Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spotlight: Zia by Alexi Musnitsky

Zia is the debut album by Alexi Musnitsky, a young pianist born in New Mexico and currently living in Paris. Having played piano since age four with a formal background in classical training, Alexi began composing his own music when he was eighteen. Produced by Will Ackerman along with Tom Eaton and Alexi Musnitsky, and recorded at Imaginary Road studios in Vermont, the album is named after the indigenous Zia tribe of New Mexico. Cellist Eugene Friesen is featured on several of the compositions, while Tom Eaton lends subtle percussion and bass to three of the seven tracks.

“Zia” opens the album with gentle piano notes that eventually unfold into a romantic and graceful melody. “War of Love” follows next, which is perhaps my favorite piece on the album. Capturing the essence of memories and things held sacred to the heart, accompanying cello and subtle percussion lend a slightly poignant quality to this tender composition. Radiance exudes from “Sparkling Heart”; beginning in the upper register of the piano, the pace picks up about one-third of the way through the piece, expressively alternating between a hushed and hurried dynamic. “The Quest” is the album’s lengthiest piece at just over eight and a half minutes. A heartfelt composition featuring cello, bass and percussion, the melody flows like a river winding through mountains, peaceful one moment and powerful the next. A morning sunrise shines on “Light Will Lead the Way”; likewise joined by passionate cello and soft percussion, this inspirational piece instills a sense of hope and optimism. A brighter piano melody is carried on “Mile of Life”, which is contrasted by the lower solemn tone of its complementary cello. A setting sun gives way to moonlight on “Dreamcatcher”, the album’s final piece. Along with Eugene’s cello, Will Ackerman lends the soft sound of a Hopi drum to this composition, while Noah Wilding’s wordless vocals pass through towards the end like a gentle evening breeze.

Eloquently restrained and never bombastic in its approach, Zia offers an impressive level of musical maturity and depth for this young talent. Demonstrating a piano playing style that is fluid and supple, Zia is not to be missed by those who particularly enjoy elegant piano music wrapped in wholesome beauty. ~Candice Michelle

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

This review was originally posted on Journeyscapes Radio on 04/21/16.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Album Review: Get Tribal By Radio God

Radio God is Get Tribal’s follow-up to the award-nominated debut, God of Drum, a globally-inspired project by composer Kari Hohne. Drawing upon world mythologies and diverse cultures, as well as inspiration from music and films spanning several decades, she weaves these concepts into a blend of both ancient and modern rhythms within an electronic musical framework.

“Guip: Sunrise” opens the album with vintage keyboard sounds and digital effects that are set to a pronounced and plodding electro-drumbeat. Percussion takes center stage on this album, where a retro-urban vibe is gilded with an exotic flare, taking the listener on a journey through modern city streets, ancient roads and desert landscapes. “Ruah: Breathe” continues in this vein while picking up the pace a few notches, as Middle-Eastern flavors additionally season this steady composition, further characterized by legato strings and a minor-key piano riff. “Taba: Out of the Underworld” perhaps marks the album’s most definitive point. Inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh of ancient Sumerian mythology, the piece begins with a windy rumble and piano loop that resurfaces throughout the tune. Bearing a slight sense of forbiddance with its distinctive tribal drums, one might easily imagine a gathering of dancers in a remote desert by firelight. “Adon: Across the Sea” is also curiously noteworthy, drawing influence from the Pacific islands with its Hawaiian and surf guitar, as a whimsical harp sample offsets the funkier rooted rhythm. The celebratory “Ankh: Dancing Desert” is another highlight which offers a fun fusion of ancient, exotic, vintage and western elements. The composition’s blending of traditional Middle-Eastern Dervish dance music with 80’s-style electronic instruments is especially well-captured here.

Uniquely venturesome and defying strict genre classification, Radio God is primarily about the beat where rhythm remains the focal point. Less defined by straightforward linear melodies, Kari finds an idiosyncratic motif that works within these mostly circular compositions and returns to it often, always inspiring the listener to move and groove! The album’s many retro-style elements and vintage electronic components, accentuated by culturally exotic and ancient themes, frequently bear the hallmarks of an old-world video game. An artist who possesses both rising potential and discernible passion for her work, I suspect only more intriguing and enjoyable outputs will flourish from the Get Tribal series. ~Candice Michelle

This album is available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Review originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 04/16/16.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Album Review: Adore by Joseph Sullinger

Adore is the sixth solo album from classical and world fusion guitarist Joseph Sullinger. He is joined throughout on various compositions by Hungarian violinist Adrienne Galfi (courtesy of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra), as well as Eric Darken on percussion, and both Greg Morrow and Chris Mchugh on drums. Comprised of nine compositions spanning nearly thirty minutes total, Joseph additionally fuses his classically romantic and Spanish style guitar melodies with piano, bass and synthesizer elements.

The aptly-named “Mi Amor” opens with solo Spanish guitar, providing a warm introduction with a touch of romance. Adrienne Galfi’s violin joins the mood on “In the Evening”, as she further lends the piece a classical, graceful touch. This composition brings to mind an evening spent somewhere along the southern coast of Spain, with the guitar and violin each representing one half of a dancing pair. Following next is the title piece, “Adore”, one of my favorites on the album, which begins with a breezy synth that remains in accompaniment throughout. An organically flowing and rhythmic piece, Spanish guitar and wooden percussion lend a distinctive flamenco flavor to the composition. Also equally stunning is “Aurora”, which likewise opens with guitar and synth, followed by a leisurely-paced rhythm and sweeping violin. Characterized by a softly sensual melody and beautiful chord progressions, the piece reminds me of summertime, perhaps while taking a scenic drive along the coast. The contemplative “Solitude” is another favorite, possessing a lulling guitar melody and gentle rhythm that feels as peacefully subtle yet radiant as moonlight reflecting upon the water. Likewise especially notable is the mysterious “Caravan”, a piece that opens with the soothing sound of ocean waves. Sultry and slower-paced, the exotic melody of the guitar is further enhanced by sparsely-placed ethnic percussion and the earthy tones of bass. Closing out the album is “Farewell”, beginning with the natural environmental sounds of crashing waves which continue throughout the piece. Subtle guitar and piano are perfectly interwoven along its course, as one can easily imagine a ship departing at sea, perhaps while an onlooker reminiscently bids farewell.

Simply put, I absolutely ‘adored’ each and every moment of Adore, as these elegant compositions softly swept me away to the shores of a Mediterranean paradise. Joseph’s guitar-playing is sophisticated yet perfectly understated within the album’s overall down-to-earth and relaxing context, which is further enhanced by the many light brush strokes of additional colors and textures throughout. Alluringly romantic and beautiful, “Adore” will appeal greatly to those who are particularly fond of classical and Spanish-style guitar music as well as new age world fusion! ~Candice Michelle

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

Review originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 04/02/16.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Album Review: Everything In Between by Jeffrey Seeman

Jeffrey Seeman picked up the guitar at the age of eight, having been influenced by a variety of musical styles growing up and playing in a few bands. His album, Everything In Between, was produced by Will Ackerman, co-produced, mixed and mastered by Tom Eaton, and recorded at Imaginary Road studios in Vermont. Jeffrey is joined on this album by a handful of musicians who lend instruments such as cello, violin, viola, saxophone, bass, percussion and Hammond organ to various compositions.

The album opens with one of my favorite pieces, “5 Days Old”, which is guided by Jeff Haynes’ gentle percussion. It has a lush, multi-dimensional guitar sound that’s given added depth by Michael Manring’s bass guitar and Noah Wilding’s wordless ethereal vocals. The mood livens up more on “Acadia Walk”, an upbeat tune with a strumming guitar melody and pronounced twang. The folksier “Michael’s Journey” is another highlight with a slightly Irish bent, led by guitar, a gently galloping rhythm and Charlie Bisharat on violin. Also noteworthy is “Ever Present Always”, a gentler and cozier tune with a homebody feel that features Eugene Friesen on cello. However, the most compelling and interesting track on the album is easily “Southern Night in the Woods”. A multi-faceted piece that begins with hushed nature sounds and guitar echo, its use of overdubs, slide guitar and bass all serve to create an enthralling surround-sound experience. Premik Russell Tubbs contributes his lively saxophone to a few of the compositions, including “Let’s Go” and the closing piece, “Point Well Taken”.

Everything In Between is an overall dynamic and straightforward album, yet incorporates many subtle details and intricacies throughout. The natural, woodsy atmosphere compliments the live-sounding approach to Jeffrey’s guitar-playing, conveying a warmly personable touch. Enthusiasts of both acoustic guitar and Americana-flavored music should especially take note of this recording, who will likely appreciate its down-to-earth geniality. ~Candice Michelle

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

Review originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 04/01/16.