Friday, January 19, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 4

00:00 / Karunesh / Spirits in the Forest / The Wanderer
06:17 / Michael Kollwitz / Mountain Sanctuary / Serenity
11:34 / Holland Phillips / Long Way Home / Under A Second Moon
16:23 / Masako / A Tale of a Lonely Otter (solo version) / Piano Sanctuary
20:49 / Max Highstein / Lily Pads / Flying Not Falling
25:45 / Cantus / Fjellheim: Kyrie / Northern Lights
31:15 / Adam Werner / Psyche vs Soul / Deep
35:23 / Michael Brant DeMaria / Lost / Ama
39:11 / Tom Moore & Sherry Finzer / Tides of Time / Let There Be Light
44:32 / Christopher Boscole / Empathy / Soul Dreams
48:59 / Camille Nelson / Patterns of Light / Lead Me Home
52:31 / Anaamaly / I Am a Co-Creator / Urban Metta, Vol. 2

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Spotlight: Spiritual Odyssey by Russell Suereth

Spiritual Odyssey is the fourth album by electronic keyboardist, composer and vocalist Russell Suereth. Having initially released a couple of 60’s-influenced pop/rock albums, Russell markedly shifted his musical focus to the loosely-defined “new age” genre with his all-instrumental third release entitled Spiritual Haven that drew upon subtle ethnic influences. Continuing his sonic exploration of transcendental themes, Russell seems to have both literally and figuratively found his voice with Spiritual Odyssey – an album that easily outshines his previous releases to a remarkable extent. Singing in an airily carefree and low-key style that’s complimented by dreamy synthesized textures and subtle world-tinged rhythms, Russell’s melodies often bear reminiscence to that of both The Beloved and The Alan Parsons Project.

Comprised of ten compositions spanning 40 minutes, Spiritual Odyssey opens with “Break the Chains”, as Russell sings mystical lyrics amid an ethereal fog of reverberating synth pads and subtle tribal percussion. As if being swept up on a magical carpet ride across the moonlit sky, a lunar glow is seemingly reflected upon the album's billowy cloudlike atmospheres, which are enthrallingly enhanced by the echoing, smoothed-out effect applied to Russell’s vocals. On the following track, “My Beating Heart”, his voice is layered with additional harmonies that are set to breezy percussion and softly muted bell-tones, which collectively elicit a curiously mesmerizing, almost whimsical essence. The ensuing “Where Will I Go” is one of my favorite songs on the album; its otherworldly haze and gently pulsing rhythm encompassing Russell’s resonating lyrical passages that offer lines such as “searching for the password to my life”.

The aptly-named “A Ride to Virgo” perfectly captures a childlike inquisitiveness – particularly that of perceiving the constellations to be much nearer to earth than they are. On this piece, Russell infuses a bit of Indian sitar, as one might imagine themselves sailing at sea while gazing upon the night sky. “So Far Away” also similarly embodies an alluring, quirky innocence with Russell singing the opening line, “When I fly through the cobalt skies, I can see your eyes”, as well as asking, “Why are you so far away?”. Also notable is “The Walls Are Tumbling” with its lightly bouncing electronic textures accentuated by subtle strings and a lovely vocal melody.

Although mostly of a similar nature, the songs on this album are immensely enjoyable, with each one subsequently unfolding like a children’s fairytale or fantasy book. Likely to appeal to a variety of listeners, Spiritual Odyssey is surely Russell Suereth’s most impressive work to date – thereby setting him on a promising musical path that I would highly encourage he continue to pursue! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please check out the artist's website. This album is also available to purchase at Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 3

00:00 / Jon Richards / Tethys / Gaia
08:26 / Terra Guitarra / Ambrosia / Spirit Wheel
15:06 / Deborah Offenhauser / Tanz / Soundscapes
20:02 / Unleashed Dreams / Trust (and let go) / Dare to Dream
24:52 / Lisa Hilton / Another Everyday Adventure / Escapism
28:22 / Kathryn Kaye / Winter’s Deepest Sleep / Songs of Changing Light
33:32 / Heartistry / Ancient Rhythm of Love / Inner Sanctum
38:52 / Eugene Friesen / Triangles / Akatombo / The Essential Collection
43:08 / Steven C / Something Beyond / Emotive
46:54 / Pangaea Projekt / Winter’s Grace / Winter Vol. 3
49:55 / Ken Verheecke / Beyond What I Know / Consider the Moon & Stars
53:05 / Liquid Mind / At the Center is Love / Liquid Mind XII: Peace

Friday, January 5, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 2

00:00 / Al Conti / A Thousand Tales / Scheherazade
05:10 / Echo Us / Begin to Remember 1 / To Wake a Dream in Moving Water
10:03 / Todd Boston / Fresh Strings / One
14:23 / Philip Shpartov / Elusive Time / 87 Keys
18:03 / Uwe Gronau / Motif in Motion / When Every Word Was Singing
21:25 / Johannes Linstead / Heaven Meets Earth / Azul
25:15 / Kerani / Infinity / Stardust
31:04 / Shoshana Michel / Ethereal / Prelude to a Dream
36:19 / Alexandra Gabriel / Path of Christ (Lady Nada) / Voices of the Goddess
44:26 / Áine Minogue / Womb of the Word / In the Name of Stillness
49:04 / Matthew Labarge / Entrance / Spiriti
51:28 / Michael Stribling / Expansion / Union: Music for Lovers

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Spotlight: Gaia by Jon Richards

Gaia is the seventh album by Jon Richards and follow-up to his fantastic Earthlight album – both and others having been released on Medwyn Goodall’s UK-based record label, MG Music. Noted for his brand of electronic fantasy and nature themed music, Jon explores further musical ground with Gaia, interweaving styles of cinematic electronic, ambient and space music with added subtle touches of rock throughout its seven compositions, of which span just over an hour.

“Gaia Pt. 1” is a lengthy opener that unfolds like a medley at over 20 minutes. Beginning slowly with an atmospherically spacey introduction, a distant light seemingly encroaches as drifty piano notes suspend upon a droning expanse. Moving into a more melodic phase, electric guitar and a slow-paced electronic-rock beat come in for a bit, before quieting down at about the midway point with gentle thunderstorm and nature sounds. Shifting phases again, the piece becomes dreamier, more ethereal and glistening. Eventually morphing into a more sequencer-driven piece, it’s accompanied by an upbeat rhythm and some funky bass guitar that effectively convey a somewhat vintage feel.

The next piece, “Gaia Pt. 2”, is ostensibly Enigma-inspired although possessing a lighter mood, as it similarly incorporates a chilled breakbeat and flute-type instrument with brushes of electric guitar. An adventurously beautiful piece, it feels evocative of viewing earth from space, while effectively imparting a sensation of soaring above oceans and landscapes. “Earth and Sky” is a more subdued piece with a somewhat chilly air and features an oboe-type instrument over a gently sequenced undercurrent. Eventually joined along the way by processional marching drums, this regal composition seemingly paints vivid images of the cold Himalayas. The ensuing “Rhea” is one of my favorite pieces on the album and bears some resemblance to late 80’s and 90’s-era Tangerine Dream. Guided by driving sequencers and a buzzing horn-type instrument, the catchy song quickly becomes infused with a spirit-soaring quality that’s lent by electric guitars and hovering celestial voices.

“Aether” however, just might be Jon’s most stunning composition to date. Mysteriously ambient and spacey, it opens with a cold echo like the distant call of the north wind, as ensuing gentle sequencers continually spiral upwards throughout its course. Effectively bringing-to-mind the translucent colors of the aurora borealis, this mesmerizing composition evokes the wondrous beauty of a tundra sky under starlight. “Tethys” is another gentle piece that gradually nudges the listener out of the hypnotic slumber induced by the previous track. Seemingly set to the scenic backdrop of a coastal early dawn, its breezy downtempo rhythm and drifty piano notes create a sensuously chilled mood, as shimmering electric guitar textures provide extra colorful dimension.

Closing out the album is “Gaia Pt. 3”, which initially opens with piano followed by a slow electronic-rock beat. Bold electric guitars and symphonic elements convey an air of celebration, until the piece winds to a close with a softly sparkling trail of seeming fading light.

While all of Jon Richards’ previous albums having been delightfully rewarding listens, he seems to have created something extra memorable and special with Gaia. Fans especially of Medwyn Goodall, David Arkenstone and Mark Dwane should certainly check-out this album. I for one particularly love these kinds of mythical-imbued soundscapes of which Jon has certainly crafted to the finest! ~Candice Michelle

For more information check out the artist's website. This album is also available to purchase at MG Music and Amazon.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Aural Awakenings: Episode 1

00:00 / Max Highstein / Dreamwalk / Flying Not Falling
05:31 / Russell Suereth / So Far Away / Spiritual Odyssey
08:48 / Al Jewer & Andy Mitran / Petals Floating / Chicago Chill 1
11:53 / Gerhard Daum / Rural Renewal / Rural Renewal
14:48 / AO Music / The Inbound Trail / Asha
19:10 / Neil Tatar / When I Was Young / After the Rain
24:12 / Masako / Frozen Quarry / Piano Sanctuary
26:41 / Unleashed Dreams / Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep / Dare to Dream
30:28 / Deborah Offenhauser / Air / Soundscapes
34:24 / Camille Nelson / Be Still My Soul / Lead Me Home
38:37 / Christopher Boscole / Soul Dreams / Soul Dreams
44:29 / Cantus / Njoktje / Northern Lights
50:00 / Tom Moore & Sherry Finzer / Sacred Ground / Let There Be Light
55:58 / Anaamaly / I Am Ready to Forgive / Urban Metta, Vol. 2

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Spotlight: Ring Around the Moon by Richard Dillon

Richard Dillon is a Seattle-based pianist and composer who began writing solo piano music about four years ago. Citing fellow pianist-composers David Nevue, Joe Bongiorno and Neil Patton as some of his greatest musical career influences, Dillon’s own style ranges from neo-impressionist to Celtic. Originally released in 2014, Ring Around the Moon is comprised of 13 original solo piano compositions inspired by the winter season. 

The first three tracks on the album are pensive and minor-key, beginning with “Groundhog Saw His Shadow”. A lovely opener gently played in the higher register, it calls to mind a new moon night in the deep of winter. The subsequent title piece, “Ring Around the Moon”, is carried by a lightly twirling melody throughout that lends it a touch of nocturnal mystique. 

One of my favorite pieces on the album is “Midnight Sleigh Ride”, which boasts sparkling, resonating piano chords that seemingly conjure images of snow flurries on a magical winter’s night. The ensuing “First Snow” is another highlight that brings-to-mind an early morning snowfall upon a wooded landscape. 

The second-to-last track on the album, entitled “Whiteout”, is a lightly cheerful and upbeat tune that follows another set of more contemplative, slowly-drifting compositions. And finally, “Hot Cocoa by the Fire” provides a tender conclusion to the album, effectively bringing-to-mind that of cozying up by a fireplace to keep warm while reminiscing upon winter seasons past. 

Overall reflective and peaceful, Richard Dillon mostly plays these pieces with a gently hesitant touch while lending a bit of jovial playfulness to a few of the compositions. Effectively taking the listener on a thoughtful journey amid the colder months of the year, Ring Around the Moon makes for great listening all winter long! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album can also be purchased at Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play