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High Tech. High Touch by Wendy Loomis
- posted by Steve Sheppard, One World Music on 10/9/2018
High Tech, High Touch by Wendy Loomis
If you’re looking for something very unique, something refreshing and breathtakingly sublime, then you need to look no further that the new release by Wendy Loomis entitled High Tech, High Touch. This offering is actually a double CD release and gives us two styles of music created by the artist to roam within. High Tech is Loomis on synths and percussion with an array of other fine artists who join her to bring us some of the most inventive EM we may have heard for some time, like the Berlin styled track Cassiopeia and the full flowing and quite deep arrangement Apogee.
High Tech is an intelligent and well thought out collection of arrangements, which contain a myriad of added instrumentation, a big tip of the hat goes to Michele Walter for her work on violin on the aforementioned Cassiopeia and my personal favourite Pleiades.

Disc two takes us to a totally different musical dimension, as High Touch is brimmed to the top with utterly sublime solo piano recordings and contains my favourite track of all called Cumulus Cloud. This particular piece is one of the finest compositions I have heard in this genre for years, empowering and inspiring; the use of minor chord structures in the narrative is nothing more than genius.
On Romantic Hearts Loomis creates a retrospective feeling and one could easily be forgiven for thinking we were back to the early years of artists like George Winston and Scott Cossu. The ambience of Nagano Reflection was both moving and creative, while the artistic flair in the confident last offering of Eternity was simply the perfect way to leave the project, and performed with
such a high level of professionalism it was a delight to be able to be a part of its tone created dimension.

High Tech, High Touch is a double cd of pure class and one I personally could listen to for hours. There are eight tracks on each album, and all of them produced with a pristine quality of sound and technique. This is an album that has really freshened up the multi genres of the new age music industry and one that I completely recommend without hesitation.
Half Moon Bay by Rick Sparks
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/28/2018
A sublime creation of beauty
I remember being totally entranced with the album Nightfall London by Rick Sparks and now the artist is back with an incredibly beautifully release entitled Half Moon Bay. Like Rick I share in his passion of a love of nature and the sea, I only have to look from my balcony to gaze upon its lapis depths.
On this Ricks fifth album we explore that very narrative of the ocean, nature and the tranquil peace and the serenity that can be found by embracing it. The release is a simply delicious 10 tracks of utter summer bliss and reflection, all mixed into a glorious sun kissed compilation of tranquillity.
My first and favourite selection would be the opening piece Sand and Stars, I adored the major and minor combinations here, the ethereal wordless vocals are so moving that one could literally be there, in the moment, in Half Moon Bay. The natural floating keyboards here are divine. I fell in love with this piece, I could imagine walking in a summer sunset along this mystical beach with my beautiful wife Chrissie, yes this is a composition filled with love and created with the same wondrous energy and to be shared in love too.
Rick has a passion for the incredible talent of The Beach Boys, and surely they must be the musical epitome of the word summer when you think about it. The guitar here is beyond serene and Half Moon Bay, the title track, is as beautiful as the title suggests, I would imagine that Beach Boys Brian Wilson would completely approve of this moment of musical mastery, it is simply stunning.
The entire album is faultlessly magnificent, this for me is how real New Age music should be performed, with sensitivity, from the heart and bathed in love and a sense of tranquillity and peace.
My last suggested moment of genius from this incredibly gorgeous album is the final piece, Summer's Gone, this really moved me; I guess I am feeling that right now as autumn starts to poke its head around the corner of our world on my island. The gentle and reflective energy of this composition and the soft strings sections allows us to wave goodbye to the summer for now, and leave the album in a state of complete relaxation and happiness.
Half Moon Bay by Rick Sparks is one of those albums that only comes around every so often, but when it does one must snap it up quickly, and bathe in its tones daily. Half Moon Bay has been produced and created by the tender soul of an artist who really feels his music and Rick Sparks will be proud of this timeless creation of sublime beauty for many years, they don’t get much better than this, and I would recommend Half Moon Bay in a heartbeat.
Rating: Excellent
Even For A Moment by Gary Schmidt
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/21/2018
A sublime soothing release
I’m now on my third listen to this album, I was just doing some lengthy promotional work and decided to play this release just before I started to write the review for it, I have to say that was the best decision I have made so far today; the whole release is bathed in such a level of calmness and tranquillity, my mundane job just floated past in a reverie of this superb collection of blissful compositions, so let’s all go on that musical voyage with the artist right now.
The first calming oasis is called, If This Is the Time. The melody here is so tranquil, but also deeply memorable and utterly reflective, one could easily listen to this whilst musing on future opportunities, as we watched the sunlight filter in through our open windows and draw patterns of light and shade into our world.
From the perfection of the first piece we now move to another favourite of mine called Inside This River, the piano of Schmidt speaks beautifully, with such a romantic lilt it is delightful to drift with, however when you add in the sumptuous Cello of Hannah Alkirie you have a meditative slice of sheer genius in a five minute plus track you simply never want to end.
The kindly Light That Lights My Face is up next, this is really charming, there is a certain warmth that brings this whole piece into the light, the smoothness and chilled vibe is undeniable and when the careful acoustic guitar joins the dance, the mood is lifted even further in this most pleasing of pieces.
This is Gary Schmidt’s second release in this genre; I enjoyed immensely Landscapes of the Heart his previous album, and here Gary has grown further and expanded his knowledge and on this track has created a superb solo piano composition that could be regarded as truly ambient in nature and called A Train Leaves the City.
On The Breath At Dawn we are in for a real treat as Schmidt is joined by new age flute performer Sherry Finzer and together they create a sense of meditative ambiance that seems to float on the musical horizon with ease. The artist has manifested a musical narration here, one that truly creates some amazing images of a forest walk as dawn is breaking, and adds all the layers of that very peaceful moment into the weave whilst doing so, this as you may imagine, is yet another favourite piece of mine.
I am fortunate enough to have a copy of La vie en piano, Gary’s Classical album in my database. That is stunning, as is this piece called Menuet in G Minor. It is a pleasure to listen to Schmidt in classical mode, I sit here with eyes closed and soak in the moment, and I could be forgiven to think that I have drifted back in time and am listening live to a performance by Beethoven, this is simply magical.
I had been waiting for this to arrive, it is that mid-way juncture of the release and when we climb to that musical pinnacle of the album we come across the delightful title track called Even For A Moment. The strings are an addition that is perfectly welcome and the slight elevation in tempo recharges our energies and fills us with such a sun kissed moment of tone and talent.
The blissful nature of this album can be further exemplified by this next amazing composition called Sub Tide, Schmidt’s constant narrative on piano is added to by the creative acoustic guitar of Roger Schmidt, together they create something of a minimalistic nature, but one that contains such warmth in its arrangement.
We can find a colourful attraction on the next offering entitled Simply By Looking, a piece that has a beautiful elevation and a decreasing of tone built into its musical matrix. The Cello creates an extra dimension of style to one of the most fluent and captivating compositions off the album and one that has an almost film score style to its nature as well.
Crescent Light is one of those crisp and pristine tracks that will always bring a smile to the face and happiness to the heart, the energy in this piece alone is exquisite and while at just under two and a half minutes long it is the shortest track off the release, it brings such cheer and light to this musical agenda.
As we move ever deeper into the album, we come across one of the most beautiful pieces off it called The Light Seems To Move. The Cello is so mournful here, but its Schmidt’s piano that takes centre stage as the master narrator; the artist manifests such a fine array of imagery, one could picture for instance an old country lake and the sun dappled leaves drop down upon its mirror like surface creating fractal patterns of light as they do so, this composition is simply the perfect soundtrack for that event.
On No Better Gift we find a present of musical peace and plenitude, this has all the hallmarks of a composition that is bathed in confidence and warmth. The added flute is a gentle addition truly appreciated, but the charm with which the artist performs here is truly satisfying and welcoming.
Once we step through this doorway we enter a realm of utter class and talent and this threshold is called Adagio for Strings. Gary Schmidt’s sensitivity here is well matched by the tenderness with which his performance exudes. This is a dimension of sound that one could escape into, with a blissful sense of ambience and tranquillity. At nearly six and a half minutes long, it gives us plenty of time to relax in its peace filled realms.
It’s incredible to think that we must now leave this world of music manifested by the artist, but before we do so he has a parting musical gift to perform for us before we go, it is called Postlude to a Moment. This is a fine musical musing, a reverie of our journey with the artist, one that is also played with such style and attention to detail.
Even for a Moment is a musical reminder that we only have, and only will ever have, the moment we currently reside in. With such style and skill Gary Schmidt has manifested one of the most soothing releases this year and brought to the genre an album that will be regarded as a timeless collection of beautifully performed and produced opuses dedicated to the ambience of the now.
Rating: Excellent
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