Thursday, September 30, 2021

Barcelona Summer By Julia Thomsen and Tre


Barcelona Summer


Julia Thomsen and Tre

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The combination of piano and soft synth pads is something I am all to used to with my musician’s hat on, and this is a delicious example of such beauty, Barcelona Summer is a moment of utter magic, it has such a soft feel to its compositional structure, one that would float on a river of peace with consummate ease.

Here is a piece of music that exemplifies an example of truly good relaxing music, one that portrays a scene to calm and brings peace to the senses; containing pertinent natural sounds and soft strings, this has to be a total winner of a single in my book and hopefully yours to.

The Winding Way By Peter Sterling


The Winding Way


Peter Sterling

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is nothing quite like the voyage of self-discovery, something a lot of us have had to do, and still do during this pandemic. What came out of it for me was a positive reflection on a multitude of fronts, for Peter Sterling he began to simply go with life’s flow, and enjoy each segment as it came, The Winding Way is part of that sojourn for the artist.

The opening piece to this new album says it all, a meandering roaming composition, Beauty Abounds is exactly that, a song that whistles to itself down the misty foot paths of life’s rich tapestry.

The Winding Way is an 11 track album that takes you into a heavenly vibe and leaves you there to simply float safely, a fine example of that is the ethereal and angelic opus of Calling Angels, a soft and calming composition that manifests a realm of simple, but utter tranquillity.

There are many delights along this winding way; the light-hearted reverie of Rose Petal Tea, with an added string section makes this arrangement for me very special, and reflective of hazy summer days of the past, or The Noble Night, a delicate almost pristine offering with an added flute that drifts across the borderlands of time, with an almost regal presence.

The multi-instrumental nature of this album is a pleasure to take in and allow control over the senses too, this has to be one of the calmest and deeply serene albums I have heard this year. Listen to Hope for Tomorrow or the concluding track A Love that Lasts to back up my aforementioned statement.

I must give a quick shout out also to G-Dov Gertzweig who plays the violin, Richard Hardy the silver and bamboo flutes and finally Hans Christian on Cello; they all contributed to the album to bring about this wonderful sense of harmony.

The Winding Way by Peter Sterling in my view is the artist’s best work thus far, it is easily his most ambient construct, but also Sterling must be proud of this musical contemplation, it does indeed reflect the serene tranquillity that some of us have found through this turbulent time, and as such The Winding Way is a real must for those who seek to just live in the now, and enjoy the simplicity of each and every moment, a thoroughly recommended album indeed. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

myndstream Collection Volume 1 By Various Artists


myndstream Collection Volume 1


Various Artists

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Various artist albums are a growing concern these days, yes we seem them all the while in the pop industry, but rarely until this year have I seen so many in the contemporary instrumental genre. However if there was one label you would be more than happy to receive one from, then it would be a myndstream collection, and in this case volume one, which of course bodes well for future releases.

We have a stylish and soothing collection of 13 compositions that literally fall from the tree of abundance to enjoy, like the first opus Blue Steel, I have a soft spot for this style of performance and Daniel Lanois provides the listener with an excellent starting point indeed, but from where I hear you ask, well each and every artist on this creation of crafted cleverness were posed a question, that question “What does mindfulness sound like?”

Lanois creates something special with the steel guitar which is an almost guilty pleasure, then one of my personal favourite tracks lulls me further down the line of unadulterated bliss, with a track entitled Parting of the Ways by the ever so talented Lisa Bella Donna, a quality ambient track that you just never wish to leave.

Mindfulness is special to me, after all the now is all we will ever have, tracks like Whispers of Hope, a fine piano performance by Jordan Rudess roots me to the moment with ease, and crafted arrangements like The Sunflower Ghost, by non-other than a king of prog rock, mister Rick Wakeman, manifest something so stilling and serene, that is far from the court of King Arthur, but a composition that allows us to float down a never ending river of the peace, like the Lady of Shallot.

Composer extraordinaire Michael Whalen creates a moment of great beauty as well with his quite soothing musical narrative entitled Always Returning, a delicate touch on the keys and embracing the lighter side of a synth heaven with such consummate ease.

There are more great tracks on the album too, these include Song of the Firefly Harmonium by Mark Isham, Realize by Gustavo Santaolalla, Sierra Dreamscape by Kathryn Bostic, Garish by Michael Brook, and then there were no words... by David Torn, Circles by Marcelo Zarvos and Ambient 2 by Cliff Martinez.

myndstream Collection Volume 1 by the Various Artists have all quite brilliantly answered the question posed, and by buying this wonderfully fluent and peace filled album, you will find that the answer is a meditative ambient dimension of music, that will relax and de-stress you with such a tender touch, it may be a well-worn phrase to say, that this is an album that you must have in your collection, but it actually is, this is a prime example of truly excellent relaxing music that helps you be calm in both mid and body, and in this day and age, that can’t be a bad thing at all can it?

Monday, September 27, 2021

A New Day By Oscar Pascasio


A New Day


Oscar Pascasio

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Oscar Pascasio has become known for his colourful, yet sensitive performances across the globe and here on this charming new album entitled, A New Day, he gifts us 10 tracks that will ease the mind and make the day seem that much softer.

The journey to this most charming musical narrative starts with a dance; yes Mermaids Waltz is a sublime and happy beginning, played with a lightness of touch and a sensitivity of thought and mind.

There is much to enjoy on this album, for example the soft but emotive tones of I Miss You, a track and presentation that almost cries on your shoulder, a reflective performance indeed by the artist.

I love my personal Solitude, and here on that very track Pascasio manifests the perfect halcyon moment of solitary bliss, when the only demands that are upon you, is to just enjoy the moment. A track played with such calmness and peace, without doubt one of my favourite offerings from the album.

There are twists and turns on this release that are fascinating, all manner of thoughts, and emotions are catered for here, like the lightness of You Make Me Smile, a track that does exactly what it says on the can, or our last composition entitled Rest, a wonderfully soothing musical narrative, one that without a mere thought will lull the listener into a calming and peace filled reverie.

A New Day by Oscar Pascasio in my view is the best work thus far by the artist; the gentle and tender performances on all 10 pieces are wonderfully warm and blissfully soothing, there are many stand out offerings from the album, but taken overall each and every composition creates a sense of tranquillity and serenity, this is a fine quality for any musician to attain, and as such A New Day by Oscar Pascasio should become a firm favourite with his fans, and all those who adore sublime moments of beautiful solo piano.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

When We Were Free By Kluane Takhini


When We Were Free


Kluane Takhini

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard


I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to the latest single from Kluane Takhini entitled When We Were Free, which features Tony Mac on vocals. Kluane says “This is a song of human oppression that has existed in our world since the beginning of time and unfortunately continues to exist to this very day. It is performed in a classic R&B/Soul style to remind us all of simpler times.”

The vocals of Tony Mac really do bring this piece to life, giving it that real soulful feeling, but the instrumentation is something wonderful too, from the guitars to strings and everything in between, this is a great release with a powerful message to the world, a piece with a very commercial feel to it too, that leaves you asking one question, What Do You Want From Me?

Kluane Takhini should be very proud of this latest release, and I am sure this will be a big hit for the artist, so I suggest you go ahead and get a copy of it for yourself now too!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Coming to America Concerto By Lisa Swerdlow


Coming to America Concerto


Lisa Swerdlow

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There cannot be a more emotive subject these days than refugees fleeing from persecution, to hopefully a better life in another country, whilst I have not suffered persecution, I am an immigrant in another country myself, so with regards to the aspect of leaving all that you have ever known behind, and starting a new life in another part of the world in hope, that I can understand.

The artists Grandparents story is a far darker one though, as during the many lockdowns due to the pandemic, it gave Lisa time to research her grandparents decision to leave mother Russia, and travel away from the persecution of the Jews of the early 20th century, to a bastion of hope and freedom at that time called America, despite its trials, its tribulations and it’s political upheavals, it still retains that beacon of hope for the many who wish to make a better life for themselves and their families.

So here, on this fine body of work, Lisa Swerdlow tells us that story, the tale of her grandparent’s journey from oppression to freedom, one can only imagine the amount of courage it took to do what they did, and now Lisa has created a musical backdrop for us, so that we may understand through the music their voyage from darkness into the light of a new world.

First movement: Home of My Ancestors, is the first of 3 pieces and expresses through music and the flourishing piano and orchestration, the homeland of her grandparents in Russia, one can feel the traditional elements here, the joys of home, but also the wary anticipations of forces of destructive power that could in a moment, interrupt such pleasures, the symphonic harmony with Swerdlow’s piano here creates a narrative that is incredibly cinematic.

Second movement:  The Crossing, is the next part of this graphic presentation, here through the amazingly sensitive approach on both piano and strings, we can feel the journey across the oceans by her grandparents, through the imploring power of Swerdlow’s performance, we are gifted an insight to the vast range of emotions here, a feeling of home sickness as well as the discombobulation from days and weeks of boat travel, perhaps we can also feel the sense of apprehension, anticipation, or doubt even, but hovering in the corners of the mind lay the one thing that makes it all worthwhile, the friendly arm around the shoulder of an old friend called hope.

The concluding offering is entitled Third movement:  The Arrival. This I call my sigh of relief movement, that moment when hope births relief, and relief bears the fruits of happiness, and tears of joy. Through the proud and deeply moving performance by Swerdlow, one that creates such an empowering reality, we have arrived at the land of expectation and possibilities. The orchestration has been arranged and created by Doug Hammer, and in my view it is the best work he has ever created, this is once more a cinematic offering that raises the energies of hope, and lays it squarely in the arms of gratitude, in one of the finest performances I have heard from the pianist thus far.

Coming to America Concerto by Lisa Swerdlow is a tale found in times of darkness and despair, it is a story that lifts the spirits, manifests courage and builds anticipation and aspiration. The artist has been in a rich vein of form lately, and I can see no reason why this wonderful revelation of her grandparents most difficult of journeys, should not bring a little faith, optimism and confidence into your own, saying perhaps that maybe through courage, fortitude and hope, we can improve our lives too.


Monday, September 20, 2021

A Different Place By Melany Thompson


A Different Place


Melany Thompson

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Melany Thompson is one of the most descriptive artists of her day; her skills on the piano are a delight to listen to, and on this brand new single entitled A Different Place, we have an incredibly moving and emotive composition to enjoy.

This new single A Different Place has such a depth to it, and from such depths comes a truly sublime moment of solo piano reflection, one could be gazing out over a vast nature scene, being totally in peace, but residues of the contemplative mind still run across the deserts of emotion within.

There is a mournful quality to this arrangement that is so beautiful played, that lush interplay with minor and major, one that perhaps recognises the lessons of the past, but now embraces the different place that we can call, the now. This must be a big hit for the artist, as it is music from the heart, and right into yours.

Flow Motion


Flow Motion


Ian Cameron Smith

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I first came into contact with the sublime guitarist Ian Cameron Smith through Kevin Kendle, the artist featured on both his Flowers and Butterflies albums, his chilled resonances have stayed with me for ever, and through the years I have always liked to feature some of his music on my various radio shows.

Ian Cameron Smith has such a chilled way of performing, akin to Jim Kimo West perhaps, but here on this new single entitled Flow Motion, we have a fairly smooth but upbeat composition to enjoy.

The artists almost liquid style of performance, seems to just drift like a summer haze from his strings, and Flow Motion with its rhythmic back percussive beat, and its easy on the ears guitar, creates an atmosphere of tranquillity and utter peacefulness with every note played, a sure fire hit single without a show of a doubt can be found here.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Gnosis By Chronotope Project




Chronotope Project

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It is always such a pleasure to review music in the genre in which I create, as an artist it gives me great inspiration, as a writer it allows me to drift free on an oasis of bliss, allowing me to manifest my interpretations on what I hear, it’s a win, win situation, and on the brand new Chronotope Project album Gnosis, we have all that rolled up into one big lovely ball of ambient electronic heaven.

Gnosis is a wonderful example of really good electronic ambience, manifested by Jeffrey Ericson Allen in his guise as Chronotope Project, and here the Oregon based composer and performer, has hit a home run with this stunning new release. The opening track sets the scene perfectly for us and is called Higgs Field, Cauldron of Being; it is a melting pot of electronic mastery, a track that literally brings the whole project into life, through swirling synths and magical keyboards.

Like a vast range of words, most come from the Greek, as does Gnosis, a feminine noun which means knowledge or awareness, and here the artist explores this spiritual narrative of that exploration beautifully, one of my favourite tracks from the album is a sublime example of this knowledge seeking genius, and entitled Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness, a steady onward bass, a delicious keyboard segment that flows like a river, and a synth that just hovers like a summer haze in late July, wonderful.

Eidos, Realm of the Forms has a depth and crispness to the composition that is truly addictive, the repeating motif on keyboards gives us the motion to move ever onward and explore this realm, while the artists synths manifest something almost hypnotic, as through the tones of the performance and the resonance of the creation, we can allow our minds to visualise all manner of shapes and forms, and then watch them dissipate

The shortest track off the album at just over 6 minutes long signifies our half way point within the offering, and is called The Still Small Voice. It is one of the most melodic and emotive electronic compositions I have heard since Stellar Nursery by Kevin Kendle. There have been many wonderful pieces I have heard of in many decades, but this track literally cries on your shoulder, the performance is akin to Vangelis when he manifested the world renowned Memories Of Green, this is electronic ambience at its very best.

The penultimate piece off the release is called Entelechy, Emergent Order; here is a composition that has a multi-dimensional essence to its construction. Layer upon layer of ambience is birthed here, a sense of rhythm too, and overall a wonderful floating reality of a slow waking, and an awareness about to unfurl. There is also a crafted depth to this arrangement, one that seems to build and progress with consummate ease, and created with a great deal of care and attention to the smallest of musical details too.

We now arrive at the last portal of the album, a track called Myth of the Cave. The beginning is cleverly held back, whilst the energy of expectation builds, close your eyes, listen, and you could easily be entering the cave to perhaps confront your greatest fears. The tones and effects used here draw a wondrous almost twilight zone moment for us to enjoy, in short if you ever wish for an example of really good long form electronic ambient music to be laid before you, then I would point you in the direction of this very track.

Gnosis by Chronotope Project is without doubt the best electronic ambient music album I have heard this year, maybe even longer than that, its crafted construction, performances, presentation and production, must surely rank this release as probably one of the best ambient electronic albums of the last decade, I truly believe it to be that good, and thus if you’re a fan of this style of music, and wish your imagination to be utterly captured, then Gnosis by Chronotope Project is an absolute must for your musical wish list.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Petrichor By Julie Hanney




Julie Hanney

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I must admit I was not aware there was a word for the smell that the ground gave off after rain, but I am glad there is, as I hope to smell the Petrichor emanating from the ground very soon here in Cyprus, a country that gets very little of the wet stuff.

One has to say it is a delight to smell the Petrichor, and now also to listen to the interpretation through music from pianist Julie Hanney. This new single from the artist is really beautiful, and it must be, as I have now listened to it 5 times in a row, there is a gentle mood that is created from it, one that manifests a wonderful sense of ambience too.

The performance by Hanney is simply idyllic and truly pretty, the presentation is simple, but that’s exactly what makes it blissfully addictive and soothing to listen to. Petrichor is an addictive composition that has all the hall marks of a possible big chart hit.

Change Is in the Wind By Ann Sweeten


Change Is in the Wind


Ann Sweeten

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are times when into your life comes an album that reflects your own journey back at you, and it seems that this latest creation by Ann Sweeten,  Change Is in the Wind, does just that, although some of the circumstances are slightly different, the songs remains the same, and here I stand the head of the table, but sadly all the seats around it are empty, so with a thoughtful mind I listen to this brand new offering from one of the most emotive and descriptive pianists of her age.

Change is one thing in life that is certain, it is like a sunrise that gleams across the horizon, or a freezing cold northerly wind that brings yet more alterations, and on Arctic Dance that is portrayed crisply with a calming hand on the musical tiller, and is a fine opening piece that also contains the blissful talents of both Nancy Rumbel on English Horn and Eugene Friesen on Cello.

There is a certain lightness of touch and tempo to this next composition entitled What Blooms Beneath The Snow. This is one of the finest examples of hope created by a pianist I have heard for quite some time, the performance here is so delightfully textured, but when you add the immortal violinist Charlie Bisharat into the equation, you have a piece that simply makes you smile from the heart outwards.

May 24, 42 Years Ago was written by Sweeten for her mother, as it was the day she died. There is an energy here is that is light and positive, one that can be completely enjoyed by the listener, also note this fine performance for its wonderful fluency, it is also a composition that contains a blissfully balanced Cello, played by Friesen, one that brings a sun kissed radiance to the overall nature of the song.

There can be no doubt that Ann Sweeten is one of the most artistic performers of her day, and on tracks like Turning The Page that becomes very evident. I feel this is a very familiar point for me, I too have turned the page, but one cannot really understand this without being there and doing it, but the ambience gifted within this arrangement may take you some of the way to understanding it, ahead lays an untouched open path and the excitement of the future lays now in your own hands; Sweetens performance on piano here is so very empowering and insightful.

The half way marker of the album has been reached and it is called What My Eyes Can't See. Someone once said to me, during our time here, we are spiritual beings experiencing a physical life, it’s a nice thought and the presentation here springs forth a mood of letting go and just being, the symbiotic dance between English Horn and Violin raise this energy even higher, until happiness abounds and flows like a soft spring river in March.

One Last October is a song written for Sweetens father, it is a narrative about their last meeting on this plain of existence. One must applaud the artist here, this is a track packed with emotive possibilities, but played with such a happy heart and a soul, that truly is joyful tribute for her times past, experienced and remembered.

We will always remember the day the earth stood still as the pandemic hit home, and that’s exactly where we stayed locked down, literally and legally in our own homes until further notice. Forever Sunday has a repeating motif that perfectly illustrates that, it is also one of the rare solo piano pieces off the album, but one that has two parts to it, a level of frustration and wanting to get on, but another that actually is enjoying the slow pace of life, as we all had time to stop and smell the flowers and listen to the wind in the trees.

Emergence has such a wonderfully glorious sense to its construction; I remember this feeling well, akin to walking from a dark room and into the daylight of a thousand possibilities, the resonance hits you and transformation takes place. Here Sweeten produces a performance that is literally inspiring and completely bathed in a reality of truth.

It is time for that all important canvas to be uncovered and of course I am refereeing to the title track Change Is in the Wind. This is probably the most reflective song off the album, its melodies allow one to look over the shoulder at the past and recognise the lessons learned. The inclusion of Bisharat on this piece was sheer genius, it manifests a wonderful texture to the composition, and creates a track that literally says whatever happens, now is all you will have, and in fact Sweeten has penned the ultimate acceptance arrangement here.

Being in a reflective mood is useful, but only when one feels the awareness of a lesson thoroughly learned, on this the last track of the album called Silver Lining, perhaps Sweeten has written this track for us all, through her performance it could be that over the last year we have all had the opportunity to learn how to slow down and feel peace and the soil beneath our feet, perhaps that’s the Silver Lining, what a great way to leave an album indeed, with another sublime performance by all.

I do believe that this release, and please, really no pun intended, but I believe this to be a game changer of an album, from the very thoughts and meditations of the creative mind of Ann Sweeten, comes her best work so far, and through that work we can all take note of our own journeys, and allow that change to take place.

Change Is in the Wind, is a ground breaking and heart-warming new release from a pianist who has gone with the flow of life’s sometimes confusing tapestries, and thus produced something that is a timeless musical lesson of how to live life to the fullest, and smile while doing so, and is a very easy album to recommend.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Singing Back To Ziryab By Al Gromer Khan


Singing Back To Ziryab


Al Gromer Khan

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Receiving a new Al Gromer Khan album is like a birthday present that comes early, most will know I am not only a big fan of his music, but also, that this musician is one of the reasons I have now become a musician myself, his releases are a constant source of inspiration to me. I am therefore elated that I get the opportunity to write about his brand new album on offer entitled, Singing Back to Ziryab.

Who is Ziryab I hear you say, well in short I guess you might call him a 9th Century musical, artistic, multi-talented James Dean of his day, certainly a free spirit who crossed many boundaries in his life, because he simply could, but there was a delicious sensuality about his style, as there is about this quite smooth and sensory delight of an album.

The first piece is a prime example of this slow and most pleasurable presentation, and Al Gromer Khans keyboards, synths and Sitar manifest a whole bed of perfection to lie upon, and just simply enjoy a new form of tone and timbre.

The title track is now upon us Singing Back To Ziryab, this grand picture frame of genius radiates all around us with such a delicate passion; the ambience of this composition cannot be understated, and the masters Sitar works a wonderful spell to enchant us, the ever eager listener, it is one that literally takes us on an almost 10 minute journey with the artist, and of course Ziryab himself.

Malakosha Xb is one of those pieces that floats with a desire to bring into creation a place of calmness beyond supposed perception, for me the performance was so tranquil and chilled, the harmonic resonance here is sublime, and the vocalisations almost ethereal in construction, one has to note the beat, it is so very pleasing to the senses indeed.

As we move ever onward and towards the centre of the album, we come across a track called Jimi of Silence. The manifestation here is once more fluent and creates a mood of utter ambience, now add in the percussive elements and you have another rhythmic arrangement that is simply undeniably addictive, and most certainly packed with a musical pleasure of the most delicious of slow tempos.

The shortest piece on the album is Musqat, I would urge the use of headphones on this album, but especially for the effects on this track, they are sensational, and seem to dance from one side to the other in a smooth and rhythmic energy of ambient perfection.

We now begin our descent into the second half of the release and as we do so, we come across a creative masterpiece entitled Mine To Mend. The percussive cadence here is deep yet sensitive in its approach, thus manifesting yet another wonderfully ambient landscape to explore with complete willingness.

This entire album is blissful and gives us many moments of almost meditative joy to revel within, that can most certainly be found within the arrangement Darbar, this is a multi-dimensional composition that became a favourite of mine very quickly, there is a mysterious essence here that is so appealing, and Gromer Khans instrumentation and Sitar, seems to create this textured tapestry of sequences as we go. This is one of those pieces that would be very easy to leave on repeat and just be.

The hovering reality of the penultimate track is now before us and called Telepath. This ethereal delight swirls around our senses bring us a veritable cloud of tone, ambience and atmospherics. The character of this composition is a traditional milieu for the artist, and it is a locale we are more than happy to just sit in and enjoy, the keyboards, synths and vocalisations manifest one of, if not the, most relaxed songs from the whole album.

Our last track is entitled Sieger, and Al Gromer Khan leaves us where he found us, with a reminder of the beautifully slow tempos and sensual beats that are indeed all that we now know as Singing Back To Ziryab. This as an ending composition that is the perfect arrangement to leave the project with, a steady quiet beat, in a very slow pattern that utterly enhances the minds ability to be both peaceful and pleasurable.

Singing Back To Ziryab by Al Gromer Khan is a unique album that has certainly been worth waiting for, we can all now rest assured that the master of ambient vibes is back with us, and this sensually creative slice of ambience is a sign that all is well in the world of ambient music and beyond. Singing Back To Ziryab by Al Gromer Khan isn’t just an album to place on your wish list, it is a release to buy now and enjoy in a timeless beautiful way, your mind, body and soul will love you for it.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Reflection No.1 By Eric Chapelle & Michelle Schumann


Reflection No.1


Eric Chapelle & Michelle Schumann

Written by

Steve Sheppard


When I first listened to this composition I gazed longingly at the cover of the single and it seemed so relevant, so idyllic, and for me quite emotive. Rivers are something I truly miss here in Cyprus, a country with very few, if any at all. So, I was pulled in by the artwork, and then I drifted on a bed of tone, lulled into a calmness that I hadn’t felt since being at a real river, and through the beautiful performance by pianist Michelle Schumann.

The picture is of the River Sorgue in Southern France, and one must say that composer Eric Chapelle has created a piece of music here entitled Reflection No.1, that is some of the most moving and soothing I have heard for a while in the solo piano genre, the musical performance indeed is as fluent as this most picturesque river itself. There are elements of classical piano built into the weave of the arrangement that are utterly sublime, and it has to be said, that I sense this has to be a hit single in the making for the artists.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Dream High By Ban Brothers


Dream High


Ban Brothers

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The Ban Brothers are back and with a wonderfully fluent new single entitled Dream High, but for those of you who would be expecting an eastern world vibe to be laid upon you, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised at the result of their work on this really fun piece, which could be a bit of a pop classic.

Dream High has a message to follow and a foot tapping narrative that is hard to resist. I must be honest now, I have just played the single 5 times so far and still want more, it is very addictive, with shades of Christopher Cross, Chris Rea and Squeeze. The Ban Brothers have composed a sublime pop track that would pretty much please most listeners whom listen, the tones of session musician Sunny take lead vocals and even more good news is that it comes from a forthcoming release (EP/Album) Guiding Star - songs of "hope, inspiration, and love", now that is something to really look forward to.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Waves Of Sleep By Andy Rogers


Waves Of Sleep


Andy Rogers

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Andy Rogers in music mode has been progressing nicely for some years now, but it could be that on Waves Of Sleep the artist has probably produced his best work thus far, from first note to last, here is an album designed to bring comfort, calm and a restful ambience to the listener, and it works brilliantly.

The opening piece Waves of Sleep Part 1 ushers the eager and weary listener into a soothing musical narrative in such a gentle and tranquil way, this long form opus also contains the natural sounds of seagulls and caressing waves within the composition as well.

Rogers has been likened to artists like Chuck Wild of Liquid Mind, Stephen Rhodes, Mike Rowland and David Sun; whilst I can understand the comparisons, I believe that Andy has now moved past even that point, and has transcended his peers with some of the most healing and calming music around in this current era, for example one may visit tracks like The Healing Bowls for a blissful meditative arrangement, or perhaps his big hit single With the Dawn Comes Hope (Piano version), originally written in the middle of the pandemic, a song that gave us all the hope we needed.

Whatever Andy Rogers creates, it has one thing always contained within, honesty. We can touch the hem of greatness and feel the love and the heart of his musical soul, through offerings like The Moon Rising, a powerful yet emotive song indeed, and then try the warm and caring composition entitled As Day Turns to Night, a track that salutes the day with a smile, and allows one to close their eyes to look forward to a new day to enjoy.

The album concludes with another long form creation that is the sister of the opening track, Waves of Sleep Part 2, and may I add this was a very clever move, as the album opens, he eases the listener into a sanctuary of calm, now at the end, they can simply drift off onto an ocean of hope, serenity and peace, and that cannot be a bad thing at all, can it?

Waves Of Sleep by Andy Rogers does exactly what it says on the can, Roger’s music has now crossed the threshold of being just very good, to being extremely crafted moments of tender and soothing brilliance. Waves of Sleep has to be an album in with a chance of an award next year, and in my view easily the best work from an artist, one who truly cares about each note played performed and produced, and thus is utterly recommended as the album you most need, if you wish bring a realm of tranquillity into your world.


Monday, September 6, 2021

A Seeker's Slumber By Cheryl B. Englehardt


A Seeker's Slumber


Cheryl B. Engelhardt

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is something truly haunting, yet riveting about this brand new album from Cheryl B. Engelhardt entitled A Seeker's Slumber, it has a multitude of textures and colours that seem to literally vibrate with a growing sense of anticipation thought the release.

The harmonic convergence begins with the opening piece Ithaca, the vocalisations mixed with the piano brings our ears a wonderful treat to get us underway.

Engelhardt has an ever growing reputation as a composer and songwriter, and on this album that standing continues to grow. Awæcnian is a fine example of a song that has everything built within the weave, a textured build and progression, perfect vocals and lyrics to build a sense of mystery, and all to a backdrop that truly lifts the energies and mood of the listener.

Circlet of Pisces is a classic new age styled track, a gentle progression on piano, water sounds and a natural soundtrack that manifests a wonderful realm of mystery and imagination, tracks like this are sublime in there creation, they are so good, you have to stay with it all the way, and drain each and every moment of satisfaction from them.

When we drift into the welcoming arms of the next track Unwind, we find ourselves floating on vibrations of a masterful song that would make a sublime single, certainly the most commercial and perhaps, even music for a film too. This is one of the most amazing tracks of this style I have heard this year, it grabs hold of your attention and never allows it to wonder.

The midway point of the album is hallowed ground; it is where we find a blissful piece called Emerald Dreams. The ethereal vocalisations seem to hover all around us like a summer mist, whilst a soothing piano plays with the energies of an early morning sunrise, on what I would without doubt class as the most idyllic track off the album.

It is time for an anthem like opus that will hold you tight and caress your senses; it is called Mother Gaia and contains the talents of Joanie Leeds & Chava Mirel. There are elements of both Eneya and Kin Za Za here, but these are easily over powered by the lush uniqueness of the presentation performance and style, on a track that has to go down as one of the most influential off the release.

Another favourite for me would be the following piece Anyway You Chose..., a simple song sung so well, a piano segment that is so creative, but delicate, and a lyric that is so easy on the ears, mind and soul, that we can literally just float with the melody and enjoy in bliss.

Deeper into the weave of the album we will come across a track that is vast and open and has a classy build and progression, it is called Pentacle Path. This has a reality to its structure that of course gives us the ever eager listener a touch of mystery built into the menu of the piece, but is also one that allows that listener, to enjoy but reflect at the same time.

The penultimate piece could easily follow on from the aforementioned offering. Temperance takes us to cobwebbed rooms in search of something we need! The piano is spectacular at creating this mood with its haunting like progression; one must say this would be a perfect piece for a Tim Burton movie too.

The final and concluding arrangement is Sopor, the build here is simply fantastic, everything you would want as a concluding composition, it has a layer of suspense and anticipation that once again rivets the listener to their seat until its last note, the drifting angelic vocalisation, and harmonically resonating keyboards, manifest a truly fine finish to what has indeed be a quality journey through the realms of what is or should be, an award winning new age album.

A Seeker's Slumber by Cheryl B. Engelhardt in my view is easily the artist’s best work so far, it is creative genius connected to a muse that simply flows like a spring river, each track is presented produced and performed with such style. I would find it almost unbelievable if it wasn’t truly respected with an award of some description. If you like music that will take you on a journey and won’t let you go until the last note played, then A Seeker's Slumber by Cheryl B. Engelhardt is most certainly the album for you.

Eleven After Midnight By Holland Phillips


Eleven After Midnight


Holland Phillips

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Holland Phillips is one of those artists that sit’s high on my “A” list of musicians that can simply do no wrong in my book; the journey I undertake willingly is to sojourn through his tenth release to date called Eleven After Midnight. This voyage sees Phillips skills as a composer highlighted to such a level that it is an utterly transcendent voyage we now traverse.

From the light and sparkling refrains of Lights Out we are gifted something quite moving and calming, the melodic structures continue on one of my personal favourite tracks entitled All That We Are, Phillips is a blissful arranger of quality instrumental music, and here on this piece we see an almost film score narrative in play.

On Stranger Dreams we can imagine that we are now in the deeper and darker realms of Phillips creative dome of night time, the electronic energies here are wonderfully crafted, and the pace and tempo gives us a veritable soundtrack to our inner dream walking.

There is an almost science fiction essence in the track Landing On Mars, and within the dimensions of the title track itself, Eleven After Midnight, we are presented with one of the most moving compositions off the album, certainly one of the deepest arrangements thus far created by the artist.

There can be no doubt that Holland Phillips is at the top of his game in the genre of contemporary instrumental music, and this album will cement that legacy, and as Phillips says, his most creative time is after midnight and through the small wee hours, it shows on this most outstanding album. The penultimate track is a fine example of this crafted genius and called Pieces of You, a track that literally screams musical anthem and yes my favourite offering off the album, with the concluding song At Night's End, we can see once again the sun light creep in through the gaps in the curtain cladded windows, and a sweet calming arrangement of very classy keyboards draws this wonderful experience to an end.

Eleven After Midnight by Holland Phillips is an album of a different direction, a collection of compositions that have been created when the artist’s musical force has been at it strongest. It shows with ease and each and every piece has a fluency and emotive resonance that is just simply undeniable and utterly encapsulating. Eleven After Midnight by Holland Phillips is a real example of really good contemporary instrumental music, some of the best I have heard this year, and is a release that you would really be advised to add to your ever growing collections as soon as possible, it is that good.

Friday, September 3, 2021

July By James Michael Stevens




James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I must admit I have a real passion for music that is based on a season or a month, a wonderful narrative can be created from a musicians heart and their reflections on this subject, and we’re lucky enough now to be able to examine this in more detail through the collection of very classy songs created by James Michael Stevens and called, July.

The artist is not treading on unknown paths here, as he has completed great works for each of the months of this year as well, but here on July, his latest release, he does bring a wonderful romantic energy into the story of the album for us all to enjoy.

The memory palace of In My Summer Dreams starts our solo piano sojourn, a piece that is utterly charming with every note played, and from this vast body of work, some 15 tracks, which is incredibly rare for this day and age, we find compositions that brings a certain musical mournful resonance, like Silver Canvas, or a classic new age piano styled arrangement like Yellow Roses.

The melodic structures in this album are quite profound and easily memorable; one may even find themselves in a magical moment of whistling tracks like The Mystery of Love, or Once in a Purple Sky whilst going about their day, or just simply floating with the lightness of performances of pieces like Sunset Falls, for me one of the most colourful and descriptive compositions from the album.

For every piano music aficionado there is truly something for everyone, with the penultimate offering Dusk being a fine example, an arrangement that contains mood, emotion and a blissfully fluent performance too.

July by James Michael Stevens gifts the listener 15 glorious solo piano performances that they can really kick back, relax and enjoy. This is one of the hottest months of the year, but here the artist has manifested a musical sanctuary for the listener, one to happily drift on a bed of piano based tranquillity with and enjoy an album that is as timeless as a thousand summers.