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In the Company of Clouds by Erik Scott
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/18/2016
Contemporary instrumental music at its best
Erik has been on hard journey through a tough battle with his health, but this journey has allowed him to discover more about his inner workings and the kindness of others, creative instincts in great adversity may be dimmed for a while, but in arduous circumstance, creativity is one major tool in the recovery of a person.
On this release Erik has really touched bass (no pun intended) with his musical soul and has kicked on a whole 10 yards after the release of his last offering Spirits. That on its own was an impressive album, but this is another notch up the ladder of sublime brilliance.
Listen to the opener called Nine Lives and I am sure you will agree, there is a freshness, and a vibrancy that really captures us early on. Scott’s ability on bass has never been in question, but this is such a powerful and empowering start to the release. The inclusion of added vocalisations from Larry Batiste, Sandy Griffith and Bryan Dyer was also a stroke of ambient genius.
I must say track two was one of my favourites; it’s called Seven Veils and has a sensuous percussive beat to drive it along with Scott’s wonderfully deep bass. This is a piece that has a cinematic quality to its structure and also contains a little world music ethic in there as well.
There is something within Erik’s work that reminds me of the Uk’s Phil Thornton, both play fretless bass, both come from rock backgrounds and at a similar age also, and both are now new age musicians of the highest standing.
On Women of Avalon he includes the talents of Steve Hunter on guitar and gifts us a piece that reminds me of the country of my birth, as Avalon, or Glastonbury, was one of the last places I visited, before leaving the country. The backing vocals from the new team of Renee Robinson, Shawn Christopher and Yvonne Cage were imperious, but a special note must go to master percussionist, John Madder for his work on this track, this is one very magical composition arranged brilliantly by the artist.
Thrilled at this journey, we can continue dear reader and listener, deeper into the release, and as we do so we come across an offering called Breathing Room, this piece contains some marvellous guitar from a name we know well here at OWMR, Jeff Pearce, however please take note of Scott’s basson this track, its textures and layers are simply delightful. Scott reminds me of Clapton, but on bass, he just has to touch the guitar to make it sing, this is one VERY smooth song.
Victory starts with a light emphasis on tone and soon builds with a gentle crescendo into a very memorable composition with an addictive melody, attach that with the driving percussive tempo and you pretty much have the perfect instrumental composition, a tip of the hat to Kevin Haynes on drums. As a lyricist, I would venture to be so bold, that if words could be constructed to this piece, it could be a single or even an anthem.
As we move into the latter half of the album we come across a melodic offering called Open Door, which features a stylish performance by Chris Cameron on piano. This is certainly a dramatic piece and one that is narrated well by Scott’s driving bass lines. The combination of keyboards and added instrumentation does give this track a lush aged feel to the song, which is so very appealing and moves us seamlessly into the next piece called First Cup.
The quality of production is awesome and First Cup, a short form composition at just under three minutes has a beautiful symbiotic combination of both guitar and bass that creates something very colourful to enjoy.
Waves, is a moment of ambient bliss, I have listened to this a few times and it conjures up pictures in my mind’s eye. Fortunately at the bottom of my road the winter ocean and its waves crash up onto the shore and a multi coloured rainbow shines its every loving light down on us all. This is one superb piece of music, it has a little rock ethic deep within the weave, the guitar of Phil Miller echoes in the distance, here is a track that will take you back to the early 70’s and back again, simply brilliant.
Our last piece to enjoy dear reader is called The Long View, and also features Rick Barnes on acoustic guitar. Scott is back on familiar territory here and takes us to the end of this latest project with a fine example of smooth and easy musicianship, with the stylish hand of a magician who really knows his musical soul.
In the Company of Clouds is a really class album that oozes clarity and quality. Erik Scott has not only stepped up to the plate, he has crisply created something quite magnificent, and knocked the preverbal musical ball out of the park, a fresh empowered energy, a lightness of spirit, Scott is back with a bang, this is seriously one album you would be completely crazy to miss out on, contemporary instrumental music at its very best.
Rating: Excellent
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
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