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The Recognition by Art Patience
- posted by Candice Michelle on 1/2/2017
Art Patience - The Recognition
Having life-long experience playing the harmonica, Arizona-based musician Art Patience originally hails from a background in blues music. His debut album released on Heart Dance Records, titled The Recognition, not only offers something quite different from anything he’s recorded before, it’s also one of the most uniquely enchanting recordings I’ve heard in recent memory. Comprised of nine beautifully spellbinding compositions, Art imparts a soulful sultriness via his harmonica-playing among dreamily ambient soundscapes, which have been crafted by producer John Herrera, who also arranged, mixed and mastered the album. Art likewise plays acoustic guitar on several pieces, while guitarist Darin Mahoney also lends his talents on two compositions, including the fourth track, “Flight of the Butterfly”, and the seventh track, “Safe Journeys”. Upon first glance, the harmonica might seem like a rather unusual instrument to combine with ambient music, but this rare musical synthesis clearly works to perfection here.

“Compassion” opens the album with subtle acoustic guitar, as Art’s haunting and reverberating harmonica glides upon an enveloping soundscape of synthesizers that highlight many spacious notes and expansive chords. Seemingly lonesome sounding, I have always found the harmonica to be an instrument of solitude, and that essence certainly comes through on every one of these lovely compositions. The next track, “The Wishing Well”, is one of my favorite pieces on the album, initially beginning with the tranquil sound of the ocean’s tides rolling in and out with lone harmonica in the distance. A droning and resonating atmosphere enters the space, and I’m reminded of being on a beach as a darkening sky encroaches. A billowing, muffled rhythm soon follows at a gently parching pace, seemingly transforming the scenery into an overcast afternoon, in what feels like a confluence of nature’s power and serenity. Likewise, several other compositions feature audio-visually stirring environmental and nature sounds, including that of thunderstorms, running water and birds in the wild, as well as many ethereal textures and chimes sprinkled throughout the musical landscapes. These elements are especially exemplified on the aptly titled sixth track, “Spirit of the Woods”, which is comprised exclusively of lush environmental sounds and improvised harmonica intonations. Seemingly evocative of nature’s purest elements, it’s easy to imagine a man alone with nature in search of peace and solitude. Perfectly concluding the album is the gorgeous title track, “The Recognition”, a characteristically more spacey and nocturnal-sounding ambient piece that additionally features deeply hued and reverberating piano notes, as Art’s harmonica seemingly echoes throughout a vast terrain beneath a star-studded sky.

The Recognition is easily one of the most uniquely intriguing albums I’ve heard recently, boasting beautifully surreal soundscapes full of warmth, depth and mystery. Like an aesthetically alluring contrast of sorts, its compelling fusion of harmonica – an instrument that brings to mind the more arid regions of the mid and southwestern United States – in tandem with the dreamily liquid ambience throughout, felt perpetually evocative of a tranquil oasis in the dry desert. An outstanding work in its entirety, The Recognition will surely appeal to a wide range of listeners, although particularly those with a taste for gently understated though melodic ambient music! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
Timeless e-Motion by Jim Ottaway
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/31/2016
An album that oozes quality
It’s back to his roots for Aussie musician Jim Ottaway as he ends a successful 2016 with a power play of an album that has us deep within his EM weave, creating a pulsating end to a fantastic year for him.
Starting with the electronically sublime Sequence of Life, Ottaway brings a David Wright style to your eager musical ears dear reader. This throbbing rhythmic opus is the perfect opener for the album.
Flowing with grace and speed we move calmly to the title track, Timeless e- Motion, the moment to be proud is upon the artist, and he should be, this is one of the finest slices of EM have heard for many a year. A speculative start builds and progresses with all the experience of a master musician, which of course Ottaway is. To get that rank, you not only have to feel your music, you have to BE your music, something Ottaway does with ease. This is eight plus minutes of electronic bliss, is smooth, paced and classy.
The sultry and swirling Skies Rain Down is superb, from the very beginning the mood is set, and one can feel those strong sullen storm clouds hovering with intent above our heads, waiting to open up. The anticipation built into this composition by Ottaway’s synths is off the scale, one can literally taste the tension.
I have stood on Reality’s Edge and survived, while that’s a story for another day, this music would have been the perfect soundtrack for my Twilight Zone moment! Ottaway has really created something mysterious, yet incredibly powerful here; this razors edge of a piece is ready to explode, but cleverly contains itself, whilst picking up energy and momentum along the way.
I adored landing in sequence heaven, on this our fifth track entitled Blurred Vision. Perhaps Jim has invented his own brand of EM here, can we say Aussie School? The tempo is balanced to perfection, and the lightness on the keys creates a multi-layered effect for us the listener, there are some delightful patterns to enjoy here.
Game Over, I love saying that in triumph, and here is the musical backdrop for my power play. This is a real trance filled moment of electronica that is deep, heavy and perhaps could even be used in a future Fast and Furious movie; this is a composition that has great movement and intent and delivered perfectly by the artist.
As we skip into the second half of the album Timeless e-Motion by Jim Ottaway, we come across a piece called Behind Closed Eyes. A fascinating title and an even more fascinating construction, we have an ambient back drop with some very tight sequences within, and a paced keyboard that manifests a third dimension of musical reality, this is truly artistic and very well performed.
The speed I am writing at is even amazing me, the addictive pace and tempo of the music is so compelling, I even have to stop myself, and remember to breathe. So I am somewhat relieved to have a moment to gather myself again on the piece Desperate Measures, even so you can still feel the energy in the background, building like the engine of a train, the fine paced percussion delivers an almost chill out moment of bliss.
The title sometimes says it all; on Towards the Unknown you have that very scenario. A soft and careful synth leads us by the hand into a world of vast areas of space as of yet uncharted musically. If you’re a musician and want to use drum pads in your music, but need to make sure you get the balance right, then you need to go no further than listening to this track, the added female vocalisations were a touch of class to include too.
Always time for something a little different and on Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained, we have just that. For some reason whilst listening to this I found myself wandering mentally around the Tate Modern in London, it is music that allows you to add your own interpretation to the tones given, and perhaps for me, this is a little slice of surrealism that fitted the bill nicely and as Jim says, Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!
We move deeper into the labyrinths of the album now with Evolutionary Phase. The pulsating beat leads us into a piece that seems to create itself as it goes. I found this track compelling to listen to, as I was eager with every note played to see where the artist would take me next, a completely intriguing composition indeed.
Our last official arrangement is called Cosmic Shift and here Ottaway gives us a glimpse through the curtains at his musical galaxy, through a composition that has a real essence of Kevin Kendle and Jonn Serrie about it. The beautiful floaty style here is the perfect way to leave the listener. Although that’s not strictly true, as he also gifts us a radio edit of the title track Timeless e-Motion to take with us as well, a musical present that we will be more than eager to have.
Timeless e-Motion I think is Ottaway’s best so far, there is a power and intent here that is completely undeniable, the performance is confident and the production sublime, all in all I think when 2016 is done and dusted, Ottaway will look back on a fantastic year musically for him, and at its apex will sit this album, which is one of the best synth based EM albums I have heard for a long, long while. If you’re a fan of electronic styled music, this is a must have release, don’t even hesitate, just get it now!
Rating: Excellent
Mystic by Al Conti
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/31/2016
Cont Istrumental music doesn’t come any better
I cannot tell you what a thrill it is to be able to write this review for Al Conti, his last release, The Blue Rose turned my life around and forever I will be truly grateful, now to have his latest album at my door, called Mystic, is a delight, as I know what will follow, will be sublime moments of musical bliss.
We’re not disappointed dear reader, the opening piece; the proud title track Mystic is amazing, and starts with the chiming of a bell and some wonderful Gregorian styled vocalisations. This for me is always a winner, the mood and scene is immediately set. Ricky Kej’s influence on this album can be heard from the off and when you also include the stunningly beautiful vocals of Charlie Brooks, you have simply the perfect opening piece to start an album with; this also happens to be the longest composition at well over eight minutes as well.
We follow that up with Trance; there is a real East meets Mediterranean feel to this arrangement. I adored the multi instrumental nature of this piece and it reminds me slightly of some of the folk music we have here in the mountain villages in Cyprus at times. We can sample Ricky Kej on Harmonium, Vanil Veigas on santoor (a form of Dulcimer) and Manoj George, violin. There efforts really create for us a wonderfully ethnic composition full of colour and life
Prayer is an interesting composition that is filled with different meanings and pathways to understand and travel. For me prayer is a joining of my letting go, and becoming at one with all that there is, a symbiosis of spirt perhaps. Al Conti’s creation does just that, the smooth flow, the gentle percussion and wonderful Violin by Manoj George combined with the ever narrating piano, all gift us a piece filled with the one thing were all after, balance.
This incredibly spiritual album continues with its lush flow into the many realms of beauty and calmness, and tracks like Visions continue that stimulating river of inner peace. The Butto flute can be heard drifting like smoke through this track, and amidst the percussive brilliance; the song weaves a pattern of musical genius with tenderness at the helm, and a rhythmic pulse at its very core.
Along the dusty desert path we go on our Pilgrimage. We all must make our own journeys in my life, and we could do so with ease using this composition as the soundtrack of the tour itself. The arrangement has great movement and flow, the powerful tempo assists that motion, combined with some absolutely outstanding guitar by Jeff Pearce.
A moment of reflection is called for now on the piece Contemplation. The bass and guitars here are stunningly sublime, but once more Conti has it about right in its structure and composition. The lightness of this song is utterly charming and one could easily sit looking down upon a vast valley in total contemplation of things past, present and future. This was one of my favourite tracks off the album, and also features Pamela Copus from 2002 on Harp.
We now move into the last third of the release Mystic by Al Conti. A light but up-tempo percussive beat manifests the piece Ritual for us, and we may well use this track to begin our winter solstice here in a few days’ time, it has that perfect pattern of ritualistic drumming to raise the energies, a really lively and vibrant arrangement indeed.
Our penultimate offering is called Devotion, once more Conti manifests something very simple, but effective. There is again a sense of movement here, as if we are entering into a journey of a vast commitment. The combinations of Darbuka and Tabla here were undeniably addictive to listen to as well.
So, dear reader, we are at the final piece of album, Mystic by Al Conti and this gift is entitled Anima Aeterna. This is one very clever way to leave the release. We complete the circle as Charlie Brooks joins us on vocals once more, but the melody here is amazing and deeply emotive and the added symphonic arrangement, really made this composition the perfect piece to leave, what has been a truly wonderful musical journey.
Mystic by Al Conti is a class album that oozes quality out of every pore of its being. In my view the artist never fails to be the true creator of superior instrumental music and to surround yourself with truly masterful artistes and contributors on this release, must make this album destined for a future award, contemporary instrumental music simply doesn’t come any better than this.
Rating: Excellent
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