Saturday, September 21, 2019

Album Review: Memoirs by Michele McLaughlin

Michele McLaughlin is a highly-accomplished and much sought after pianist and composer who’s built up a dedicated fan following over the span of her career. Possessing a true gift for composition and melody, she never actually learned to read music, instead being entirely self-taught on the piano while expressing an inborn talent for songwriting. Relaying her signature-style narrative of instrumental storytelling, Memoirs is a collection of 12 solo piano singles that were compiled over a timespan of many months. Riding along a similar thought train as her 2017 album Life, here we are familiarly guided through a range of emotions and observations, yet seemingly overall reassured by a sense of hope and comfort, which comes with every unpredictable twist and turn along the way.

“Thankful” cheerfully opens the album with a lightly galloping flair and upwards lilt of the melody. Following next is “Pure Joy”, a calmer yet equally optimistic piece that evokes morning sunshine and warmth. Slipping into a more nocturnally contemplative mood, “Dark Moon” boldly descends into the lower registers. Its solemn atmosphere suggests a meaning that is both figurative and literal, especially given that it precedes a piece called “Triumph”.

One particular highlight of the album is “Beneath the Surface”, a piece that blooms robustly with alternating major and minor keystrokes. Once again infusing meaning with metaphor, images come to mind of sailing on tumultuous seas while remaining steadfast and determined throughout the storm.

Two other personal favorites include the album’s back-to-back pair of winter-themed songs, as is often the case with compositions inspired by the coldest season. The serenely reflective “Winter” evokes a feeling of quaint nostalgia while painting a picturesque scenery of snow lightly falling upon a rural northern landscape. Likewise, “Northern Lights” portrays a beautiful winterscape, as cycling notes and winding course convey a journey across snowy terrain.

“Dismissed” aptly closes the curtains in starkly dramatic fashion. Showcasing McLaughlan’s fierce command of the keys, this striking number powerfully flows like raging rapids until gradually winding down to a close.

Beautifully turning its musical pages like a personal diary of memories and musings, Memoirs is undoubtably another thoroughly rewarding offering from one of solo piano’s leading figures in the scene! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and other music retailer & streaming platforms.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Album Review: Every Man, Woman and Child: Yoga Flow Suite by Merrill Collins (feat. Vito Gregoli & Kimberly Haynes)

Merrill Collins is a New Jersey born and raised pianist and composer who combines her classical music training with contemporary innovation. Having released a handful of albums and many singles in tandem with a diverse range of artists, Collins’ latest album, Every Man, Woman and Child: Yoga Flow Suite, sees her team up with multi-instrumentalist David Vito Gregoli and vocalist Kimberly Haynes, a duo who often work together on various musical projects.

Created primarily with Yoga practice in mind, Every Man, Woman and Child is approximately 56 minutes of restorative bliss comprised of three compositions with each spanning from 15 to 20 minutes in length. While Collins has been recording for several years as part of a neoclassical new age trio that includes a cellist and flutist, here she collaborates with another established musical pair who beautifully enfold her improvisational piano melodies with a more global sound drawn from Eastern mystical traditions. Boasting an impressively large collection of world instruments, Vito Gregoli plays many of them on this album, while Kimberly Haynes infuses the opening and closing pieces with her soothingly soulful mantra and folk-style singing.

The opening track, “Om Mani Padme Hum”, is a moderately rhythmic piece that features freeform piano notes leisurely drifting amid a fluid amalgamation of guitars, vocals, tabla drums and other subtle instruments. Following next, “Ambient Journey” is a mesmerizingly mellow and brainwaves-altering piece clocking in at just over 20 minutes. The most deeply rejuvenating composition on the album, as well as my personal favorite, it’s characterized by a hazy atmosphere of bells, bowls, sitar, synthesizer and crystalline piano droplets. Finally, “We the People” is another gently rhythmic piece, this time reuniting Collins with her familiar past collaborators, Maksim Velichkin and Laura Hallady, alongside Gregoli and Haynes. Imbued with a touch of 60s psychedelia, the lyrical melody “every man, woman and child” is repeated towards the end for a celebratory conclusion.

Perfectly suited for Yoga practice as well as other forms of conscious body movement, Every Man, Woman and Child: Yoga Flow Suite is an immensely rewarding and free-spirited musical offering of relaxation, rhythm and aural resplendence! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit Spiraling Music. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and other online music retailer & streaming platforms.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Lisa Pressman

We’re excited to present an interview with Lisa Pressman. She’s a composer, pianist and singer based in Phoenix, Arizona who recently released her fifth album, As We Imagine, which embodies a classic new age sound that’s refreshingly modern. So please tune-in for an enlightening conversation and sonic imagination!

Music from the album As We Imagine can be heard throughout this interview.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Overview: Vision Quest by Bearheart Kokopelli

Bearheart Kokopelli is the solo recording moniker of Native American Award winning flute player Bernhard Mikuskovics and one-half of the instrumental world duo Mikuskovics Baum. Comprised of eleven tranquil soundscapes led by Native-style flute along with gentle acoustic guitar tones by Harald Peterstorfer, Vision Quest musically paints sacred earth and sky scenery spanning from the Great Plains to the American Southwest.

Incorporating subtle elements of jazz and Americana throughout, the supreme highlight of the album is arguably “Walking the Sacred Path” on which a shamanic drumbeat pulses in tandem with hypnotic intonations of throat singing. A deeply entrancing and centering piece, it’s easy to imagine the flute player (or even oneself) on a mountaintop overlooking a rocky canyon, while the accompanying improvised guitar figures seemingly follow the patterns of the wind.

Recommended to any lover of Native American flute music, Vision Quest is a mindfully peaceful yet spontaneously heartfelt album that fosters both a reconnection with nature and relaxation of the mind! ~Candice Michelle

Available at Amazon, iTunes and other retail and streaming platforms.