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Deep by Adam Werner
- posted by Candice Michelle on 6/6/2017
Adam Werner - Deep (Music to Heal the Soul)
Deep (subtitled Music to Heal the Soul) is the latest album by guitarist and composer, Adam Werner, whose signature fingerstyle guitar technique has often been compared to that of the late pioneering guitarist Michael Hedges. Comprised of twelve peacefully reflective and melodic compositions spanning forty-four minutes, the album includes alternating arrangements of both solo acoustic and ensemble pieces with subtle vocals in parts, which variably feature guest performances by Samite, Kris Tischbein, Ken Verheecke, Adam Howe, Michael Manring, Kentaro Otsuka, Jim “Kimo” West and Sydney Easton.

Lending his mesmerizingly soothing vocals to the unforgettable first track, “Sage & Sand (for Tristan)”, is Ugandan singer and former Windham Hill Records artist, Samite, whose own music I’ve long been a fan of. A spellbinding fusion of contemporary acoustic and world music, atmospheric textures envelope gentle acoustic guitar, as Adam additionally lends bass and percussion while Samite plays a captivating flute melody throughout. Moving in like a gentle breeze upon a tranquil landscape is “Thank You”, in which Adam creates stretches of atmospheric tones with eBow guitar along with a rhythmic pacing on acoustic guitar, as Kris Tischbein further underscores the piece with bass guitar. “Footprints in the Fog” is another gem of a composition that exudes a misty atmosphere. Here, Adam plays guitar, bass and percussion accompanied by Ken Verheecke on nylon guitar and Adam Howe on banjo. A lushly beautiful ensemble, each distinguishable instrument becomes part of a most intriguing interplay, which is perfectly carried to conclusion by the distant sound of a cold wind gust. The one-minute “Island Swing” is the sunniest piece on the album, perfectly capturing the Hawaiian spirit with its serenely uplifting ukulele solo. The title track, “Deep”, is among the album’s handful of solo acoustic guitar pieces and arguably the most mesmerizing of its kind. Simple yet profound in its contemplative essence, warm, languid tones seemingly paint a picture of a solitary beach and sunset. Equally enthralling is “Psyche vs. Soul”, a subtly stormy piece characterized by sparse, echoing chords that additionally features Kentaro Otsuka on bass as well as Adam Howe on drums and 12-string guitar. “Early Mourning Passage” just as beautifully wraps-up the album as it unfolded. Here, Sydney Easton lends wordless ethereal vocals as repeating guitar notes drift upon a soundscape of eBow guitar, bass and percussion, ultimately fading out with Sydney’s lone vocal intonations.

Sublimely tranquil with an often-melancholic undercurrent that seems fitting for a rainy afternoon, Deep is memorably melodic yet relaxing enough to serve as accompanying music for spa and massage therapies. Echoing the spirit of many classic Windham Hill and Narada Records releases, Adam flawlessly interweaves elements of new age, ambient and world music into contemporary acoustic arrangements, ultimately culminating in what is easily one of this year’s best guitar albums! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Excellent
Stardust by Kerani
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/2/2017
Empowering, thought provoking music
I have long yearned for a new Kerani album and when I heard whispers that a new release was on its way that thrilled me. Kerani has that energy built into her work that some of us could call the wow factor. She had that with ease on Arctic Sunrise, but it’s even more pronounced on this amazing new album, called Stardust.
An album about space is usually going to be a winner, but when you included over 60 musicians in on the project with a symphonic orchestra into the mix too, that wow factor is going to be off the scale, for example let’s leave the space dock with the opener Stardust. If you ever want to start an album with something spectacular, this is how to do it. In Vangelis style Kerani manifests a piece that has a perfect build, progression and sense of awe and grandeur all in the weave, we can feel a part of it all through this totally stunning opening, we are each note played, we are the melody and the rhythm, we are all Stardust.
A glorious ambient and spacious beginning greets our ever eager ears with the next piece called Cosmic Sunrise. By some chance I was up very early today and wanted to walk the dog along the beach at sunrise, this piece of music would have been perfect for that pleasurable perambulation. This is such a beautiful composition, with many little intricacies, the deft string section, the purposeful percussion and the narration from Kerani’s keyboard that moves us forward and onward. This is a wonderful depiction of something utterly spectacular and Kerani’s arrangement is the perfect musical soundtrack for that event.
I did read the notes for this next piece and found that the composition is based on the Rosetta project of the European Space Agency. In our search for life we must travel long and deep. Kerani has created something very clever here; one can literally feel through the music, that a journey of that magnitude is going to be taken. There is a defined sense of movement within the arrangement that is so evident; there is also a remarkable likeness on this piece to the UK’s Medwyn Goodall, perhaps from his days on the album Comet. Rosetta is a track that demands to be listened to multiple times, as there are so many nuances contained within; you might just miss something first time around.
The next offering Perpetuum Mobile is very interesting in many ways, you will find a repeating pattern here, this motif continues onwards like a machine, almost like the tick and tock of a relentless galactic clock, but its symphonic backdrop adds a whole layer of musical magnificence into the composition, could this be an anthem for the space time continuum itself?
On Beyond we have a track that whilst it fits perfectly into the space genre and style of Vangelis, it’s also incredibly ambient, the artist has created a dimension of a vast wonderment here, imagine reaching a point in deep space and seeing the vastness of it all spread before you into infinity. The inclusion of flute on this piece took me back many years to an old Terry Oldfield album called Across the Universe. Here Kerani has allowed her skills to create something that is musically outstanding and through the tones of this track, perhaps we can even explore the myriad dimensions of inner space as well as outer?
We have now traversed over the half way marker in the album, and come across a wormhole that seems to transport us to a whole new realm called, The Next Step. You will find a much more up-tempo arrangement here, a lively percussive beat with synths and piano give this composition a real EM feel. This one has that special stardust feel, plenty of energy, the wide eyes of excitement and a luscious melody, with a driving electric guitar, all of that and much more can be found on this headline composition.
As we now drop out of warp and use manoeuvring thrusters to bring us into a more stable position. We can bathe in a track that is simply too huge to comprehend called Infinity. One can only imagine the feelings and emotions when one gazes through the window of you own little world to sample a view of Infinity, how does the mind deal with that? It’s emotive, overpowering and inspirational and all of those words and the aforementioned description explain entirely the arrangement, and feel of this most incredible opus of brilliance created by Kerani.
Our journey through the various quadrants of space has been sensational, but it’s not over yet, although we now find that our musical star ship is being pulled away from its current location and towards a vast celestial body, this new planet has a Gravity field that is compelling and extremely powerful. Kerani’s skill and compositional genius now illustrates that pull perfectly with a repeating pulse in the music. The percussion and symphonic build here is slow and so deeply powerful, while the added ethereal vocals from Davinia Van der Zee are simply divine.
You will be able to tell by the tone and tempo of this next offering that we must be nearing the end of our current trek through the stars, listen first to the marvellous strings that create such an emotional repose. Then some of the finest piano from Kerani ushers forth in what has to be a cinematic moment of outstanding natural beauty on the piece Worlds Unknown, my favourite piece off the release. I found this composition to be very moving and deeply emotive. Could this be the anthem for the universe? It gives us a feeling of utter love for all that we are part of and if we could all come together and realise this beauty, then perhaps we could all be a lot happier and more at peace. If there is any justice in the world of music, this has to end up on a space movie somewhere; it’s one of the best songs and melodies I have heard since the great Vangelis and the Albedo 0.369 album.
I must state honestly right here and now, that after listening to Worlds Unknown, I had to stop for a few minutes to compose myself, have a hug and wipe the tears from my eyes, that has to have been one of the most beautiful pieces I have listened to for years, thank you Kerani, you made this writer cry.
Stars (Remix) is our last space port, so as we engage docking thrusters and prepare to end our journey, we can enjoy this last gift from the musician. Whilst the nature of this piece it up beat, it has a certain purpose to it, perhaps one that states, “lets respect our world, let’s stop this childish bickering and realise that we are all one and move onwards together, in love peace and harmony”. This is a fine way to leave the album and with a little Jean Michel Jarre flare thrown in for good measure too.
Stardust has to be the finest release that Kerani has ever produced, its empowering, thought provoking, emotive and simply beautiful at every twist and turn of the album. This is going to appeal to such a wide range of listeners and fans, its symphonic, contains a confident and stylish performance on keyboards, synths and piano, it includes such a vast array of musicianship and support and a top notch quality of production. I have to say this, Stardust is the best album I have heard this year in this genre by a mile and I don’t only recommend you buy this album, I urge you to do so at all costs, it is excellent.
Rating: Excellent
Jazz Meets the Classics by Alan Storeygard
- posted by Candice Michelle on 6/1/2017
Alan Storeygard - Jazz Meets the Classics
Jazz Meets the Classics is musician and composer Alan Storeygard’s fifth recording and first classical album, his previous four releases having primarily featured jazz piano arrangements and original songs. Comprised of nine reinterpreted classical compositions, including several lengthier medley-styled pieces, the album spans over seventy-two minutes and features covers by some of the greatest classical music masters in history such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Alternating between solo piano and symphonic orchestration throughout, Storeyguard is additionally joined on varying compositions by Brain Wolverton on bass, recording engineer Dave Rogers on drums, Danny Fletcher on guitar, and recording engineer Eric Chesher on orchestration and synthesizers.

“Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor” offers a bold, stark opening full of dramatic, sweeping piano accompanied by cymbals and brass instruments. Initially conveying a setting of being in a large auditorium while viewing a dazzling live stage performance, the mood shifts at about the halfway point to that of a more intimate piano-bar setting that incorporates notably jazzier elements. Winding down towards the latter part of the piece with a solo piano jazz riff, the composition signs off with one last exertion of swelling neoclassical symphony. Arranged as a tone poem, “The Moldau Symphony” by Bedrich Smetana and Hector Berloiz opens with delicately twirling piano in the higher registers, which slowly descend into a more reverberating fullness. Conveyed by the expressive sound of grand piano, the piece eventually unfolds into a lovely classical jazz ensemble. The slower-paced classical number, “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony”, is given an interesting spin by being fully rendered into a jazz ensemble framework. Perfectly suited to a couple’s dance, the piece seemingly conjures images of a romantic evening spent dining at a quaint café. The nearly twelve-and-half-minute medley, “Chopin’s Ballade 1 in G Minor, Nocturne 2 in E-Flat, and Waltz 6 in D-Flat”, is perhaps my favorite composition on the album, noted by a subtle waltzing pace that is alternated with a more rubato approach, as solo piano dances up and down the registers with a graceful extravagance. The most curious inclusion on the album is perhaps “The Star-Spangled Banner”, a definitively bombastic yet well-rendered composition that ultimately concludes with Giacomo Puccini’s classically famous “Nessun Dorma”.

Presented in appropriately colorful and detailed gatefold packaging, Jazz Meets the Classics overall succeeds in its daunting effort to harmoniously interweave its prevailing styles of neoclassical and traditional jazz music, and will likely appeal, especially, to fans who enjoy both genres! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Very Good +
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