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Underwater Whisperer by Masako
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/14/2019
A wonderful collection of superb compositions
I have been following the career of Masako ever since I was introduced to her music via an album called Masako, her debut offering, and ever since then her performances and beautiful pastiches of colour and tone have enthralled me completely, much the same can be said about this new release entitled Underwater Whisperer.
I have listened to his several times today, and each time I do so, I hear more little nuances and patterns that are quite stunning. Listening to the open track Three Talkative Brooks In Spring Meadow for me is like walking along the bank of a new born stream, one that has recharged itself after the ravages of winter. Her delicate playing here is a delight to listen to, and then Masako just adds that little extra weight when needed, a simply beautiful start.
Sea Pearls our next port of call is utterly transcendent, a flowing yet quite ambient offering can be found here, one that I thoroughly enjoyed, a composition that also contains the sparkling work of one Eugene Friesen on Cello, and a remarkable performance, a truly haunting one, on alto flute by Premik Russel Tubbs. This is Masako at her very best, and a delicious seven plus minutes of underwater heaven to enjoy, her longest composition in her recording career so far.
By far one of the most intriguing tracks off the album was The Deep, a composition really diving into the realms of the new age genre, a track with another first that features the artist on Synths, the sublime vocalisations of Noah Wilding and mister Jeff Pearce on Chapman Stick, an instrument we are seeing a lot of these days. I loved this offering, I could have swum in its depths for an eternity, and the artists’ work on synthesisers was atmospheric and redolent of the subject matter.
The curiously entitled Coral Reef Blues is up next, this one reminds me of home so much I want to walk down the road and jump in the sea right now and swim around the coral reefs, however on this offering what is delivered is magically created to suggest to the mind a picture of a beauty that only the sea can manifest. The slow and purposeful style on this track was so compelling and very easy on the ears as well.
We now move to a track called Legend of the Emerald Forest, an offering that contains a real plethora of contributors, all of the aforementioned artists plus the skill set of Jeff Haynes on percussion. The smoothness of this piece particularly highlighted Masako’s incredibly chilled performance on piano; this one is so easy to drift off to, and when you add the wind synths of Tubbs and the delicacy of Wildings textured vocals even more so.
We can take one tentative step over the border of the album now, and as we do so we are greeted by the composition called Monologue. This was short form for Masako, but there was something anthem-like about the performance, one that was captivating, yet the overall construction of the offering was also pretty ambient as well, a very clever piece indeed.
The attractive Salmon Run is now before us; one that seems to contain some tantalising classical motifs, almost mixed with a more popular style at the same time. I adored the sense of movement in this track; the lightness and energetic performance here was fantastic, and further to that an all-round good team performance can be found here, especially from Haynes on percussion, very crafted indeed.
As we move into the deep stretches of this musical water world, we come across a truly breath taking composition called Moonlit Iceberg And Its Whereabouts. The partnership of Friesen and Masako here is sublime; such a wonderful sense of colour and fluency can be found within the arms of this offering. The tempo was also divine, so languid and tranquil, but extremely charming with each and every note played.
One of the most rhythmic compositions off the release is the title track Underwater Whisperer. The smoothness of this slice of ambience is amazing, one of my personal favourites off the album, Masako’s performance was so all-embracing and stylish, while both Pearce and Friesen created a symbiotic partnership; we can now add Tom Eaton onto the list with a soft but resonating bass to cap off a truly classy arrangement.
So as we arrive at the calmer waters of this our penultimate composition, which is simply entitled Dim Light, we are gifted an enchanting offering of solo piano by the artist. The creation of a serene melody here by the Masako is almost lullaby in style; the performance is gentle and soothing, but crafted with utter care and attention to detail.
So that’s it, we have reached the beach and now our underwater journey must end, but before we go the artist wants to gift us one last parting present, it is called Time Indefinite. What a truly memorable composition to end with, one that began with an even tempo and eventually grew into something quite emotive. The multi-instrumental nature of this offering is delightfully played and performed, I personally couldn’t think of a better way to leave what is a wonderfully attractive release.
Underwater Whisperer by Masako is a collection of superb compositions that were created in the Narnia of new age music, Imaginary Road Studios, by the hand of the great wizard of sound himself, Will Ackerman. Masako’s crafted genius has won me over once more with such a vista of tone and sound, how can one not fall head over heels in love with an album of this elk, this is certainly one that should be on everyone’s wish list.
Rating: Excellent
Becoming Tomorrow by Jarred Walker
- posted by Gena on 10/3/2019

Highly recommended is the music from the energetic new album by Jarred Walker. The album, BECOMING TOMORROW, has ten original tunes (piano-with-backing-instruments) that show his many influences -- new age, ragtime, classical, jazz, Broadway show tunes, pop music and film themes. Several of the tunes have tempo changes or go from soft to rollicking and back again. These are absolutely fun-filled tracks. He is primarily a pianist, but he livens up the ivories-sounds with bass and drums quite often plus occasionally with strings, woodwinds and even handclaps. There is a passion exhibited on every track. Both hands are active. The melodies are sublime. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious.

Rating: Excellent
Dreams For A Better Tomorrow by Alejandro Santoyo
- posted by Lillian on 10/3/2019

The new album (Dreams For A Better Tomorrow) by pianist and keyboardist ALEJANDRO SANTOYO shows the scope and extensive breadth of his talent. First is the fact that nearly half of the 18 instrumental tunes are solo piano, so very melodic and simply beautiful. The other half of the recording features piano with other instrumentation (full orchestra or a string section, horns, woodwinds, bass, drums, electric guitar, harp, percussion, synth and more!). This artist does it all -- soft-and-slow, uptempo-and-vibrant, gently romantic or grandiose-uplifting -- everything with a powerful feeling. And, as you can tell by the album title, Santoyo also feels strongly about making the world a better place. This album is highly recommended.
Rating: Excellent
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