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Into Eternity by Jim Gabriel
- posted by Candice Michelle on 2/21/2017
Jim Gabriel - Into Eternity
Into Eternity is the sophomore release from pianist and composer Jim Gabriel, and follow-up to his debut album, Sojourn. Comprised of twelve compositions recorded at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, Into Eternity was co-produced by guitarist Will Ackerman and multi-instrumentalist Tom Eaton. Both are also guest musicians on the album (with Will on acoustic guitar and Tom on electric guitar, bass and accordion), along with Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Gus Sebring on French horn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tony Levin on bass, and Noah Wilding on vocals.

“From the Rising of the Sun” opens with gently tip-toeing notes in the higher register, eventually blossoming into a vibrant and colorful melody. A gently uplifting introduction, this piece is one of a handful of the album’s solo piano compositions, of which are interspersed among other elegant ensemble pieces. “Winter” is an especially beautiful piece that bears a similar feel to some of George Winston’s works and other classic Windham Hill recordings. Beginning with trickling piano droplets in the higher register, accompanying cello and French horn lend a touch of nostalgia to the composition, which is led by a flowing piano melody that seemingly captures the essence of hurrying through the snow in a winter wonderland, or possibly even a figure-skating couple dancing in an icefield. I’m also especially fond of the title track, “Into Eternity”, a notably atmospheric and contemplative number that features drifty piano chords enshrouded by ambient guitar textures. “First Light” is another particular highlight in which pulsating piano notes in the lower register underlay the composition’s main melody, perhaps mimicking that of an approaching beacon of light. Further complimented by ethereal wordless vocals and suspended flugelhorn notes, the piece brings to mind that of a ship at sea sailing towards a lighthouse in the distance. The likewise especially noteworthy, “Midnight”, is a Coldplay cover that feels appropriately nocturnal and introspective, which Jim has beautifully rendered on solo piano. By contrast, “Americana” is one of the album’s brightest and boldest compositions featuring English horn and cello. Possessing a certain hymnal quality, this piece feels both patriotic and inspirational, as it seemingly paints an image of an old chapel in the countryside. The ninth track, “Goodbye for Now”, lends a wonderful seasonal contrast to the comparatively snowy, “Winter”, with its air of warmth and leisure that’s further enhanced by acoustic guitar and accordion.

Overall reflective with a gentle dynamism, Into Eternity seemingly shifts through the moods and tonalities of both day and night, as well as captures essences and landscapes of various seasons. Each contributing artist lends a delicate touch of added dimension to the listening space, as Jim Gabriel’s often flowing and always elegant piano melodies remain the focal-point of these lovely compositions! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
The Wisdom of My Shadow by Lisa Downing
- posted by John Watson on 2/8/2017
Station Manager - Sleep Radio
In short, this album is a stunning piece of work and Lisa's best to-date. Each track takes the listener on an emotional journey, especially the track "Mad World". It took me back to the original vocal version sung by Gary Jules. While it's not my habit to focus on one song in a particular album, I get a real feeling that Lisa Downing has been reminded of something that hasn't been too wonderful in her life.

This is a work of considered beauty and emotion. Our listeners are loving this album.
Rating: Excellent
Mystic by Al Conti
- posted by Candice Michelle on 1/30/2017
Al Conti - Mystic
Al Conti is a Grammy-nominated recording artist whose latest album, Mystic, casts a seductive veil of enchantment upon a culturally rich and beautiful landscape. Beautifully packaged with artwork that visually captures the essence of the music just perfectly, the album’s nine outstanding compositions are likewise each accompanied by short stories that serve to further give the listener glimpses into the past. Conti wrote, arranged and performed the compositions, while two tracks (“Pilgrimage” and “Devotion”) were loosely based on traditional music that he arranged and adapted. Composed within a style that could perhaps be described as new age world fusion, the album draws most notably from Mediterranean, Near-Eastern, Persian and Indian cultural influences. A talented team of guest musicians throughout includes Grammy award-winning artist Ricky Kej, who serves as associate producer as well as lends additional programming, keyboards and harmonium. Vanil Veigas likewise provides additional programming, keyboards and santoor. Also joining the lineup is Jeff Pearce on electric guitar, Charlee Brooks on vocals, Pamela Copus (of 2002) on harp, Karthik K. on tabla, Butto on flute, and Jenevieve D’Silva on ghatam, cajon and assorted percussion.

“Mystic” opens the album with the solemn toll of a church bell followed by the reverent intonations of The Oxford Court Monk Choir. A stunningly beautiful introduction, it reminds me somewhat of the opening piece, “The Mystic’s Dream”, from Lorenna McKennitt’s The Mask and Mirror album. Jeff Pearce lends subtle brushes of electric guitar, as the soaring wordless vocals of Charlee Brooks join the monk choir – their voices collectively echoing among the halls of what feels like a vast cathedral hidden in the mountainous mists somewhere. An earthy and sensual rhythm comprised of both Indian and electronic percussion ensues, as the piece is carried along by a gypsy-like melody led by an arrangement of flute and other exotic instruments. “Trance” follows next and is one of my favorite pieces on the album, bringing to mind that of a night caravan trekking across the desert, as brushes of chimes remind me of twinkling stars spread across the sky. This piece is likewise supported by an earthy, sultry rhythm accentuated by Indian tabla drums, and showcases an exquisitely exotic melody comprised of santoor and harmonium. The more contemplative sixth track, “Contemplation”, is another favorite of mine which incorporates a distinctly Celtic flavor, blending ancient western and eastern musical influences to perfection. Showcasing Pamela Copus on harp, she leads the lovely composition with a lulling melody among a luxurious arrangement of instruments that include tabla, santoor and electric guitars. Another personal favorite is the seventh track, “Ritual”, which is dominated by an encompassing rhythm, as it seemingly paints a picture of festive lights and ecstatic dances by the Mediterranean seashore. Wrapping up this magical, mystical journey is the soulfully shining yet soothingly serene “Anima Aeterna”, which concludes with Charlee Brooks singing among of sea of both exotic and orchestral instruments.

Sensually imbued with a haunting mystique, Mystic could easily serve as the perfect soundtrack to an Arabian Nights tale. For comparison’s sake, those who are especially fond of more world-flavored works by Chris Spheeris, David Arkenstone and Loreena McKennitt are almost certain to relish this album as well. The music herein is earthy yet fiery, making the album a perfect companion for sacred dance and ritual. While listening to these breathtaking compositions, images frequently came to mind of temple dances, candlelit chambers and travelling nomads in the desert. A luxuriant weaving of cultures veiled in mystery, ecstasy and sensuality, Mystic is exemplary of new age world fusion at its finest! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
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