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Kingdom of Mountains by Mystic Journey
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 7/24/2017
Stunning production and performances
My wife and station manager Chrissie Sheppard had been praising this album from the roof tops, so I was more than pleased to get a chance to review it and take a listen to something that she had already given a ringing endorsement to. Chrissie does indeed have excellent taste, and Mystic Journey is well named.
I began my journey one late July afternoon in the sweltering Cyprus heat. The day was roasting; the sort of heat that melts the endurance of the traveller and asks him to take shelter and rest for a while. I was fortunate enough to have this album by my side and that journey began its first few steps with the track Subhadra. The performance on this piece was a perfect remedy to the draining relentless heat; the flute from Teng so deep and so moving, her rich and colourful narrative was only given extra weight by the most delightful and creative percussion of Gilbert Levy.
Home is our next sojourn of music; this album is so delightfully chilled it will bring peace and tranquillity to all that listen to its beautiful refrains. This is so laid back and smooth and wonderfully arranged, Levy and Teng make the perfect partnership on a track that is as warm as the heart, and home is where the heart is, right?
We now arrive at our next musical stop and this is the grand central station of the title track, that ultimate moment when we learn about the entire project, that moment when we see the passion and intent of the musicians as they bring us their signature offering. After the first two splendid pieces, now we languish in the realm of Kingdom Of Mountains. We can be completely satisfied here with this film score styled offering, the sheer beauty of this track and the simply stunning performance by Teng on flutes is off the scale, the added instrumentation within the construction of this composition is like creating a painting with a multi myriad palate of paints and with each stroke, perfection is created, a simply outstanding moment of musical mastery can be found here.
Midnight in Bamako is one of those pieces that you could easily just get lost in. The scene of night is perfectly set and we seem to both hover and float around this nocturnal location, partnered by some of the most laid back and peace driven music of our day. Listen to Teng on flute here, this has to be one of the most confident and sublime performances on flute I have heard for years.
On Delicate Rainbow Flower we arrive at a composition that is so carefully played, note the bass here in this piece, and while Jon Ossman delivers a perfect depth to the track Suzanne Teng reigns supreme with a lively performance so redolent to that of the UK’s legendary flutist Nigel Shaw.
I found something very lifting about the track Yunnan. The tempo was upbeat and a real eastern flavour was created with a lush back drop of sound and colour, the guitars of Dann Torres danced beautifully with Teng’s flutes, in a piece that really lifted the energies and raised the rhythms.
As we now move into the deeper waters of the release we come across something rather special called Viento. The lively skills of multi percussionist Gilbert Levy create such imagery and rhythm here. Teng’s mastery also created a layered sense of an almost sensual motif within the composition that made this piece completely undeniable.
On En Passant we have a track that contains a defined sense of movement within its construction, the multi instrumentation and nature of this offering is sublime and manifests for us a journey within a journey. This is one of those; I must listen to many times over tracks, a composition that has a really addictive essence about its arrangement.
Our penultimate offering is entitled I Dream of a Castle. The Teng and Levy combination once more brings into our musical realm, a piece that contains a picturesque vibration about its construction, some simply amazing percussion, perfectly timed and weighted and a flute that seems to create a musical web of an increasing emotional nature, that hovers all around our melodic and harmonious awareness.
So we have reached the final port of call for our voyage with the band Mystic Journey, it is called Lebanese Girl. Lebanon the location is not that far from my current location and within this piece we seem to be right back at the start, sheltering from the midday heat under a palm tree or preferably at the nearest taverna. A sultry offering, one that shimmers with the intensity of the day and hangs and drifts like sand in the desert. I must admit I have now listened to this piece three times in a row and I am completely captivated by its beauty, this is without doubt my favourite track off the release.
Kingdom Of Mountains by Mystic Journey is one of those albums you cannot afford to miss out on, the album has a stunning production quality, the performances from each and every artist are of utter quality and thus I have absolutely no problem totally recommending this release, it is easily one of the most magnificent and scenic albums I have heard for ages, an absolute must buy.
Rating: Excellent
The Road Home by Peter Calandra
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 7/13/2017
A stunning album
I admire the musician who doesn’t settle, one who keeps raising that musical bar and forever marching onwards and towards something new, exciting and fresh. That description suits Peter Calandra. The Road Home isn’t just special, it is an uplifting collection of magical compositions that will inspire and empower you along your way in life.
Listen to the quite breath taking opener called The New Dawn. The aspect of a new day breaking into our lives has been done by many, but here Calandra draws on a deeply spiritual narrative to make this one of the best dawn based tracks I have heard for eons. The utilisation of vocalisations by Joy Askew and the timely use of percussive crescendo, make this a simply sublime cinematic opener.
Mi Amore is up next, you will find lying underneath the satin sheets of music, one of the most chilled and sultry tracks you’re likely to hear. A delicate and delightfull mood can be found here and one that sets a scene perfectly for a moonlit night of sensual love under the stars.
I remember listening to a Morning Dove whilst in the states, now I listen to it here in Cyprus each morning. It gives me a sense of grounding within a new day that has started and wishes my participation in it. Calandra draws a very light essence of ambience here; his very delicate performance on keyboards and the dreamy nature of this piece all go to make it a total winner in my book. There is also a very clever backdrop of sound that builds with a simply lush perspective as the piece grows and the day shines, and yes, this was one of my favourite pieces off the release, a perfectly meditative slice of ambient genius.
Take a step now through this next musical doorway as we listen to the title track called of course, The Road Home. We know that Peter Calandra has created music for films and TV, and this amazing track is a prime example of his skills. A perfectly composed and arranged title header and one that I would not be surprised to hear on a television show at some stage in the near future.
The shortest piece on the album is at the midway section, and we can ease back and listen to the calming refrains of Night into Day, a composition so blessedly peace filled and calming, to ease us gently into the second half of the album, it is a track of transition and tranquil piano vibes.
The Cat’s Eye is upon us, this has a lightness of energy about its construction. Calandra is a master narrator of musical genius and with each note played it allows us to go with the flow of the music, it opens up our imagination and we always arrive at the end in a state of happiness and bliss. This piece feels like that to me, a lightness of heart and happiness, and a journey along summer roads. This one is well over 6 minutes of musical fulfilment, carefully layered with a slight Jazzy motif, it doesn’t get much better than this.
There was something very intriguing about this next piece; it is called Points in the Sky. The vast nature of this composition and the grand soundscape to which it has been manifested is without doubt supreme in its structure and stature. This emotive and masterful composition brought tears to my eyes and raised every hair on my skin; this has to be one, if not the best piece I have ever heard from the artist. This is what I call absolute genius and must surely be one that is selected for a track of the year award, and yes, you guessed it my favourite on the album.
The hovering nature of this next offering created such delightful warmth, and is called Nocturnal Moods. The smooth and confident performance here will thrill you; the added instrumentation gave the piece depth and class, and once more added a slight Jazz influence, with a little Latin feel dropped into the mix, simply the perfect early night time composition.
Our penultimate offering is called At First Sight. The bass and piano here make this a real chilled arrangement, the slight pause and change in performance made this a fascinating track to listen to, one felt a compulsion to just keep listening to find out exactly where we would be going next, a clever and wonderfully narrated song indeed.
Our last piece is called Distant Dreams, we have been on this musical sojourn with Peter Calandra throughout this release and have been charmed by the utter magnificence of performance and composition and here within this track, he leaves us with the perfect parting gift. The fluency and melodic nature are so endearing and delightful to listen to, and as such eases us out of the journey with a smile upon our faces. Calandra is at his very best on piano here.
The Road Home is a release that Calandra can be very proud of, he has brought into our musical continuum something truly captivating and entrancing. It is no wonder Calandra commands the respect he does. The master composer has not rested on his musical laurels; he has sought out perfection and pushed the boundaries once more, and in my view, has utterly succeeded with style and creativity. This has to be the best so far in his collection and one that you really should add to yours as well; as such I completely recommended this stunning album.
Rating: Excellent
Moorland Winds by Sarah Copus
- posted by Gail Roberts - Ceili Magazine on 7/4/2017
Stunning in its beauty and polish!
Sarah Copus is a local treasure, only 13 years old but with a resume many adult musicians would envy. She has had two albums hit the Billboard Charts and won Best Vocal Album Award from Zone Music Reporter Awards Show in 2015. Just this year, Sarah was a featured performer at the 2017 North Texas Irish Festival and has performed with internationally acclaimed groups such as Celtic Woman, The Irish Tenors and Celtic Thunder. Her musical skills include singing and playing the harp, violin, piano and ukulele.

Moorland Winds is her latest release and it is stunning in its beauty and polish. It’s a perfect showcase for both her talent as a harpist and her lovely singing voice. On several songs, she performs in both Gaelic and English, bringing an authenticity to traditional Irish tunes.

Beginning with the haunting Wind on the Moor, the ethereal melody of the harp transports the listener to a windswept moor, borne by her angelic rendition of Gaelic song of longing. The sweet sadness of remembering long ago love also comes through softly in her rendition of Fields of Gold.

Gleanntáin Ghlas’ Ghaoth Dobhair was made for Sarah’s haunting harp and delicate Gaelic voice. It really showcases her mastery of the instrument, conveying much emotion in her song. Lest you think this album is all delicacy and lightness, she captures the traditional spirit of festive dancing in Rights of Man/Off to California and Merrily Kiss the Quaker/The Mist Covered Mountain, as well as several other traditional songs.

Her arrangement of the classic Foggy Dew was not the usual aggressive almost martial sound one usually hears, but a thoughtful, melancholy lament of lost youth and lives given in search of freedom.

One of my favorites on this album was Walking in the Air. It’s mystical and magical and so exquisite. I could listen to this song over and over. Close your eyes, listen and you will be walking in the air and floating in the midnight sky along with Sarah.

For the ultimate enjoyment of the nuances and delicacy that a talented harpist can achieve, the haunting beauty of Dawning of the Day makes me appreciate the emotional impact of the instrument that is the ultimate symbol of Ireland – the harp.

The sound mixing in this album was pitch perfect and her arrangements suited both her voice and her instrument. It’s an excellent production and a pleasure to listen to.

Sarah’s skill at such a young age makes me excited to think of what a wonderful future she has ahead of herself making music. I look for her to be a Headliner at the North Texas Irish Festival in not too many years!
Rating: Excellent
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