Monday, September 25, 2023

Guiding Star By Ban Brothers


Guiding Star

By Ban Brothers

Written by

One World Music Radio


Ban Brothers have released their brand new album Guiding Star, an album consisting on 12 tracks, all released as singles, some with different versions on the album. It is their first full-length album in seven years, since the release of their album "All About Love: Music From The Heart" back in 2016, and their first full-length, 100% English language album.

The new Ban Brothers album Guiding Star, is an album that is full of hope and over flowing with love, the release will take you back to the golden days of the 90's, those lush colourful summers when young hearts ran free. Ban Brothers with Guiding Star have set free the spirit of love, kindness, compassion and uplifting encouragement, and in doing so presented us with an album that is both totally addictive and undeniably good.

The album opens with Dream High, a 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, and features the vocals of someone called Sunny. It has shades of Christopher Cross, Chris Rea and Squeeze within the music.

There are shades of a multitude of genres with an uplifting narrative that is something to behold and to be grateful for on this next arrangement, This is Life. The vocals of Rocky assist the brothers, and the flow of the arrangement gives us elements of Americana, light rock, pop and many other styles, and all done with such craft and intelligence, that each and every listener will find something that touches them deep within the veils of this song.

Ban Brothers are again joined by Rocky on lead vocals to take us back to those heady days of bands like Crowded House or Mike And The Mechanics on this next arrangement, Tomorrow's Gonna Rain. There is also a driving essence within that is utterly infectious, with a musical menu that is wide and vast, there is also a hint of The Moody Blues and a slight touch from time to time of a Beatles influence deep within the weave too.

Imagination is up next. Once again session vocalist Rocky joins the brothers, on this uplifting, extremely hopeful new song. The lyrical content is now more valid than ever before, even more perhaps than the 60s, but one has to have hope. This folk-pop ballad has also a wonderful swing to its melody, very similar to how Cat Stevens captured the imagination back in the day.

The title track is up now, Guiding Star. and the brothers may have created an anthem for a TV show or perhaps even a charitable advert here, as it certainly builds upon a narrative of positivity and hope, something we all need today more than ever. The song itself has been described as cinematic pop, and in some ways that goes to confirm my aforementioned statement of its style, the lyrics are sung with power, intensity and purpose by session vocalist Rocky, a regular with the Brothers. One may find elements of folk within this new song, with shades of a mysterious nature perhaps, however, I believe it would be perfect for a show like Stranger Things, one could with ease see it succeed in that arena.

Songs about love have been the main stay for the popular music scene since I can remember, to express this most powerful of emotions within music is an art indeed, but here Ban Brothers do it with such consummate ease on Love Makes My World is one that features the startlingly brilliant vocals of the legendary Scott Oatley. The influence of unconditional love is strong within this track, a piece that reminded me of the classic days of bands like Crowded House or Mike and the Mechanics, here the artists have added flavours and textures of folk and country and layered flowing pop motifs on top of that as well.

Move On, with that pop, soft rock vibe is our next port of call. The music reminds me of the band Squeeze from the 80s and 90s with its upbeat tempo and with lyrics that encourage you to be strong and to keep going, sung by session vocalist Ethan C, the music is encouraging with its ever onward beat.

This song, Nothin’ Like This (album version) featuring session vocalist Robbie, is very much in the mould of indie-style rock, tinged with Americana and touches of country here and there. It’s an upbeat tune and the hopeful and cheerful lyrics reflect that. The guy’s obviously loved and lost before but this time, he feels he’s found somebody special. The repeating message, is that nothing like this ever happened to him before, (we’ve probably all been there).

The next arrangement is In My Dream (album version), the texture of the song is more of a ballad, and the guitar within this latest creation was extremely effective and once again features the vocals of Rocky. This composition is a tonal expression of love, and its flowing musical prowess creates an honest and heart felt narrative. This crafted manifestation floats like a harmonic cloud between the valleys of folk, pop and 90’s music with such ease. This is a song to enjoy and remember perhaps the carefree notions of young love; also it may remind you of acts like The Rembrandts or The Church back in the day.

Love Alone Can Do is up now, an up tempo tune, performed in ¾ (waltz) time and with a definite World Music vibe. Love Alone Can Do has upbeat, hopeful, heartfelt lyrics written and beautifully sung by Swagata "Ban" Banerjee. I especially love the use of the accordion on this track– it is an integral part of the performance and while undoubtedly the instrumental star of this single, it blends perfectly with the rest of the band and gives the music almost a Cajun or “Tex-Mex” feel: think of the band Calexico around the time of their Hot Rail or Black Light albums and you’ll be on the right line here.

We now arrive at a piece inspired by John Lennon and called Most Beautiful, and the inspiration can be heard within the music with ease. This is another love song, or maybe it could be about being infatuated with someone, but either way, the lyrics are great, and written by Swagata "Ban" Banerjee, the words are simple, easy to sing along to, and easy to remember, which goes a long way with the listener. I am sure that most people will have felt like this at some point in their lives about someone. Most Beautiful is a beautiful ballad, and essences of John Farnham and even Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” can be heard within the music, but this is very much a Ban Brothers release, as that laid back style associated with them, which can be heard throughout the music.

We swim now into the welcome arms of our concluding track entitled Nothin' Gets Lost (album version), this is a driving creation, with an almost cross-over 80’s/90’s feel that reminded me of the California based band of that era called The Jellyfish featuring the vocals of session vocalist Ethan C. The positive upbeat narrative is the perfect way with which to leave the project, a song with a passionate vibrancy all of its own and a level of positivity to hold onto as the notes fade away.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Afterthoughts Gary Schmidt



Gary Schmidt

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It’s been a while since I have bathed in the calming refrains of a Gary Schmidt album, if I remember correctly it was in the year that everyone wants to forget 2020, and we relaxed with Gary in the realm of A Classical Meditation, skip forward 3 years and we are at a new place in time and tide as Gary Schmidt now presents to us a 10 track album full of colour, positivity, new beginnings and hope, in this amazing fresh release Afterthoughts.

The opening foray is startlingly brilliant; a lively up-tempo offering entitled This New Day, here Gary plays with a flourish, a passion for life. A true excitement can be felt within his performance, one that is like pulling back the curtains on a beautiful early summer morning, as there is just about everything to look forward to from the cadence of the day. Listen carefully for the crafted interplay between major and minor, in a largely forward thinking offering, tinged with a clever little mood of reflection.

One of my personal favourites, of which there were many, would be this following composition called The Stillness of Flow, whilst Gary played the piano with such emotion, it was easy for me to visualise a river in full flow, then those quiet moments when the waters find a drifting eddy with which to float and just be, much like life really. This for me is true artistic flair and emotive brilliance, and all presented with such passion and desire.

Ancient Time Telling was released as a single earlier on this year and contained such a delightful string section which with ease danced with the maestro’s piano, for me this was and is one of the pianist’s most memorable pieces, a timeless refuge of memory, reflection and storytelling, all brought together by a thoughtful hand on the musical tiller. 

It is time now to just relax and enjoy the classical styles created by Schmidt on this next arrangement entitled Transcendental Etude, a composition, that from my research, is one of the most difficult to perform, and considered a triumph of piano literature. Here that technical side of the artist comes forward and completes this presentation with an unbridled success, this is a piece to sit down and listen to without distraction, and then stand and applaud at its conclusion, it really is that good.

We arrive at the half way juncture and as we do we come across light hearted reverie entitled Face that Lights My Face. The magical energy about this specific piece is the beautiful fluency and flow of the track. Schmidt manifests something so incredibly beautiful, and with the touch on each key a new tone is brought into our musical reality, this is a classic feel good creation.

A short form narrative is now before us called simply Impromptu and composed originally back Sibelius back in the 1890’s, as an arrangement this is quite forward thinking and was also part of the romantic era in classical piano too. Here the artist gifts us a gentle fluent composition that holds a slight note of mystery and passion within its constraints.

One cannot help but love this next piece entitled Ellen's Song, here is a track bathed in loving respect, the warmth that flows from this composition is like a warm hug in the middle of winter, one will find added strings within the composition that add a delightfully sublime layer and texture of a calming reverie into the piece.

The short musical narrative of Berceuse (Cradle Song) is up next; here Gary in less than two minutes brings peace, tranquillity and serenity to the fore in charming heart-warming performance, one that leads us beautiful into the final segments of the album.

We now reach the penultimate track off the album and it is called Simply Reflected. Schmidt pulls off one of his best performances on this offering, one that is artistically sublime, but also technically brilliant. Again this is a track that needs to be enjoyed with the attention towards the structures of the arrangement, the sublime melody which for me illustrated one of the finest solo piano juxtapositions I think I have heard for years.

The concluding creation is a composition brought into this world by Shuman and called Dreaming. Schmidt leaves us with an arrangement that nestles into the arms and breathes a sigh of peace before drifting off into a night time reverie, a delightfully warming way with which to leave an album indeed.

Afterthoughts by Gary Schmidt is one of those blissful albums that you could spin in a moment of happy solitude, and bathe in the moment with, it’s music to ease the mind and sooth the soul, where the artist highlights his technical prowess, his studies on reflection and his tender touches of emotional understanding. Afterthoughts by Gary Schmidt is an all-round fantastic album, the phrase is indeed old, but there is indeed something for everyone within this new offering of piano mastery.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Horizon By Elisabeth Niggl




Elisabeth Niggl

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Listening to Horizon by Elisabeth Niggl was a happy occasion, her style on her latest single took me back to the start of the century, and a part of my vast new age collection of Cd’s, yes I did mention Cd’s, part of that collection contained work similar to this wonderful new single, ah such sweet memories

Horizon starts with an indigenous drum beat, the smart beats of an electronic back drop filters through into the composition in such a clever and well thought out way, while the keyboards manifested for me a mood of a wondrous view, maybe that of one seen from reaching the top of a huge hill. The melody floats with the clouds and manifests such calm and tranquillity.

This symbiotic well-presented styled piece, its compositional structures and electronic patterns reminded me of two old friends from this genre in Gandalf from his Earth and Sky album from 2003, and the glorious new age performer Phil Thornton and his album Transformation from 1999.

Horizon by Elisabeth Niggl I believe is a timeless reverie of song, its music that you will remember in the years ahead for some personal reason; however it is that good that I have a feeling a potential number one could be on the cards for Horizon by Elisabeth Niggl.

Inception By Elisabeth Niggl




Elisabeth Niggl

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This is a truly addictive composition by Elizabeth Niggl; it is called Inception and gifts the listener an upbeat crossover single, one that drifts between several genres, mainly electronic and flute; however the percussive energies within this new offering were incredibly rhythmic and intense too.

The slow almost ambient start was quickly transformed into a deeper more intense arrangement as the flute built upon a solid foundation of a mysterious offering. Indigenous essences arrive with the drum beat, and the flutes dance with it.

I haven’t heard flute played in this style since the great Terry Oldfield on his album Zen - The Search for Enlightenment back in ‘91; however the artist would go further adding the electronic beat in a Berlin styled performance, and in doing so manifested one of the most original and organic flute based presentations I have heard for years, a stylish vibrant song indeed from Elisabeth Niggl and I am sure the listeners will agree too.

Solitude By Elisabeth Niggl




Elisabeth Niggl

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is a wonderful sense of isolation on this stunning new single by Elisabeth Niggl, her flute transforms and allows the imagination to soar through the realms of her composition entitled Solitude.

For me being in solitude is a pleasure, it is something to treasure, quiet moments alone and in a meditative bliss are what many of us seek, a certain stillness, where the craziness of chaos is banned, all this would indeed be possible with this blissful new offering.

The flute of Niggl is both mournful, but also in the louder segments almost celebratory, perhaps of the fact that an actual moment of solitude has been achieved.

The artist has a sublime skill of being able to manifest images in the mind’s eye through her presentations on flute, and I for one will be spinning Solitude by Elisabeth Niggl many times over, this is ambient flute at its very best.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

To Catch Lightning in a Bottle By Kluane Takhini & James Hill


To Catch Lightning in a Bottle


Kluane Takhini & James Hill

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Firstly the phrase To Catch Lightning in a Bottle is an idiom, when one seeks in attempting a difficult or challenging feat, can we do the impossible? When one gazes at global events it would seem impossible, but is it? I sometimes wonder how we got through the middle ages, but we did, and perhaps Kluane Takhini & James Hill are creating a slice of musical hope to hang onto on this their latest album.

We start with the title track itself, now I was lucky enough to be given a link to their video for this very song and found it quite moving. To Catch Lightning in a Bottle is a classy title track and it illustrates in images and tones our first few baby steps up to our voyage into space, and shows every day humans succeeding when the odds maybe stacked against them, the guitar on this creation was simply sublime and deeply moving, and what a creative way with which to open the release.

The next piece was also released a single earlier this year and called She Doesn't Know Me Anymore, it speaks of a story about a daughter and her mother and her parents journey through Dementia. The trumpet of Hill excels in creating a sad mournful vibe here, as the loss of who the person was is manifested; it brought back memories of my late mother’s voyage with her father after a major stroke. This multi-instrumental offering casts a heartfelt composition of deep reflection and of care.

I remember this piece very well, 90 Seconds to Midnight, again I reviewed it as a single earlier on this year, it is another piece that really can’t fail to move you, the composition tells the tale of Doomsday clock preciously getting closer to its final countdown, so what to do, drop into the lake of being totally overwhelmed or dance like crazy with every precious second left, it’s a juxtaposition that is valid, however I will choose the dance! The piece itself is a symbiotic masterpiece without a shadow of a doubt.

A truly fascinating tale is told within this next piece, also released as a single entitled Poem for the Shadow King, featuring the inspirational words and voice of one Shane Beck. The skills of Takhini as a composer and performer both come into play here, and the back drop of Hill’s mournful trumpet makes you wonder why this amazing instrument isn’t used much more than it is in this style of music. The beautifully crafted poem contains words and an overall thread of great importance, to the heart from the heart. Many shattered illusions will be broken on the rocks of the said Shadow King, but here a composition is manifested that will enthral each and every listener, with each second played, and will leave that said listener, with a musical experience that they will never forget.  

For me this next arrangement is a stand out track, the orchestration on And Then There Were None was deeply moving, and reminded me of a Pavane at times. This powerful instrumental opus highlights the total futility of war and highlights just how little compassion there is left. This was emphasised on a recent documentary I watched about the Roman Empire and their constant failures of wars with the Middle East, the numbers of soldiers lost would always run into hundreds of thousands, skip forward to today and it’s still happening. The opening was indeed like a battle cry, but musically what followed was one of the finest examples of contemporary instrumental music around, one must think that music of such a high standard should perhaps be used in a documentary on the pointlessness of war and fighting one another, and for what reason? The orchestration was created by Ivanov Basso of Argentina and is a piece that has already won two global awards.

We now move to our next epic opus entitled Peace Begins With A Smile. This multi-instrumental twinkling of musical magic contains many crossover moments, from chill out to smooth jazz and contemporary, all of which can be found here with a delicate but classy performance on acoustic guitar, a serene but heart felt trumpet from Hill, and of course the magician himself, the composer Kluane Takhini leads the march for peace from the front.

One of my many favourites from this album was the following arrangement called Lungs of Mother Earth. This is a composition that desperately needed bringing into reality; the Amazon is home to three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people, yet greed is king in a world of short term gain and global destruction. This has to be one of the most powerful pieces I have ever heard composed about the Amazon, Hills performance on trumpet was simply top of the table, while the natural sounds of the forest were a colourful pastiche of artistic cleverness that was gratefully accepted, please let our mother live!

While many have moved on from the global pandemic, many are still dealing with the psychological scars of things like lockdowns, this truly sensitive creation by Takhini explores that extremely compelling narrative and partnered by Hills trumpet they bring a musical deliberation of great quality on the piece, I Just Want to Hold Her.  

Code Red is the track that will take us into the deeper waters of both the release and of life; Code Red is the system that the UN's Panel on Climate Change uses for possible global catastrophe due to global warming, it may well be too late, but is it? Can we overcome greed and miss information? Here Takhini & Hill manifest another power piece in this incredibly intense manifestation, one that contains some of the best rock styled guitar I have heard since Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds!

Our penultimate offering is the wonderfully crafted The View from Six Feet Under; this is an interesting track that explores the obvious narrative of death, the confusion of possible after death occurrences, or simply, nothing. I am minded of Richard Dawkins quote on the subject “Being dead will be no different from being unborn, I shall be just as I was in the time of William the Conqueror or the dinosaurs or the trilobites” the composition is strangely addictive and hauntingly compelling.

The concluding track is entitled Duet for the Shadow King and is a soothing musical narrative that ends our journey with Takhini & Hill, this is a gentle composition that wonderfully allows us to reflect for a moment on all that we have heard, and allow the entire concept to settle within our minds.

To Catch Lightning in a Bottle by Kluane Takhini & James Hill is the long awaited musical creation of global awareness, compassion and reality. Here both artists tackle the big picture and wear their hearts on their respective sleeves whilst doing so. To Catch Lightning in a Bottle by Kluane Takhini & James Hill, is an album that will move you to tears, will touch your hearts, will hopefully awaken the compassion and care within you, and is an album that each and every listener needs to have in their collections at all costs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Satie Gnossiene No. 1 by Nico De Napoli


Satie Gnossiene No. 1


Nico de Napoli

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The Gnossiennes are for the most part, in free time and highly experimental with form, rhythm and chordal structure. The form as well as the term was invented by Satie.

Here pianist Nico de Napoli presents a charming musical narrative that you could literally get lost within, and it seems I did many times over; this is a sublime performance by the artist, one that becomes a true timeless solo piano reverie.

The juxtaposition of soft and more forceful moments within this offering are a pleasure to drift within; this is one of those compositions that could be ten minutes long and you wouldn’t mind.

Nico de Napoli’s fluent and intelligent performance holds the piece beautifully and allowing it to move, almost dancing its way across the room. The creation of the Forte segments create a perfect match for the quieter passages, almost Mezzo Piano, they then drift like smoke on a late autumn evening, into the ether of the Coda of the arrangement, with such grace and style.

This is a splendid piece, a moment of total bliss!

Waving to the Moon By Andrea Sertori


Waving to the Moon


Andrea Sertori

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is usually one moment, one tune, and one song, perhaps one composition that I meet up with on a daily basis that brings me calm, solace, peace and a whole heap of tranquillity, and today I have found that within the loving realms of this beautiful new single from Andrea Sertori entitled, Waiving to the Moon.

I always listen thoroughly to any music given to me to review, and it says something about this new offering that I am now on listen 5 consecutively, it is that good, but more than that, this solo piano performance by Sertori gifts me a rare thing, peaceful ambience.

The gentle fluency of the artist’s performance on piano is something to utterly enjoy, the delicacy with which his hands caress the keys is tender and sensitive. Listening to this song is like a big musical hug, perhaps even whilst watching the moonrise, that vista would indeed be perfect for this marvellous new composition from Andrea Sertori, one that through its sheer beauty and serenity, should be a big hit for the artist, and a fan favourite over may years to come.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Spread Hope Send Love Around The World By Amy McAllister & The Power of One Movement


Spread Hope Send Love Around The World


Amy McAllister & The Power of One Movement

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have always said the music is the only language that speaks the total truth forever; here the world renowned singer Amy McAllister draws to her pastures of positivity, a team of global musical maestros in their own right, to gift us a single called Spread Hope Send Love Around The World, a track that will resonate with you in the same way as Band Aid did in ‘84.

The song itself highlights the importance of suicide prevention and lights a beacon of hope around the globe that you have that most important power of one, but can reach out to others to enhance your wellbeing.

The song itself is incredibly powerful and contains luminaries from global music from around the world in Amy McAllister, Annemarie Picerno, Charu Suri, Corey Lee Barker, Damian Wyldes, Eddy Kenzo, Jabali Afrika (Joseck and Justo Asikoye), Justine Blazer, Kamaal Malak, Karlton Jones, Kathryn Shipley, Kristen Speller, Lisa Coppola, Lou Molitch, Megan Coleman, Natalie Jean, Nicki Kris, Noshir Mody, Ricky Persaud, Jr, Seay and Tess Remy-Schumacher.

This incredibly powerful unit bring us the listener a superb single one that has touched many hearts already, this uplifting slice of musical positivity can create much needed change, can manifest agents of change that could well make a difference in the prevention of suicide and social awareness, sometimes you have to reach in to reach out. This is without doubt a power play single of sublime inspiration, and you too perhaps can be a part of that change also, it’s never too late to make a difference.

Ancestral Journey By Lorna James


Ancestral Journey


Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Lorna James has done one of the smartest things you can do in this modern day music business, she has explored new narratives, and she has sought out fresh musical pastures with which to lie down upon, she has done just this with her latest single Ancestral Journey. This for me is a break through piece that will not only highlight just what a good musician Lorna is, but will take her to realms of musical joy as of yet unknown.

Here within this amazingly crafted new offering we have a beautiful mixture of Global fusion, New Age and keyboard based music, it takes a rare gift to takes all of that and manifests a cogent musical recipe, but she has done it incredibly well, and to include her own soaring vocals as well was a touch of sublime cleverness.

Ancestral Journey has a wonderful percussive rhythm, it has a vibrancy that is totally addictive, but it retains the smooth and fluent keyboard and synth skills required to hold the composition all together, with all that being said this is a very stylish instrumental piece that highlights a sharp and willing musical intellect, I can see nothing less than a massive hit hiding in the forest temple for Ancestral Journey by Lorna James

Center Line By Peter Catucci


Center Line


Peter Catucci

Written by

Steve Sheppard


This brand new single by Peter Catucci brought me an interesting juxtaposition of music, it delivered one of the most interesting rock tracks of 2023 and laid before me one of the most powerful and melodic new singles that I have heard for simply ages.

Center Line has all the intensity and passion that you would expect from a truly good rock song, the band is packed with a whole list of creative and expressive performers, including Trevor Drushal on guitar and Bruce MacPherson on Hammond Organ. I single these two out along with singer and bassist Peter Catucci because of the direction that the song took me in, one that reminded me of a curious mix of The Robert Cray Band and 80’s Deep Purple, who I guess you could say were indeed Perfect Strangers!

The entire collection of musicians on this project were simply amazing and drew a rock narrative so clean, crisp and compelling that it made you want much more of the same. The fluency and imploring style that Catucci presented on this single reminded me in some ways of Gillian back in the day, but his driving bass line, and his ability to paint with different musical and vocal strokes, added such a vast layer of intelligence into the weave of this piece, one that I feel may well become a bit of an anthem for the artist in years to come. This is pure quality rock at its best.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Beyond the Shadows by Ryan Judd


Beyond the Shadows


Ryan Judd

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I enjoy the works of Ryan Judd in the same way as I enjoy the experience of electronic supremo Kevin Kendle; both artists have a delicious way of creating music that draws you into a beautiful pictorial narrative, a world of imagined memories in an ultra-reflective way. While Kendle uses synths as his main wand of creation, Judd utilises the acoustic guitar, and in my view he is now one of the world’s best, at creating ambient soundscapes with it.

On this brand new single entitled Beyond the Shadows we have an interesting musical juxtaposition, one that leads us from those shadows and into the light, and one that offers a better way ahead in the distance, whilst still residing in the realm of shadow.

This masterful interplay on guitar is so beautifully performed; it will leave a sigh on your breath, and a tear in the corner of the eye. A soft synth bed leads us into this timeless reverie of ambience, while Judd’s guitar draws breath-taking notes from the strings in such an emotive way, that one can literally feel it from the heart on up and pouring out into the world.

Beyond the Shadows by Ryan Judd is a stunning new single from the artist, perhaps his best so far, it has slow moving and an emotional tempo and minor refrains that give us an autumnal feel, and a moment of palpable reflection with which to look back on fondly. This is masterful ambient guitar, a song that should be spun by everyone who likes truly excellent moving musicianship.

Unearthing By Fred Grenot




Fred Grenot

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Fred Grenot’s return to the music business has been nothing more than incredible, but he hasn’t just come back with a bang, his has arrived back on the scene and produced some of the most serene music you are ever likely to hear, and this new single from the artist is a fine example of that aforementioned statement, it’s called Unearthing.

An incredibly beautiful pastiche of textures starts this new release; it reminds me of the classic new age material from the golden years of the genre, with angelic motifs of Aeoliah, and the gentle harmonic bliss of artists like a Liquid Mind, Grenot has seemingly captured it all in a heartbeat on this new single.

It’s rare that I get carried away with new singles, but Unearthing has some of the most serene, yet deep and all-encompassing energy I think I have heard for years. The gentle caress of the synth and keyboard and the hovering intensity of pause are all wonderfully presented here, quite honestly this is award winning material, and as such Unearthing should be a massive hit in the charts, yes Fred Grenot is back, and he’s making a literally beautiful statement of intent for a textured, colourful future ahead.

Accretion Disc By Hyperion V


Accretion Disc


Hyperion V

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I would have to say that this album has to be one of the most fascinating releases I have had the pleasure of reviewing in 2023, but what briefly is an Accretion Disc? An accretion disk is a structure (often a circumstellar disk) formed by diffuse material in orbital motion around a massive central body, such as a sun or star, and with that out of the way, lets release docking clamps and head off out into space with Hyperion V, on one of the most addictive voyages through the media of electronic music and percussion I have heard for decades.

The break away from our orbital rotation can be done by pressing play on the opening track entitled Astasis. This is a superb fast paced opening piece that grants the listener a track packed with the energy of an onward and forward movement, as our musical ship goes forth. The driving keyboards, percussion and electronic wizardry truly emphasises our voyage ahead.

Hyperion V is Ben Cox, Thomas Park (aka Mystified) and Plexus, and together they have probably delivered the most unique album of the year thus far. Listen to tracks like Surface Gravity, a creation that has a chilled vibe to its construction, one similar to those that flourished in the chill-out genre in the late 90’s, a sublime and wonderful beat is added to by a masterful keyboard, the culmination of which manifests a steady yet serene musical environment.

We now move to track 3 entitled Lagrangian Point. Lagrange points are points of equilibrium for small-mass objects under the gravitational influence of two massive orbiting bodies, the percussion and swirling keyboards bring to our musical table, a piece that does indeed feel like we are being pulled back and forth from one source to another in the most hypnotic of ways.

Spectroscopic Binary pushes the whole project forward with a total flourish and some of the best keyboard related chill-out cross electronic styled presentations can be found here. This would be one of my personal favourites from the album, one that contains an almost sensual movement within its musical constraints, but certainly one that delightfully dances its way across the cosmos in a most vibrational of ways.

Baryogenesis, this is something that seems to keep coming up in my studies and is perhaps the fulcrum between matter and anti-matter in a universal construct. The sharp percussive beat here adds a great energy to the piece, and the spoken audio an extra layer that builds on the bass styled progression, and smooth and explorative keyboards.

We reach the midway point of the album and in doing so we reach one of the most descriptive of compositions entitled Deep Sky Object.  This specific offering is another all-time favourite of mine from the album, the deep ranging synths; the swirling reality created here is outer-worldly and reminded me of the space works of UK electric supremo Kevin Kendle at times. This track is without doubt one of the most descriptive and artistic manifestations from the album and well worth further spins.

We come to an arrangement called Oumuamua, this is a fascinating global fusion of a track, one that holds an almost Aboriginal vibe within its illuminating construct. Oumuamua is the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System, I believe spotted in 2017. The rhythmic and indigenous feel to this track makes it a must play, the essence and energies of this composition alone are a marvel to enjoy repeatedly.

Synchronous Orbit is up next, once more the percussive power and intensity emphasise this space, the juxtaposition of the electronic nature and keyboards of the track offer up a rhythmic composition that seems to recreate itself in a harmonious orbit around us, much like the Synchronous Orbits that most of Earths satellites take up around the globe.

We arrive at the deep regions of space now and as we do so we come across this next piece called Protoplanet. Here a multitude of repeating electronic motifs seems to swirl in and around themselves, much as the nature of a Protoplanet itself. Here lies an arrangement that is incredibly complex and artistically superior.

Drifting further into the inky blackness of space we arrive at the portal of a track entitled Graviton. With elements of bands like Code Indigo and So Percussion, Hyperion V add an almost dance styled energy into this manifestation to create a piece that has amazing vibrancy and rhythm.

The penultimate piece off the release is entitled Flare Star, this is a track that literally bursts into life and spreads its flourishing techniques around for all to see and enjoy, this is one of the most breath taking pieces off the album employing not only EM, but vastly progressive moments of both Electronica and chill-out, with the percussive brilliance of an artist like Karsh Kale, Flare Star is that track that hits you right between the eyes, it dares to be different and does it with such style.

Our concluding piece is the dramatic Coronal Mass Ejection; I believe our amazing sun gave us one of these recently a few days ago in fact. The grandness of this piece perfectly depicts the sun and its symbiotic ejaculations from its sphere of plenty! This has to be one of the most incredible arrangements to end with that I have seen and heard for years, top marks for that alone, but what a sublime and stunning conclusion to an album indeed, and this is probably the only time in my career as a writer I have ever used the word ejaculations to describe a point!

Accretion Disc by Hyperion V is another wonderful release by one of the most forward thinking records labels in the world in Spotted Peccary, this varied, scientific and galactic journey of an album is one of, if not the most unique, artistic and intelligent releases I have heard for decades, it’s like a truly good book, impossible to put down.

Accretion Disc by Hyperion V contains its varied styles, presentations and performances, all will thrill fans of electronic music, chill-out and new age space music, simply put Hyperion V have all the bases covered, this therefore is a must purchase album.  

Monday, September 11, 2023

Sea of Serenity By Rick Sparks


Sea of Serenity


Rick Sparks

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are for me a few, go to artists, Eno for Ambient, Kendle for nature and space, and Rick Sparks for serenity and peace, and the master of painting glorious vistas of soothing sounds and tranquil vibes is at it again, this time within one of the most relaxing pieces ever in Sea Of Serenity.

I was only the other day talking of spending more time down at the coast once the Cypriot summer is done, and this very piece would be utterly idyllic, for example with a picnic at Raven Cove. Sparks has manifested a dream like reverie here that has a deliciously slow tempo, and a composition that crawls across the mind with the effortless movement of a cumulus cloud in September.

This for me has to be one of the most beautiful creations I think I have heard from Sparks, most certainly one of the most atmospheric, the smoothness of the keyboards, the delicate flute sounds, and all harmonised with such precision by the ethereal vocals, which for me is the foundation of this pictorial beauty of a musical narrative.

Sea of Serenity by Rick Sparks reminded me of the lyrical beauty of Lewis Carrol when he began his epic poem “All in the golden afternoon, Full leisurely we glide” This effortless musical masterpiece is a timeless pastiche of brilliance, one that I have just realised, I have now listened to seven times on repeat, this one has to be a hit, it’s too beautiful not to be, and as Carroll said, which now seems so apt “And now the tale is done, And home we steer, a merry crew, Beneath the setting sun.

Friday, September 8, 2023

In The Moonlight By Thomas Green


In The Moonlight


Thomas Green

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It was so good to see an album on my desktop from Thomas Green; I have very fond memories from his last release Flutin Around back in 2019, but here is the master of chilled and cheerful flute back with another blissful collection of crisp and happy melodies, yes its Thomas Green and his new offering to us all, In The Moonlight.

The first offering is a simple melody and a cheer filled vibe of Thomas’s interpretation of his transition to his moment of paradise. There is nothing demanding about this manifestation, there is everything to like about it, and the title reflects the artist’s thoughts simply and honestly and called, On the Way to Heaven.

I want to keep this review light as well; I am in need of a little bliss and harmony, so no need to gaze any further than Green’s next piece Afterglow. In the creation of this track Thomas created a part for his son, a prolific whistler apparently; the effect was rather magical and sounds in perfect harmony with Greens magical flute.

We now move to a sultry number called In the Moonlight in which a combination of flute and percussion builds upon a foundation of a smooth chilled vibe, this would be one of my personal favourites from the album, and if there were one piece to select as a possible single from the release, it would be this composition I would point to.

I was taken back by this next piece, as the first few opening bars reminded me of my last single release, so hats off to Thomas Green for employing a similar chilled musical narrative on this next arrangement, Saying I Do. The artist uses a low and high flute to represent the bride and groom in a song that is utterly sincere and heart felt, and apparently one that uses real church bells in its arrangement as well.

Now, here is a tale, this next track come from one of our all-time holiday movies The Wizard of Oz. I think I must have watched it some 50 times now, here Thomas Green gifts us his rendition of this all-time classic Over The Rainbow, and will bring chills all over your body it’s that good, I think that this is also the first time I have heard this song performed on flute too.

One of the moodiest creations from the album would come in the guise of this next manifestation entitled A Cry for the Ancients, this song is a composition for flute purists, each and all animal sounds and animalistic cries were made by Native American flutes, and the piece does indeed contain a wonderfully fluent and addictive indigenous sound to it, which in my view is one of the best performances by the artist on the album.

Mother's Call is utterly beautiful, with ease we could be in a deep dark forest as the early hours of the morning creep through the rafters of the trees, and through natures abundance we hear the call of nature cry out to its young, we cannot tell what creature this is, but its mystical nature hovers like a mist over a summer lake. A fine synth backdrop can be found here, and one of the most mysterious and mystical presentation by Green resides ever.

It’s now time to say Goodnight. This next blissfully serene composition is called just that, and is a perfect musical description of an end of a day, the weariness of sleep crawls over our bodies, and it’s time to roll over to our loved one, and appreciate a kiss goodnight before dropping off into dreamland, something I love to do each and every night. Here Green manifests a twinkling of ambience and calm with such consummate ease.

One of the first rock songs I learned to play on guitar was the opening to this next inclusion on the album, and called House of the Rising Sun, originally a folk song, but most who remember it, will remember the Animals version recorded in ‘64. This is a classy interpretation from Green on flute; he also uses the organ and guitar to back up his arrangement as well.

Our penultimate creation is Beneath the Blue Moon, this last but one offering is also one of my personal favourites too, it had such an easy way about its construction and nature, one could with ease just be laying out in the night sky, gazing up at the cosmos to this tune, at just past the half way juncture there is also a truly noteworthy interplay between the major and minor, in the song that brings one of the most beautiful creations on this new release to the fore.

Cappadocia is our last composition; the location of this track is but a few miles north of my current location of Cyprus, here Thomas incorporates a Middle Eastern feel into the music and adds a Native American flute into the weave, for one of the most inventive and artistic tracks off the album.

 In The Moonlight by Thomas Green is the breath of fresh air the flute genre needed right now, this uplifting new album is jam packed with interesting and exciting new styles and compositions, and should be a first choice for any avid listeners of flute with added instrumentation.

Here is something I don’t say lightly, but with the energy, fluency, style and intelligence that Green has created and used here, I have a feeling that the artist could well be looking at a number one album in the weeks ahead for, In the Moonlight by Thomas Green.

Chakra Balance By Liesbet Leroy


Chakra Balance


Liesbet Leroy

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It is rare that I come across an album whose subject matter is something that I have specialized in, but next year (2024) will celebrate my 20th year as a Reiki Master Teacher, and Chakras follow Reiki, like a glove is designed for a hand. For those of you that are unaware what Chakras are, they are the energy centres of your body that some traditions and sources believe to regulate your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. According to these beliefs, there are seven main chakras, each corresponding to a different element and aspect of your being. So let’s take a look at the new Liesbet Leroy album Chakra Balance.

With that being said, we start as indeed we should at the base of everything, the Tree of Life (Root Chakra). Liesbet Leroy is one of the finest flute performers of her day, her level of sensitivity and artistic touch are beautifully balanced. On this deep foundation of a track she uses a Native drone flute in the key of C, this simply delicious opening piece truly does manifest a solid foundation for the journey ahead. In the background you will also hear a Buffalo hide Shaman drum, (I have one too) and a running stream, the stream enables us to flow from and to each Chakra.

Gentle Tides (Sacral Chakra) takes me back in time to the early part of this century, when I would meditate each day on my chakras, the piece also resonates with me through the musical manifestation of the Nada Tarangini, used by David Hykes and his harmonic choir back in the mid-80s, this is a harmonic stringed instrument that gives forth a lush eastern styled sound.

This piece raises the Chakra bar by one notch and Liesbet’s fluent performance bathes us in the light of the sacrum, a location that guides us through the whirlpool of emotions and teaches us to go with the flow of life. Her presentation on a Native Flute in D is deep, yet uplifting, pulling us with care up from the root, and into the flow of life.

The gentle natural sounds of this next piece is our grounding point, while the powerful Cello and Native Flute in the key of E create a wonderfully bright juxtaposition on the track, Power of the Sun (Solar Plexus Chakra). This is one of the most powerful and deeply moving offerings from the album, and this is a chakra where one can literally touch the energy of their own power and self-confidence. This performance from the artist has a depth within that is so vast and empowering, one cannot help but be attracted to it and all that it offers.

Once more up the scale we go to One Heart (Heart Chakra), the resonance is higher here, and an area that teaches us the importance of self-love and the truthful importance, to only trust those who would love you unconditionally. Liesbet uses an unusual instrumentation here, by playing a special Aeolian tuned alternating Native drone flute and a Native bass flute, both in F. The outcome is some of the most meditative flute I have heard for ages and at times reminded me of the work of Deuter and his legendary Buddha Nature album.

We climb this colourful spectrum of the Chakras by visiting a vortex of energy that I, as a radio presenter, must always keep clear, in Sacred Voices (Throat Chakra). This energy centre is all about maintaining the ability to speak your truth and speaking what is true, clear, and your honest opinion spoken with sincerity. Here is a pristine piece that upon the natural sounds of the wind carries the tones of a Native bass Flute in the key of G, this wonderfully organic and indigenous offering literally transports us into a whole new realm of communicative existence.

The grounding sounds of nature bathe us in the beauty of the moment as we transcend to the high plain of existence known as Inner Vision (Third Eye Chakra), we also hear for the first time a handpan drum, the hypnotic energies of this instrument combined with the returning Cello, gift us a glorious offering that illustrates our journey of the inner self, and what is also now our foresight or intuition. Liesbet’s ancient pueblo style flute in the key of A, draws a light and delicate narrative, one where we can be grounded in nature, but give in totally to the moment, allowing our senses to truly know which path to take us onwards.

The last manifestation is of course the Cosmic Energy (Crown Chakra), here is an all-encompassing composition that allows us to connect with our higher self, the us that knows, the us that is part of the whole. Here Liesbet uses a very long and special Mojave 6 bass drone flute in (B/E) made by the late Stephen deRuby, a man who I remember for his Sacred Spaces album back in 2004. This is a perfect concluding offering; a deep resonance can be found here, one that truly allows the tor of all we are to come into view. Here one can feel the respect, gratitude and honesty flow from the flute of the artist, in what could well be, the most emotive arrangement from the album.

Liesbet once said “I started playing the Native Flute in 2014. Playing it is like meditating to me. It has changed my life and brought me a lot of peace and relaxation”, after listening to this album I would like to personally echo that statement as well.

This is one of the finest, real and most relevant Chakra albums I have heard since the turn of the century; trust me I have heard and reviewed many in my years, but Chakra Balance by Liesbet Leroy is created by a person who simply gave herself to the moment and went with the flow. This is one of the most sublime meditative performances I have heard for ages, and as such should be held up as an honest and uplifting album that should be recommended listening for anyone interested in the art of meditation or chakra balancing fields, here is an album that is going to be loved by all those who listen.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

A Different View By Vincent Boot


A Different View


Vincent Boot

Written by

Steve Sheppard


My music lately has had a delightful touch of ambience about it, and this new single by Vincent Boot thankfully carries on the same vein of musical thought. This new work of course is the latest single from the artist and entitled A Different View, for me it was the best two minutes and thirty seven seconds I have spent listening to solo piano for simply ages.

Boot creates a wonderfully calm, almost timeless feel here on this new composition that is so very appealing. At the moment I sit on my own, with the late summer sun streaming in through my window, a beautiful breeze makes my curtains dance, and the shadows of an afternoon on the horizon move symbiotically with the dust further highlighted by the sun’s rays.

That aforementioned comment describes what for me is the mood and feeling manifested by Vincent on this new offering, his presentation on piano is nothing less than artistically sublime, and captures the same level of ambience of a Sunday morning in late September, calming, full of change, but completely tranquil and serene.

Personally I rate this new piece to be one of the finest compositions that Vincent has both created and played, to prove that point, I am now on my fifth consecutive listen as it is so delightful, which leaves me to say that surely if there is any justice in the world A Different View by Vincent boot should be a massive hit for the artist, and a must have for all fans of solo piano.