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Inner Rhythm Meditations by Byron Metcalf
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/31/2017
One of the best meditative styled albums
There has long been a need for an album like this in the realm of the so called New Age music industry, a place where one can go and be abundant in peace and tranquillity, but also, a place where one can listen to a mix styled multi instrumental set of arrangements, performed by three artists at the top of their own leagues, and on Inner Rhythm Meditations you have such an album.
Here is a release that is special, it allows the listener, the practitioner, the meditator, all the room he or she needs to dive in deep, and enjoy the journey, listen to the opener and see exactly what I mean. Garden of the Peaceful Warrior has a sense of east and west about its construction, the combination of Metcalf on drums and Peter Phippen, a very good friend of One World Music Radio, on flute, create such colourful and vivid imagery for me. The very nature and narrative on this incredible beginning piece contains the perfect tempo to allow us the eager listener and musical traveller, to sink right into the picturesque canvas painted by the group.
This is an album that is based in the long form structure, but one hardly notices the time passing and that is exactly how it should be. Listen to the next opus called, As Clouds Dance. Erik Wollo, a master of new age guitar and keyboards, creates the backdrop that is outstanding where the listener can with ease, imagine floating above the sky and through a dimension of cloud kingdoms. The rhythm of Metcalf’s percussion is off the scale, and so precise in energy and performance, that he literally brings into being, the mechanism of movement in this track that is so very addictive and all encompassing.
The shortest arrangement off the album is Patterns of Awareness at just over 9 minutes in duration. This offering is also our midway marker in the release; we begin to really adjust to our new musical surroundings, as we are now deep within the weave of the release. Phippen joins the dance and this symbiotic partnership creates a slight elevation of energy into the proceedings. Metcalf’s performance here is a little more pronounced, but just enough to perfectly balance an exceptionally rhythmic offering from the master flute player.
I made a point earlier that time seems irrelevant when listening to this album and all of a sudden, our journey has taken us to track 4, A Perfect Place and we have hardly even noticed. This gift, just shy of ten minutes, is one of those smooth and peaceful reveries you would ever wish to have. There is something so very appealing about this composition; it manifests such a wonderful opportunity to journey. Whilst listening to this piece, and for most of the album, I have seen within my mind’s eye forests and streams and within this magical piece, I can sit in tranquillity and watch the summer winds gently caress the cadence of the day.
Our penultimate offering is called The Awakened Heart, now here is that moment; it’s a chance to float on tone and pure rhythm and we’re given a delightful 11 minutes plus to do so as well. The combination and collaboration of musical genius can really be felt here, and this super group of new age musicians have truthfully brought into being one of my favourites offerings on the album, in fact I have just listened to this one twice as I need my meditative fix to be furthered.
The last sojourn on the album is a track called Presence of Longing, now I have a large Buffalo drum and its deep resonances sound very much like the opening of this track and performed with such respect and attention to detail by the artist. On this parting gift Byron Metcalf really opens up a whole realm of love, unconditional love at that, and through its remarkable creation brings us the ever eager listener, something so very incredible to finish with. This is the longest track off the release, at well over 15 minutes, and one very blissful oasis of sound, tone and rhythm.
Inner Rhythm Meditations does exactly what it says on the can, and brings its listener the perfect opportunity to go inside and explore a myriad of inner dimensions through quality music. Metcalf, Wollo and Phippen’s performances here are simply sublime and they deserve recognition for creating one of the most listenable meditative styled albums I have heard for many a year.
Rating: Excellent
Rear View by Perpetual Motion
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/30/2017
superbly played and produced
Time is that never ending cascade of water that has no boundaries, and always relentlessly pours away along the rivers of life, but if you have a wonderful partner to share it with, like I have, those years can be an abundance of beauty and creative brilliance, and that is exactly what we’re celebrating here today, as we listen to Rear View by Perpetual Motion.
Tom Carleno and Josie Quick have gifted us a new release to celebrate no less than 25 years of creation and manifestation of musical mastery, so let’s open the door, step right in and join the party with the opener off the album, Nova. This is a sprightly piece showing off the talents of both Quick on violin and Carleno on guitar. This is one of those medium paced pieces that has such a warmth about its construction; you can’t help but like it.
We now have to dive back in time to 1993, and relieve a magical moment form an album called Ready, Willing and Able. The track featured is beautifully delicate, and called Race of the Dolphin. Quicks skill on violin here is amazing as she creates a real fluid and sea based movement of a track, one can really imagine Dolphins flying past your boat on your way across the deep blue ocean whilst listening to this one.
A really smooth number is next up; the delightful tones of Oasis are now upon us. This music is perfect for my sun kissed environment and its gentle and calming tones soothe away life’s cares and troubles.
We now move forwards through our musical time machine to 2006, the album String Theory had just been released, the talented duo have selected Jungle Spirits to be part of their musical travels and it sits proudly as track four on the album. This is appealing on multiple levels; it has that little world ethic entwined in the composition, a touch of Latin as well, and the amalgamation of the paring of Carleno and Quick is simply undeniable and addictive, the rhythm is perfection and as such, is one of my favourite pieces from this compilation. A tip of the hat must also go to Christian Teele for his stunning work as percussionist on this offering.
Northern Lights is an arrangement that is both picturesque and lush, the sense of artistic grandeur can be found from Quicks memorable violin and the melodic structures of Carleno’s guitar, a hint of an old folk styled ballad can be found in the track. This is a piece that dates originally back to the year 2000 and from the album Christmas Time is Here.
As we approach the half way marker, we come across a track that has a real sense of wisdom and movement within its construction, this one is called The Monarch’s Journey. Chad Johnson’s sensitive percussive efforts only add to a really aged, but charming song.
We move forever onward into the celebration of 25 years of musical manifestation of Carleno and Quick, with this very danceable styled track called Blind Man’s Bossa. Once more that addictive rhythm is there and apart from the artist’s brilliance; it includes some very sparkling lead guitar from guest Paul Musso, a very classy offering indeed and another personal favourite of mine, one that thankfully lasts for nearly 8 wonderful minutes.
The haunting, but respectful Dreamcatcher is up next, this is a fine example of the duo’s special musical symbiosis, what you may have noticed here on this piece and the entire album, is a special sense of balance between them both, now that’s rare, but beautiful when it works. I must also tip the hat to the amazing bass, provided by the talented Michael Olson.
Pasión de la Luna has that little essence of Latin fire built into it, but retains a wonderful sense of a moon filled night walk about its over-all musical creation. Here is a song that may well make my next Reconnections show and reminds me greatly of my friends Incendio, although the violin of Quick adds a further colourful dimension to the offering.
Our celebratory trail through the ages now brings us to the last piece used on the album from the release Surfing on Cloud Nine. This one is called Jakeob’s Pond; there is something very cheerful yet sad about it at the same time. This piece is an absolute pleasure to listen to, the narrative created by the artists, brings forth some wonderful imagery here as well as a little Celtic lilt too.
I remember another song many years back called Harvest Moon, but we can’t let Neil Young have all the glory. However what we have here is a really memorable composition that creates a deep sense of emotion and I have to be honest this a piece that truly moved me. The brilliance on violin here by Josie Quick was outstanding and our celebration arrangement that originally came from the 2000 release Christmas Time is Here.
The second longest track off the album, just less than 7 minutes, is also our penultimate one called Zero Gravity. The smooth jazz style is evident here and the last track from the album String Theory, another release I would really like to have in my collection. The fluent performance by the artists here is sublime and allows the listener to ease back and just give themselves to the moment.
Our last stop and the end of this celebratory journey with Tom Carleno and Josie Quick comes from their original album Ready, Willing and Able and called Something Else. This is one lively jig of a number and shows a wealth of experience on guitar from Carleno. Watch, listen and be amazed, and then the soothing tones of Quicks violin bring us to our conclusion of our sojourn within the album Rear View.
Rear View by Tom Carleno and Josie Quick is a timeless offering of great tunes, wonderfully encapsulating musical moments of reverie, a compilation of compositions that span a quarter of a century. If you know of the artist’s work, this is a must get purchase, but if you don’t, but like the combination of perfectly balanced and superbly produced instrumental music, I would recommend putting this one on your musical radar as quick as you can.
Rating: Excellent
Soothe by Shambhu
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/30/2017
A truly skillful performance
I have fond memories of Shambhu’s last release, Dreaming of Now, it came at a time when I need a slice of calmness in my life, and after passing through that storm I now sit on my veranda in the sunshine, under the shade of a palm tree in Eden, and prepare to listen to his latest album Soothe.
I can honestly say that this album suits my moment perfectly, and the opening piece is a fine example of pure magical musical construction as you would ever wish to find. The realm of Soothe starts with the blissful Knowingness, a track of total awareness, that is peace filled and so very warming to listen to, apart from the artist genius on guitar, pay special attention to the incredible Premik Russell Tubbs whose soprano sax is sumptuous and the floating ethereal vocals of Kristin Hoffman that are equally delicious.
There was a really charming sense of movement on the piece Time Travel, Shambhu really showed his class on guitar on this composition. The more I listened, the more I felt I was truly being pulled from one musical moment in time to another. This is what I would term as a clever track and the narrative created here by the musician was most appealing, and also very light in its overall feeling. This is one of those pieces you just can’t help but like.
The next offering has a title that would be perfect for an album header, Days Like Falling Stars, and this sparklingly delicate, but intricate composition is as soft as it is soothing. You will find something extra special in this arrangement, as it features the work of Paul McCandless, whose brilliance is featured twice on the album, with performances on both English horn and soprano sax. His partnership on this piece with Shambhu is simply outstanding.
On Devotion Tears we have something very moving, and when you add the slide guitar of Todd Boston into the mix you are of course going to have a total winner of a track. The tempo of this piece is perfection and the partnership creates a sense of expansion to the track, one that feels like your heart is literally opening up to the arrangement.
Through the offering Prelude 2, we have one of the finest pieces off the album that offers the listener a real mixture of styles, ranging from smooth jazz, to blues and back to new age ambience. The guitars of the master here (acoustic and electric) were amazingly graphic and sensually fluent, add to that the soprano sax of George Brooks and you have a perfect eclectic musical gift.
Through New Eyes has such a delicate texture about its initial construction; it was simply a blessing to listen to. The build and progression of this piece really deserves to be listened to multiple times, as you really don’t want to miss any of the intricate nuances in it. A tip of the hat must go to the wonderful Bansuri flute performance of Ravichandra Kulur in this composition.
We now move onwards into the deeper regions of the album and come across a real global fusion of a piece called Gaia’s Sweet Divine. I must admit the name of Kristin Hoffman was new to me, but no more and I must applaud her work on vocals on this track, add to that the almost Ian Anderson styled performance from Ravichandra Kulur and the vibrant percussive work of Jeff Haynes, yes, you have found my personal favourite on the album, a totally outstanding performance by all, and what a wonderfully powerful composition to revel in.
I must admit a secret, my favourite moment on any album is usually the title track, so here it is, its Soothe and for me, I look to this piece for the artist to express himself and the entire concept of the album on a musical canvas. Shambhu has not only taken that opportunity, but has completely blown me away with the performance, a real mixture of moods can be found from him right here, a little emotional lilt is also partnered by an undeniably consistent and classy performance by Michael Manring on bass.
So our last port of call, our last sojourn, our last gift from Shambhu is a lush and sweet piece called Walking Through a Dream. This smooth jazz ending gives us the ever happy and eager listener a perfect ending to an album that is so chilled and laid back, even the passing clouds would drift off into a peaceful reverie to it.
Shambhu has brought together a super group of musicians here to aid his cause and he has been ultra-successful in the outcome. I have listened to many albums this year, but this is one that will stand out as my go to release if I just want to be chilled, sit by (or in) my pool, or just enjoy a glass of wine and be forever grateful that artists like Shambhu and albums like Soothe have been manifested into my reality for me to literally give myself to and be calm within.
Soothe by Shambhu is a slice of musical class, it’s an amalgamation of quality artists who clearly have one thing in common, the drive, the purpose to create music that is top of its class. Shambhu’s undeniably skilful performance on the album is truthfully the best I have heard this year, as a guitarist he is supremely smooth and sublimely confident. This is one album you really have to have in your collection.
Rating: Excellent
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