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.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Luminous By Michele McLaughlin

 


Luminous

By

Michele McLaughlin

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Michele McLaughlin has been on my musical radar now for so long, in fact it scared me when I looked back to find out that over 20 years had passed since I first came into contact with her, through the release of Beginnings, an appropriate name indeed, now 22 years later comes one of the most gentle and soothing musical narratives ever from the artist, and entitled Luminous.

Droplets of Gray is our first port of call on this brand new release and it is without doubt one of the most serene pieces I think I have heard from Michele, this calming, yet reflective opener, is a powerfully moving performance by the artist, and sets the scene brilliantly for what is to come.

The sensitivity of this next track is beyond a tender touch, When You Hurt I Hurt is simply beautiful, deeply mournful, but in a caring way, the piano presentation by McLaughlin here is a sublime example of how to express your most sincere emotions through music.

I adored the rhythm and flow of this piece; I cheerfully shone with happiness whilst listening to Kaleidoscope, I will regard this as a clever and creative arrangement by the artist, as she manifests both movement and positivity within an almost childlike energy of innocent fun.

We can relax now in the arms of this next gentle composition entitled Shimmer, I have had many moments by lakes and rivers where this offering would have been the perfect idyllic accompaniment. Michele’s slow, respectful, but purposeful playing, gifts us a true sun kissed moment of grandeur within music to enjoy, now and forever.

I must admit to being deeply impressed by her switching from the reverie of the last piece to the darker realms of this new creation called Moonlit Shadows. This would be one of my personal favourites from the album; throughout this entire release it is as if we are playing from darkness into light, and this piece is a fine example, powerful emotive, and very expressive.

The second half of the album has now been breached, and as we do so we arrive at the charming musical narrative of The Golden Hour. For some reason I found a well of emotion here I did not expect, the tone and timbre took me back to my childhood memories of my somewhat confusing relationship with my mother, for me there was a certain warmth here that reminded of the better days we shared, in a wonderfully flowing, heartfelt creation.

Luminous being the title track is now centre stage, the brightness and higher notes here really emphasises just what an accomplished pianist McLaughlin is, and this track is the ever growing and expanding reality of crafted genius that we see and hear before us, the energy here, whilst slightly reflective, is almost triumphant, but the mixture of the two essences is simply sublime.

As we move towards the deeper waters of the release we come across a mysterious opus of wonderment entitled Fireflies, I have seen these blissful creatures, and this music would perfectly represent them and their dance like, almost waltz like movement, within late evening summer time memories of days gone by.

The penultimate offering from the album is entitled Adrift, It must be said this is one of the most ambient performances I have heard from the artist, but one that creates a wonderfully gentle melody, and a slow almost circular journey, almost like floating, lost on a beautiful lapis sea, far away from all, Adrift!

The last piece is a creative slice of genius, and a superb way to conclude the album; it is called Lanterns in the Sky, and may well be one of my personal favourites from the artist yet. Here we have an anthem like ending of brilliance, one that flows like a mountain stream in early spring.  The fluency here is stunning and mesmerizing, and what a conclusion to a splendid album indeed.

Luminous by Michele McLaughlin in my view, is the best work of the artist thus far, I don’t say that lightly, as she has produced some amazing albums over the last 20 odd years, but for me the musician has manifested a sensitivity here that is beyond all that she has created before, and it has worked like absolute magic. Luminous by Michele McLaughlin is an album that every lover of any piano genre must simply have; missing out on an album of this quality would be like missing out on Christmas entirely!


November Moon By Lisa Swerdlow

 


November Moon

By

Lisa Swerdlow

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

The subject of the moon is always a great subject to compose about, I should know I have just done so myself, the amazing orb that reflects our glourious sun’s rays down upon us is always a wonderful theme to use, and create from.

November Moon by Lisa Swerdlow has to be the smoothest and most soothing track from the artist thus far, she is almost in lounge mode here, this is fluency at its very best, and the tender touch on the keys by Lisa is so heart-warming and all embracing.

Such a loving performance by Swerdlow on this her latest single can be found here, so much so that it simply deserves to be a big hit, and a song to remember for decades to come; this is music from under a warm blanket, on a chilly November night.


Odyssey VI By David De Michele

 


Odyssey VI

By

David De Michele

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I was, and always have been taken aback by the wonderment of space, the vast stretches of the universe, the infinite cosmos, a stellar nursery, or a lagoon of eternity, within the creations of David De Michele we can touch see and feel the energies of all the aforementioned, and perhaps even more, each musical journey is a peak into a dimension so rare,  so special and untouched, and are we not the lucky ones, as once more we get to push back from space dock and take a voyage to and through Odyssey VI with the composer.

The smooth and transcendent opening piece is akin to us breaking free of orbit and spreading our wings of exploration out into the sectors and regions of space. Odyssey VI is idyllic; it contains a gentle flowing synth style which in its earlier guise is almost classical in arrangement, the percussion breaks us free, and our journey has started.

Within the darker realms of space there moves life as of yet unseen, each one of these forms is its own Collective, its hive minded awareness allows it to survive and thrive, here the artist paints a tapestry of tone so insightful and fresh, it is as if we are staring into a region of space literally being born. De Michele uses his electronic wizardry to good use here, and captures an almost lighter version of what is referred to as Berlin style within the arrangement, this grants us a fixed movement through the composition, but also adds an extra level to the already stunning performance.

We are now Off World, I have recently been watching with a wide eyed wonder, the latest voyage to the moon by Artimis 1, one day the mission will have human travellers, and thus they, like others, will be off world. I can and will ever only be able to imagine what this experience must be like. Musically the artist has it spot on, that feeling of being so small is such as vast place, the realization of being at one with the cosmos; the swirling synth work here is sublime, with the darker elements and mysterious back drop making this piece one of my personal favourites from the album.

Many of us have these; some are completely unaware that then even do, Epiphany, a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization, usually for me they arrive during a meditation, as the mind stills, the clarity becomes evident and truth is found. David De Michele has added a flowing, and one has to say, an incredibly moving performance here into an arrangement that has a meditative quality to its overall essence.

Following on from the last track and the thoughts that came from it, this seems somewhat appropriate now, to be enjoying a piece called Revelation. Cleverly thought-out, the musician now brings us the resultant and aforementioned Epiphany.  One has to admire how he brings us a hesitant start, while one contemplates the said revelation, and then the percussion almost manifests that lightbulb going on in the mind’s eye, without doubt one of the cleverest creations from the release.

As we slow speed to impulse, we find ourselves in deep space, where we find the offering Immersion. The artist is really showing his growth here, as we can attribute the brilliance of this piece to the last two tracks as well, the Epiphany, the Revelation, and now to absolute Immersion, as we now gain a deeper focus. The ethereal qualities of this track were quite breath taking, one feels pulled to all areas at once, but without losing integrity, this is a floating masterpiece by De Michele, bringing something almost Jonn Serrie to our galactic table.

The last but one song is utterly beautiful and entitled Illumination, our very own light bulb moment, listen to the soft pastiche of synths here, the gentle caress of the artist’s creative keyboard structures, and as we do we can drift on a bed of gained knowledge, by simply enjoying the moment. This is a slice of symphonic genius by the musician, and goes to justify the sheer quality of his compositions.

So we finally end this sojourn through the stars, and with a concluding arrangement entitled Epoch. How fitting as this particular period of time within the realms of David De Michele’s latest creation Odyssey VI is now nearly over. The slow calming coda of this track is juxtaposed perfectly with a light percussive beat, one which manifests an anthem like conclusion to the album, which in creative terms is simply and utterly brilliant.

Odyssey VI by David De Michele is yet another in a wonderfully artistic line of sublime space based releases. The album is also an intriguing step forward as well, as he incorporates slight classical nuances into certain arrangements, we also have layered and texture soundscapes that seems to grow and expand whilst being listened to, and the smooth transmission of each piece is quite blissful, simply put, if you are a fan of space based electronic ambient music, this is a must have for your collection.


Autumn Voices By James Michael Stevens

 


Autumn Voices

By

James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I sat and gazed at the album cover for this release, it is so redolent of the subject matter, and expresses just how beautiful the season of autumn is, here the prolific pianist manifests 10 gorgeous tracks that are deeply reflective and draw a wonderful narrative for me as the season closes here in pure sunshine, as I listen intently to Autumn Voices by James Michael Stevens.

The opening track is sublime and gets us off to the perfect start it’s called Come When the Leaves Turn Colors. A magical time indeed, a pastiche of beauty and a cascade of colour, Steven’s performance here is so heart felt and artistic, playing light with darkness, minor and major, he has manifested the perfect start to the release.

This time of year can be very mournful, and October Prelude is a fine example of that. Summers last dying wave can be seen drifting over a golden horizon as a picture book shift in energies begins to take place; this transcendence into autumn is portrayed perfectly by Stevens, with a thoughtful hand on the keys.

The shortest track off the album at just less than two minutes is up next and called Sunnywood Waltz, with such style and grace James manifests a wonderful flowing melody, a happy, yet caressing last kiss of a sunny day, as the seasons dance the dance of change.

A special moment now as we open the Autumn Music Box, there is a sensitive mood here, one surrounded by a little mystery and magic to. This appealing opus is one to deeply enjoy, its memorable tones permeate through and into the mind, in the same way that the late autumn sun is doing right now through the curtains that filter the daylight from the dust of ages. A truly moving creation from the artist can be found here.

Many will know of my love of musical manifestations about rivers, among other subjects, and I am so delighted to be listening to one of the best this year from the pianist called Beside the Gentle Stream. I spent many years doing this with my father, whilst we fished on mirrored pools and soothing streams, while an October texture hovered by, this piece, this presentation, speaks volumes for that very moment, a beautifully played composition indeed.

A wonderful descriptive arrangement can be found on the piece Hunters Branch, a slow but creative tapestry of tone can be found here, one with a nicely performed repeating motif too, and this leads us so very gracefully into the next track entitled Swan at Lake Almsee, now this is a fine example of music creation by an artist who has clearly sat and just watched swans in motion, in the water you will not see a more graceful creature, and Stevens performance is exactly that, elegant attractive and dignified.

We float into the deeper waters of the release now, and as we do so we come across an almost anthem like offering entitled Silent Teardrops, how delicate this is, so pristine that its falls from the sky like a late November mist. Steven’s sensitivity comes to the fore here, in a performance that is so redolent of the old new age piano classics from the late 90’s, of artist like Lanz and Winston perhaps.

One of my favourite pieces off the album came at the penultimate position off the release, and called Solemn Soliloquy, this sombre, yet quite beautiful performance is so stunning, its complex yet thoughtful narrative touched my musical heart, and its sympathetic tones were incredibly profound, a truly poignant and heartfelt arrangement indeed.

The concluding offering entitled I Saw a Star and Prayed was indeed a respectful and emotive way with which to finish the album, a gentle onward progression and into an almost hymnal styled structure, one that ended with a soft and reverential Coda.

Autumn Voices by James Michael Stevens is a delightful album, its story book styled narrative takes us hand in hand through to the end of the season of mists in autumn, and its beauty and tenderness speaks to us all, this is one of those albums that you will always turn to at this time of year, without doubt it is a warm security blanket of musical serenity to cuddle up with, and is a release of ultimate artistic endeavour.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Starlight By Sonya Haramis

 


Starlight

By Sonya Haramis

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

It is nice to listen to a piece of music that is clearly meant for the festive season, one that is not yet another version of a well-known carol. Sonya Haramis and her brand new single Starlight is a delicate composition, the bells really do ring out on this, a piece that has the feel of a music box lullaby to it.

Starlight by Sonya Haramis is a simple, stylish release, full of simplistic beauty that is not easy to create; the repeating motifs give it an almost mesmeric quality that you just want to listen to again and again. I am sure this will be very well received and one that should do well in the charts too.


The Dance of the Wind By Annie Locke

 


The Dance of the Wind

By

Annie Locke

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

It is so good to see another new single from Annie Locke; it is so good to feel the energy that flows from one of her compositions, the swing, the tempo, and the out and out warmth of one of her creations, it is always something to look forward to.

Here on The Dance Of The Wind, Annie draws a narrative that drifts down memory lane, and takes the browning leaves of a late autumn with her. Here Annie paints a picture of a rhythmic juxtaposition of the wind and all she touches, her performance is enthralling to behold, and at times almost mesmeric, one things for certain, a hit must be blowing in the wind for this one from the pianist. 


Monday, November 21, 2022

Courage To Sail By Alan Hanslik

 


Courage To Sail

By

Alan Hanslik

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

One of the most descriptive forms of music can be found way back in the annals of time, and filed under the category of Classical, I’m lucky enough to present a show on it, so I am constantly reminded of the great works, and constantly surprised by the new efforts and arrangements, much like this brand new creation, by artist and composer Alan Hanslik.

Courage to Sail is a powerful and poignant look at casting yourself free from the docks of a harbour, and setting sail on uncharted oceans, perhaps as far back as the 17th or 18th centuries, each journey was a walk into a dark room of the unknown, when sailors would literally take their lives into their own hands, and their souls into good graces of mother ocean.

Here Hanslik creates something very proud and almost regal on this 4 piece work, with the opening composition, Setting Forth, being one of the most powerful of them all, an arrangement of intent, packed with stiff strong jaws of determination and courage, one must also applaud the clever emotional strings within this piece, ones that at times created a similar energy to one of my favourite composers, Vaughn Williams, a great start indeed.

The journey continues onward and we move to a creation entitled Favorable Winds. Hanslik is a thoughtful composer no doubt, and within this brave arrangement he literally manifests a sense of great movement and speed; one can with ease see our brave ship cutting through the waves and out into the open seas with ease, the allegro styled manifestation is crafted superbly.

This is a defining moment for Hanslik’s work as we reach the third quarter of our album, and the dramatic flavours of the piece Loneliness & Splendor are a total gift of musical class. The intensity of this piece is immense, and has distinct elements of a forte at times, but one that remains very much part of this 4 part symphony of purposeful intent.

The concluding arrangement is slowed as we enter Land Fall, our journey however long has been a success, and humanity is but a breath away, this is a sublime compositional creation by Alan Hanslik, here he comes into his own as a composer, and brings to the table a wonderful cinematic feel and expression, this is both dramatic and moving, an astute way with which to end the symphony, with a crescendo manifesting its glourious energy, before the final coda.

Courage To Sail by Alan Hanslik has been a most enjoyable voyage through the classical music genre, without doubt a wonderfully created soundtrack, and a four part symphony of great texture, colour, movement and passion. Hanslik more known for his work as an electronic musician has certainly crossed the so called Rubicon here, and as such, into a whole new realm of musical possibilities and potentially limitless opportunities.


Friday, November 18, 2022

Into the Mist By Ryan Judd

 


Into the Mist

By

Ryan Judd

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I have spent many years listening to ambient music, I find good music of this elk a fine healing modality all of its own, and in many cases a creative and scared space can be found within its refrains, I say this because this new single by Ryan Judd called Into The Mist has just manifested all of the above for me.

The end of a long tiring day draws to a close, and I listen to the soothing acoustic guitar of Judd’s latest single Into The Mist. That is exactly where all my concerns and worries float away to, the fragility of a floating autumn mist and calm is left.

Ryan Judd is one of the finest ambient acoustic guitarists around today, his use of minor chords and harmonics is wonderfully crafted here, and for me that hovering back drop of sound that assists Judd’s expertise is utter bliss. May peace be upon you if you purchase this sensitive new offering from the artist, it is without doubt beautiful beyond belief!

Follow this link to listen now: https://songwhip.com/ryanjudd/into-the-mist


All The Best Returns By Robin Spielberg

 


All The Best Returns

By

Robin Spielberg

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I gave myself a shock this morning when I realised that the music of Robin Spielberg had been in my life since the arrival one day of her album Heal of the Hand way back in 1994, the 90’s were a time of major change for me, but Robins work always was a point of stability and reference when times of struggle came, here on this brand new release, we have 5 wonderful tracks that illustrate what a crafted pianist the artist truly is.

The opening piece is always an important reference, and shows the listener the intent of the artist, here on In Search of the Forest Fairy we have an incredibly powerful opener, one that is so beautifully played that the juxtaposition between light and shade is balanced perfectly, with ease this piece would suit a segment from a forest theatrical play like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with ease.

Robin follows that up with the gentle refrains of this next piece entitled One Step Closer, this was a wonderful mix of hope and reflection, but as always the artist plays with an ever onward purpose, in one of the most fluent arrangements I think I have ever heard from the musician, this is one of those compositions that will guarantee repeat plays.

All the Best Returns is a fascinating arrangement, almost Waltz like in style, but with a wonderfully colourful tone, but then, after all this is the centre piece of this musical art gallery, the title track, once more Spielberg gifts us a happy honest gift, but one craft-fully composed with a little extra reflective energy as well.

The End of Summer, well this is indeed where we are at this current time of writing, although in my country you would hardly know it, however in some locations across our beautiful globe, leaves fall, flowers die, and the nights become longer and darker. Here Spielberg is at her very best as her performance brings a little shade and sadness to the fore, but once more it is a piece that holds on dearly, to new memories of happiness gained from a summer now at its end.

Shche ne Vmerla Ukrainy (the Ukrainian National Anthem) finishes the entire project, and it saddens me that still here, and now in the 21st century, war is even still relevant, do we ever learn? Here Spielberg gives us her interpretation of the national anthem for Ukraine, and delivers one of the most moving performances whilst doing so, and indeed a fine way to leave this compilation of wonderful creations.

All The Best Returns by Robin Spielberg is a bliss filled 5 track release of great quality and style, Spielberg’s grace and confidence shines through with such class and panache, that one cannot fail to be impressed by this creative and sublime collection of superb arrangements, this has to be a must have at all costs.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Fly With Me By Victor Birkan

 


Fly With Me

By

Victor Birkan

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There is something about a Victor Birkan performance that is so graphic, so pleasing to the senses; he plays with a passion and a tale to tell, and does so with such a dramatic flourish, especially on this latest single entitled Fly With Me.

Birkan is a masterful pianist, one who simply demands to be listened to, and once the senses are opened, he takes you on a musical voyage through the medium of his solo piano performance like no other.

Fly With Me is a full flowing piano presentation that allows us the listeners to be swept up in its drama and intrigue, it gifts us the moment of inventing the narrative to accompany the music, and manifests a passionate performance that is simply undeniable.  


A Matter of Time By Shelby Lock

 


A Matter of Time

By

Shelby Lock

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

I seem to have been lucky today, I have completed two reviews of some of the best music in their respective genres I have heard for simply years, and here is another one as, as Shelby Lock has manifested one of the most inventive exciting, and powerful solo piano pieces I have heard for utterly ages, with her latest single A Matter Of Time.

I adore music that takes me on a musical journey, brings me a fascinating intelligent arrangement, crosses borders and boundaries, and is not afraid to just flow! All of this Lock does with such ease and in a most impressive style too, and what a pleasure it was to be allowed well over 4 minutes of musical mastery to just enjoy this breath-taking encounter. A Matter of Time by Shelby Lock is something amazing to experience, allow the pleasure of the moment and simply go for it.


Going Home By Tom Moore & Tim Sadow

 


Going Home

By

Tom Moore & Tim Sadow

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There are moments within this vast oasis of musical time that are filled with reveries so powerful yet purposeful, so meaningful and so meditative, and so deep yet marvellously uplifting, Going Home by Tom Moore & Tim Sadow is one of those moments, it is a magnificent twinkling of utter beauty, wrapped in a contemplative blanket of sound and timbre.

This is the album I have been waiting all year to hear, the new age music genre needed this album, and like a shot in the arm its transcendent exquisiteness caresses our very senses. This journey of plenty starts with the haunting, yet simply breath-taking, The Voyage Home, a variety of synth work, with added percussion takes us by the hand and leads us back to the well of the universe, with Sadow’s violin creating the melody of attractiveness, in a style I haven’t heard since the release Essence of Magic by Medwyn Goodall much earlier on in this century.

The track Time and Eternity is before us next, and from the depths of this mysterious semblance, comes a piece that falls in the footfalls of the previous composition, Sadow, imperious with his Violin, whilst Moore adds an electronic flavour that is simply irresistible, and continues our theme of reconnection to the cosmos, the oneness of all we are.

However, we now land at a point of brilliance, I have longed for what seems an eternity to hear a piece that rivals the greats of my past, those haunting reveres of artists like Deuter and his Buddha Nature, or perhaps a journey to a Temple in the Forest with David Naegele, I now believe that long wait has arrived and birthed for me one of the best New Age music tracks I have heard for some 20 years, perhaps longer, in the quite amazing composition A Ring of Endless Light. A mournful and aged expression can be heard on the strings of Sadow, one so moving and emotive it raises every hair your body, this is meditative bliss, and if this track alone was 1 hour long it wouldn’t have been enough for me, simply picture perfect.

With one small musical step we find ourselves at the half way marker of this very fine journey of souls, and as our energies intermingle with the trans dimensional portals of reality, we can hover in the beauty of this next quite stunning offering entitled An Ancient Path. If ever a path was laid within the universe to guide you home, this is it. The ancestral drum leads you with every footstep, with every beat, the violin plays an anthem of a time long ago, one that through the multi instrumental nature of this piece is mysterious and magnificent in all its glory.

We now meet the Knower of the Illusion, this remarkable partnership of Moore and Sadow now gift us a piece that is bathed in the mist of time itself, this swirling creation drifts around you like an early autumn morning, and leaves a state of wonderment, as it creates its angels of blissful creation as it goes, the ethereal vocalisations are shadowy portraits of a crafted artistic endeavour, while Sadow on violin, plays in my view one of his best performances thus far. I must also add here that the bass of Tom Moore was not only a delight to hear, but to feel as well and an integral part of this quite powerful opus without doubt.

Going Beyond the Material World, is a journey we all take, and perhaps this symbiotic partnership of geniuses have manifested the soundtrack for that very event. Once more they both have created something quite meditative, indeed a track that would be very easy to use in a meditational practice, as we strip away all that we thought we needed, and let go! The performance here is actually very delicate, and almost sympathetic in tone and composition.

The penultimate portal has been reached, and we are gifted a piece called All Things Will Pass, perhaps a classic truism, but none the less most correct in all aspects, here both Moore and Sadow create an arrangement for that moment of understanding. The bass again is delightful, with the keyboard segments in perfect soulful harmonic bliss with Sadow’s violin.

So we now stand at the end of our journey with Tom Moore and Tim Sadow, as we listen to the concluding track off the album entitled Divine Grace. A gentle synth approach akin to classic Liquid Mind starts our last voyage, this is such a crafted way with which to leave the album, it is enough to bring you to tears of blissful joy, this concluding narrative is also built with such a tender compassionate energy, it is without doubt the most sublime way with which to leave the album.

Going Home by Tom Moore & Tim Sadow was 45 minutes of time spent perfectly, the best work of the artists thus far, and an investment of unspoiled flawless musical magic. It is so wonderful to hear such an impeccable album within this genre, and it is just what is needed in this time of global confusion and fear. I will be amazed if this album is not nominated for an award in some category, it is that good, and as such Going Home by Tom Moore & Tim Sadow should be an album that is at the very top of your musical wish list right now, without a shadow of a doubt.




Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Sanctuaries of the Mind By Steve Sheppard

 


Sanctuaries of the Mind

By Steve Sheppard

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

I must say Sanctuaries of the Mind, the latest release from Steve Sheppard is something to really enjoy, a collection of 6 different stories told musically, so allow him to take you on a voyage of discovery with him, to different locations in his mind, places of sanctuary.

This seven track album opens with his single St. Georges Island (Birth Place of Apollo) a piece I previously wrote about that features the added talents of Andy Rogers, composed about a location not too far from our home, a little island surrounded in history that is still a mystery to most people, a place that is according to legend, the birthplace of Apollo. The build and progression within along with the natural sounds make this an idyllic starting place for our excursion.

We move on to Brading Station 1987, now this is a very small railway station on the Isle of Wight, England. This is a fascinating composition that will take you back in time, from 1987 to the Second World War and back again, just imagine those ghostly figures standing on the station, waiting to depart off to war.

Our third piece is Pedoulas Village (Winter 2022), now this is a place we travelled through recently, a small village in the Troodos Mountains here in Cyprus. The mountain range is the only place on the island of Cyprus that gets snow. This village can often get shut off for weeks following the snowfall; you can feel the isolation and cold of the snow and wind, as you listen, captivating indeed and skilfully constructed.

As we continue our journey, we arrive at the longest arrangement on the album at just over 11 minutes in duration. The Healing Pool opens with the sounds of nature, the hooded crow and other birds singing, insects such as bees and cicadas join in the chorus, before we hear the first musical chords and the sound of someone swimming in the pool. This is a clever arrangement that will allow you to float on the tones as you listen, and maybe even feel the healing energy of the water as you do so.

My favourite piece from the album is up now, and our fifth story to enjoy, it is called The Moon and the Trees, this is a really fascinating composition where for the first time Steve Sheppard has included Gregorian Chants along with the natural sounds and keyboard, creating something that is so enjoyable to listen to. Steve was inspired to compose this after floating in the pool one day during the summer, when he watched the moon in a perfectly clear blue sky in between two tall trees.

Our final story is entitled Seasalter Marsh, a small coastal village in Kent where he spent time as a young boy fishing in the dykes and listening to the planes flying overhead. I love the use of the old radio clip at the start, and that old plane flying overhead, taking us back in time to those carefree childhood days and to sharing those memories with him. This is a truly ambient arrangement, and one that I am sure you too will enjoy.

The album closes with a radio edit of The Healing Pool, allowing you to float out on its healing tones, and leave the album feeling refreshed and ready to continue your day.

Sanctuaries of the Mind by Steve Sheppard is a spectacular album telling stories through the music, and one that I am sure you will love too, an album that I am sure will do really well in the charts with music that will take you on a fascinating journey of discovery through the memories and times within the sanctuaries of his mind.


Monday, November 14, 2022

(E)motion By Benjamin Cook

 


(E)motion

By Benjamin Cook

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

This new release from pianist Benjamin Cook entitle (E)motion is a wondrous composition, one that takes you on a journey of discovery through your own emotions, as the piano and added instrumentation, moves through these emotions that are at times gentle, sometimes they are heart felt, and at other times, take you on a voyage of self-discovery, as the music rises and falls, with some amazing crescendos.

There is a real depth of composition here by Cook, a flourish that shows such passion and emotive power, which is both sensitive and also quite deep. I urge you to take a listen to (E)motion by Benjamin Cook, and add it to your collection if you enjoy music that will move you, as all who like good music as well as those who enjoy piano music will just love this new creation.


Es Vedra (Flute Version) By Vincent Boot & Shere Fraser

 


Es Vedra (Flute Version)

By Vincent Boot & Shere Fraser

Written by

Chrissie Sheppard

 

The gentle sound of waves and piano set the scene for this new release by Vincent Boot & Shere Fraser, as gentle birds sing overhead and then the delightful flute of Shere joins in to bring us a magnificent new creation that will take you on a journey to the wonderful, magical and legendary rock off the coast of Ibiza, Es Vedra.

The music is so soothing, it will allow you to drift on its tones, as you rest in the musical arms of Vincent Boot and Shere Fraser and the sounds of nature, lifting your spirits and bringing a feeling of peace and serenity.

This is such a gentle, yet delightful composition, I am sure it is going to be a huge hit for the artists, so ensure you add Es Vedra (Flute Version) by Vincent Boot & Shere Fraser to your collection.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Imagination By Ban Brothers

 


Imagination

By

Ban Brothers

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

Ban Brothers release the 4th single from the forthcoming EP Guiding Star with this new offering Imagination. The artists have been in a rich vein of form lately, and are currently riding high in the charts with Phire Elaam.

Imagination though is a horse of an entirely different colour, with session vocalist Rocky once again joining the brothers, in this uplifting extremely hopeful new song.

The lyrical content is now more valid than ever before, even more perhaps than the 60’s, but one has to have hope. This folk pop ballad has also a wonderful swing to its melody, very similar to how Cat Stevens peace styled pop ballads captured the imagination back in the day, a sure fire hit with ease.


Lightness By Andrea Sertori

 


Lightness

By

Andrea Sertori

Written by

Steve Sheppard

 

There can be no doubt that Andrea Sertori is one of the most prolific composers of solo piano around in this day and age, his instrumental efforts have charmed us all, and in the case of this brand new single, eased our minds as well, as Lightness is without doubt one of the most charming solo piano narratives yet from the artist.

The reflective energy with which this single has been created has a musical colour all of its own; this soothing composition gifts us a piece that floats on a late autumn breeze, and this is without doubt, Sertori at his artistic and heartfelt best, and as such deserves to be a big hit.