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Awareness Magazine
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MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS

By Michael Diamond

 

Fiona Joy Hawkins

600 Years In a Moment

www.fionajoyhawkins.com.au

The latest release from Fiona Joy Hawkins highlights her flowing grand piano compositions and vocals accented by ancient world instruments. Fiona’s concept is to bring instruments and their unique sounds from villages across the globe to explore the hidden musical treasures of cultures in a modern musical setting. The album is eclectic, acoustic, beautifully produced, and spans genres with influences of new age, jazz, classical, and world music, featuring an all-star list of accompanists.

A number of the songs begin with solo piano before being joined by other instruments and I appreciated that it provided a contrast and the opportunity to experience Fiona’s playing and melodic sensibilities on their own before flowing into a collective musical pool. The album is a masterful mélange of superlative musical performance, stunning contemporary composition, and widely-diversified cultural influences. Preceded by a string of award- winning recordings, Australian recording artist Fiona Joy Hawkins has outdone herself with this release and continues to set the bar ever higher in the unfolding of her creative potential. Watch for her U.S. tour September/November 2013.

 

Al Conti

The Blue Rose

http://alconti.net/

A recording like “The Blue Rose” is something I cherish because, as a “concept album,” it tells a story, both musically and in the liner notes and artwork, taking you on an imaginative journey from beginning to end. Traces of delicate Asian sounds tint the picture, enhanced by elements of classical and new age music, with much of it having a cinematic air about it. Although Al performed most of the wide variety of instrumental sounds heard on the album, a few special guest artists lend their talents to the mix.

Given Al’s record for composing and producing award-winning music, including his Grammy-nominated “Northern Seas” album, I expected to be impressed, and I was certainly not disappointed. “The Blue Rose “is a luminous telling of an enchanted story. From his compositional mastery to his impeccable musicianship and productions skills Al Conti has been emerging as a major figure in the new age music genre. I am sure that this new release will only serve to further enhance his growing reputation.

 

Various artists

Sounds from the Circle V

www.newagemusik.ning.com

The New Age Music Circle is an online community with approximately 1500 recording artists and fans. For five years in a row, they have put out a compilation of member’s recordings and made it available to press and radio programmers on a 40-song MP3 disc as well as to the public as an iTunes playlist from which they can download individual tracks. The compilation is the work of new age music pioneer, Suzanne Doucet, who is also the creator and organizing force behind the community. Also contributing to this project is Beth Ann Hilton, a well-known LA music publicist.

The music on the compilation is quite diverse and covers many New Age sub-genres including meditation, nature, solo piano, vocals, electronic space music, chill, and more. One great thing about it being available as iTunes downloads

is you can preview any track individually and decide which ones you would like to purchase for 99 cents each. A link to the playlist can be found at: http://newagemusik.ning.com/. It’s a wealth of wonderful music from world-class talent.

 

AOMUSIC

Hokulea

www.aomusic.com

Like their previous releases, “Hokulea” is a rich blend of powerful world music rhythms, female vocals, ancient ethnic and contemporary electronic elements, and children’s choirs from around the globe. This group is composed of three primary members: Richard Gannaway (stringed instruments and vocals), Jay Oliver (keyboards and synth samples), and Miram Stockley (vocals) who is best known as the voice of the group Adiemus. In contrast to the earthy primal beats are Miriam’s ethereal Enya-like vocals floating above the rushing rhythmic current. The complexity and production of this album is astounding and it stirs my imagination to think about what went into creating these songs.

AOMUSIC is truly one of the most unique groups I have encountered in my 30 years as a music journalist. Not only is their music in a class by itself, but the humanitarian work they are doing with their non-profit foundation on behalf of underprivileged children around the globe is a shining example of what can manifest when art and Spirit combine with heartfelt dedication.

 

Stephen DeRuby

Awakening

http://www.deruby.com/

I would imagine that there are a relatively small percentage of musicians who actually make the instruments they play. Stephen DeRuby is one of them, with over 40 years’ experience as a musician and craftsman of beautiful high-quality Native American-style flutes. While Stephen is well known for his Native flutes and music, his latest CD, “Awakening,” expands his vision and is more of a World flute recording that expresses his global musical influences which range from East Indian ragas to Native American, African, Middle Eastern, Latin, and Oriental music.

In addition to sultry flutes, the album also includes languid guitar, dulcimer, tambura, tabla, chants, and gentle uplifting rhythms, performed by a number of talented guest musicians. There is a lot of Eastern influence woven in throughout the album, however it is often mixed with other styles that create a cultural melting pot which brings to mind artists such as The Paul Winter Consort, Ancient Future, Michael Brant DeMaria, and others. “Awakening” is an inspired album, both musically and spiritually.

Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and music journalist in the San Francisco Bay area with over 30 years of experience writing for nationally-published magazines and more recently worldwide on the internet. He currently has five CD’s including two with new-age music pioneer Steven Halpern. For additional reviews of CD’s, DVD’s, and more, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com

 

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

— Albert Einstein