Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spotlight: Every Moment by Joseph L Young

World-flute master and keyboardist Joseph L Young adds a soulfully refreshing element on his latest album, Every Moment, which follows his enchanting 2016 album, Ethereum. Having formerly played saxophone in the smooth jazz group Mobius Trip (that he co-founded), Joseph again pulls out his sax and gets creative on his latest album, which draws upon influences of jazz, new age and ambient/electronic music. Comprised of twelve compositions spanning approximately 62 minutes, sax is the lead instrument throughout, as Joseph adds synthesized layers and keyboards, gentle percussion and subtle world music touches along the way. Centered upon a theme of time, the compositions overall feel timeless, musing and imaginative. Guest musicians include world flutist Cornell Kinderknecht on “Time Traveler” and violist Lisa Bittick on “Chronos Dreams”.

“Prism” opens the album with a subtle rhythmic pulse that underscores a soothing sax melody accompanied by synthesized vocal layers. A whimsical touch of Irish whistle joins the piece about half-way through, as both earthily sensual and dreamily spacey textures are woven among what could essentially be described as the quintessential ‘space-jazz’ composition. The next piece, “Falling Through Time”, is easily my favorite on the album. True to its title, the composition seemingly bridges the past, present and future, while its dusky atmosphere simultaneously evokes images of mysterious ancient landscapes and modern city nightlife. Processed lyrical vocals lend the piece a subtle synth-pop flair amid a sensual ensemble of soulful sax, ambient textures and tribal-esque percussion.

Another one of my favorites is “Vicariously Blue”, which features sax alongside Native American flute within an echoing chamber of organic-style percussion and low-humming chords. Another especially outstanding composition is “Letting Go”, which initially opens with gentle spoken word courtesy of Rona Yellow Robe amid a subtle shamanic pulse. Her vocals soon extend to mantra-type singing, which pleasantly reminds me of the lovely Deva Premal. It’s followed by “Eleventh Hour”, a notably intriguing piece that’s somewhat set apart from the rest with its comparatively more digitized effects and crunchy, quasi-industrial beat.

Meeting at the crossroads of new age, ambient and contemporary instrumental music, Every Moment will certainly appeal to a variety of listeners. Particularly, it brings-to-mind the more romantic space-jazz music of Jonn Serrie (think Ixlandia, Lumia Nights or Spirit Keepers), as well as saxophonist Paul Winter, thereby recalling some great “new age” classics. A mesmerizing album sure to be among this year's favorites, every moment of Every Moment is certainly time well spent! ~Candice Michelle

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 14 (An Earth Day Special)

00:00 / Patrick Kelly / The Wonder of Creation / In a New Light
06:17 / Johannes Linstead / Heaven Meets Earth / Azul
10:00 / Max Highstein / Earthtones / Flying Not Falling
16:26 / AO Music / Terra / Asha
20:03 / Llewellyn / Magick of Trees / Walking with Merlyn
27:00 / David & Steve Gordon / Sunlight Through the Trees / Reiki Healing Light
32:19 / Peter Kater / She Awakens in the Garden (Abridged Remix) / She
36:47 / Sherry Finzer / Earth / Sanctuary II: Earth
44:18 / Christine Brown / Forest for the Trees / Ascend
48:53 / Robert Thies & Damjan Krajacic / As the Earth Awakens / Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries
53:58 / Jon Richards / Earth and Sky / Gaia

Friday, April 13, 2018

Top 25 Albums for March 2018

TM LM PKArtist Name Album Title
1 51 James Asher & Arthur Hull Drum Distillery 
2 9 2 Terry Oldfield & Soraya Temple Moon
3 6 3Eugene Friesen The Essential Collection
4 - 4Michael Whalen Kiss The Quiet
5 - 5 Trine Opsahl  Add Colours To My Sunset Sky
6 - 6Valerie Romanoff Healing Music, Volume 2
7 11 7 Neil Tatar After The Rain
8 - 8Nouveau Papillon Enchantment Blooms
9 2 2 Todd Boston One
10 - 10Peter Kater ft. Peia Luzzi She
11 16 11 Anne Trenning Beautiful Song
12 17 12 Pam Asberry Seashells In My Pocket 
13-13 Johann Johannsson The Mercy
14 - 14 Mari Samuelsen Nordic Noir 
15 21 15Kaveh Karandish  Silent Whispers 
16 -16 Heidi BreyerMoonlight In Empty Rooms
17 22 17 John Dahlander  Songs For Smiler McGee
18 - 18 Brian KellyTomorrow's Daydream
19 - 19 Michael LogozarStarlight 
20-20 Lynn Yew Evers Sunset Breeze
21 1 1 CantusNorthern Lights
22 24 22 Christine Brown  Ascend
23 -23 Anaya Music Aonki: Gateway of Love
24 - 24 Jim PearceA Piano Story
25 - 25Oscar Pascasio Sensaciones 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spotlight: Seashells In My Pocket by Pam Asberry

Pam Asberry is a composer and solo pianist who knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in music. Classically trained from the age of seven, Asberry eventually led a church choir from organ and completed a master’s degree in music. On her debut album, Seashells In My Pocket, Asberry reflects upon the many beautiful islands and coastal cities she has visited by relaying the memories of her experiences through 13 alluring solo piano instrumentals. Contemporary and modern yet imbued with a definite classical touch throughout, the compositions are overall gently uplifting and major-key with occasional minor-key injections along the way.

Each composition is given a picturesque name inspired by a coastal landscape or seafaring moment captured in time, with some of them seemingly drawing upon fantasy and folkloric themes via evocative titles like “Mysterious Caverns” and “The Mermaid’s Tears”.

Cozumel is a Caribbean island off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Channel for which the opening piece, “Cozumel Blue Waters”, is named. Beginning in a lightly brisk manner, the piece immediately imparts a calm yet sunny mood that perfectly lends itself as the first stop on this coastal getaway.

Moorea is a stunning island in the Pacific located just northwest of Tahiti and one of my favorite pieces on the album, “Moonlight Over Moorea”, aptly conveys the kind of romantic mystique that one could easily imagine an evening spent there might entail. Next, we travel all the way to the Atlantic Caribbean with “Dunn’s River Falls”, another favorite piece of mine that’s named for an enchanting waterfall located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Seemingly carried along by a steady and powerful undercurrent, the melody appropriately cascades up-and-down the registers in a manner expressively illustrative of the waters that flow upon the fall’s naturally terraced rock formations.

The second-to-last piece, “Ocean Stars”, feels elegantly nocturnal with a notably neoclassical bent. Flowing delicately in the upper registers, the piece deftly mimics the twinkling of stars, as one might imagine themselves standing by the sea while gazing upon the night sky. The final piece, “Sailing Home”, boasts a softly sweet and simple melody that perfectly signals the conclusion of a fascinating journey, with the return to the comforts and familiarity of home soon drawing near.

Beheld as a magical realm throughout much of humanity, the sea has long been a muse for many artists, likewise having bestowed Pam Asberry with a reservoir of creative inspiration in this most lovely collection of musically-rendered mementos! ~Candice Michelle

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spotlight: Winter, Vol. 3 by Pangaea Projekt

Pangaea Projekt is the recording alias of Orlando-based musician Michael Crain. I was first introduced to his music upon hearing the enchantingly wonderful debut album, Gaia’s Dream, which blends ethno-tribal and ambient/electronic groove elements, ala Deep Forest. Stylistically venturing into more atmospheric ambient terrain with this latest offering, Winter, Vol. 3 is the third installment in a series of three-track EPs, of which, despite their seasonal theme, can be enjoyed anytime of the year.

Opening with “Ice Forest”, this composition is a gently affecting, minimal ambient piece that feels somewhat reminiscent of composer Harold Budd, with its drifty piano notes hovering amid subtly-shifting tones, as it perfectly evokes a quietly peaceful and snowy landscape. The second piece, “Snowfall” is my favorite of the three, as it pleasantly brings-to-mind the similarly more ambient-space compositions of Jeff Pearce or Michael Stearns. Comprised of slowly-evolving textures that collectively form an expansive, blanketing atmosphere, this gorgeous composition perfectly imparts a sense of deep reflection and nocturnal observation. Finally, “Winter’s Grace” closes the set with a gentle and understated melody comprised of keyboard and soft strings that lends the piece a stylistically more contemporary instrumental/new age feel. In fact, it reminds me somewhat of David Arkenstone’s outstanding winter-themed album Snowfall.

Spanning just thirteen minutes, Winter Vol. 3 sells for less than three dollars online and is a beautiful treasure to own, particularly for fans of seasonal ambient and new age music. I’m looking forward to more installments in this (and possibly other seasonal) series, as well as a follow-up to Pangaea Projekt’s full-length debut! ~Candice Michelle

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