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Leaving Terra Firma by Stephen Peppos
- posted by Candice Michelle on 3/2/2017
Stephen Peppos - Leaving Terra Firma
Stephen Peppos is a composer and multi-instrumentalist whose fifth album, Leaving Terra Firma, explores a variety of atmospheric sonic terrain. Comprised of thirteen compositions spanning seventy-two minutes, the compositions herein range from classic new age to cosmic space and electronic-ambient music, which are often imprinted with unique touches of eclecticism.

Washy synthesizers and muffled piano droplets open the subtly sweeping and melodic title track, “Leaving Terra Firma”, bearing all the classic hallmarks of cosmic new age music. The comparatively more ambient, “Magnetic Fields”, follows next with slowly metamorphosing chords and deeply immersive tones. Here, both electronic and organic textures create a slightly foreboding and cavernous soundscape full of vaporous swells and subterranean sounds, which impart an esoteric sense of mystery. “Vita Secundom Vita” ensues with a gentle pulse and harpsichord effect, which are soon followed by distant thundering percussion. One of my favorite pieces on the album, it possesses a distinctly medieval or renaissance flair that incorporates ambient-chamber musical elements, while imparting an earthy yet ethereal quality that seemingly eludes to a mysterious and fantastical voyage. Following up this number is “Everlast”, a celestial, classical-tinged composition that recalls the music of Aeoliah and Constance Demby. Bathed in an immersive glow of distant angelic choirs, streams of light seemingly slip in and out of this most heavenly, peaceful passage of gossamer tones and textures. Moving on to “Sea of Joy”, this especially gorgeous composition aptly conveys the watery depths of the ocean. Expansive washes of synths move along a gently rolling undercurrent, as radiant, shimmering tones seem to mimic the sun’s rays illuminating a beautiful undersea kingdom. Picking things up a few notches is the equally mesmerizing, “Transulence”, which possesses a more ambient-chill vibe. Guided by a light trance rhythm, this euphoric number imparts a feeling of flying high above the sea. The tenth track, “Amor Dei”, is an especially majestic sounding piece that features Seay on vocals, which are given a cosmically ethereal and processed effect. Comprised of synthesizers, strings and symphonic percussion, this piece recalls that of an epic fantasy movie depicting magical creatures in a land of enchantment. Closing out the album is a thirteenth bonus track that clocks in a just over two minutes. Aptly titled “Cold But Warm Peace”, its whimsical, crystalline soundscape seemingly paints a picture of an ice castle hidden among a snow forest.

A thoroughly rewarding album that bears subtle similarities throughout to the music of Aeoliah, Constance Demby and even Vangelis, Leaving Terra Firma is sure to appeal to a wide range of both classic new age and ambient-space music fans! ~Candice Michelle (Journeyscapesradio.com)
Rating: Excellent
Mystic's Nine by Dyan Garris
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 2/28/2017
Classic new age at its best
Want something to brighten up your day and get you off to a flying start? Then you need to go no further than listen to Mystic’s Nine by Dyan Garris. From the very opening foray, the musician will have you hooked with the up-tempo nature of the first piece which is also the title track; there is a delicious vibrancy about this composition that you will utterly adore.
The natural sounds that connect us are simply delightful on the piece Mystic Sea, it floats with a majestic quality all around us, and here on this composition one can literally feel the pure energy of love caressing you in what is a powerful, yet pleasing arrangement.
The positivity behind this album is obvious, but now let your very senses take more, within this song by Dyan called Muse’s Gift. So allow your troubles to drift away, and just bathe in this moment of harmonic bliss.
From the gentle nature of the last offering we now come across a far more rhythmic and pulsating piece simply called Mystical. It’s as if the horn is calling us to a gathering, perhaps of mystics from many dimensions? Musically this track has a wonderful syncopation and tempo, one that creates a lush sense of movement.
I hope dear reader you’re enjoying this latest journey through the realms of Dyan Garris and her album Mystic’s Nine. We now approach the half-way point of the release and find an interesting composition called Mystic Kiss, you have also arrived at my personal favourite off the collection as well. What a beautiful composition this is, the chimes are warm and create a friendly atmosphere, while the keyboards manifest such an ambient soundscape, one could get lost in here for hours.
On Heaven’s Gate there is a real sense of the angelic realms crafted into this divine offering, this is classic new age music that will pull you back in time to symphonic greats like Mike Rowland, and even perhaps a little 2002 can be found in here as well.
The cleverness in creating an album is to know when to change speed and tempo and still carry the listeners with you along the journey, on Cloud 9 Dyan Garris does just that, and even though the pace of the composition is vastly different from the last track, she still maintains a creative warm sense of peace, in an arrangement that will literally have you floating on Cloud 9.
The vocal talents of the artist are used once more in the song The Mist. There are times when we all find ourselves within the mist of confusion, but here Garris offers us a piece of music containing a message of determination. As a singer myself, I can share with you that her vocal range, especially on this song, is very impressive indeed.
OK, now time to head off East on 9th and once more through the medium of music we are on our way again. The percussion on this track is perfect and whist giving us a feeling of movement, it doesn’t over power the keyboards crafting narrative and structure, this also happens to be one of my other favourites, the chords and construction seem to evolve a wonderful reality of a journey that must be taken.
Now we’re here, let’s ease back as we arrive at the penultimate song from the album called Aquamarine. This used to be one of my favourite crystals back in the day, and here we have a really light and almost childlike offering of a composition. It’s simple, but honest style would make this arrangement a perfect tune to play during meditation or relaxation sessions.
So as we arrive at the very last port of called for us on our musical sojourn with Dyan Garris dear reader, we are gifted one more track to enjoy called Water for the Soul, and what a charming way to leave the album indeed. Here Garris leaves us with a short form piece that creates its own ambience along the way, and leaving us, the chilled listener, with a real sense of a warm calmness from a musical journey most happily and willingly travelled.
Mystic’s Nine as an album will take you back to the classic era of superb and well-crafted New Age music; it’s a release that will be guaranteed to get your day off to a good start. Lovingly produced and performed, Mystic’s Nine is one of those albums every household should have, Dyan Garris should be proud of this manifestation of positivity and sensitivity, it’s a mix really hard to achieve, but done so very admirably by the artist.
Rating: Excellent
When the Sea Lets Go by Vin Downes
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 2/27/2017
written and played with love
Sometimes in life there is a moment in time that you wish would never end, something so beautiful and calming comes in and changes everything, that moment is here for me right now in the guise of Vin Downes and his latest release entitled, When The Sea Lets Go.
I have been a fan of Vin’s music ever since I came across the superb Unlike the Stars. As a guitarist myself, listening to his performance gives me something to aspire to. The opening piece to this tranquil album is called Entwined and Lost; it’s a melodic track that seems to weave its way around your mind in a repeating pattern of pure ambience.
On Evening In Berkeley we have one of those moments that perhaps could be described as halcyon, Downes smooth and mood filled guitar reaches the depths of a sunset so peace filled and calming, you simply just want this blissful experience to never end, its six minutes of pure musical magic.
Recorded and produced in the Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont under the watchful eye of the legend that is Will Ackerman, Downes has put together something quite breath-taking and beautiful, very much like this next offering called Morning Red. Here Downes brings to the table a light but more up-tempo offering, that has a real sun kissed feel to its manifestation. The fluency on guitar here by the artist is really something to be utterly enjoyed.
The gentle and picturesque track Dust and Drag is up next, this is a delight to just flow with, and the smooth and harmonic sense of bliss here is just what’s needed. The rhythm and melody are utterly charming and very addictive. I can imagine I will be whistling this one while I take my coastal walk tomorrow, this track also features some quite delicious bass, provided by non-other than Michael Manring.
At the half way juncture we come across a sensitive piece called Just Before You Leave. Here Downes creates some wonderful narrative, that is quite emotive in its construction, while the track has a slight mournful resonance, it also seems to contain a balancing of energies, with some deep felt moments of memory, created with such a delicate level of tenderness, I guarantee this one will move you.
On Everything Ahead we are really in Windham Hill territory and within this piece one can feel a certain sense of movement, it’s as if we’re travelling down a country road, with the windows open with the warm summer wind across our faces. This is one of those feel good pieces that you won’t fail to like.
The title track is next, When The Sea Lets Go, this is sublime. I live near an ocean, so I can tell you that the movement and tones fit perfectly. The subtle but ever flowing tempo and style is not only creative but both memorable and quite moving in parts as well. In my opinion Downes has completely excelled with his title heading composition, and this is also my favourite offering off the album.
We have found our way into the deeper waters of this release constant reader, and as we slowly oar our musical boat around the river bend, we come across a lovely track filled with a colour and warmth that makes it even more expressive, this one is called Streets Of Sunday. I am old enough to remember the time before the all-encompassing ills of endless consumerisation; I used to love to walk out on a sunny Sunday morning with the tranquil hum of the day all around me, the sounds of birdsong, and the wind blowing silently in the trees, all perfectly described in music by Vin Downes.
Well this is the penultimate piece off the album, dear listener of stylish music, and at this crossroads of musical bliss you will find a sign saying, The Right Words Are Simple. Once more the artist is in the flow, Downes artistry is really evident here in this classy composition, we can indeed be mesmerised by its charm filled tones and construction.
That sad moment has arrived, and our journey with Vin Downes is now nearly over, but wait, before you leave, take this musical gift along with you, it’s called All You Left Behind. You have to listen to the skill set used here by the musician, the chords and notes are so steeped in wisdom and passion. We end this truly magnificent album in a moment of sublime reflection, what a brilliant end to a brilliant release.
When The Sea Lets Go is an experience that you must not miss, it’s a musical pathway that you must allow yourself to bathe in. I have heard many acoustic based guitar albums in my years as a writer and broadcaster, but this release has to be one of the warmest, most welcoming and cleverly performed for quite some time, you must grasp a copy of this album as quick as possible.
Rating: Excellent
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