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The Recognition by Art Patience
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/23/2016
A quality album
I always find it interesting to review albums that contain musical instruments that I play myself and on The Recognition, Art Patience takes on a musical journey through the medium of the harmonica.
Our very first port of call is a track called Compassion, this by some chance features not one, but both instruments that I play, acoustic guitar and harmonica. Listening to this, makes me feel like creating myself. Here we have a piece that seems to manifest an atmosphere all of its own, there is a sense of trepidation here that is addressed musically, and Patience builds an energy of anticipation within this first enticing song.
Patience featured on another album reviewed by me a few weeks ago called Christmas from the Heart. His confidence on his own release is evident in its outstanding production, just listen to The Wishing Well; the mournful tones seem to drift with the natural sounds of the wind, a wondrous backdrop of sonic sound is created here that is never ostentatious, we can literally just sit in the music, and feel it wash over us, in what is six and a half minutes of ambient bliss.
Memorial Day, another graphic arrangement, delivered by some moving keyboards, a sensitive and delicate performance of harmonica can be found here and in the background of this day of reembrace we can even here the cannons fire to salute those who have died for their country. A gentle heartbeat of percussion also gives this poignant track even more of an emotive quality.
As we move towards the half way marker of the album we come across a track that has a really light nature about its structure, but also filled with colour and a calmness of movement. Flight of the Butterfly has a real gossamer feel about its construction, and with the accompanying guitar; it is as if we are watching this delicate creature fly in slow motion, over warm summer meadows.
This album has such a soothing tone about it, the tempo is almost timeless and on The Tree House, we have a composition that creates a whole new realm of peace and tranquillity. The balance of harmonica and keyboards is simply lush here, and manifests something deep within the memory. I used to have a tree house, and I could have sat up there listening to music like this on those long hot summer days, you know those days, the ones that you thought would never surrender to the infinite march of time.
One of my favourites from this deeply powerful album was this next one called Spirit of the Woods. The birdsong constructed a memorable moment for me; the softness of Patience’s harmonica is somewhat similar to the sound of a flute, which perhaps would normally be used on a track like this, proving that there are no real limitations in music; you just need to be in touch with your melodic soul and clearly Art Patience is. This is an amazing song; I like to sit in nature and play too, and here the artist harmonizes that sense of balance between the creative nature of music, and nature itself, they are indeed all one.
I hope you’re enjoying this musical sojourn dear reader, this moment of ambient tranquillity moves onward now, with a composition called Safe Journeys. There is a real folk ethic here and the guitar seems to take us further into our musical forest, arm in arm with Patience’s sweet soul of a harmonica. There is a very noticeable energy of a slow, but steady movement created here and all the while an angelic backdrop of sound lights our way, in a really moody arrangement.
The penultimate offering for us, and also the longest track off the album at well over seven minutes, is Winds of Change. The wind and native beat swoop over the mountains and down the valleys, and as the thunder roars, rain falls in a really intense and dramatic piece, which is simply artistic and addictive in every way. Here Patience’s harmonica plays both the engine room and the driver on this powerful rhythmic and pulsating bluesy opus.
A good album has that quality about it, you know the moment when you reach the last track and can’t believe it nearly finished, this album is like that, time is largely irrelevant when listening to it, thankfully there is a loop button. We finish therefore with the title track The Recognition. Art Patience gifts us one more song before we must part ways, and this is a gentle and calming fashion with which to leave his realm, Patience plays from the heart and creates a really memorable and mournful arrangement to end the project with, one that tugs at the heart sleeve and begs us not to go, this is pure class.
The Recognition by Art Patience is ambience at its very best; he has incorporated a new age sound, retained a little blues ethic, and managed to cross genres with consummate ease, and it has to be said, in great style. Patience has brought his instrument of choice into the lime light, and whatever you thought you knew about the harmonica, you can throw it away and listen and learn all over again. Art Patience doesn’t break new ground on this release; he actually invents it, a quality album that has to be a must for every good music lover.
Rating: Excellent
Second Youth by Lena Natalia
- posted by Candice Michelle on 12/23/2016
Lena Natalia - Second Youth
Chicago-based pianist and composer, Lena Natalia, released one of my favorite piano albums earlier in 2016, titled Rendezvous in Paris. She is back with a follow-up, titled Second Youth, an album comprised of twelve solo piano compositions that, as with her previous two releases, showcases her unique brand of mostly minimal, neoclassical-style craftsmanship. Also, like her prior efforts, Second Youth seems to tell a story throughout its course, with this newest installment alluding to the revisiting of childhood memories, perhaps with a longing to relive that era of one’s life again.

“Spinning Tops” is a two-minute opener which reminds me of a ballet performance introduction, with its graceful and flowing classical flair. In fact, one of the key defining characteristics of Lena’s compositions is their often spinning and twirling-like interlocking patterns, of which are in constant melodious movement. Likewise, her gorgeous melodies often become immediately memorable upon just the first listen or two, boasting a substantively intricate yet inherently simplistic elegance that is largely free of elaborate excesses. “Moving On” follows next, and although representative of some of the brighter, sunnier compositions herein, it still retains an inherent sense of nostalgic reflection that permeates the rest of the album. Continuing with “Prayer for Wisdom”, this solemnly exquisite piece is easily among my favorites, as it conveys a sense of reverence and solitude in a minimally classical fashion. Ensuing next is the slightly more dramatic “Rainstorm”, another favorite which is characterized by rippling higher register notes and starker lower register notes that move along in a galloping manner. The aptly-titled seventh track, “Café Con Leche”, is among the album’s more contemporary sounding pieces, conveying the comforting warmth and subtle sweetness of the beverage it’s named after. Another particular highlight is the tenth track, “Waiting at the Gate”, which possesses a somewhat melancholic feel, as it’s gently carried along by a steadily cascading and wistful melody. Tenderly concluding the album is “Transitions”, a subtly poignant piece which conveys the notion of ‘moving on’, perhaps from one phase of a person’s life to another.

With Lena having resided in Paris for several years – hence the inspiration for her previous two albums, Rendezvous in Paris and Sundays in Paris – it perhaps comes as little surprise that a perfectly understated romantic mystique finds its presence on much of this album as well. I was often reminded of quaint cafes and venues along cobblestone streets, as well as picturesque scenes of solitude both in the cities and countryside. Lena’s music is at once deeply emotive and tenderhearted yet never bombastic or saccharine, thereby perfectly allowing its listener to either dive into the story and engage in the emotions expressed herein, or simply relegate it to aesthetic background listening. A simply brilliant pianist-composer, Lena’s memorably beautiful melodies are in themselves her strongest asset, only further supported by her idiosyncratic compositional techniques. Every bit as lovely as its predecessor, Second Youth is another masterwork from one of my favorite rising stars in the field! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
Inner Rhythm Meditations by Byron Metcalf
- posted by Candice Michelle on 12/19/2016
Byron Metcalf - Inner Rhythm Medititations
Byron Metcalf is a master world percussionist and shamanic practitioner whose musical career spans five decades. On this hour-long excursion, titled Inner Rhythm Meditations, Byron is additionally joined by the two outstanding talents of guitarist and synthesist Erik Wøllo (with whom Byron previously released an album in 2016, titled Earth Luminous) and world flutist Peter Phippen, who has likewise appeared on a number of other outstanding projects. Together this musically brilliant trio weaves a seductive veil of mystery and sacredness throughout the album’s six compositions, which variably incorporate electro-shamanic rhythms, bansuri and shakuhachi flutes, and ambient loops and guitar textures.

“Garden of the Peaceful Warrior” opens the album with warm, enveloping chords and deeply enthralling tribal drumming, as Peter weaves a subtle flute melody in often-suspended notes among the composition’s capaciously lush atmosphere. An earthy, sensual vibe exudes from this piece, as well as throughout the rest of the album, as it seemingly beckons the listener into a trance-like and profoundly tranquil state. The aptly-named “As Clouds Dance” follows next and is perhaps my favorite piece on the album. Here, Erik provides gently soaring and stratospheric elements that perfectly compliment Byron’s warmer and earthier instrumentation to create a soundscape which sounds equal parts organic and electronic. A supremely gorgeous composition that mesmerizingly morphs and progresses throughout, it brings to mind that of watching passing clouds changing shape across the sky, while one’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground to connect with the bare earth beneath them. “Patterns of Awareness” ensues with floating timbres, gently understated flute and deeply resonating percussion at the foreground, as one can hear Erik’s textural ambient guitars in the background. The everflowing and hypnotic synergy of these three key elements continues on the next two tracks, “A Perfect Place” and “The Awakened Heart”, both of which are as equally spellbinding. Closing out the album is the comparatively slower-paced “Presence of Longing”; led by a lulling drum-pulse it provides fifteen minutes of pure restorative bliss.

As a long-time fan of Byron Metcalf’s work, I’m continually impressed by his musical outputs, and Inner Rhythm Meditations represents the epitome of the tribal-ambient style of music that he so frequently visits. In fact, I’m reminded of an equally beautiful album that Byron released with Steve Roach and Mark Seeling in 2004 called Mantram, with its similarly warm, sensual sacredness and seemingly esoteric sense of mystery. Byron’s percussion is simultaneously ecstatic and energetic, yet meditative and peaceful, always producing a visually and soulfully transportative experience. A top-notch album for yoga, ritual and shamanic work, Inner Rhythm Meditations is another masterwork that I will be returning to quite often! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
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