Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Shadows in the Fire By Dave Mohan ft feat Lydia Salnikova

 


Shadows in the Fire

By

Dave Mohan ft feat Lydia Salnikova

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Dave Mohan has been on my radar a lot over the last 6 years, and with each passing year, and each passing composition, he brings a magical sense of pure quality to the table. Here on this latest single he has really reached for that brass ring, and pulled off a sublime new jazzy based ballad that is just totally classy.

Shadows in the Fire also features the stunning vocals of Lydia Salnikova, and this breath taking new offering is utterly the best slow song to have that very last dance of 2022 with. The smoothness of the arrangement is actually quite emotional in its overall content as well, and I rate this to be the best work of the artist thus far, certainly one that will get plenty of spins, and a good chart placing with ease.


Between Night and Day By Victor Birkan

 


Between Night and Day

By

Victor Birkan

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Victor Birkan is a prolific composer of intelligent and colourful solo piano compositions; Between Night and Day is his latest single, and a mysterious new arrangement drifts before us like a late November fog, so what lays between night and day? What walks in the halls of this realm of half-light, all can be imagined here by listening to this masterpiece of a musical narrative, one that takes you on a journey through sight and sound.


Birkan’s performances are full of rich textures, notes and tones, and this new single is certainly a fine example of that aforementioned statement, the presentation will take the listener on a journey, it will encapsulate its audience, and will mesmerize all who listen, with its magical mystery tour of sublime solo piano.


Mordovian Moods By Sandi Horton

 m


Mordovian Moods

By

Sandi Horton

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

A mournful yet beautiful flute cries out across the vast reaches of our planet, in response to the imprisonment of American Brittney Griner, being sent to a work prison in Russia. This song though also represents the depths of sadness we all feel when we suffer a loss of any kind, it is palpable and deep.

Here Sandi Horton has manifested a wonderfully sensitive solo flute narrative, one that speaks throughout the ages, and resonates with all in a reflective style, emotive in its construction, but also, by the very beauty of the music, one thing is held dear within the notes of this sublime song, hope.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man

 


Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man

By

Heidi Breyer

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Heidi Breyer is an artist I have known for some time, from Another Place and Time in fact! ... to a moment where we shared Moonlight In Empty Rooms, and I have always rated her as being one of the most heartfelt and descriptive artists of her time, and her skill set of being able to express emotion through music is perhaps unparalleled, here the artist takes on the biggest voyage of her entire career, and brings to life our hopes and dreams, as we start to once again find our feet within this 21st century.

Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man, has to be one of the finest modern day albums of its style of all time, from its emotive beginnings in the opening foray of Introit, where the powerful chorale ensemble, drove energies of supreme beauty across a musical landscape, and also reminded me greatly of composers like Eric Whitacre whilst doing so.

Breyer’s thoughtful piano started the next sojourn through the piece Kyrie Eleison, translated into Latin and meaning Lord Have Mercy, here the artist gives herself to the moment, and manifests a transcendent manifestation of such a high quality, that her symbiotic partnership with the chorale singers and orchestration, brings into being something truly regal and glorious.

Heidi Breyer’s piano performances are always something to dive deep into, as one can find more chapters than thought possible within the cover of the said musical book, here on Domine Jesu Christe we find an imploring musical narrative that is deeply powerful, as is the performance of the pianist herself, whilst then slipping into the almost Gregorian realms of the next offering in Sanctus, I have played with this aspect recently on one of my compositions, I will do more, but here the artist, composer and pianist lights the way with a stylish and crafted work of sheer classical genius.

The midway marker gifts us a piece called Lacrimosa, which I believe means weeping or tearful in Latin. If you ever wished to hear the artists true soul manifest a performance that is literally outwardly, then this would be the arrangement I would point you to, its moving structures and blissful energies raise the roof with its quite breath taking musical narrative along with Breyer’s presentation on piano, could this perhaps be her best ever, and the Coda that concludes the composition is something that is simply sublime.

The haunting quality of Pie Jesu is a delicacy that is beyond beautiful, and shows the sensitivity of the arrangements structure, the strings here were particularly played from the heart to the heart, whilst a smooth transition into the piece Agnus Dei was created with such a tender crafted talented touch, This offering is exceptional, and highlights the chorale performers to a level that it will move you emotionally, Breyer’s soft soothing style here on piano just emphasises her outstanding skill set, as she elevates this piece from its initial serene beginning, into a strong triumphant arrangement.

We now swim in the deeper parts of this universal lake of boundless brilliance, by caressing the next piece entitled Lux Aeterna, this would be one of my personal favourites from the album, the love that pours from this single composition is enough to sustain you for a life time. Breyer’s performance here on this sparkling reverie was one of the warmest, and the overall narrative incredible uplifting, light enteral indeed.

The penultimate track off the album is dedicated to the piece Libera Me, for those of you, who like me, adore stringed instrumentation, this is a must listen, a gaze through the window at a glorious transcendent offering, whilst we can then conclude with the final piece entitled In Paradisum. I feel like this track, when I look out of my window each morning, saying I must be living in paradise. I wondered how it would work for me on my earthly realm, and it was sublime, the lapis ocean danced with the winter winds in a jig of great beauty and intensity, but what a superb way with which to conclude this amazing project by the artist and composer, and absolutely well worth the decade it took to get here.

Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man by Heidi Breyer contains so many artists, singers and musicians, it would take around half a page on its own to simply mention them all and their vast contributions, but please, when you buy the album, as I know as listeners of discernible taste you will most certainly will do so, please take a moment to read the cover that contains their names, it is well worth it, and the certainly the respectful thing to do.

Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man by Heidi Breyer as you may well guess has to be the artists best work to date, how can it not be, she has taken a subject close to hear heart, she has thought about a reinvention of the human spirit, and taken her sublime skill set to produce one of the most moving and powerful classical works of this modern age, regardless of whether you are religious or not, here is an album that will move you to the very core of your existence.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Voices from the Ethereal Forest By Meg Bowles

 


Voices from the Ethereal Forest

By

Meg Bowles

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Meg Bowles is a remarkable composer and musician; her albums have literally taken me too many places over the last few years, I traversed a Shimmering Land in 2013, and listened enthralled to the Evensong: Canticles for the Earth some 5 years later.

I have but one bit of sound advice before listening to this album, use headphones, and turn up the volume, the experience is simply amazing, and as such Voices from the Ethereal Forest is an utterly extraordinary album.

Meg has manifested a seven track album here that is beyond beautiful, and to start with the title track was just a blessed thrill, as Voices from the Ethereal Forest, is a track that comes to you in waves, its tones and synth structures are astonishing and magnificent, reminding me in parts of artists like Kendle or Serrie, and reminding me I have a long way to go with my own compositions!

This stunning start is followed by an even more compelling track entitled Ode to a Fragile Sea; one of the things I am going to incorporate in my own creations is the use of ethereal vocalisations, and here Bowles balances perfectly such vocal explorations, and matches them with such grand and sumptuous synth work gestures, ones that could easily be akin to great classical works of far forgotten ages, in a piece that is utterly mesmerizing.

The gentle symbiosis of this next piece is transcendent and called Grove of Light, combing the past, present and future paths of this genre, manifesting a peaceful calm realm for it to reside, and this musical sanctuary is brought to life by Bowles superior understanding of compositional structure and free flowing abundant synth magic.

Taking but one tentative step into the second half of the album, finds us knocking on the door of one of the most ambient pieces off the release, and probably of the year as a whole, as we lay in the arms of Slow Dance Under a Red Moon. What the artist does so well here is to take her time and sublimely create layer after layer of delicious textures upon each other, thereby bringing into reality a depth of ambience as of yet unheard of.

The mournful title of Woodland of Sorrows is now upon us, this wonderland of peace and tranquillity created by Meg Bowles has been filled with meditative islands of calm and tranquillity, but here we have a different consistency of tone to enjoy, a reflective pastiche of lament and sadness, but even here, this is done with such an artistic sense of respect and love, its ethereal energies lift up the listener in the arms of true hope, in what is probably one of the most beautiful creations ever manifested by the artist.

The penultimate offering is entitled Winter Fog and of all the compositions I have heard, over decades of years in the business, I rate this piece to be the most relevant to the subject matter, perfectly exploring the mystical elements of mist and fog, and the landscapes with which they come into being. Here the artist crafts an almost otherworldly creation, manifesting a slow, deep pathway of fog, one that lifts and falls with the grace of a ghostly veil upon the environment below.

The last and final concluding composition is also the longest off the album as well, at just short of twelve minutes in duration and called Evening Chorus. Once more Bowles shows her intelligence by terminating her project with simple, but sublime ambience. The synths manifest a heavenly realm of serenity, whilst the offering swirls and drifts around the listener with unreserved musical perfection, what a splendid way indeed with which to leave the album.

It just has to be said that Voices from the Ethereal Forest by Meg Bowles, is without a shadow of a doubt the best work thus far in the career of the musician, its artistic flair and intelligent designs, have all created an album that is simply magnificent, but apart from the plaudits, she has also created for the listener a sonic sanctuary, a respite of tone and timbre with which to escape the craziness of the world. Voices from the Ethereal Forest by Meg Bowles has to be one of the best ambient electronic albums released this year, this album is one that has to be a total must for all those fans, who constantly seek truly top class music, the good news is, you need to look no further, it is right here! 


Mysterious Beauty By Diane Wheeler Dunn

 


Mysterious Beauty

By

Diane Wheeler Dunn

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Many years ago I became entranced by flute performers like Nigel Shaw and Terry Oldfield, each had their own style, and each reflected the growing link between new age music and the flute, in what could be called the golden age of the genre, skip forward 20 years and Diane Wheeler Dunn is one of those rare artists who can now take the flute and create something as equally magical and mysterious, perhaps even as much as the previous two artists did back in the day.

Mysterious Beauty is the latest artistic creation from the flute performer, and it contains a rhythmic percussive element that is undeniable and addictive in quality. Her productions are always extremely excellent, her pieces always have great depth, colour and texture, and it is artists like Diane Wheeler Dunn that have opened the doorway to flute music in general, and made it far more globally accessible to all music lovers. This is a single that really deserves to be a big hit and I am pretty sure that’s going to happen.

 


Hopeful By Antonija Pacek

 


Hopeful

By

Antonija Pacek

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I always believe that if you can create the title of a song, in the musical form within your composition, then you have succeeded, you have layered the textures that drifted across the creative part of your creative mind, and painted that picture successfully.

Antonija Pacek has done just that on her latest single Hopeful, this felt piano piece, which includes an outstanding orchestral version as well, is a soft, gentle, and tender manifestation of a musical interpretation of the word hope, with wonderful ease.

Now, interestingly enough, I played both the solo felt piano version of this song, and went straight into the orchestral version, and it came to me that a combination of the two would create one of the most undeniable offers ever in this genre, they both work well as a musical symbiosis, and they both manifest a natural build and progression, either way, this is a fine example of a truly sensitive piano performance indeed.


Mellow By Lorna James

 


Mellow

By

Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

To shine at the higher echelons of the piano genre these days, you have to stand out with an originality of beauty and a creative compositional talent, and Lorna James has certainly been convincing me of such, with her arrangements throughout this year.

Here, on her latest single, she goes one step further and creates one of the most delicate yet melodic piano based compositions for a while, the soothing back drop Mellow flows like a summer mist across a lake of pure musical tone, whilst her piano manifests a sweet melody that is simple, and incredibly easy to enjoy, which means that this new single, Mellow, should become a bit of a fan favourite and, a big hit with the listeners.


Friday, December 16, 2022

Flute Shine By Jan Michael Looking Wolf

 


Flute Shine

By

Jan Michael Looking Wolf

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Organic, fluent and deeply moving, these three words sum up for me the flute experience I have just travelled, with one of the finest exponents of this genre in Jan Michael Looking Wolf and his new EP Flute Shine.

From the very first song, which of course is rightly the title track, we are gifted a musical presentation that will truly create an atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation around you, as Flute Shine the composition, is simplicity and talent, hand in hand.

Jan Michael is a man I deeply respect; his work in this life time has been vast and has touched many along the way, on songs like One Heart Honor Song, we are taken back into a realm of reverence and veneration of a life well led and an open heart. The opening soft and gentle chant was simply delicious, and took me back to my days in the US, and the various Pow Wows I attended, whilst that, oh so incredible flute of the artist, draws a musical narrative so soothing, honest and true, for the longest piece off the release.

Honeybee brings us a jolly piece, a shaker and flute dance like the wings of the bee on a warm summer’s day; bee is a wonderful spiritual totem as well, emphasising the energies of vitality health and prosperity, and on this really warm offering, the artist emphasises all three of those and more, in a piece that is as sweet as the honey that the Bee provides.

One of my favourite creatures in the bird world is the subject matter of the penultimate track off the EP and called Hummingbird’s Love. Here the flutist creates the very actions of the creature with the flute, I have seen this wondrous bird only a few times, and it is a marvel to observe, and Jan Michael’s expression of the beauty of this creature through his performance is doubly so.

Our last arrangement is entitled Flicker Dance, now this has to be one of the most exciting and rhythmic conclusions to any flute album I have heard for some time, the combination of native drum, shaker and flute are combined perfectly, to not only manifest a wonderful vibrant dance, but also a sublime end to this fantastic release.

Flute Shine by Jan Michael Looking Wolf is a reminder to us all to embrace life with gratitude, respect and love, this is a natural work of heart felt and honest good music, its organic and native roots shine life into the performances on flute, from an artist who always brings his A game to each and every project taken.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Arlington Square ft Leah Finkelstein By Carbe and Durand

 


Arlington Square ft Leah Finkelstein

By

Carbe and Durand

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Carbe and Durand are two artists that I feel I have known for years musically, and wait, I have! In fact since the turn of the century, and with the album Misterioso, they have been on my radar. Here they are again today to brighten up my day, and they have added to their ranks, by including the ever talented Leah Finkelstein.

Together the three of them lift the cadence of the day, and create a wonderfully light happy and cheerful refrain called Arlington Square, the soft fluent Jazz styled elements work wonderfully with the duos Latin back ground, and the upbeat and vibrant tempo should see another huge chart hit come their way very soon.


The Owl and The Dark By Christof R Davis

 


The Owl and The Dark

By

Christof R Davis

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The world is a better place for the creation of this new ambient electronic construct called The Owl and The Dark by Christof R Davis, the artistry and thoughtful build and progression, makes this one of the finest compositions I have heard in its style for quite some time.

Christof R Davis has a talent for using nature, time and circumstance to express his musical moods, and on this brand new single he does it so very well indeed, this new arrangement has suspense, mysterious elements and magical moments, all built into four minutes of creative class.

The Owl and The Dark by Christof R Davis is a new offering you really cannot miss, if you truly value really creative artistic music in the modern age.


Why and Wherefore By Al Jewer and Andy Mitran

 


Why and Wherefore

By Al Jewer and Andy Mitran

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

Al Jewer and Andy Mitran return to their ambient roots with their latest single Why and Wherefore, an arrangement that brings a feeling of peace to you as you listen.

There are so many intricate layers to this composition, that you will need to listen several times to fully hear them all, but I adore the opening, it takes me to a magical place deep within. The Ebow guitar and flute mixed with the synths really bring this piece to life, and as I listen, I look at the artwork that accompanies the single, and can see the hope that is built into the arrangement as the new shoots of a plant start to grow.

This is a beautiful new single from the duo, one that is sure bound to head to the top of the charts, a piece to inspire hope in those that listen.


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Heart Rhapsody By Julie Hanney

 


Heart Rhapsody

By

Julie Hanney

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Julie Hanney has slowly but surely been making her way up the vast league table of solo pianists around the globe for a little while now, and done so with sublime style and grace too, I may add as well, those two words would also be quite apt to use for her latest EP entitled Synchronicity.

Style and grace are two wonderful attributes to have in your armoury as a pianist, and on my chosen track we can see that is very evident indeed, and called Heart Rhapsody.

The soft gentle palate of tone and timbre are so beautifully manifested here, with such a tender tempo and great consideration of compositional structure to. This meaningful musical repose had me that entranced that I left it on repeat for multiple plays whilst writing this review, and then for a brief moment also as I watched, with love, the winter setting sun. This is simply creative solo piano at its very best and my day has been more fulfilled for having Heart Rhapsody in it.


Ionic Realms [Victronomy Plubonius] By Desensitized

 


Ionic Realms [Victronomy Plubonius]

By

Desensitized

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

My love for modern art and its creation would eventually lead me to a place where I would try and source music, ones that would fit my endless gaze and desire to slip into the creations, and find a sanctuary away from the madding crowd, so to speak.

Ambient music constructs would be that eventual asylum, and this is where I find myself now, pondering the thoughts of the multiverse, encapsulated by the sounds of Ionic Realms, a sublime electronic ambient manifestation by Desensitized, from their latest album Chaos In Premonition.

Desensitized are Deborah Martin and Dean De Benedictis, and between them, they have brought to this realm an amazingly atmospheric collection of impressive electronic tones and sounds, among them I would choose Ionic Realms as my go to piece, its ambience manifests for me a dimension of resonance so vast and wide, yet safe and secure in its structure; a true sanctuary indeed, and a very classy ambient music expression.


Monday, December 12, 2022

In The Gentle Arms of Love By Richard Goldsworthy

 


In The Gentle Arms of Love

By

Richard Goldsworthy

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

As soon as I pressed play I knew this single by Richard Goldsworthy was going to touch all the right spots, the release of In The Gentle Arms of Love is both a moment of peaceful solitude and a calming reverie that I could easily play on repeat for ages.

This is indeed a magical solo piano presentation, one also very tenderly performed; the sensitivity within the compositional structure of the song is so heart felt and packed with affection and the crafted use of both minor and major give us sincerity from deep within, and uplifting honesty in abundance, this was simply sublime, and as such I see no reason why this won’t be a big chart hit.


There To Now By Jamie Bonk


There To Now

By

Jamie Bonk

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This brand new and very easy to listen to album by Jamie Bonk is now before us, this is a collection of beautifully chilled music entitled There To Know and is a pastiche of a multitude of genres; it is hard to even calculate the formula to come up with an overall narrative to, and that in a way is its overall charm.

With uplifting tracks like the opening piece entitled Last Thing First (feat. Wendy Irvine & Bill McBirnie), the vibrancy of the flute and melodic guitar bring a truly pleasant opening piece to the ever eager ear of the listener. Slices of Americana and Folk can be found here, perhaps in tracks like Hopefully Me (feat. Wendy Irvine), on There To Now, there seems certainly to be something for everyone.

Bill McBirnie is back on the piece Inlet, a light Jazzy styled offering, and one track that floats so gracefully by and its easy listening energies are just what any new day starting needs.

It’s good to see a Jamie Bonk album again, the last one I have in my collection is now four years old, but Who Said It Was Easy? This 10 track album seems to fly by with soulful offerings like Pull You Up being one that I can offer as a fine example, with Wendy Irvine’s smooth vocals, combining wonderfully with Bonks ever onward guitar work. While the penultimate creation entitled On The Line (feat. Ron Scott), manifests an almost anthem styled opus, in a similar way to how bands like the Eagles used to capture their most willing audiences attentions.

So Now I Know (feat. Henrik Bridger) ends the album, the melodic structures on this parting gift are truly blissful, as is the bass and a mixture of great contemporary instrumental music; light rock, with a little Jazz thrown most carefully into the mix, heads your musical way, never the less, this is simply the perfect way with which to leave the album, and one of my personal favourites from the it as well.

There To Now by Jamie Bonk is an album that has so much to offer, it is without doubt one of the most multi-faceted releases of the year so far, many musical sojourns and voyages can be taken, and within a multitude of styles and genres to. There To Now by Jamie Bonk is what the world needs right now, its chilled, soothing and light hearted reveries of wonderfully fluent and pleasing music, are tones to create a calming vibe, with which to start your day, and that even on its own cannot be a bad thing, in this oh so crazy, crazy world.


 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Glory Nostalgia By Claude Caron

 


Glory Nostalgia

By

Claude Caron

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

A proud and regal composition can be found on this brand new single entitled Glory Nostalgia by Claude Caron, the energy of this grand opus of magic flows from the keys of the artist with great polish. The song itself is a fine lesson in compositional build and progression, and contains a fluent and colourful theatrical passionate repose.

The gentle drift back and then push forward within this new single was deeply enthralling and extremely enthusiastic in its textures, it was also very nice to be taken on a piano journey of some six minutes plus, compared to the fleeting and somewhat lacking two minutes or less that I am used to hearing. There can be no doubt that Claude Caron has style, panache and a sensitive skillset that has created this totally splendid new single in Glory Nostalgia, and as listeners, we should be grateful for the colourful and enchanting sojourn it has provided.

 


Reading Your Letter (Alternative Version) By The Mayfair Arrangements

 


Reading Your Letter (Alternative Version)

By

The Mayfair Arrangements

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is a soulful and emotional mood about this brand new single by The Mayfair Arrangements entitled Reading Your Letter (Alternate Version). It drifts across the musical mind like a late autumn mist, its sentiments of sadness, mixed with a friendly warming touch, create a dichotomy of dispositions within, ones the listener will gratefully accept.

Here the artist has felt the music flowing from her heart, allowed her muse a creative blank canvas, and thus a composition of great balance and beauty has been manifested, this is a special piece and a sublime example of what a really good solo piano arrangement can sound like, and a certain big hit on the horizon surely.



Monday, December 5, 2022

Embers By Blackfox

 


Embers

By

Blackfox

Written by

Steve Sheppard

                             

A new album from a new band to me came my way this sunny December day, one that for me, I would find inspirational and absolutely unique. Embers by Blackfox drops on my desktop, and a more unique album you would be hard to find. What I liked about my journey through the release was the influences from both 70’s and 80’s and 90’s music, and now in the era of 2022 we have a brand new and very appealing sound from it.

So let’s introduce the band first, Blackfox are, Stacey Cargal: vocals and guitar, Greg Wright: bass guitar and piano, Mitchell Sosebee: drums and percussion, Jim Combs: keyboards and synthesizers, Ryan Taylor: guitar, Monica Arrington: vocals, Andy Gish: vocals and last but not least, Kendra Rainey: vocals. Here we have a band who rightfully believes that music is the out and out truth, the very first song on this album emphasises that beautifully, and called What About You? Now as you listen to this album, and of course this track, those many influences may poke their musical heads from behind their respective drum kits, a powerful driving force can be found on this opening creation, one that for me reminded me of the early days of artists like Alice Cooper and David Bowie, perhaps even bizarrely mixed with early UK band The Jam.

The following musical narrative is a horse of a totally different colour, and one that reminded me greatly of the band America, the song is entitled Follow Me On Down, a song with an open heart and mind, and a truly fresh feeling of freedom within its overall creation.

The vibrant opening on To Be Real pushed a sweet melodic piece, which will, I warn you, become incredibly addictive with each listen given. Hats off must go to bassist Greg Wright, his plunging yet smooth performance here was without doubt the engine room of a piece that flowed with fluent harmonies and textured vocals, here is a song that could easily be a single with ease.

Exploring the slower side of a musical reality is a fascinating project, and one that the band has done sublimely on this next piece called From the Inside, with ease my favourite offering from the album, and a track that is so very listenable indeed, at times Stacey Cargal’s vocals remind me strongly of early Bryan Ferry, but grittier, the growth of this song from its original foundations to its apex is stunning, also stunning were the keyboards of a certain Jim Combs, a man who is very well known to our listeners.

Speaking of Bryan Ferry, the opening foray of this next piece entitled Strange Anymore reminded me slightly of Roxy Music, but soon morphed into a deep and expressive piece that expressed the endings of a relationship, as the composition grew and flowed into the chorus. I could imagine this song would not have felt out of place sitting on an album like Billion Dollar Babies, it is that good.

Ah Ah Ah is up next, and this slice of soft rock may sound simplistic, but it deserves the respect it commands, a fascinating and complex performance on drums by Mitchell Sosebee lit this track up for me, while Cargal’s guitar and R.E.M like vocals, manifested a wonderfully all-embracing pop song.

A really good acoustic guitar can add a whole new dimension to a piece, we have that here on Monsoon, also a jazz like bass rhythm too from Wright, which once again created a totally unique sound for the band, the sound garden created by Combs on keyboards drifted around the piece, manifesting a truly listenable piece that once more could make a very interesting single release.

A strum, and were away with another track entitled I Wonder, a piece that had a delightful powerful repose, one that reminded me of the old New Wave style of the early eighties, with energies of both The Dammed and even U2, into a mix of music that would become incredibly appealing and incredibly forceful in its musical desires and toning.

The Night Comes would be one of those tracks it would be impossible to not like, the counter point of major and minor chords is one of my favourite progressions, the opening gambit was wonderfully layered, and the added backing vocals and instrumentation made this song for me one of the most superior from the album, and one I personally found deeply compelling.

It’s unusual to see the title track at the penultimate offering of the album, but it’s certainly worth the wait, Embers has that emotive quality about its construction the way that Dire Straits did with Brothers in Arms. This pastiche of musical colours and style also has a little Stones feel, in the same way as Jagger gave to his Wild, Wild Horses.

I always like it when artists, bands, singers, go out of a project with an anthem styled offering, here Blackfox seize the moment and do just that, with the track I Need to Know, a short but poignant and very moving piece; the gentleness of this composition is a delightful way with which to conclude the album.

Embers by Blackfox is an album we should treasure, it is a fine example that all in the world of creativity, artistic endeavour has not passed, the band have manifested one of the most original rock based albums of the year without doubt, and this group effort of supportive talents should stand tall and proud and be pleased with this imaginative project of sublime craft, their open mindedness and willingness to build from the roots on up should be applauded, and perhaps a lesson in creativity for us all.


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ex aequo By Duo Diversitas

 


Ex aequo

By

Duo Diversitas

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

This beautiful winter morning heralds the arrival of a new classical music album for me to review, and one that fitted the cadence of the day with such perfection, as I peruse through the release from Duo Diversitas entitled Ex aequo, an album of sublime quality style and panache it has to be said.

Settling into the warmth of this presentation is utterly delightful, and our journey begins with the work of Johan Sebastian Bach in three parts, I. Allegro, II. Adagio, and III Allegro, Duo Diversitas are Marisa Minder and Evgeniya Spalinger. I cannot express enough the beauty that I find here on this suite of great majesty, the Allegro parts are manifested with great energy, and with a delightfully crisp upbeat purpose, whilst the middle Adagio is played with such a tender yet skilful repose, in what is a sublime start to an illustrious collection of great works.

So, from Bach to Mozart we go, and to the pieces Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423 (arr. E. Fisk for flute and guitar); I. Allegro, Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423 (arr. E. Fisk for flute and guitar); II Adagio, and finally Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423 (arr. E. Fisk for flute and guitar); III. Rondo; Allegro, here our symbiotic partnership of class, brings forth a set of performances that truly needs to be listened to in great depth, and within an insightful focus too. The cheerful Allegro’s dance with a great flourish across our musical dance floor, whilst it has to be noted that the middle Adagio is one of the finest I have heard, its delicate, almost reverential presentation, is so wonderfully crafted.

Time now for a complete change of energy through the works of Franz Schubert and the following musical narratives of I Allegro molto, II Andante and III Allegro Vivace, here the deep well of musical satisfaction can be sourced, the tones of sublime brilliance are constructed in a marvellous performance by both Minder and Spalinger. Schubert is considered as the last official classical composer, and the first of the Romantic ones, and even though his life was incredibly short, the body of work he created was amazingly vast. Here Duo Diversitas capture the mood perfectly on all three pieces, my personal favourite would be the thoughtful and quite emotive refrains of the Andante, a track performed at a wonderfully easy walking pace by both artists.

I remember my father being fond of the works of Rossini, how he would have loved this clever combination of the aforementioned Italian composer and Franz Liszt with their pieces respectfully, Soirées musicales and IX. La danza (Tarantella), the manifestation of this would surely bring a huge round of applause and more from any audience.

Now we shift our gaze to a Russian composer of the romantic era in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and the compositions IV. April; Snowdrop and VI June; Barcarolle, the level of ambience created by Duo Diversitas sold this performance for me, and the melodic structure of the latter track doubly so, how delightfully pleasant it would be to be boating in Venice to this somewhat happy musical narrative.

We now drift for this next composition into the arms of Austrian born violist Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler, a pure master of toning and phrasing, here on Schön Rosmarin, we have a flowering beauty of a track that waltz’s into your heart and never leaves, the delicate flute performance here by Spalinger rises and drifts on the wind of brilliance, like the lark on a soft spring morning.

Our final portal to the classics comes courtesy of the Swiss composer Hans Haug with three pieces, and entitled Capriccio; I. Prélude, Capriccio; II. Sérénade à l inconnue and Capriccio; III Gigue, Haug was known for being a influential composer for classical guitar, thus this suits the technical genius of Minder perfectly, and as such her presentation is utterly sublime, while Spalinger comes into her own on the middle the creation, and the final flourish can be found on the concluding piece, with a dramatic and resounding coda.

Ex aequo by Duo Diversitas is one of the finest examples of a recreation of truly breath taking classical music, each piece and composition is performed with the highest of skillsets, the entire album is presented with a warm energy, and allows the doors to classical music to be thrown open wide for all to investigate, making the genre a far more accessible. Ex aequo by Duo Diversitas is an album to completely enjoy in all its aspects and one very easy to recommend.


Robin Redbreast (Holly & Ivy Mix) By Chrissie Sheppard

 


Robin Redbreast (Holly & Ivy Mix)

By

Chrissie Sheppard

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Chrissie Sheppard is fast becoming more than just another flute player; her latest single has a decided seasonal feel to it, and is almost a parody of the original. Robin Redbreast (Holly & Ivy Mix) is actually one of the cleverest pieces that the artist has thus far manifested, the slow but careful build and progression here, is one to really take notice of.

Chrissie also creates firsts for herself on this new offering as well, it contains her vocals, and also some very light, but truly excellent and rhythmic percussion, this added to the natural sounds of an actual robin, and the blissfully happy presentation on flute, make it for me to be one of the best, and without doubt, one of the most original winter songs released so far this year, this just has to be a huge hit for the musician.


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Listen By Wayne Bethanis

 


Listen

By

Wayne Bethanis

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Wayne Bethanis has been on a journey of evolvement for years now, and this most accomplished artist and pianist created one of the wonder albums of last year in Measures of Light. Here on this brand new offering the creative talents of Bethanis spread further and wider with the arrival of a breath-taking new offering entitled Listen, also before we start, let’s give a huge hats off gentlemen to two crafted talents in Jared Kraft and Marcus Sjowall for their luxurious orchestral arrangements.

The opening piece is so gentle and calming, but The Four Corners is a track of a meditative quality, the seat of all we are is nestled in the middle of the four corners of our existence, or the four quadrants of our brain. Bethanis has created a wonderfully fluent and ever onward repeating style here, one that is most attractive indeed; at times I also felt a little Beatles influence flowing through the arrangement to, which is never a bad thing, the inclusion of the Sitar was pure genius as well.

Orville & Wilbur (the Right to Fly) is up next, recently the artist states that he channelled The Wright Brothers, and thus we have a melody that is so inspired by them, an arrangement so moving, happy and empowering. The crescendos are blissful, the tempo absolutely exciting, and the full flowing added instrumentation including percussion, would in my view go on to create one of the most all-encompassing, elevating, and inspiring compositions ever from the pianist.

We arrive at one of the most graceful creations from the album called Tender Years. This is one of those compositions that was most delightful to listen to, as we, each and every one of us, has at some stage felt the wide eyed wonder of innocence and youth. Here Bethanis, through this most colourful and harmonic manifestations, brings something quite magical to the table, one concluded with a blissful choir, a coda has never felt so deeply moving than this one does.

The child like images of That Popular Boy in my English Class was, and is also something that in some way resonates with us, it maybe something we wished had not have occurred, but the eventual outcome can be a glourious one, as Bethanis may not have been the most popular boy at school, but he certainly is one of the world’s finest pianists of his day, and tracks like this one are such proof should it ever be needed.

There is always a track that tugs at the heart strings, and knowing Wayne as I do, I had a feeling it would lay softly in the mid-section of the album. This is a sublime offering, its title is Lonely is the Normal Heart, and its expression is a deep well of love that can simply never be measured, this for me is a Bethanis immortal moment, as he creates a melody that will never be forgotten, and perhaps even channels a certain David Lanz into the composition.

So after wiping tears from my eyes thanks to the last track, we now slide into a whole new realm entirely called, Marry Me. This one surprised me, I never expected a song about marriage, but of course it goes far deeper than just a bonding between couples, this is our relationship with everything we come into contact with. This joyous uplifting baroque styled creation, with its illustrious crescendos, would be one of my personal favourites from the album. For me, this is exactly what makes Wayne Bethanis such a great composer and performer and utterly unique.

When Wayne stated his next single was going to be of a Jazz orientation I must admit I was surprised, but once I had heard the successful single release from the artist entitled The Bexley Bop, I was pleasantly pleased, here we see Bethanis performing with an unbridled and uncomplicated flourish, blowing the blues away, and playing for the day, it’s no wonder it’s a massive success, and it now adds its vibrant energies to the cause of the album too.

Brick by Brick (Song For Jim) is our next doorway of musical magic, and here we have a memorable and moving opus that is so very pleasing to the ear. Dedicated to the genius of Jim Brickman, the pianist gives us a slice of humility and utter honesty with this sublime performance.

Now for something amazingly special Hadrian's Dilemma, one of the greatest leaders of Rome, he also had a love that was equal to his passion of his land. This powerful opus of majestic grace and purpose stands proud and loud as one of Bethanis’s best arrangements thus far, and this marvellous juxtaposition of warrior and lover is incredibly performed by the artist. Here we see both sides of the coin, and Bethanis can in all certainty know that his A game was brought to the field of battle, in this quite remarkable creation.

Francesca's Affair is our penultimate offering, and a song so delicate that it will resonate with the lyrical lovers within us all, it’s interesting this song, before I checked the notes of the piece, I felt early on that there was a decided Mediterranean nuance to the song, and I was right, as the heroine within this composition finds herself travelling to Spain, and on the whim of an adventure inspired by a Tarot card, love, light and drama soon follow, and once more we see Bethanis creating a multi-instrumental moment of great story telling and passion, as the mystery unfolds, like the soft winds across the lapis blue ocean.

The artist interestingly enough finished his last album off with The Gods of the Egyptians, this time around we have a concluding offering entitled Egypt and the Sea People. This land is literally just over the horizon of my coast line, but it is our intention to travel there one day, and perhaps I should take this flourishing opus with me when I do. The man has done it again and produced one of the best finishing compositions you could ever wish to achieve on a musical release; a strong robust and resilient offering can be found here, a magical mythical merge of mastery by the pianist, with such craft and talent can be found here.

Listen by Wayne Bethanis is without doubt the most compelling creation of the artist thus far, here is an album that simply demands to be listened to, its effective formula, and its flourishing, blossoming performances, are simply stunning to behold and extremely significant. I believe that Bethanis may have just created an album of splendour and magnificence, one even greater than his previous collection, and thus he should receive all the plaudits and praise it brings; a masterful release everyone should have is on offer here, don’t hesitate for minute, this is a must have album of great quality.