The Industry Source for New Age, World, Ambient, Electronic, Solo Piano, Relaxation, Instrumental and many other genres of Music
review board:  View all reviews Submit your own reviews
member reviews
Native Heart by Bearheart Kokopelli
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/29/2018
Solo flute at its best
There is something so very peaceful about the Native American Flute, something so transcending about its nature, it encapsulates a sense of time within time, and a moment in music so listenable and calming, and such is the way with the new album from Bearheart Kokopelli entitled Native Heart.
After all we are all native in heart, was in not Chief Seattle that said “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect”. How true and this new offering from Bearheart Kokopelli establishes that very statement, take a listen to the entrance to this album entitled Indian Summer, a beautifully fluent and transcendent performance that will leave you completely transfixed within the moment.
The following musical narrative entitled Desert Dreaming is completely different in composition, the tempo is decidedly slower in energy, it is as if we are watching the sunset across a vast desert landscape, and it is simply too hot to move! The flute here gives us an almost sleepy feel to its arrangement, one that will easily relax and ease the listener further into the album.
One of my Native American shamanic teachers once said to me, “You may not in this life time be Native American, but you are native in heart”, a statement of respect indeed, and whilst I listen to this marvellous performance by Bearheart Kokopelli, I am reminded of those words from some 13 years or so ago. Native Heart the track, is as honest a piece as you will ever hear from the artist, the musician plays from his very soul on this offering, and it shows.
A cry goes out to the ancestors and ancients; it is a Call Of The Spirits. The artist here really delivers an exciting and energetic offering that cries out across the realms of time and beyond. Bearheart Kokopelli has taken this complex performance and made a track that is a wonderfully vibrant offering, one that we can all listen to openly, and be enthralled by the lighter sense of this graphic flute presentation.
Mitakuye Oyasin is my favourite track off the album, not only because of its meaning “All Are Related”, blessing to the Lakota for this wise saying, but because of the respectful and enchanting recital from the musician. The flute seems to be all around us and echoes through the ages, and emphasises the statement of the subject matter with such a divine fluency.
The style on the flute here by the artist is sublime, the breath techniques employed must take a lot of time and practice, and Ancestors Call is one of those tracks that you will want to listen to many times over, as there is a certain addictive quality to the performance that will always leave you wanting more.
Next we take a trip in another direction entirely, to the land of the ancient Pueblo people, the track is Anasazi Dreaming. The flute here is certainly much deeper that the preceding piece, and because of this the artist manifests a truly dream like ethic within the composition, it is a superbly performed offering indeed and one that we can all simply float too in our respective dream times perambulations.
We now find ourselves deeper in the weave of the project and as such come across a track called Light Forest. Solo and sublime, a moment when one can close the eyes and just drift on the tones of a magical flute, perhaps even this recital may take us to the edge of a dark green canopy of trees in a forest at the very edge of time.
Meditative flute is an art all of its own, a friend of ours Paul Adams excels at it, another in Nigel Shaw from the UK, expands the very awareness of the nature of the instrument, and here on this penultimate offering Bearheart gives is the Courting Song, a track that perhaps calls to the very heart of us all in a desire to be more than one.
Our last piece comes courtesy of composition entitled Corn Prayer, there is an almost far off feeling about this arrangement, perhaps we can see the artist standing on the very edge of a golden corn field as the sun begins to set and for the very last time, ripening the corn that is about to be reaped. There is a truly haunting quality to this piece that makes it the perfect offering with which to end the album.
Native Heart by Bearheart Kokopelli is Native American solo flute at its best; its energies build and create a strong but sensitive album played with a certain level of respectful honesty, one the ancestors would be proud of. The performance and productions contained within Native Heart are a pleasure to listen to, and conjure up many images and vistas within the mind’s eye, but this would also be a perfect album for your meditational musical collection too.
Rating: Excellent
Visions & Emotions by Aleksandra Takala
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/25/2018
An entrancing album
I always love the excitement generated by a new artist and a new album and Alexandra Takala ticks both boxes, and on Visions & Emotions she has created one of the most unique and interesting albums I have heard this year.
I have travelled a fair bit in my life and I can really feel that vibe pulsing through this first offering entitled World Traveller. The constant ever onward moving narrative and global ethic were all here, and finished off nicely with a thunderstorm just before the three minute mark, in a simply perfect start to the album.
Enraptured may only be a short form offering but in just under two minutes Takala creates a sense of warmth and love, the piano is soft and gentle and the mood of the overall piece is simply charming and makes me feel like hugging my loved one.
As we move ever deeper into the album we come across a wonderfully graphic composition called Japanese Maple. The energy of the orient is there through the essence and arrangement, with the keyboard as the gentle narrator as we go. There is something so appealing about the tone and ease of composition on this piece that I adore, and at times a feeling of spring can also be felt through the music.
Living but a short distance from the ocean this is especially close to my heart. Ocean Swells moves back and forth like a veritable tide of tone, the gentle movement of this arrangement was perfect; my wife and I both love to sit on the rocks and dip our feet in the warm waters from time to time, and this delicate offering could easily be the soundtrack for that event. This must be the most laid back track off the album, but one that contains a delightful calming percussive beat within as well.
I found this next one quite amusing, it is called Road Trip (Hurry Up & Slow Down). There is an almost passive aggressiveness about this track that people can have when they take a holiday or a vacation, and I should know as I live on an island where we have many tourists, and they spend their two weeks running back and forth in a frenzy to get everything done, to see all the sites and somewhere along the way relaxation seems to have flown out of the window. This is musical storytelling at its very best and thoroughly entertaining in every aspect of its composition, a superb performance on keyboards can be found here by the artist.
The next piece is called Melancholy and at just under three minutes draws its narrative from an imploring sense of a need for change perhaps. The piece itself repeats its musical mantra and wends a sensitive tale, with the piano adding a little strength to the desire for an alteration in one’s path maybe.
I must say this was one of my favourites from the album it is called Groundwater. The symphonic nature of this composition is quite beautiful and manifests for me a natural vista; perhaps in a deep green forest watching the mirrored pool of a lake slowly disappear into the blanket of summer mists, a stunning picturesque offering indeed.
Now it’s time to completely change direction, style and composition, and move to a long form offering at just less than 12 minutes entitled, Cascading Pools of Crystal. The guitar in this piece was a surprise, but created a delicate and almost progressive rock style ethic for me to enjoy, then the percussion kicked in and transformed the piece into a full flowing arrangement that I completely adored, at times this piece caresses the chill out genre and does so with such style, that one has to listen multiple times to fully enjoy this moment of musical magic.
At just over 10 minutes we come to one of my favourite subjects in new age music, the title will give you a clue and called Passing Clouds. This however is far moodier than just a track about fluffy cumulus passing by, here we have a song with a dramatic flair, one that is supremely played on the piano and with the slight symphonic backdrop, perhaps manifests for us a sense of feeling or emotions that are negative and passing by like clouds, one minute were down and then the sun comes back out to lift our happiness from the pit and so on, this for me is the cleverest composition on the album, and also the penultimate offering on the release.
So we finish this musical voyage with the artist, but before we go we have one last gift she would like to perform for us, and it is called Moonlight Over Havana. Speaking as one who has spent time in the Caribbean (Jamaica) which isn’t that far from Cuba, I can tell you this fits beautifully with the night time vibe there, the keyboards and percussion create an undeniable rhythm and thus the magic of an unforgettable night is born.
Visions & Emotions by Alexandra Takala has to be one of the most inventive and original story telling styled albums released this year, one could travel with this album and find something familiar, but also new each time. Visions & Emotions by Alexandra Takala is an album that entrances the listener and pulls you into an exotic tale with ease, it is beautifully performed and produced and with a good deal of thought and attention to detail too.
Rating: Excellent
Celtique by Doug Hammer
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/23/2018
A sublime, emotive release
Doug Hammer is back with a storybook album entitled Celtique, a musical journey that will emphasise a day in the life of a fisherman in the regions where I have lived, the regions of the Celts.
Let’s climb aboard this musical boat with the artist and as we do so we have our sailing music entitled Celtique (Daybreak). This is one amazingly powerful composition to start with, the magic of this piece is the performance of the artist, he gathers pace like the wind, settles us back down and then once again, we are off in a powerful embrace of the ocean in tone and sound.
The following piece offers a sight I have seen many times myself, it can be beyond eerie and called Through the Mist. One can imagine the boat settling into a routine flow from harbour to the main drift of the outer reaches of the bay and carving a straight line through the early morning mist. It is a sight to behold I can tell you, and Doug Hammer has manifested one very clever sound track for that moment within this very arrangement.
The world from which I came from is full of reminders of the ancient past; some now are just monoliths of a yesteryear, ignored by many other than the few with an enquiring mind. Here Hammer elaborates on the scenery around the Celtic headlands where you may well find an old tired Wandering Path. The careful and intelligent performance here draws a breath taking musical narrative of past and present almost coalescing, so that those venturing minds may once again wonder down those pathways of history.
I once walked an old path way and found the subject matter of this next piece covered in Ivy and weeds, but still proudly standing after many years. Crumbling Wall is a truly emotive offering that offers up one of the most outstanding performances from the release. Like the preceding composition it graces us musical memories of the past, and then reveals them in a reflective moment of a hesitant future. This is probably one of the most ambient arrangements I have heard from Hammer.
Across most of Western Europe you will find stones, these monolithic sentinels of time and tide still stand, weather beaten and unbowed to this day and after hearing this next song entitled Ancient Stones, I am now convinced that the artist has created the perfect anthem for them. The offering starts with a reflective pose, but manifests itself into something emotionally charged and melodic, this is indeed one of my favourite compositions from the album.
On She Beckons, we have a musical narrative that creates a sensitive reality of mystery, Hammers plays so intently, but with a great deal of care and attention it is a delight to float upon, then once the pattern is set, a distinct sense of movement can be heard in the ever increasing Celtic tempo. If you ever wanted to hear an arrangement that offers up the very best of build and progression in a track, this is the piece.
We now have two shorter offerings back to back as we return to the day of the fisherman, this one is called To The Sea and has a really empowering sense of onward movement, the delightfully happy refrain here adds power to the piece and one can feel it increasing with each note played, while on Wind and Waves we have the reality of being out there among the vast swathes of the all-powerful ocean and its own moods, sometimes tender and tremulous, sometimes violent and cruel.
However, when we arrive at the next offering a whole different mood falls over our voyage, as we find Calm Water. This gentle performance eases our soul after the tumult of the moments before. Hammer plays with heart here and creates a musical twinkling of peace and calm after the storm. The flow of this offering is again almost anthem like in its construction, which makes it extremely appealing to listen to.
After the easy nature of the last piece, our musical boat moves towards home, and for the first time we can now see on the horizon the ever pleasurable sight of our Safe Harbour. The boat is packed with the booty that it set out for, now all we need to do is rely on the winds and allow this journey of plenitude to take us safely home. Hammer has produced a perfectly sun kissed offering here, one that is so obviously bathed in a deep felt sense of gratitude.
As we tie up at Harbour, the evening seems to be setting in all around us and if we gaze back upon the sparkling ocean perhaps we can hear messages or even Voices of the Past. On this almost spiritual performance that begins this musical tale, one can truly resonate with those voices that echo in labyrinths of the sea. Hammers presentation of this offering breaks eventually a wonderfully melodic energy, and continually floats around us like the spectres of a bygone era.
We now move deeper into the release and come across a charming offering called Golden Land. When I first listened to this, it reminded me of that old folk song “Will you go” the melody is packed with an age filled, yet timeless motif, one that assures us that no matter how long we live in these lands for, providing we always treat them with respect, they will always be our golden lands. This is one of the most moving pieces off the album and one that increases with an emotional intent whilst caressing the senses.
I found Moss and Earth easily the most intriguing offering on the album; the deeper notes giving us the grounding that we need to start this next musical sojourn with. This is a clever performance and probably the one least expected, however it does give us a musical insight to the lands surrounding the deeper borderlands of the green forests. I have listened to this piece several times; there is something quite brilliantly addictive about its nature and latent intensity.
This has been a truly beautiful journey, but every voyage has to end at some stage. This is our penultimate offering from the artist called Journey Home. This seemed so memorable, until my classical musical head kicked in and I could feel Dvorak’s New World Symphony going home with us along that final voyage of the day.
Our final gift from Doug Hammer’s musical bag of plenty is a return to the opening piece, but the evening version of the arrangement, Celtique (Twilight). As you would expect the artist has created something very respectful and easy as we now settle down from the days endeavour’s and ease back into the night, with the sound of the sea forever in our soul.
In my opinion I believe Celtique to be the best work Doug Hammer has created since the release of Heart in 2013. Hammer has worked hard at this album that much is clear, he has performed with his heart on his sleeve and truly felt each and every nuance of the day of a Celtic Fisherman, and much more than that, he has captured the very essence of the area in a loving but poignant way. Full marks indeed Doug Hammer, for what is a sublime and quite emotive release, one that conjures up some fantastic images to get totally lost within.
Rating: Excellent
<<-later reviews | earlier reviews->>   <<- all reviews ->>
Site Map     *     Privacy Policy     *     Terms of Use     *     Contact Us
Core Solutions, LLC