Sunday, August 26, 2018

Top 25 Albums for July 2018

Please note that our monthly top 25 is now listed in alphabetical order by artist name.

Artist Name Album Title Record Label
Áine Minogue Eve Áine Minogue
Aureliaslight Seasons Aureliaslight
Carl Weingarten  This Is Where I Found You Multiphase Records
Cecilie Fearless Utmark
Darlene Koldenhoven Chromatones TimeArt Recordings
David Wahler Mosaic David Wahler
Don Latarski River Heart Dance Records
Eamonn Karran  I'll Be With You Real Music
Eric Tingstad Electric Spirit Cheshire
Fiona Joy Story of Ghosts Blue Coast Records
Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning Eirlandia  Arkmusic
Jill Haley  The Waters of Glacier Jill Haley
Joseph L Young Every Moment Joseph L Young
Kevin Wood Eternal Real Music
Loreena McKennitt Lost Souls Quinlan Road
Lynn Tredeau  Fellowship of Solitude Lynn Tredeau
Mark Dunn Melodic Voyage Mark Dunn
Matthew Mayer Beautiful You Matthew Mayer
Michael Kollwitz Serenity II Michael Kollwitz Music
Neil Patton Solitaire  Neil Patton
Nitish Kulkarni Listen Nitish Kulkarni
Sherry Finzer & Mark Holland Somewhere New Heart Dance Records
Symphonex Orchestra Music That Tells A Story Music With No Expiration
Richard Noll Peaceful Being Singing Heart Productions
Robin Spielberg  On The Edge of A Dream Playmountain Music

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Album Review: Mosaic by David Wahler

I’d initially became acquainted with David Wahler’s music upon hearing a couple of tracks from his mesmerizing 2012 album, Antiquus, and I’ve been intrigued ever since. Created using a variety of keyboards and synthesizers while weaving organic nature sounds throughout, Wahler’s style could essentially be described as electronic new age music that’s noticeably rooted in the classic and pioneering sounds of the 80’s and 90’s, yet feels freshly modern and up-to-date. Crafted in a similar style to his Spiritus (2015) and A Star Danced (2010) albums, Wahler’s latest release, Mosaic, is a blissfully beautiful album comprised of eleven softly melodic, serenely soothing and subtly romantic compositions that often bear elements of ambient and classical styles.

The gorgeous opening title track, “Mosaic”, possessess subtle touches of Tangerine Dream with its flowing progression of sequenced layers – albeit comparatively more gossamer and “mistier” in texture – as synthesized vocal intonations mysteriously weave in and out of its sensual soundscape. Wahler perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album with this spellbinding composition, which appropriately lulls the listener into a relaxing yet imaginative, almost daydream-like state. Following next is “Afterain”, which employs nature sounds, wispy vocal effects and sparsely drifting keyboard notes. Wahler then moves into slightly cinematic territory with “A Promise to Keep”, which highlights a more prominent piano melody. “A Child of the Universe” is another favorite that brings in elements of Celtic fantasy and neoclassical motifs. Here, celestial choral voices along with piano, flute and harp-like textures exchange leads beneath overarching strings. Also noteworthy about this piece (and others) is that Wahler exhibits welcome restraint in places where other musicians might go for bombast.

“August Cloud” is a more intimate passage with subtle hints of mystery – while “Elysian Dawn” feels more mythical with its birdsong, harp textures and lone female voice. “Heading Home” begins with a solo piano figure that is eventually joined by other synthesized elements. This lovely piece is reminiscent of some of the works released on the Narada label in the late 90s and would have fit perfectly on one of their signature compilation albums. “Sakura” follows in a similar vein, although quickening the pace a bit and likewise, displaying a beautiful melody. The aptly-named “Lone Sky Night” is another favorite, as it imparts a solitary sense of wonder, with its gently rolling waves and spacey, twinkling effects evoking images of a starry sea. “Fou D’ Amour” is pleasantly reminiscent of 80s-era “new age” synthesizer music – and in particular, Vangelis, with its cinematic elements. And lastly, the haunting closing piece “Why?” starts out quietly until a gentle rhythm comes in accompanied by vocal effects.

One thing that has consistently struck me about David Wahler’s music is how he crafts his compositions with just the right amount of ambience in the form of melodic sparseness and atmospheric moodiness, which lends an overall quality of mystery and shadowiness that helps to counterbalance the music’s brighter and more overtly cinematic elements. The end result is a listening experience that’s beautifully enchanting – with Mosaic placing very high on my recommendations of quintessential "new age" albums! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available from Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Album Review: Chromatones by Darlene Koldenhoven

Darlene Koldenhoven has enjoyed a long-standing musical career that boasts some impressive highlights, including having performed as the soprano soloist at Yanni: Live at The Acropolis, as well as her portrayal as a choir nun in the blockbuster comedy Sister Act. With several solo albums to her credit, Darlene’s musical style ranges from classical crossover, to new age vocal to contemporary instrumental. Her latest album, Chromatones, is a purely instrumental work based on the music of her previous release, Color Me Home. Both albums feature the same compositional lineup, however, the songs themselves have been retitled yet nonetheless still capture similar meanings and visual interpretations as those ascribed to their original vocal renditions.

With Darlene at the helm as producer, composer, arranger and engineer, she also lends piano, keyboard, native drum and shaker. Likewise, the album variably features contributions from a line-up of familiar names that appeared on her previous album, such as David Arkenstone, Wouter Kellerman, Ricky Kej and others.

Chromatones opens pristinely with “Golden Dawn”, a lovely piece that makes great use of bird song and ocean waves, which soon introduce a gently colorful ensemble of piano, flute and string instruments. “Mourning Doves” follows with dove cooing before blossoming into a flowing piano melody enhanced by radiant flute and solemn strings. “Red Savannah” ensues as the instrumental rendition of “Kalahari Calls” from Color Me Home. This piece is my favorite on the album, with the all-instrumental arrangement further bringing out the subtle textures possessed within the composition’s seemingly idyllic, tropical soundscape. Introduced by the serene sounds of wading through water, “Swans on the Seine” possesses a romantically whimsical air about it with its dreamy blend of harp and clarinet. Next, “Terra Affirma” features a softly sweeping and somewhat cinematic arrangement of piano, horn and strings that are brushed throughout by sparkling chimes and harp. Another favorite is the ensuing “Native Bloom”, which opens with mysterious Native flute intonations that are soon joined by sparse piano notes, rain-sticks and tribal percussion.

While the title “Vibrant Worlds” may suggest a song that's decidedly energetic and upbeat, this gentle piece of music is more like a lovely lullaby that features a comfortingly beautiful violin melody throughout. Next up is “Chromatones” – a dreamy yet vibrant composition that certainly earns its title-track status. Comprised of synthesizers and hammered dulcimer, the piece subtly evokes some of the works of new age music veteran Constance Demby. “Prism of Time” gently follows with a beautiful duet of piano and flute – while the ensuing “Painted Desert” showcases flugelhorn. The final piece, “Waltzing in Planetary Time”, is a delicately melodic and tender composition that highlights acoustic guitar and English horn, bringing this colorful listening experience to a serenely sentimental close.

With Chromatones, Darlene Koldenhoven has beautifully crafted an enchantingly exquisite musical tapestry of new age piano ensemble music. Once again weaving a colorful spectrum of tones and textures throughout these elegant compositions, her latest album is sure to engage, uplift and delight the listener’s spirit! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 17

00:00 / Deborah Martin / Watercolours / Selections
05:19 / Aureliaslight / Seasons / Seasons
09:24 / FLOW / Whisper Me This / Flow
14:13 / Paul Avgerinos / Beginner’s Mind / Mindfulness
20:30 / Wendy Loomis / Synchronicity / High Tech
23:24 / Don Latarski / River Suite Part 1: Into the Clouds / River
27:57 / Cecilie / Home / Fearless
32:18 / Danny Elfman / Drawing Montage / Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot
35:29 / Sherry Finzer & Mark Holland / Leaving All Shadows Behind / Somewhere New
40:08 / Michael Bohne / Regarding Stonehenge / In The Distance
44:54 / Joseph L Young / Letting Go (ft. Rona Yellow Robe) / Every Moment
49:20 / Lucinda Clare & Yuval Ron / Throat Chakra / Voyage Through The Chakras

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Top 25 Albums for June 2018

TM LM PKArtist Name Album Title
1 3 1Loreena McKennitt Lost Souls
2 11 Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning Eirlandia 
3-3 Eamonn KarranI'll Be With You
4-4 David Wahler Mosaic
5 2 2 Kevin WoodEternal
6 12 12 Jill HaleyThe Waters of Glacier
7 - 7 Aine MinogueEve
8 - 8 Darlene Koldenhoven Chromatones
9 - 9 Fiona JoyStory of Ghosts
10 4 4Neil Patton Solitaire 
11 17 17 Mark DunnMelodic Voyage
12 5 5 Aureliaslight  Seasons
13 7 7Symphonex OrchestraMusic That Tells A Story
14 8 8Richard NollPeaceful Being
15 6 6Lia ScallonSong of the Sidhe
16 9 9 Richard Ross Laughing Moon
17 18 18 Loren EvartsHome Again
18 19 19 Rhonda Mackert Time Not Forgotten
19 11 11 Jon DurantParting Is
20 2323Peter Calandra Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1
21132 Michael Kollwitz Serenity II
22 14 3 Joseph L Young Every Moment
23 15 4Nitish Kulkarni Listen. 
24 10 10Richard Dillon Terra Incognito 
25 - 25Matias Baconsky When the World Ends

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 16

00:00 / Eamonn Karran / Peace / I’ll Be With You
04:07 / Kevin Wood / Time for Change / Eternal
09:53 / Matthew Mayer / A Modern Introspection / Beautiful You
12:51 / Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning / Under the Summer Stars / Eirlandia
16:50 / Aureliaslight / Longtime Sun / Seasons
20:54 / Lynn Tredeau / Land of Forgotten Dreams / Fellowship of Solitude
24:10 / Aine Minogue / Oh Eve / Eve
28:33 / Jon Durant / Ecliptic Shadows / Parting Is
34:27 / Eric Tingstad / Flamingo Club / Electric Spirit
37:10 / Jill Haley / Running Eagle Falls / The Waters of Glacier
40:31 / Loren Evarts / A Day on the Concord River / Home Again
44:34 / Richard Noll / Nightfall / Peaceful Being
50:16 / David Wahler / Child of the Universe / Mosaic

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Album Review: The Waters of Glacier by Jill Haley

Composer and instrumentalist Jill Haley has made multiple appearances on other musicians’ recordings. However, she is also an outstanding solo performer in her own right who has released several impressive albums to date. What’s especially enjoyable about her solo works is her continuing theme of exploring the magnificent wonders of United States National Parks through her music. With previous albums that include Glacier Soundscapes, Zion and Bryce Canyon Soundscapes, Mesa Verde Soundscapes and National Park Soundscapes, Jill’s music draws its inspiration from scenic deserts, forests, lakes and mountains across the U.S. map. Her latest album, The Waters of Glacier, is a sonic tribute to Glacier National Park, of which is located in northernmost Montana and bordering on Canada. Comprised of twelve instrumental ensemble pieces, the album features Jill on piano, oboe, English horn and handbells – plus supporting roles throughout courtesy of Dana Cullen on horn, David Cullen on guitar, Michael Manring on bass, and Tom Eaton on electric guitar, keyboards and bass.

The first track, “Clouds of Apgar Range”, is a somewhat unexpected opening from the norm, with its gorgeous, meditative handbells creating an almost reverent atmosphere. Gentle piano is subsequently introduced followed by Jill’s signature English horn, until the piece eventually concludes with the return of the handbells. “Rain on Huckleberry Mountain” is a relaxing, pastoral piece comprised of solo piano and English horn that aptly paints a picture of rain on a mountain. “Glacial Lakes” begins with gorgeous acoustic guitar figures from David Cullen, and evokes the wide-open spaces that Alex de Grassi conveyed so well in his Windham Hill years. Here, Jill’s English horn weaves a lovely melody inside David’s fingerpicked guitar.

“First Passageway” opens with mysterious piano chords followed by horn playing a melancholic melody in the lower pitch – while “Running Eagle Falls” begins with a bright piano figure as Jill’s oboe matches the piano in its upbeat, optimistic melody. A lone oboe opens “Falling Gold”, until minor-key piano enters the scene, then quickly shifts to major-key with an accompaniment of subtle bass and electric guitar. One notable observation I have, is that all these lovely pieces work so well because when composing them, Jill leaves plenty of space for each lead instrument so that they’re never wrestling one another for the spotlight.

“Frost Tinged Evergreens” sounds as captivating as its title suggests, with the piece’s contemplative pairing of simple piano and oboe conveying a ting of cold to it. David’s guitar returns for “Montana Rivers”, which is likewise accompanied by Michael Manring’s signature bass, along with Jill’s acrobatic (but never overplayed) oboe lines. “Ox-Bow Point” is perhaps the most solemn piece on the album with its almost ceremonious-like trio of horn, oboe and English horn. The aptly-titled “Ripples on Two Medicine Lake” is also one of my favorites, on which gently cascading piano is accentuated by the yearning touch of English horn. Another favorite is “October Snow”, which begins with a lonely piano motif followed by English horn. Shifting into a gentle darkness towards the middle part, the horn seemingly becomes its own voice that speaks to the coming of winter. Lastly, “Solitude” is a beautiful album closer appropriately comprised of solo piano – and effectively brings-to-mind some of Liz Story’s more reflective works.

An overall contemplative album from an accomplished recording artist, The Waters of Glacier perhaps boasts some of Jill Haley’s finest work yet. Additionally, fans of the classic Windham Hill sound will likely be particularly enthused with this fantastic release! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.