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Awareness Magazine
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MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS

By Michael Diamond

 

Blackmore’s Night

Dancer and the Moon

www.blackmoresnight.com

For those who may not be familiar, the music of Blackmore’s Night is an alchemical brew of Renaissance and Medieval music, Celtic, English folk, and rock influences. Led by the husband and wife team of ex-Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore and award-winning songwriter, vocalist, and woodwind player Candice Night, the seven-piece band employs a wide range of instruments harkening from the Middle Ages to the present. 

I once compared elements of Blackmore’s Night’s sound to aspects of Jethro Tull, and with this album featuring more electric guitar and rock influence, the comparison is still apt in certain respects. Although the elegant vocals of Candice Night put Blackmore’s Night in a league of its’ own. And those who love the group’s more traditional acoustic fare will find a nice balance of that on “Dancer and the Moon” as well. Despite the wide variety of influences in their sound, or possibly because of it, the group has managed to build a huge fan-base around the world, who often attend their concerts decked out in Renaissance costume.

 

Meg Bowles

The Shimmering Land

www.megbowlesmusic.com

For the past two decades, electronic music composer Meg Bowles has been crafting what she calls “ambient orchestral soundscapes.” Drawing from training in classical music, as well has her work as a licensed psychoanalyst with a particular interest in dreams, shamanism, and Jungian psychology, the music is created to take the listener out of this world to another place, a deeper space. Meg likens her work with sound to that of a painter or sculptor applying layer upon layer to create their art.

“The Shimmering Land” is serene and spacious with themes inspired by the ocean, mist, twilight, the planet Venus, stars and the cosmos, and a magical dreamland. While music of this kind can sometimes be amorphous, deep listening to Meg’s compositions reveals classical elements of melody and structure with a beginning, middle, and end. However, once you start listening, the ambience is so entrancing and creates such an altered state, that it is hard to be analytical about it. This is music to drift away with on clouds of sound.

 

Sonaljit

Dreaming The Afterlife

http://sonaljitmusic.wix.com/music

Born in India, Sonaljit currently resides in Massachusetts where he divides his time between creating music and pursuing a Ph.D at Dartmouth. Captivated by intricate multi-layered soundscapes of Yanni, Vangelis, and Kitaro, he was inspired to teach himself to play the keyboard as well as learning audio recording. Sonaljit’s new-age instrumental music is a blend of symphonic orchestral flavor and ethnic fusion with a wide variety of world music instrument samples. Three of the songs on the album are featured both as fully orchestrated versions as well as solo piano versions, which when stripped of the lush accompanying instrumentation, reveal the heart of his songwriting skill.

This is Sonaljit’s debut release and to say that I am impressed with it would be an understatement. I don’t give awards for the music I write about, but if I did this would easily be on my list for “Best New Artist Of The Year.” If this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to hear what is to come in the future from this talented young recording artist.

 

Lisa Lynne and The Elfin Love Tribe

Instrumental Songs of Good Cheer

www.lisalynne.com

As one of the world’s top-ranking folk harpists in the world, Lisa Lynne has many musical irons in the fire. One of them being the Celtic-influenced Elfin Love Tribe, which she shares with her long-time collaborators, stringed instrument virtuoso Aryeh Frankfurter, and the exquisite flutes, wind instruments and percussion of George Tortorelli. Other musical elves also lend their talents. According to Lisa, it was created as a way to express a playful fun sound that was not so serious, for fairs and festivals.

It’s hard to overemphasize the visually evocative quality of this music, which includes original and traditional tunes. Listening to song after song, I kept feeling that this is a soundtrack in search of a movie. If a sequel to The Hobbit is ever filmed, this music would fit like a glove. If I had to choose one word to describe this album it would be “enchanted.” There is a buoyant quality to their sound \and it’s hard to imagine not feeling elevated and enraptured by its merry melodies and elfin attitude.

 

Chronotope Project

Chrysalis

www.chronotope-project.com

Chronotope Project is the musical nom de plume of composer, cellist and electronic music recording artist Jeffrey Ericson Allen, whose “sensuous ambient music” has graced the radio airwaves on Hearts of Space, Echoes and Star’s End. The term “chronotope” refers to the unity of space and time, in this case finding expression in ever-evolving permutations throughout the music. Lush sonic textures and ambient atmospheres conjure the element of space, with time being marked by gently pulsing rhythmic ostinatos and exotic percolating percussion. While some rhythmic elements evoke actual percussion instruments, others are created by unique and intriguing sequenced electronic sounds.

Classical composers Satie and Debussy have been as much of an influence for Jeffery as contemporary artists like Jonn Serrie, Steve Roach and Brian Eno.

But these days, Jeffery’s biggest inspiration is his Buddhist meditation practice which has taught him the value of spaciousness and given him a sense of the transcendent, which is embodied in his music. Reflecting the confluence of space and time, sound and spirit, “Chrysalis” merits my highest recommendation.

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