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The Native American Flute As Therapy by Micki Free
- posted by Candice Michelle on 12/13/2016
Micki Free - The Native American Flute As Therapy
Micki Free is a Sedona-based guitarist and flutist, as well as Grammy and multiple NAMA award-winning artist. With an extensive musical career as both a solo artist and band member, The Native American Flute As Therapy is a double album of twelve tracks total (plus a third disc featuring a music video of “Lavender Kiss”) that subtly draws from his Rock n’ Roll roots, while incorporating traditional Native American, new age and contemporary acoustic styles of music into the fold. Micki’s own voice narrates the introduction to each track, all which variably feature flutes, guitars, keyboards and percussion, along with nature sounds and wind chimes sprinkled throughout.

“White Candle Light” opens with spoken word akin to that of a guided meditation amidst gentle tones and chimes. In a calming, comforting voice, Micki speaks of visualizing a white light to attract positive energy. The piece then leads into the soothing sounds of rain sticks and soft tribal drums, followed by Micki’s signature Native flute along with earthy vocal drones. A beautiful opener lasting for nearly eleven minutes, the rest of the album adheres to the earthy, grounding feel of this piece, as Micki introduces each song with relaxing spoken word. The second track, “Healing Bath”, begins with running water and delicate chimes, which underscore Micki’s spoken introduction on the healing properties of water. An acoustic guitar and flute melody soon emerge, guided along by gentle drumming, as soulful vocal washes additionally lend a slightly bluesy Americana feel to the piece. Originally titled “Lavender Herb”, the tenderly soulful third track, “Lavender Kiss”, was renamed as such in honor of Micki’s late friend, Prince. This album was already in production when Micki received news of the iconic musician’s passing, thereby adding another layer of emotion to this recording.

“Essential Oils” opens the second disc with subtle rain, thunder and chimes, as Micki’s narration introduces a gentle melody of piano, keyboard and flute. The second track, “Jasmine Rain”, is perhaps one of the most beautifully tranquil moments on the album, characterized by a lone flute melody enhanced by rain sticks, thunderstorm and nocturnal nature sounds. The third track, “Sacred Sage”, brings to mind a starlit canyon, as the sounds of crickets chirping and echoing flutes are gently guided along by hypnotic native drumming. Another one of my favorite pieces is the fourth track, “Heart Release (Peregrine Lane)”, with its misty tones, gorgeous flute melody and deep, pulse-like drumming that mimics a slow heartbeat. Another version of this song, titled “Heart Release (Yoga Meditation Mix)”, aptly concludes the album with conscious inhaling and exhaling in tandem with the pulse-like drumming and a continuous light brush of chimes.

Boasting an earth-centric tranquility, The Native American Flute As Therapy is an exquisitely warm and soulfully comforting experience, which often evokes images of streams, canyons and the great plains throughout. An especially suitable album for yoga, healing and spa therapies, Micki Free is simply a master of medicinal music-making! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
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
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