awareness magazine october september 2014 pam grout
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Awareness Magazine
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MUSIC REVIEWS

By Michael Diamond

 

Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman
Winds of Samsara
www.windsofsamsara.com

While producer Ricky Kej’s life in India would seem to be worlds away from that of South African composer and flute virtuoso Wouter Kellerman, the two have found common ground musically on this ground-breaking recording that includes over 120 musicians from five continents — a veritable United Nations of instruments and languages. The album features a number of unique flute techniques and playing styles by Wouter that I’ve never heard before, as well as Ricky’s tasteful keyboard and bass playing which adds solid support and textural interest to many of the songs. I greatly appreciated the sense of dynamics found in the music — its peaks and valleys, changes in energy, and the exquisite attention to the smallest details. Winds of Samsara is a production of truly epic proportions, and a perfect example of the ideals of peace and global harmony, providing a not-to-be missed musical experience.

 

Jeff Pearce
With Evening Above
www.jeffpearcemusic.com

As mentioned in the album’s liner notes: “all sounds on this recording are from the electric guitar.” It’s good that listeners are informed so as not to mistake some of the sounds for synthesizers and miss the distinctiveness of Jeff’s fretboard wizardry. His slowly arpeggiated notes twinkle with crystalline chime like the stars themselves, followed by waves of echoed reflections that melt into a lush drifting soundscape. Lavish layers of long sustained chords create an orchestral ambience. Incidentally, Jeff did not use guitar-synths — just electric guitar with electronic effects. There can be little doubt that Jeff Pearce is one of the undisputed masters of ambient guitar. The range of tones and textures that he is able to coax out of his strings and circuitry is a tribute to his uniqueness. There are very few that I am aware of with the creativity, skills, and vision to traverse this rarified sonic terrain.

 

Kerani
Arctic Sunrise
www.kerani.nl

I cannot say strongly enough how impressed I am with Arctic Sunrise, and the talents of its creator, Kerani. Her background as a film composer is evident in the ability to evoke such powerful imagery in the mind’s eye. I was captivated right from the start by Kerani’s Vangelis-like synth textures that so beautifully reflect the vast frozen expanse of the Arctic and the first rays of the long-awaited sun. While Kerani’s foundation is as a pianist, it’s interesting how she uses it sparingly, almost like a spice in a recipe to add a particular flavor, rather than it being the main course. Her feel for composition and arranging is stunning, as is her use of synthesizers for orchestration and ambient effect. Kerani also has an ear for when to bring in other musicians on acoustic instruments to accompany her. Arctic Sunrise is a masterpiece of sonic storytelling.

 

Bodhi
Peace Is Now
www.cdbaby.com/cd/bodhi12

If there was ever a timely moment for an album like Peace Is Now, this is one of them, with armed conflict erupting around the globe. Addressing this issue is long-time peace advocate and musician, Bodhi, who has, to date, recorded 14 albums of original music. The concept of Peace Is Now is one of the most unique and interesting that I’ve encountered in a while. Over the course of 12 tracks, the melody and chant of “peace is now” becomes a choral mantra that is channeled through a variety of musical styles such as folk, jazz, rock, reggae, gospel, and more. The album includes the artistic talents of 35 top musicians, including Bodhi on flute, guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Peace Is Now is not only an enjoyable and uplifting listening experience, but is a powerful tool for bringing one into a peaceful state that can be shared with others.

 

Matthew Schoening
Narrow Path
www.soloelectriccello.com

Somehow, the idea of cello and high-tech electronic devices don’t seem to go together, but solo electric cellist Matthew Schoening (pronounced Shay-ning) is right at home with this esoteric pairing. He uses his futuristic-looking electric cello through a looping device that allows him to play a part, record it in real time, and then play over that one layer at a time, including melodies, harmonies, bass lines, and percussive rhythms, building up a complex composition that sounds like a complete band. Songs on Narrow Path range from meditative to motivated, which are sure to get your toe tapping. The technique of looping has gained in popularity over the past few years, but Matthew Schoening takes it to another level, blending stellar musicianship with a command of technology that is awe-inspiring. I look forward to watching the growing and well-deserved success of this immensely accomplished instrumentalist.

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