awareness magazine october september 2014 pam grout
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Awareness Magazine
5753-G Santa Ana Canyon Rd. #582
Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 283-3385
(800) 758-3223
(714) 283-3389 Fax


Ambient Alchemy

Transmuting Sound into Gold


By Eve West Bessier


Michael Diamond has shone the spotlight on hundreds of talented recording artists over the past three decades as a new age music journalist and currently as the music reviewer for Awareness Magazine. Now, the spotlight turns to him with this feature article on his new CD entitled, Ambient Alchemy. The album is a collaboration of Michael Diamond and Steven Halpern, GRAMMY-nominated new age music pioneer, composer, keyboardist, producer, and sound healer. The two artists have worked together on various recording projects over the years.

Ambient Alchemy lives up to its title as sound transmutes to gold and conjures a spellbinding listening experience, one that is even more deeply dimensional when heard through headphones. Musical elements morph and drift across spacious sonic landscapes. The mix is further enriched by the addition of world-class bassist Michael Manring, who is well known for his work on the famed Windham Hill label.

Ambient Alchemy highlights Halpern’s distinctive artistry expressed on his iconic Rhodes electric piano, various keyboards, and the otherworldly harmonic tones of crystal bowls. While Michael Diamond is best known as an ambient electric guitarist, he also plays synthesizers, and in fact does all his composing on them, adding his guitar tracks afterwards. He also plays guitar-synth to create flute sounds and atmospheric textures.

One of Michael’s signature soaring guitar sounds is created using an accessory called an E-bow, a hand held electro-magnetic device that emulates the sustain of a violin. Michael Manring also uses an E-bow on his fretless electric bass. Two of the tracks, “Isis Moon” and “Earth & Sky” include ethereal female vocals reminiscent of Enya. Steven and Michael combine their artistic energies on every track.

The album opens with the title song in which the three musicians evoke a mystical mood that showcases each one’s unique individuality and their cohesion as an ensemble. On the next piece, “Molecules in Motion,” percolating sequencers, layered keyboards, and dreamy guitar evoke a vibe that will appeal to fans of classic electronic music like Tangerine Dream and Kitaro. On “Isis Moon,” heavenly synthscapes, celestial vocals, and crystalline harp arpeggios weave a spell that recalls the mesmerizing melodies of Andreas Vollenweider. The aquatic ambience heard on “Deep Diver,” “Ancient Shores,” “Atlantis Revisited,” and “Rain Dream,” is enhanced by sounds of nature.

Steven Halpern is very well known for his meditative healing music, but be ready to be surprised. The chemistry of this collaboration brings out a side of Halpern that you may never have heard before, as the music explores diverse sonic terrain that ranges from deep space to deep sea, and beyond. Michael Diamond expresses that “working on the recording truly was an alchemical process that included creating new material, as well as building on each other’s compositions with inspired contemporary re-mixes and the addition of new tracks.” The lush soundscapes heard on the album’s 14 songs are enchanting and magical.

Grammy-winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman had this to say, “The collaboration of Michael Diamond and Steven Halpern in the creation of Ambient Alchemy is a lovely one. The music is peaceful, but with enough edge and melody to keep the experience from being in any way static or less than engaging. The addition of the most talented fretless bassist on the planet, Michael Manring, to six of the pieces adds beautifully, taking this recording where very few are capable of going.”

For further information visit: and

A music video sampler for Ambient Alchemy can be seen at:

Eve West Bessier is a performing musician, published writer, music educator, and Poet Laureate of the City of Davis, CA.