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Music Uniquely Yours Vol. 1 by Renascence
- posted by Candice Michelle on 3/29/2017
Renascence - Music Uniquely Yours Vol. 1
Renascence is the recording alias of Tony Clark, a Texas-based multi-instrumentalist with over thirty years of experience in musical composition. On his first volume of Music Uniquely Yours, Tony explores electronic musical terrain of the ambient-chill variety, often infusing his passages with both Balearic and new age overtones. Comprised of nine compositions spanning thirty-seven minutes, the first seven tracks on the album include women’s names in their titles and draw upon themes devoted to relaxation.

An atmospheric haze descends upon the opening track, “Florence’s Fields”, which is supported by a bass-laden, downtempo groove comprised of fluttering clicks and taps. Soulful female vocals enter the piece at approximately the midway point, before slipping into a subtle pause of classical guitar evocative of the Mediterranean. “Alison’s Quite Place” follows next with ethereal vocal washes, as intricately minimal textures weave in and out of buzzing tones and gurgling effects throughout. Employing an ambient free-form style that characterizes much of the album, environmental nature sounds highlighting singing birds are additionally brought into the fold. The next piece, “Seraya’s Dream”, exudes a dreamily nocturnal essence, as velvety tonal fluctuations encompass metallically hollow timbres. “Kelly’s Rest” follows with crashing waves, suspended strings and the toll of a singing bowl. Evoking the captivating beauty of a sun rising upon the ocean’s horizon at dawn, sparse piano notes fall like droplets upon a swooshing backdrop augmented by subtle chord progressions. “NeuroLounge” is one of two bonus tracks on the album, as well as one of my favorite compositions herein. Imbued with a sensual chill-out vibe, it’s sultry dance groove underscores chic effects with processed vocal snippets, effectively recalling a late-night lounge or an after-hours venue. Concluding the album is the subsequent bonus track, “Akkadian”, which aptly winds things down again via flowing rainsticks, organic textures and breathy vocal intonations.

Deeply immersive and uninhibited, Music Uniquely Yours Vol. 1 simultaneously allows the listener to remain firmly grounded with their head drifting in the clouds. Inspired by the leisurely, recreational side of life, the album paints beautifully vivid and tranquil images of seaside sunsets and quaint cafés along the coast. Refreshingly carefree and calming to the senses, I highly look forward to a subsequent volume of music that’s uniquely yours – and mine! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Excellent
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 by Steven Vitali
- posted by Candice Michelle on 3/24/2017
Steven Vitali - Greatest Hits Vol. 2
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is a collection of sixteen pieces culled from a three-decade span of works by California-based composer/musician Steven Vitali. His music first debuted on Canadian airwaves in 1988 with a song called “Eternity”, which was eventually followed up with his debut album, Come Dream With Me, released in 1989. Totaling sixty-seven minutes in length, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 weaves new age, neoclassical and contemporary instrumental styles of music that variably range from boldly cinematic to quietly contemplative, as environmental nature sounds along with touches of world music are additionally sprinkled throughout.

Introducing the album is a piece from Vitali’s 2006 release, Quiet Moments, titled “Tranquil Thoughts”, which opens with breezy intonations of Japanese flute amidst the sound of ocean waves gently rolling in. A soothing piano melody ensues, as Vitali’s fingertips climb softly up and down the keys, effectively invoking an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Following next is “Andrew’s Song”, taken from the album, Invitation to Dream. Boasting a sweeping and tender arrangement, the piece initially begins with a solo keyboard melody, as more symphonic and rhythmic elements are brought into the fold. Track numbers four and five include a pair of notable pieces also culled from Quiet Moments. The first of these, “The Winds of Time”, begins with the churning of the ocean’s tides, as an introductory harp recalls that of a stage curtain being pulled back on a dance performance or play. Melodic piano and strings provide gentle accompaniment throughout, as the distant call of seagulls seemingly drift in and out of rising mists from the sea. Descending wind gusts accompanied by the sounds of thunder and rainstorm quietly introduce “Heaven’s Harp”, eventually giving way to a more classically-infused melody of delicate harp and strings. The album seemingly reaches its zenith midway through with the eighth track, “A Sign of the Dragon”, a particularly lovely composition taken from the 2013 release, Language of the Soul. Proceeding with a flash of tinkling chimes, images are recalled of the mythical Far East. Imbued with a somewhat formidable yet whimsically magical essence, added cinematic and rhythmic elements lend a Yin-Yang balance of both delicate beauty and striking power. It’s easily my favorite piece on the album, even bearing some reminiscence to the fantasy-themed music of Medwyn Goodall. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is another highlight likewise taken from Language of the Soul, as well as perhaps the album’s most emotive composition. Illuminated by sparkling key strokes throughout, a symphonic arrangement of string and brass instruments are laid over of a steady, moderately-paced rhythm. Eventually pausing for a bridge of subtle ethnic chant, this wonderful number ultimately culminates with an essence of existential wonder and forging ahead in life. Concluding the album with a lively mood of festivity is another piece lifted from Quiet Moments, titled “On the Mountain”. Here, cinematic strings and choral textures are guided by a waltzing rhythm that leads right though the entrance of a grand palace of celebration.

Lightly touching upon influential works of composers such as Hans Zimmer, Vangelis and Yanni, this rewarding collection of songs range from sweepingly cinematic to quietly contemplative. Likewise characterized by romantic overtones of classical elegance throughout its course, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 offers a definitive, well-rounded introduction to the music of Steven Vitali, no less providing new listeners with an excellent place to start! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Very Good +
Reflected In A Flowing Stream by Kathryn Kaye
- posted by Candice Michelle on 3/24/2017
Kathryn Kaye - Reflected In A Flowing Stream
Reflected in a Flowing Stream is the sixth full-length album from notably accomplished and award-winning pianist-composer, Kathryn Kaye. Co-produced by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and herself, Kathryn’s latest release was recorded at Will’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, as well as mixed and mastered by Tom. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning fifty-five minutes, a talented team of guest musicians are variably featured throughout, of which includes Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tony Levin on bass, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Tom Eaton on accordion, and Will Ackerman on guitar. As always, the most visually suited cover artwork was chosen to represent her album, with this one perfectly capturing a gentle repose, observant of nature and the seasonal cycles of the year.

“A Lark in the Last Night of Day” offers a gently spirited solo piano introduction with notable classical touches, delicately alternating between drifty notes and bubbling, flowing key strokes. Capturing a sense of nostalgia seemingly reflective upon the past, an allusion to the end of a season is conveyed, as further indicated by the title of the next piece, “As Seasons Change”. Here, a solemn touch of cello is accompanied by bass, preceding a lovely piano melody that becomes more formidable, yet remains ever graceful, before softly winding down again. The next composition, “Procession of Moon and Stars”, is likewise aptly-named, as it moves along in a procession-like manner with a marching stanza in the lower registers. Alternating between major and minor chord shifts throughout its main melodic riff, this exquisite number is further enhanced by accordion and cello, as the caressing sound of flugelhorn lends an interval of dreaminess. Bookended by sparse piano notes, “The Stillness Before Dawn” ensues, while a more clearly defined melody exchanges subtle gestures with English horn nestled in-between. Noticeably brightening up the mood is “No Reason Not to Dance”, an optimistically lively, moderately-paced ensemble piece joined by accordion, bass, percussion and violin. I’m especially fond of the closing piece, “Arctic Night”, which is likewise accompanied by cello and bass. As if having saved the best for last, this mysterious number beautifully paints a nocturnal landscape, while brooding minor chords softly cast a shadow upon cascading influxes of improvisational piano throughout.

Reflected in a Flowing Stream gently nudges the listener to take a pause for quiet reflection. It never becomes bombastic or overly imposing in nature, but rather feels intimately subdued. Executed with utmost elegance and an expertly refined restraint, Kathryn’s prepossessing compositions feel innately unhurried and mindful of every detail within the present moment. Her compositional style, along with the moods she creates, often bear reminiscence to the works of Chad Lawson, as well as those of early David Lanz, such as his Narada-released album, Nightfall. Existing fans of Kathryn’s work will note much to praise about this album, while newcomers will find a perfect place to start, especially, those who enjoy classically-infused, contemplative new age piano music!
Rating: Excellent
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