deep and moving, and those arrangements have been as sweet as summer rain. That musician of quality is none other than pianist Jospeh Nimoh and with the arrival of his latest album In The Flow, Nimoh has once more surged ahead through the vast ranks of the solo piano genre, and brought us an absolute gem of an album.

This latest offering in my view is his best work so far, and starts with one of the most passionate and heartfelt openings I have as of yet heard from the artist, and entitled In the Shadows.

Here we have an album that seems rooted in all that is good and bright, and the track Eternal Bliss carries on that theme beautifully. The title offering In The Flow is one of my personal favourite pieces from the album, a moody repose, but one that carries a lush anthem of hope within its construction, but Nimoh’s performance here was so heart felt and artistically charming.

This 10 piece album is packed with musical colour, and performances on piano that are far and above what you may have been expecting from a piano based album, like the ever determined On and On or Moving Forward. 

This is also an album with many flavours as well, a recipe of Jazz, mixed with Classical and New Age Piano can be found here in abundance, and in a way this is what makes this outstanding release truly special. Examples of this genius are the inventive My Hiding Place and the hope filled final offering Someday.

This latest compilation of great songs is Nimoh’s 8th in all, and with each and every one the artist has grown into a superb musician who is without doubt fully In the Flow. The narrative and characterization of each piece is not only fascinating but totally additive to dive into. Nimoh brings such a radiance of depth and colour into his work, and those two traits alone make this an absolutely recommended release to purchase at all costs, trust me, your musical heart will love you forever.