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Awareness Magazine
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Music and Media Reviews

By Michael Diamond

 

Peter Sterling

Twilight Serenade

www.harpmagic.com

Perhaps more 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 2012.

According to Peter: “The tracks for Twilight Serenade were born out of one long improvisation as I sat at the harp and 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.”

 

Kathryn Kaye

What the Winter Said

www.kathrynkaye-music.com

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.

 

Kristin Amarie

Notes From A Journey

www.amariemusic.com

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!”

 

Shambhu

Dreaming Of Now

www.shambhumusic.com

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.

Dreaming 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.

 

Ricky Kej

Shanti Orchestra

www.rickykej.com

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.

Listening 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.

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

 

 

Music Review

By Donna Strong

 

ARAKARA

TURIYA NADA

Ecstasy of the Awake

www.whiteswanrecords.com

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.

The eleven 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.