Monday, December 19, 2016
Spotlight: Inner Rhythm Meditations by Byron Metcalf
“Garden of the Peaceful Warrior” opens the album with warm, enveloping chords and deeply enthralling tribal drumming, as Peter weaves a subtle flute melody in often-suspended notes among the composition’s capaciously lush atmosphere. An earthy, sensual vibe exudes from this piece, as well as throughout the rest of the album, as it seemingly beckons the listener into a trance-like and profoundly tranquil state. The aptly-named “As Clouds Dance” follows next and is perhaps my favorite piece on the album. Here, Erik provides gently soaring and stratospheric elements that perfectly compliment Byron’s warmer and earthier instrumentation to create a soundscape which sounds equal parts organic and electronic. A supremely gorgeous composition that mesmerizingly morphs and progresses throughout, it brings to mind that of watching passing clouds changing shape across the sky, while one’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground to connect with the bare earth beneath them. “Patterns of Awareness” ensues with floating timbres, gently understated flute and deeply resonating percussion at the foreground, as one can hear Erik’s textural ambient guitars in the background. The everflowing and hypnotic synergy of these three key elements continues on the next two tracks, “A Perfect Place” and “The Awakened Heart”, both of which are as equally spellbinding. Closing out the album is the comparatively slower-paced “Presence of Longing”; led by a lulling drum-pulse it provides fifteen minutes of pure restorative bliss.
As a long-time fan of Byron Metcalf’s work, I’m continually impressed by his musical outputs, and Inner Rhythm Meditations represents the epitome of the tribal-ambient style of music that he so frequently visits. In fact, I’m reminded of an equally beautiful album that Byron released with Steve Roach and Mark Seeling in 2004 called Mantram, with its similarly warm, sensual sacredness and seemingly esoteric sense of mystery. Byron’s percussion is simultaneously ecstatic and energetic, yet meditative and peaceful, always producing a visually and soulfully transportative experience. A top-notch album for yoga, ritual and shamanic work, Inner Rhythm Meditations is another masterwork that I will be returning to quite often! ~Candice Michelle
For more information please visit the artist's website. This album can also be purchased at Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp.
This review was originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 12/19/16.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Album Review: A Hero's Journey by Karen Olson & Crispin Barrymore
“Horizon’s Calling” begins with a swelling mist of chords that soon introduce a gentle viola melody, immediately creating a warm and enveloping soundscape which conveys both a subtle melancholy and sacred introspection. Setting the mood for the rest of the journey, an illuminated ambience that’s often characterized by seemingly processed environmental sounds permeates the album, while highlighting minimal classical motifs throughout as expressed via Karen’s beautiful viola playing. On the second track, “Life’s Persuasions”, her lovely instrument weaves in and out of swirling metallic timbres, which are gently guided along by a lightly tapping electronic rhythm. The fourth track, “Still Crying”, is a most hauntingly gorgeous piece and quite easily my favorite on the album, in which Karen’s viola shimmers and vibrates among glistening electronic textures and a slow breakbeat-type rhythm. By the sixth track, “Facing Fear”, the perceptual notion of this album being about an inner personal journey of sorts really comes to fruition. Here, the viola is more at the forefront of the composition’s somewhat stark and foreboding yet inherently minimal soundscape. Lending a subtle contrast in mood is the seventh track, “Going Beyond”, which conveys a gently comforting and radiant aura with its sparkling piano and soothing viola. The eighth track, “Life Force”, is another favorite of mine, in which an emotive viola melody intertwines with environmentally lush layers and a liquid chill rhythm. Concluding the album is “Epilogue”, which paces along in a procession-like manner, lending cinematic touches to the ensemble of viola, organ and synths, as well as the occasional brush of symphonic drums.
Comprised of twelve compositions spanning over an hour, A Hero’s Journey is essentially a classical-laced ambient album which boasts sensually warm atmospheres with an underpinning of poignancy throughout. Perfectly understated with many subtle intricacies and improvisational nuances, a constant stream of restlessness or stirring beneath the music’s overarching serenity also felt present – a most intriguing aspect that I intimately connected with. An essential album to own, A Hero’s Journey is easily among my favorites of recent musical discoveries! ~Candice Michelle
For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
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