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A Hero's Journey by Karen Olson
- posted by Candice Michelle on 12/10/2016
Karen Olson & Crispin Barrymore - A Hero's Journey
A Hero’s Journey is the collaborative recording of violist Karen Olson and pianist / multi-instrumentalist Crispin Barrymore. Promising a “voyage into a sonic landscape that merges contemporary classical influences with ambient textures, rhythmic elements, and new age melodicism”, its description not only fits to a tee, but the sheer beauty and emotional depth of this album proved to be far more than I ever could have expected.

“Horizon’s Calling” begins with a swelling mist of chords that soon introduce a gentle viola melody, immediately creating a warm and enveloping soundscape which conveys both a subtle melancholy and sacred introspection. Setting the mood for the rest of the journey, an illuminated ambience that’s often characterized by seemingly processed environmental sounds permeates the album, while highlighting minimal classical motifs throughout as expressed via Karen’s beautiful viola playing. On the second track, “Life’s Persuasions”, her lovely instrument weaves in and out of swirling metallic timbres, which are gently guided along by a lightly tapping electronic rhythm. The fourth track, “Still Crying”, is a most hauntingly gorgeous piece and quite easily my favorite on the album, in which Karen’s viola shimmers and vibrates among glistening electronic textures and a slow breakbeat-type rhythm. By the sixth track, “Facing Fear”, the perceptual notion of this album being about an inner personal journey of sorts really comes to fruition. Here, the viola is more at the forefront of the composition’s somewhat stark and foreboding yet inherently minimal soundscape. Lending a subtle contrast in mood is the seventh track, “Going Beyond”, which conveys a gently comforting and radiant aura with its sparkling piano and soothing viola. The eighth track, “Life Force”, is another favorite of mine, in which an emotive viola melody intertwines with environmentally lush layers and a liquid chill rhythm. Concluding the album is “Epilogue”, which paces along in a procession-like manner, lending cinematic touches to the ensemble of viola, organ and synths, as well as the occasional brush of symphonic drums.

Comprised of twelve compositions spanning over an hour, A Hero’s Journey is essentially a classical-laced ambient album which boasts sensually warm atmospheres with an underpinning of poignancy throughout. Perfectly understated with many subtle intricacies and improvisational nuances, a constant stream of restlessness or stirring beneath the music’s overarching serenity also felt present – a most intriguing aspect that I intimately connected with. An essential album to own, A Hero’s Journey is easily among my favorites of recent musical discoveries! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
Ethereum by Joseph L Young
- posted by Michael Diamond on 12/8/2016
Ethereum by Joseph L Young
Listening to the music of Joseph L. Young on his fourth and latest release, I was transported by his exquisite blend of the earthy and the ethereal… the worldly and the otherworldly. Over the course of 12 luminous tracks, Joseph creates an alchemical blend of the natural sounds of a variety of flutes from different cultures, world music instruments such as hammered dulcimer, udu drum, tin whistle, Chinese erhu, Celtic harp and various ethnic percussion, with ambient synthesizer soundscapes, atmospheric electronic textures, and even a bit of saxophone. The result is quite transcendental, taking the listener on a journey to serene sonic vistas.

In this age of downloading single tracks, I couldn’t agree more with Joseph as he shared: “I also love the concept of having an album be a total listening experience from beginning to end, where the order of songs and how they fit together takes the listener on an extended journey that lasts for the length of the album.” And that sonic excursion gets off to a meditative start right from the opening track. While the ancient Pueblo (Anasazi) flute Joseph plays has links to the ancient past, it is set against a background of spacious synthesizers and subtly morphing electronic ambiance that is a perfect example of the worldly/otherworldly contrast mentioned earlier. This is followed by the title track, which adds an additional earthy element with the use of percussion. Interestingly, however, the percussion is not used to create a rhythm, but is more for accents, such as an occasional rattle, shaker, or bell sound.

A different vibe is felt on “Shimmer,” as gently plucked harp arpeggios combined with low whistle and high tin whistle create a bit of a Celtic feel. The sound of rain adds yet another dimension to this lovely piece. On “Boundless,” unlike the title track, the percussion is used rhythmically in a slow ceremonial-type beat, along with Native flute, and chanting by Joseph and Lenise Redding. On a number of tracks, Joseph combines various flutes from different cultures within a song, as in “Illumination” that blends a low E Native American flute with the higher pitched Chinese xiao flute. The album draws to a peaceful dreamy conclusion with “Sapphire Moon,” that features the Phi flute, which is tuned using the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence, as known in sacred geometry.

Joseph feels a special calling to create music that touches the listener on a deep heart and soul level. In his words: “One of my goals is to make ‘music without boundaries’ and all of the music on this album is my offering of a universal sound that everyone can enjoy.” “Ethereum” offers a beautiful collection of diverse meditative music with substance that works equally well as an active listening experience or a background soundscape.

To read a full-length feature article on this album, as well as others, please visit: MichaelDiamondMusic.com

Rating: Excellent
Day of the Beloved by Al Gromer Khan
- posted by Stephen Hill and Sergey Lenkov on 12/6/2016
quietly hypnotic bliss - Real Healing Ambient Ex
Stephen Hill - HEARTS of SPACE "Al Gromer Khan's "Day of the Beloved" is the finest example of long-form, India-inspired Ambient you'll find. 57:04 of quietly hypnotic bliss."

Sergey Lenkov
Real Healing Ambient Experience
Long compostion which creates atmosphere of light and relaxation in your room. Background ambiental electronic pads and atmospheres, delicate openwork sitar playing, some barely hearable piano touches here and there - and you are deep in the soundworld by Al Gromer Khan. It's good to listen to this music after hard working day. It's not one more New Age oriental style album - it's the music of higher level of creation and it needs your attention while you are listening to it. The music seems in the same time meditative with repeating phrases and in the same time you are feeling a kind of internal motion in the structures created by Al Gromer Khan. One more interesting work for the lovers of ambient music.
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