Friday, October 16, 2020

Aural Awakenings: Episode 42

Another refreshing blend of contemporary instrumental & neoclassical new age music!

Kevin Keller / Solana / The Front Porch of Heaven
Mark Vickness / Hot Apple Stuff / Interconnected
Marya Stark / Celestial Butterfly / Sapphire
Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter / Oasis / Harmony House
Jon Richards / Memories of Home / Skyrim: Three Kingdoms
Matthew Mayer / Block 17 / 16670
Sangeeta Kaur / If Time Stood Still / Mirrors
Kerani / The Philosopher / Sands of Time
Scott Reich / Kindness / Interbeing: Elements of Connection
Richard Souther / If Wishes Were Horses / Waiting in the Wings
Unita / Sweet Ellyon / Through the Veils
Matthew Labarge / Regret / Music from the Long Quiet
Carl Borden / At First Light / Beyond the Sunrise

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Album Review: Double Helix by Peter Manning Robinson

Born in Chicago, IL though having grown up in Vancouver, Canada and Los Angeles, CA, Peter Manning Robinson began playing piano at age three and performing in bands by age twelve. Despite touring and playing in clubs, he managed to receive formal music training at USC and Berklee College of Music in Boston, which put him on an exciting musical career path. In addition to having performed and recorded with notable jazz legends like Ernie Watts, Phil Woods and Freddie Hubbard, Peter has also nabbed several awards for his television and film scores, including an Emmy and multiple BMI awards.

An eclectic music composer whose unique style is rooted in classical structure and jazz improvisation, Peter Manning Robinson is the inventor of the Refractor Piano™. Forgoing any use of prerecorded tracks, triggered samples, external sounds or MIDI instruments, Peter plays an innovative type of music called “Refracted Music” on an acoustic piano that is “refracted” during his live performances.

Additionally, Peter is an accomplished vegan chef whose complex cooking recipes inspire his musical compositions and vice versa. Such creativity and uniqueness culminates on his latest release, Double Helix, which is a double album of quirky flair and whimsical delight.

Disc one includes eight compositions performed on Refractor Piano™ that showcase freeform melodies, kaleidoscopic tapestries and odd-tempo rhythmic patterns, for a resulting sound that can be likened to a musical gallery of abstract paintings formed by liquid shapes and mechanical structures.

One particularly noteworthy piece is “Moon Vines”, which effectively potrays a nighttime tropical setting. Here, an improvised piano lead is encircled by echoing timbres that mimic both metallic and wooden sound textures.

Disc two is comprised of eight solo piano pieces that, although more formulaic and standard than the markedly experimental nature of disc one, nonetheless possess many similar compositional patterns. Featuring simple yet intricate melodies, Peter’s signature melodic composing really comes to the forefront here in the form of notable pieces like “Labyrinth of Petals” with its lightly twirling piano figures gently rising and falling through the registers.

The album’s most touching moment is arguably “Undying Spirit”, with its contemplative mood and gentle ebb and flow, making this number my personal favorite of the lot.

Like a music box full of colorful expression, imagination and playfulness, Double Helix allows much openness to interpretation for the listener along its course. Likewise recalling to mind both BlueSilhouettes’ Utopia and Deborah Offenhauser’s Soundscapes albums, Double Helix is similarly worth checking out for fans of improvisational classical-jazz and contemporary avant-garde music! ~Candice Michelle

Available at Amazon, Bandcamp & iTunes. For more information, please visit the artist's website.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Aural Awakenings: Episode 40

Another refreshing blend of contemporary instrumental & neoclassical new-age music!

Seay / The Golden Spiral / In the Garden
Darlene Koldenhoven / Prism of Time / Chromatones
Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter / Passage to Mörko / Harmony House
Cantus / Brorson: Mu Vaibmu / Northern Lights
Kitaro / Flying Celestial Nymphs / Best of Silk Road
Pam Asberry / Cry from Lamanai / Moods, Impressions & Souvenirs
Terry Lee Nichols / Cosmic Dark Ages / The Pale Blue Dot
Kerani / When the Night Comes / Sands of Time
Sherry Finzer & Chris Jacome / Reflections / Soul Español
White Sun / Eka Mai / White Sun III
Michelle Qureshi / Half this Sky / Within
Aidia / Go with Me / Spirit Wind
Llewellyn / Rainbow Light / Healing Reiki Music

Friday, September 11, 2020

Aural Awakenings: Episode 39

Another refreshing blend of contemporary instrumental & neoclassical new-age music!

2002 / Castle of Dromore / Celtic Fairy Dream
David J. Peña / Renaissance / Thinking of You
Scott Reich / Sweetness / Interbeing: Elements of Connection
Matthew Mayer / Philosophy of End / 16670
Sherry Finzer & Chris Jacome / Sea of Tranquility / Soul Español
Peter Sterling / The Light Within / Sanctuary of Light
Shoshana Michel / Dancing in the Shadows / Impressions
Kevin Keller / The Forgotten Places / The Front Porch of Heaven
Richard Souther / For the Love of His Buddy / Waiting in the Wings
Healing Sound Project / Grounding I / 1:1
James Michael Stevens / Tuscany Fields / Italian Preludes, Nos. 1-8
Kirsten Agresta Copely / Wind Made Moan / Around the Sun
Paul Avgerinos / Healing Presence / Healing

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Album Review: Directions by Kenneth Hooper

Kenneth Hooper is a Texas-born composer and assorted flute player who initially started out playing bass guitar. In 1994, after moving to Redwood, California, he picked up his first flute at a penny whistle workshop, which eventually accompanied him everywhere while on a subsequent trip to the Amazon jungle. Upon returning to the states, he was gifted a Native American flute that he also learned to play. This led to the formation of a musical duo with his friend Garth D. Brooks under the name Elysium Calling, with whom he released two albums. Another creative path would open up for Kenneth when he entered a healing arts certificate program in San Francisco called Sound, Voice and Music, which led to the subsequent release of his debut solo double-album titled Directions.

Characterized by spaciously woven organic soundscapes ranging from gently uplifting to deeply lulling, the album features Anasazi and Chinese Xiao flutes as lead instruments throughout. Likewise, both Udu and Rav drums add an entrancing quality to several pieces, while melodic acoustic guitar gives a notable Americana flavor to three of the nine tracks total. Disc one is more rhythmic while disc two is more meditative, with the second half of the album especially emphasizing the incorporation of many nature sounds along the way, including whale-song, ocean waves, singing crickets, a flowing stream and windy effects.

One of my favorite pieces, “Directions”, beautifully opens disc one with a super-slow shamanic drum pulse, as flutes, shakers and thunderstorm effects soon enter the picture and gradually pick up pace throughout. Native female vocal chants further enhance the Southwest American atmosphere of the composition and collectively calls imagery to mind of a darkening sky over vast canyon terrain.

Another equally gorgeous piece, “Graceful Expanse” from disc two, conveys a nocturnal Pacific feel with its delicately sensuous flute notes played on the Chinese Xiao in tandem with a tranquilizing Rav drum melody. Likewise, gossamer synth-pads sustained throughout add to the composition’s enthralling ambient haze, which effectively paints enchanting visuals of a misty forest softly illuminated by starlight.

A highly praiseworthy album overall that touches on ambient, acoustic and ethnic fusion musical styles, Directions is the perfect listening experience for anyone drawn to the essences of the earth via beautifully harmonious sounds! ~Candice Michelle

Available at Amazon and other music retailers. For more information, please visit the artist's website.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Aural Awakenings: Episode 38

Another refreshing blend of contemporary instrumental & neoclassical new-age music!

Kerani / Shores of Gold / Sands of Time
Kevin Braheny Fortune / The End of Suffering / Dreamwalker Meditation Music Vol. 2
The Haiku Project / I Receive / Gratitude
Dean Evenson, Scott Huckabay & Phil Heaven / Talking to Sky / Healing Resonance
Chris Field / Metamorphosis / Beneath the Sun
Sherry Finzer & Joseph Akins / Angel Moon / [Single]
Terry Lee Nichols (feat. Rebekah Eden) / East of Eden / The Pale Blue Dot
Michelle Qureshi / Shores of Atlantis / Within
Antoine Malette-Chénier & François Couture / L'Équinoxe De Printempes / La Suite Du Printempes
Dyan Garris / Timeless Traveler / [Single]
Liquid Mind / The Wisdom of Kindness / Liquid Mind XIII: Mindfulness