Sunday, April 3, 2022

Auralscapes: Episode 002

A refreshing 2-hour episode of contemporary instrumental, contemporary world & contemporary classical music from across the globe.

0:00:00 / Kelly Andrew / Onagar / Revelation
0:04:22 / Kerani / The Water of Life / The Water of Life
0:09:16 / David De Michele / Hope After the Storm / Beyond
0:14:55 / Omar Akram / Open Skies / Echoes of Love
0:19:41 / Opium Moon / Opium Moon: Day / Night + Day
0:27:49 / Clarico / The Wound Between Us / The Wound Between Us
0:30:26 / Secret Garden / Escape / White Stones
0:33:54 / David Arkenstone & Diane Arkenstone / The Crystal Shores / Avalon: Between Earth and Sky
0:37:42 / Yungchen Lhamo / Loving Kindness / Awakening
0:40:57 / James Asher & Arthur Hall / From the Ground Up / Energised by Stars
0:44:37 / Wouter Kellerman & David Arkenstone / Across Land and Sea / Pangaea
0:48:48 / Angèle Dubeau / Flight / Elle
0:53:10 / Peter Calandra / Caritas / Caritas
0:58:43 / Karavan Sarai / Become My Moon (part 1) / The Moon’s Within Reach
1:03:45 / Kirsten Agresta Copely / Devotion / Devotion
1:06:09 / Juan Sanchez / A Nocturne / Touch and Sound
1:11:07 / Mamak Khadem / Remembrance / Remembrance
1:16:05 / AO Music / Into the Trees / Kutumba
1:19:50 / Will Ackerman / This is Where it Begins / Positano Songs
1:24:26 / Donna DeLory / Asatoma Sadgamaya / Gone Beyond
1:31:07 / Richard Souther / No Matter What the Storm May Be / Arc of Visibility
1:37:42 / Frolin / Dusk / Eventide
1:40:17 / Lis Addison / Mother Waters / Elements
1:47:02 / Kerry Barnes / Floral Notes / Just Piano 2
1:49:52 / Sushma Soma / Nature / Nature

Friday, March 18, 2022

Album Review: Music for Hard Times by The Living Earth Show and Danny Clay

Review by Candice Michelle

Presented as a two-volume set, Music for Hard Times is the sonic creation of The Living Earth Show and Danny Clay who conceived this album with the global hardships of the past couple of years as its inspiration. Recorded in isolation, and compiled and edited by Clay, volume one was created in April 2020 at the home of guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson of The Living Earth Show. Contributions to the album include young musicians from the San Francisco Girls Chorus led by Valerie Sainte-Agathe, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music led by Edwin Outwater. Further complimenting the audio experience is a limited-edition book created by Nick Ross and Brandie Grogan, as well as a full-length film produced by artist Jon Fischer.

Comprised of 15 compositions spanning approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, each track is titled after the album and named in parts, opening with “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 1”. In what could be described as minimalist classical, avant-garde and experimentally environmental, Music for Hard Times employs various field recordings, conservatory instruments and textural vocalizations – effectively resulting in consciously understated ensemble arrangements.

Conveying an air of contemplative abstraction, sparsely executed and improvised melodies take freeform shape from an intriguing sound palette – such as the crystalline bells, slushing ice effects and suspended brass tones on the piece “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 4” – or the singing bowls, chirping birds and natural white noise on “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 5”.

Other notable pieces include “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 8” – the album’s lengthiest piece at nearly 13 minutes – which is sustained throughout by a droning undercurrent upon which sparse textural instrumentation gradually builds into a delicate confluence that washes over the aural senses. On “Music for Hard Times: Vol. 2, Pt. 2”, classical strings and vocalized improvisations expressed in delicate melancholic croons recall the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.

Culminating in an epilogue titled “Music for Hard Times: Epilogue”, a ray of sunshine seemingly pours through on the 15th and final track, bringing with it a soft glimmer of solace, hope and comfort.

~Candice Michelle for Auralscapes

For more information please visit the artist’s website. Music for Hard Times is also available at Bandcamp, Amazon and more.

Auralscapes: Episode 001

A refreshing 2-hour episode of contemporary instrumental, contemporary world & contemporary classical music from across the globe.

0:00:00 / Kerani / Ocean Tides / The Water of Life
0:05:24 / Lis Addison / Breathing Green / Elements
0:12:10 / James Asher & Arthur Hall / Between Worlds / Energised by Stars
0:16:07 / Yungchen Lhamo / Nature’s Tears / Awakening
0:18:58 / Art Patience / The Unknown / The Unknown
0:25:03 / Carl Weingarten / A Fistful of Dust / Stop Me Try
0:31:36 / Céu / Um Gosto De Sol / Um Gosto De Sol
0:35:23 / David Darling / Water Dragon / Reverence
0:38:21 / Juan Sanchez / Sands of Time / Touch and Sound
0:44:43 / Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej / Our Home / Divine Tides
0:48:08 / 2002 / Gathering the Clouds / Hummingbird
0:53:08 / Trine Opsahl / Rose of the Eternal Spring (Duo) / The Moon Stays Bright
0:57:24 / Kevin Keller / Inverness / Shimmer
1:03:21 / David Franklin / The Meeting Tree / Passings
1:07:00 / Esgazette & Edward Newell / Treasury of Reverie and Memory / Tide Tables
1:10:27 / Wouter Kellerman & David Arkenstone / The Sun’s Reflection / Pangaea
1:14:29 / Majestica / Beautiful Simplicity / Spire
1:18:30 / Donna DeLory / Ma Song / Gone Beyond
1:28:01 / Will Ackerman / Did I Dream This / Positano Songs
1:32:57 / Mamak Khadem / Dead and Alive / Remembrance
1:38:17 / Angèle Dubeau / Eliza Aria / Elle
1:41:34 / Yuval Ron feat. Úyanga Bold / Water of Forgiveness / Sacred Spiral
1:50:47 / The Living Earth Show & Danny Clay / Music for Hard Times, Pt. 4 / Music for Hard Times
1:55:30 / Richard Souther / Contrary Winds of Reassurance / Arc of Visibility

Friday, December 24, 2021

Album Review: This Beautiful Chaos by Trevor Gordon Hall

Review by Abdul Yamani

A deep, resonant, and pensive guitar melody in “Chasing the Chills”, the first track, sends a chill down one’s spine and introduces us to Trevor Gordon Hall’s latest album This Beautiful Chaos.

“Life is crazy and chaotic, but it is beautiful. We all need to be reminded of that from time to time” expounds Trevor of the dual nature of his album’s title. Given current world events at the time of this writing, no truer words were ever spoken.

Trevor Gordon Hall is an acoustic instrumentalist, gifted guitarist, composer and performer from Philadelphia, USA who allows his guitar to articulate his innermost thoughts, ideas, and expressions. His style ranges from edgy driving rhythms to delicate melodic themes. The album This Beautiful Chaos is a product of Trevor’s life experiences and travels poured into the notes, chords, and rhythms of his music. Trevor’s album features 6 different guitars: Standard Acoustic, Baritone Acoustic, Nylon String, High Strung Guitar, Electric Guitar, and a Portuguese instrument named Viola Amarantina. The variety in sound and rhythm create a unique blend of styles which keep the listener engaged and eager for what follows.

Wonderful surprises please the ear in tracks like the bluesy, uplifting “Ontic Blues”, and the melancholic ambient guitar sounds of “At Peace With Struggle”, a gentle reminder to “let go” of whatever tensions encumber our journey in life.

Because of the multiplicity in the techniques and instruments he employs, Trevor Gordon Hall’s music can be called easy, subtle, profound, abstract, uplifting, melancholy, introspective, yet infused with an overriding sense of contentment and purpose. The ingenious song titles tell as many stories as the varied instrumentation and styles he so skillfully displays.

Trevor Gordon Hall is widely recognized for his invention of the “Kalimbatar” — a guitar that combines a customized African finger piano, called the Kalimba. Trevor has garnered the admiration of and received countless praises from a who’s who in the music industry. Whether it’s through his solo work, international touring, new collaborations or teaching students, he thrives on the discovery and harnesses life’s possibilities.

On top of a touring calendar that has taken him through 17 countries and counting, his growing discography has amassed millions of listens and views through streaming and social media, allowing his music to connect across borders and languages. This Beautiful Chaos is a stunning musical escapade which amazes, calms, and inspires from start to finish.

~Abdul Yamani for Aural Awakenings

For more information please visit Trevor Gordon Hall's website. This Beautiful Chaos is available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Aural Awakenings: Episode 51 – A Peaceful Soundscape for a Winter Wonderland

A 2-hour episode of peaceful music for a winter wonderland.
(Photo credit: Tim Kuret Photography.)

0:00:26 / Enya / Trains and Winter Rains / And Winter Came
0:04:02 / Ciro Hurtado / Andean Celtic / Luna
0:08:03 / Stephen Peppos / Peppermint Garden / Botanical
0:13:15 / Laurence Furr / Where Angels Tread / Upon the Corner of the Moon
0:17:07 / Ann Sweeten / Arctic Dance / Change Is In The Wind
0:22:33 / Cantus / Vuelie / Northern Lights
0:25:49 / Richard Bone / The Owl Grove / Valengraph
0:30:21 / Marcia Watson Bendo / Snow Moon / Woodland Moons
0:36:42 / Trine Opsahl & Josefine Opsahl / Touched by an Angel / The Infinite Between Us
0:43:00 / Kurt Reiman / Evening Snowfall / North Maple Road
0:45:40 / Jon Mark / A Winter’s Story by the Firelight / The Standing Stones of Callanish
0:48:45 / Sting / Gabriel’s Message / If On A Winter’s Night…
0:51:15 / Trevor Gordon Hall / Chase the Chills / This Beautiful Chaos
0:53:57 / Jill Haley / Frost Tinged Evergreens / The Waters of Glacier
0:59:16 / Pam Asberry / Snow / Twelvemonth
1:02:42 / Bill Leslie / Scottish Lullaby / Celtic Peace
1:05:55 / Charles David Denler / A Winter’s Memory / Portraits In Season Live
1:08:53 / Loreena McKennitt / Snow / A Midwinter’s Night Dream
1:13:53 / Dino Malito / Aurora / Relax
1:17:38 / Michael Borowski / First Snow / Peace Valley
1:21:38 / Sherry Finzer / Wind Spirit / Connections
1:27:56 / Mediaeval Baebes / Angel of God / Prayers of the Rosary
1:30:48 / Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter / Mysty Waltz / Harmony House
1:36:28 / Derek Wille / Cold Day / An Approaching Storm
1:41:03 / Ashley Davis / These Winter Days / Songs of the Celtic Winter
1:45:03 / Dave Eggar / Russian Winter / Awakening
1:47:58 / Pangaea Projekt / The Night Sky / Winter Vol. VII
1:50:27 / Suzanne Teng & Gilbert Levy / Winter Prayer / Whisper

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Album Review: Colors by Stephen Wallack

Review by Marilyn Torres

Listening to Colors by Stephen Wallack, I was struck by a sense of personal involvement in each composition, a sense that, for each piece I could imagine a place or person important to the artist. Beginning with “Birch Lake”, Wallack taps a few trickling keys for the first minute and a half before a cascade of notes enters like wind-swept water, followed by the return of calm to finalize the piece.

In “Josh”, there is the steady repetition of the notes with highs and lows inserted here and there so the listener can identify the ebbs and flows of a person’s life.

The repeating stanzas and soft trailing notes in “Colors”, “Stunning” and “Dreams”, reflect the influence George Winston’s work has had on Wallack’s musical style. 

“Brave” begins with a slow and pensive pace but gently accelerates with a determined stride before returning to the slower melody at the finale. Similarly, on “Earth”, Wallack directs the keys to glide along as if airborne just above land. Suddenly I was reminded of a recurring dream of flying, and the feeling of freedom and possibilities before me.

For the concluding “Hope”, “Marlon” and “Midnight”, Wallack presents a fast paced and strong performance which delivers what the first title states - hope.

In this inexplicable state the world finds itself in, it’s important to look for the hopeful and the good. Stephen Wallack decided to capture his recollections and life events from the previous year with this compilation of intimate musical pieces, and dedicated it to his nephew Marlon who suffered brain trauma as a baby. Marlon, who with the help of his mother created the cover art, is an ever-present symbol of what is possible and positive for Wallack, and with this musical effort Wallack has delivered these qualities to us.

~Marilyn Torres for Aural Awakenings

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

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Album Review: Connections by Sherry Finzer

Review by Lissette Cascante

Phoenix-based, classically trained flutist Sherry Finzer has received many accolades and awards for her musical contributions primarily in the relaxation/meditation genre. Her branding encompasses the use of a collection of low flutes, including alto, bass, and contrabass flutes, as well as a variety of Native American-style and world flutes. Often wind instruments are mixed with sacred chants, ethereal sounds, natural and other ethnic arrangements to create her soundscapes. Sherry has recorded, toured, and performed with a variety of accomplished artists whose collaboration has also influenced her unique sound and style. She has released over twenty-seven solo and collaborative albums and numerous singles.

Sherry’s latest solo release, Connections, was inspired by the legendary American flautist Paul Horn who was a pioneer of world and contemporary instrumental music as well as a practitioner of transcendental meditation. Sherry is a firm believer in the power of music to aid in the healing process. Connections is a fitting title for this album given the uncertainty of the current times we are living in; many have suffered isolation, illness or tragedy and are yearning for the support and strength which comes from being able to share and connect with others.

After starting to livestream on the Insight Timer Meditation App in 2020, Sherry began connecting with thousands of fans and followers who shared testimonies of just how much her previous recordings, and her livestreams, were helping them through the grieving process, letting go of stress, improve sleep, or aided in lessening their physical pain. She wanted to share her gratitude and have this recording be about her listeners. All songs on the album were either created in memory of loved ones who have passed, or for someone who currently uses Sherry's music as part of their daily therapy or healing regimen. The flutes used were selected by the participants – each person selecting the flute that resonated with them most.

The album’s seventeen tracks take the listener through a continuum of healing sound and light. The first track “Resilience” serves as the impetus to elevate us to that higher place above our cares, and concerns. The song titles speak to us of familiar comforts like nature, water, new days, blessings, peace, journeying, coming home, connecting, and communing with Spirit. With each subsequent song one can cast off all encumbrances, negative energies, and unhealthy emotions.

Caught up in the gentle whirlwind of her flute sounds and melodies, one feels a sense of release and weightlessness, like a boundless floating experience. The experience is so blissful, like the end of a massage therapy or stretch/cool-down session, you’ll wish, as I did, to remain in that state indefinitely. Perhaps why some listeners say they listen to Sherry’s music 24/7. How wonderful that Sherry chooses to use and to share her musical talents with the world as a channel to bring comfort, relief, and much needed healing.

Connections is the third solo flute release in Sherry Finzer's "Naked Flute" series recorded at The Tank. Her music can be heard under her name as well as her groups Majestica and Evenfall on various international radio programming, international airlines, and overhead music channels.

Besides composing and recording, Sherry is the founder and CEO of the Heart Dance Records label featuring musicians from around the world with a mission of creating music for peace and wellness. She is also founder of the Higher Level Media promotions company, as well as one of the three founding members of the Mindful Music Association. Sherry live streams weekly on the Insight Timer meditation app.

~Lissette Cascante for Aural Awakenings

For more information please visit Sherry Finzer's website. Connections is also available at Bandcamp, Amazon, and more.