Thursday, March 23, 2023

Album Review: Liquid Mind XIV: Simplicity by Liquid Mind

Review by Candice Michelle 

Veteran musician and keyboardist Chuck Wild, formerly of the 80s-rock band Missing Persons who subsequently launched a solo career under the project name Liquid Mind, returns with another signature album of pacifying soundscapes titled Liquid Mind XIV: Simplicity.

In keeping with a consistent theme of relaxation and reverie charted by previous albums in the Liquid Mind series, Simplicity offers a 64-minutue mind soother with its seven synthesizer compositions of gently harmonious, slowly shifting, and softly layered major-key chord progressions.

Characterized by what I’d typically describe as ‘spa’ music more so than ‘space’ music, which is captured so descriptively on pieces like “The Child in Me,” “In the Moment,” and “A Gentle Rain in My Soul,” Simplicity seemingly evokes streams of white light pouring upon endless blue skies, billowy clouds, and placid waters, with each composition rolling along uninterrupted as if encapsulated by a translucent pearl of reflective and rounded edges.

An award-winning and chart-topping musical artist and mainstay in the spa, healing, and holistic therapy industries, Liquid Mind has facilitated peaceful and positive sound environments for many clients and practitioners alike for decades, while Simplicity is sure to take the listener into the next phase of blissful transcendence and tranquility!

~Candice Michelle for Auralscapes 

For more information, please visit Liquid Mind's Website. Simplicity is also available at Amazon, Apple Music, and more.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Album Review: Luminous by Michele McLaughlin

Review by Marilyn Torres 

Michele McLaughlin has gifted her fans and admirers another unique grouping of beautiful and thoughtful piano compositions with her latest work, Luminous.

The names of the pieces give us a preview of the general theme; that being, the interplay between darkness and light.

With titles such as "Droplets of Gray," "Shimmer," "Moonlit Shadows" and "Lanterns in the Sky," one can imagine the seasons of life and even the day to day ups and downs moving in and out of dark and light.

In the piece, "When You Hurt, I Hurt," McLaughlin maintains a slow and thoughtful tempo which demonstrates the beauty of being in the moment with a hurting one - no words needed.

"Shimmer" enters with a tip toe effect and soon the notes ascend faster into their climax to then begin cascading, rippling down to their tip toe finale. McLaughlin’s choice of major keys and uptempo infuse "The Golden Hour" with a relaxing vibe, without being sedate. The title piece, "Luminous," is a beautiful homage to the definition of light. A vivid description with effortless dance and fluidity. In "Adrift," McLaughlin departs from the light/dark theme as the piece goes towards a wandering state. But perhaps it could be a transition phase one could say, from light to dark and back again. "Lanterns in the Sky" possesses a soothing and transformative quality, with its careful entrance that takes you by the hand and shows you with increasing intensity the light all around you until you reach the reassuring end. McLaughlin writes her thoughts, dreams and passions using her piano keys and we are delighted to be invited into this personal journey.

~Marilyn Torres for Auralscapes 

For more information, please visit Michele McLaughlin's website. Luminous is also available at Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp and more.

Album Review: All the Best Returns, Pt. I by Robin Spielberg

Review by Marilyn Torres 

All The Best Returns Part I, is a brief but focused array of her talent as an accomplished piano performer who happens to be a theater actress, author, speaker, professor, and an advocate for the healing power of music.

The strong and powerful start to "In Search of the Forest Fairy," grounds the piece in a safe place before taking off in a venture that is light and delicate, as the piano keys seem to spin more and more before returning to the anchoring, firm notes. On "One Step Closer," Spielberg takes a slow pace with in-step keystrokes to direct the flow in a soothing and contemplative tune.

The next piece, which is the namesake of the album, has an old fashioned carousel feel about it that this listener thoroughly enjoyed! The artist and her vintage piano team up to take us along for a sweet ride into the past.

Perhaps keeping an eye in yesteryear, "The End of Summer" presents a melancholy (but not depressed) structure with soft and slow strokes.

Spielberg culminates her work with "Shche ne Vmerla Ukrainy (The Ukrainian National Anthem)," showing support by featuring her own rendition of the song. She performs it with tenderness and sensitivity while bestowing it with an air of flair that takes it to the strong and self assured finale.

This collection is sure to please Robin’s fans and garner new listeners looking for an inspiring grouping of calming and uplifting music.

~Marilyn Torres for Auralscapes 

For more information, please visit Robin Spielberg's website. All The Best Returns is also available at Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp and more.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Album Review: Wondering by Stephen Wallack

Review by Marilyn Torres 

For his latest album, titled Wondering, Stephen Wallack embarks on a journey of exploration of single themes and topics as a way of coming to terms with the many questions surrounding the events of the past several months.

The opening "Beyond" starts with a constant key which maintains its form like a frame to hold the fluttering and twinkling keys that follow. Similarly, in "Remember", a single key serves as an anchor for the surrounding notes. 

“Sorry” and “Bridges” give the sense of a conversation; the former, with depth and pauses, brings forth the increased tempo that contributes to the feel and urgency of someone pleading, perhaps apologizing? Meanwhile, the latter “Bridges”, takes soft careful steps like crossing over to meet the other side - reconciliation or new adventure?

“Games” and “Wolves” both embody a direct and determined character as if guided by a predestined goal. I could not help but think of galloping horses on a polo field when I listened to “Royals”. Perhaps the title led me that way but I did not mind; it was a very pleasant ride. 

Wallack concludes his exploration with the delicate and mellow “Goodbye”. It is not a long, drawn out farewell but more of a recognition and validation of the many changes and indeed questions brought up in recent history. Stephen Wallack delivers a sensitive and thoughtful musical collection for us to draw upon as we consider our own questions. 

~Marilyn Torres for Auralscapes 

For more information, please visit Stephen Wallack's website. Wondering is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Album Review: The London Sessions by Ed Bazel

Review by Marilyn Torres 

Pianist Ed Bazel delivers an inspirational and soothing collection of pieces curated to highlight the artist's mementos in life experiences. 

The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2 opens with “Morning Glory” which feels silky under Bazel’s expert command of the piano keys. It is a piece full of possibility and joyous expectation. In the following title, “Mountain Serenity” as well as the later piece, “Mountain Joy,” I felt a particular familiarity to the theme of stillness and awe these two pieces presented since I have the blessing of going to the mountains frequently to enjoy the scenery mother nature provides.

Bazel’s sensitive interpretation of the Beatles’ “In My Life” and “Yesterday,” is a nod to the germinating musical interests of his childhood, and a recognition of the impact the “Fab Four” had on his life. It is also fitting for him to take on these songs at the revered Studio 2 in Abbey Road Studios.

I found that “Old Friends” and “After the Rain” have a touch of the Barry Manilow style of reminiscing with a melancholy twist. 

Bazel’s confidence in his piano prowess is ever present in the category of quiet and soothing music especially in pieces like “Soaring” and “Daydream” (perfect background music for calming nerves).

Bazel’s involvement in the music sphere as well as his passion for adventure and discovery, permeates his work and bathes it with a sense of simple joy and gratitude. He is an artist whose style is not flashy or long-winded and yet captures the listener’s interest through the universal quality of affection for the joy of music.

~Marilyn Torres for Auralscapes 

For more information, please visit Ed Bazel's website. The London Sessions is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Auralscapes: Episode 006

A refreshing 2-hour set of new-age, world & contemporary classical music.

0:00:00 / Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning / Raven Dance / Coming, Going
0:02:42 / Christopher Caouette / Forest of Mist / Tale of the Oakenwish
0:06:22 / Kori Linae Carothers / Crystal Fields (Re-Imagined) / On A Cold Frosty Morning
0:11:27 / Yungchen Lhamo / Auspicious Days / Awakening
0:15:45 / Jonathan E. Blake / Autumn / Old Souls
0:22:28 / Peter Kater / My Land, My People, My Soul / Native America
0:27:07 / Peter Sterling / Along the Way / The Winding Way
0:31:45 / Album Spotlight: Traveling the Blissful Highway by Darlene Koldenhoven
0:32:59 / Darlene Koldenhoven / Native Star / Traveling the Blissful Highway
0:37:31 / White Sun / Anik Naad / White Sun III
0:41:49 / Robin Spielberg / One Step Closer / All the Best Return
0:45:30 / Ann Licater / Luminous Morning / Whispers from Earth
0:49:48 / Sharon Fendrich / Sea of Oaks / Sapphire Oak
0:55:18 / 2002 / Jasmine Rain / Hummingbird
0:59:22 / Stephen Wallack / Wolves / Wondering
1:03:50 / Raphael Groten / Invocation / Great Blue
1:05:35 / David Arkenstone / Fangorn Forest / Music Inspired by Middle Earth II
1:10:12 / Mediaeval Baebes / Memorare / Prayers of the Rosary
1:14:37 / Album Spotlight: Life Passage by Shambhu
1:15:59 / Shambhu / Mars Dawn / Life Passage
1:21:30 / Tom Moore & Tim Sadow / An Ancient Path / Life Passage
1:26:43 / Michele McLaughlin / Droplets of Gray / Luminous
1:31:45 / Will Ackerman / Passing Baldo’s Tower / Positano Songs
1:37:16 / Rusty Crutcher / Aegean Reflections / Oracle of Delphi
1:42:55 / Donna De Lory / Where I Find You / Gone Beyond
1:48:20 / Aureliaslight / Sparks of Light / A Mystic’s Autumn
1:51:46 / Liquid Mind / Simplicity / Liquid Mind XIV: Simplicity

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Auralscapes: Episode 005

A refreshing 2-hour set of new-age, world, classical & contemporary instrumental music.
(Photo credit: Tim Kuret Photography.)

0:00:00 / Peter Kater / Buffalo Song (feat. Kevin Locke) / Native America
0:04:31 / Joseph L. Young / Windswayed / Into the Unknown
0:10:06 / David Arkenstone / Shadowfax and the White Rider / Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II
0:14:14 / Robin Spielberg / In Search of the Forest Fairy / All the Best Return
0:18:48 / Kerani / Divine Immersion / The Water of Life
0:23:54 / Elizabeth Naccarato / Shrine of the Stations of the Cross / A Southwest Story
0:27:18 / Aureliaslight / A Mystic’s Autumn / A Mystic’s Autumn
0:30:33 / Sharon Fendrich / Call of the Ruins / Sapphire Oak
0:35:44 / Album Spotlight: Traveling the Blissful Highway by Darlene Koldenhoven
0:36:56 / Darlene Koldenhoven / Jade Dreams / Traveling the Blissful Highway
0:41:47 / Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning / On Scatha’s Island / Coming, Going
0:44:53 / Maji / Believe / Flow
0:48:33 / Jill Haley / Bursts of Color / The Forests and Shores of Acadia
0:53:04 / Lynn Tredeau / Nomad / Reflection
0:56:44 / Sherry Finzer & VeeRonna Ragone / Mystic Breezes / Mystic Breezes
1:05:21 / Genevieve Walker / Saints / Home Songs
1:10:17 / Dan Chadburn / Uncertainty / Always
1:14:24 / Album Spotlight: Life Passage by Shambhu
1:15:46 / Shambhu / Shambhu / Life Passage
1:21:33 / Will Ackerman / The Tyrrhenian Sea / Positano Songs
1:27:24 / Brooks & Day / Oneness / Awakening
1:33:20 / Orchestra Indigo / Mysteries / Farewell to Memories
1:37:37 / Lis Addison / Rhythm of the Earth / Elements
1:43:28 / Suzanne Teng & Gilbert Levy / Shimmer / Shimmer
1:49:11 / Julie Hanney / Taking Flight / Taking Flight
1:52:14 / Paul Adams & Elizabeth Geyer / Forest Light / Sanctuary