Music and Media Reviews
than any other instrument, the harp is the most evocative of angels and the heavenly realm. For harpist and multi-instrumentalist
Peter Sterling, this realm has had a
profound influence in his life and music. In fact he has recently authored a
new book entitled Hearing the Angels Sing, a factual account of his real world (and other-worldly) experiences. His
new CD is a follow up to his well-received Patterns Of Reflection, which was nominated for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album”
by Zone Music Reporter in
According to Peter: “The tracks for Twilight Serenade were born out of one long improvisation as I sat at the
allowed music to emerge
without any agenda.” Following this initial outpouring of inspiration, Peter spent over
two years orchestrating the harp tracks
with other instruments and guest musicians including keyboards, guitar, violin,
percussion, flute, voice, and crystal bowls. Subtitled, “Music For Dreaming,” Peter calls this “the perfect soundtrack for dreaming awake.” Twilight Serenade is an enchanting musical
voyage that shines with
creative energy and “harp magic.”
What the Winter Said
With this being the November/
December issue of Awareness Magazine, the third release by Kathryn Kaye, What The Winter Said, seems most appropriate. It is a seasonal/holiday album --— a
collection of ten
original compositions, as well as four old (16th to 18th century), less
familiar but very pretty carols. I appreciate the fact that Kathryn has chosen
not to go with the well-trodden classic holiday songs such as “Silent Night,” “Sleigh
Ride,” etc. but
breathes new life into less well known tunes from the past. The album includes
15 songs, some of Kathryn’s solo piano, and others with accompaniment on cello,
violin, French horn, percussion, and various acoustic instruments, recorded at Will
Ackerman’s Imaginary Roads Studio.
Kathryn is a
musician/songwriter who now lives in the mountains of Colorado. She has been influenced by the simple harmonies of the folksongs and hymns of her
childhood in the Appalachians, and by her experience with classical music. The
warmth of the sweet melodies on this album is perfect for taking the chill off
a cold winter’s day.
Notes From A Journey
Norwegian-born vocalist Kristin
Amarie is truly a “global citizen” and her music reflects the incredible
diversity of her life experience and the far corners of the world she has inhabited. Notes From A Journey, which features a guest appearance by pianist David Lanz, provides the perfect vehicle for her to express the
full spectrum of her talent — from angelic Enya-like incantations to singing in a number of different languages over lushly-orchestrated compositions reminiscent of David Arkenstone.
The range of musical and vocal styles on this album is staggering. As amazing as her
singing is, I also can not say enough
about the opulence of the orchestration on this recording, which is absolutely mind-blowing. The level of musical talent and production quality on this
album put Kristin in a class with some of the finest recording artists in the
genre. In the words of David Lanz: “It is time for the world to discover this
compellingly beautiful and exciting new voice! Open your hearts and ears for Kristin Amarie… a rising star!”
Dreaming Of Now
Shambhu’s latest release, Dreaming Of Now was recorded at two of the top recording facilities in
the world — the famed Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, and Imaginary Roads Studio in Vermont, owned
by Grammy-winning producer and Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman. Although
there are too many to name here, the list of stellar session musicians who accompanied Shambhu is no less
impressive. In addition to
being an accomplished guitarist in his own right, one of the things that impressed me the most about Shambhu is
his ability to generate such elegant instrumental songwriting, full of
unexpected chord changes with melodic twists and turns. His orchestration and
arrangements are absolutely stunning, and reflect a flawless sense of when to allow space for the music to breathe and when to bring it all together
for dramatic effect.
of Now excels on so
many levels that it’s hard to describe it without over-using superlatives. But
ultimately, the music speaks for itself. Shambhu has created a musical
masterwork that sets the standard for music in this genre.
According to Ricky Kej of India, the word “shanti” means “peace” and “equilibrium,” and his music
is a living example of international cooperation and harmony, representing a
collaboration with over 20 musicians
from around the world. The music artfully integrates Indian and world music
influences with lush orchestration and an aura of enchantment. I especially appreciated the skillful blending of traditional instruments with more ethereal synthesizer-based sounds, and the tasteful
use of innovative contemporary beats, samples, and sequences.
I found the
music of Shanti
Orchestra to be very visually evocative to the mind’s eye.
with eyes closed conjures beautiful imagery and can whisk one away on a
dream-like magic carpet ride to exotic inner vistas. This entrancing quality is one of the reasons
the album could have
tremendous mass appeal, in a way that a film like Avatar does. To say I am impressed with the music
of Ricky Kej and Shanti Orchestra would
be an understatement of the highest order. This is truly a magical listening
experience that I can’t recommend highly enough.
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
By Donna Strong
Ecstasy of the Awake
This is Red
Lotus Creatives’ first recording to be released on the White Swan Records label. With two other successful recordings launched, this
is another unique
contribution to bring mantra into the mainstream.
The recording producer and mantra chanter is Turiya Nada (aka Nandhi), an Indian born yogi steeped
in Siddhar tradition, a venerable lineage of the sages from Southern India. Yogi Nandhi has a voice that is as resonant as a
singing bowl. The reverberating tones of this Siddhar ambassador evoke a clear
sense of devotion to the divine.
musical mantra pieces on this recording meld diverse layers of instrumentation; cello, zither, guitar,
bass, Native American flute, keyboards, Tibetan bowl and butterfly harp. Award-winning Howard Lipp and multi-talented musician Edwing Sankey, both of Los Angeles, produced and arranged the
work on this recording.
True to their
path of practicing tapas, these devotional tones light the inner fire of expanded awareness, of the Source that perpetually
dwells within. While still quite new in the West, these chants express deeply
moving sacred sound to foster compassion and a community of Oneness in our world.