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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
Mystic's Nine by Dyan Garris
- posted by Candice Michelle on 1/28/2017
Dyan Garris - Mystic's Nine
Mystic’s Nine is the thirteenth album from Dyan Garris, an Arizona-based composer whom is also described as a “visionary mystic, voice recognition psychic, and trance channel medium who reads from the Akashic Records”. A classically-trained pianist and violinist who began playing at the age of four, her impressive repertoire of both artistic and healing tools consists of meditative music, as well as spiritual books and oracle decks. Named for the esoterically significant number nine, Mystic's Nine is comprised of eleven compositions spanning forty-three minutes that features both relaxing and rhythmic passages. The album mainly consists of piano and synthesizers throughout, as Dyan is joined by several guest artists on varying tracks, including Joe Bauer on drums, Scott Schaefer on flute, Amber Norgaard and Margo Joy on vocals, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn and trumpet, Will Clipman on percussion, Michael C. Ronstadt on cello, and Peter Sterling on harp.

“Mystic’s 9” opens with an uplifting arrangement of piano and synthesizers accompanied by a steady drumbeat courtesy of Joe Bauer, who also plays percussion on two other tracks. Eliciting a warmly positive mood that feels a bit whimsical, the piece affectively brings to mind that of flying a kite in the winds of a sunny day. “Mystic Sea” follows next, a particularly beautiful piece that features Scott Schaefer on flute. Beginning with bubbling currents, gentle flute is woven among a swirling sea of celestial chords, which are accompanied by distant ethereal voices evocative of mythical mermaids and sirens. Easily my favorite piece on the album, I’m reminded somewhat of both Chris Conway and Aeoliah, as it conveys the healing spirit of the ocean and paints stunning images of a peaceful underwater world. Up next is “Muse’s Gift”, one of two lyrical vocal tracks on the album, featuring singer Amber Norgaard and harpist Peter Sterling. Here, Amber delivers an inspirational message about leaving one’s worries behind, as Dyan’s piano accompanies the song’s lead melody throughout. Another favorite, “Mystical”, ensues with the immediately recognizable flugelhorn and trumpet contributions of Jeff Oster, which mesmerizingly soar above a steadily rhythmic current that’s underlined by a pronounced bassline. Conveying a euphoric feeling of travel and flight, it’s easy to imagine a hang-glider soaring above a pristine landscape in the sunset. I’m also particularly fond on the next track, “Mystic Kiss”, which features Will Clipman on percussion. A sparkling, aquatic-like piece in which crystalline bells and synthesized vocals form a gentle melody, it imparts the essence of both romantic as well as universal love. The ninth track, “East on 9th”, is also a notable highlight, once again featuring Joe Bauer on drums. Led by my favorite piano melody on the album, the piece bears a hint of exoticism that conveys an almost gypsy-like feel infused with subtle elements of chill. Closing out the album is “Water for the Soul”, a gently bright yet calming piece led by piano, synthesizer and delicate vocal washes.

Definitive of melodic new age music with influences of both 80’s and 90’s-era works in the genre, there is just enough musical variety on here to keep things interesting. An angelic essence infused with a genuine spirit of love and joy radiates throughout this album, one that is sure to leave the listener with a feeling of both deep peace and solace! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Very Good +
The Exodus Wave by Sequential Dreams
- posted by Candice Michelle on 1/26/2017
Sequential Dreams - The Exodus Wave
The Exodus Wave is the eighth album from Sequential Dreams, a project conceived by Canada-based electronic music composer Ron Charron, who also releases albums under the name Kuutana as well as other projects. Comprised of fourteen compositions spanning an intensely-packed and lengthy seventy-nine minutes, the album was composed and performed by Ron, who plays keyboards and synthesizers on all tracks as well as electric guitar on several. He is additionally joined by ex-Tangerine Dream member Bernhard Beibl on a few of the compositions, who also plays electric guitar on a few tracks, including “Telemetry”, “Subspace Breach”, “Pleiadian Prophecy”, and “Booster Separation”.

“Telemetry” opens with spacey signals and digitized gurgling effects, which are accompanied by an arrangement of vintage sequencers and dynamic drum programming. Definitive of the Berlin-School style of electronic music, elements of progressive rock are also present on this track, as well as throughout the rest of the album, in which potently expressive and powerful electric guitar riffs serve as the lead ‘voice’ on many of the compositions. “Subspace Breach” follows next, bringing images to mind of solar winds and orbiting satellites, before slipping into “Pleiadian Prophecy”, a piece that begins with haunting wordless voices that seemingly echo throughout the cosmos. Featuring additional keyboards and synthesizers by Chris Pearre, the name of this piece suggests a reference to the intriguing mysteries surrounding the Pleiades constellation, which has played a notable role in many world religions and ancient mythologies. Winding things down a bit, the beautiful “Interstellar” ensues with a Pink Floyd-esque atmosphere, which is characterized by drifting, howling guitars and moody chord progressions. Conveying a sense of floating and weightlessness, one perhaps gets the notion of slowing approaching an interstellar destination as a distant horizon comes into view. Following it up is the equally compelling “Wavefront”, which opens with an encompassing, gravity-warping wind tunnel effect, before leading into a dynamic arrangement of sequencers, drum programming and electric guitar. My favorite piece on the album is quite easily the eighth track, “Quantum Theory”, which also seemingly bears the strongest influence of classic Tangerine Dream, with even some of its vintage synthesizer effects mimicking that of their Stratosfear album. Arend Westra lends keys and synths to the next track, “Booster Separation”, a somewhat foreboding piece that deftly interweaves an almost gypsy or middle-eastern melody into its framework of electronic programming and rock guitar. Closing out the album is “Approaching Terra Nova”, a classic travelling electronic-space composition that imparts scattered celestial voices throughout.

Bearing many hallmarks of 1980’s-era Tangerine Dream albums in particular, Sequential Dreams also explores similar philosophical concepts and musical territories as Mark Dwane, whose recordings are likewise based upon themes of ancient legends and great cosmic mysteries. Adventurous music for mind-expansion that perhaps suggests a longing to find our place in the greater scheme of things, The Exodus Wave traverses a convoluted landscape that is both terrestrial and intergalactic. This is another outstanding album in the ongoing Sequential Dreams saga, and is simply a must-have for fans of Tangerine Dream, Mark Dwane, progressive rock and electronic-space music! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
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