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Riding the Thermals by Nicholas Gunn
- posted by Candice Michelle on 12/18/2018
Balearic ambient perfection!
Nicholas Gunn is an English musician and composer who has been releasing music for over two decades – having sold millions of albums over the course of his career and landing in the Billboard top ten charts. Initially coming to prominence in the early-to-mid 90’s, his Southwestern-flavored brand of global fusion music made lasting impressions on the genre with notable albums such as The Sacred Fire and The Music of the Grand Canyon – both of which were released on the Real Music label. Gunn later founded Gemini Sun Records, which released both his own works and those by other highly acclaimed artists such as David Arkenstone and Johannes Linstead (the latter with whom Gunn recorded a Latin-inspired album entitled Encanto). Naturally evolving over the years, Gunn’s music eventually steered in a more electronica direction, which ultimately led to his signing with a leading electronic/dance label called Armada Music under his trance music moniker Limelght.

On his latest album entitled Riding the Thermals, Gunn not only thoroughly masters – but propels to new heights – a popular style of ‘chill-out’ music that originated on the Spanish island of Ibiza and given international visibility on long-running compilation series such as Café del Mar. With song titles such as “Saint Lucia” (named for an island in the Caribbean), “Ibiza Sunset” and “Finding You”, the album conveys an overall notion of visiting idyllic destinations often wrapped in a sense of mysterious rendezvous. Comprised of ten richly emotional soundscapes, Riding the Thermals boasts an artistic maturity that is refreshingly youthful in spirit.

Bubbling melodic textures coalesce with sounds of seagulls and crashing waves on the opening title piece “Riding the Thermals”, which gradually comes to a swell amid digital atmospheric layers and an encompassing bassline in the satisfyingly familiar style of ‘euphoric trance’. Further topped-off by smoothly chilled electric guitar, an essential characteristic throughout the album, the mesmerizingly panoramic piece elicits an overall sense of leisure yet purpose, combined with an anticipation of the experience which lies ahead. Alina Renae lends her caressingly soulful vocals to four compositions, with a wistful and hopeful sense of romantic longing often permeating her lyrical melodies. Tracks three and four are perhaps the album’s most pinnacle moment and seemingly come as a pair, one instrumental and the other vocal, with the first of these titled “Be Tulum”. An affectingly spellbinding composition with notable Spanish influences, hauntingly emotive piano notes interplay with achingly desirous electric guitar figures amid a moistened atmosphere of dreamy synth-pads. Equally stunning, “I’ll Be Gone” further expounds on this mood by bringing Alina’s lyrical vocals and additional rhythmic elements into the fold, as her voice perfectly climbs to poignantly expressive heights without becoming overwrought.

An emotively sensual listening experience, Riding the Thermals simply stuns with its gorgeously lush atmospheres conveying images of Ibizan sunsets, Mediterranean shores and starry nights on the pier. Embodying Balearic ambient perfection, Nicholas Gunn’s latest work is easily one of the best albums to emerge from this wing of the genre in ages!
Rating: Excellent
A Winter Blessing - The Gift by Seay
- posted by R J Lannan on 12/12/2018
A Winter Blessing - The Gift
Seay
A Winter Blessing – The Gift

Ethereal vocals and delightful orchestrations combine in a joyful contemporary holiday album for all. Seay, one of the most extraordinary voices in New Age music, presents a 14 track collection of her remastered Christmas songs along with new carols on the album A Winter Blessing - The Gift. Listening to Seay is like listening to an old world story teller, but this one uses exquisite song as her medium of communication. Much more soothing, don’t you think? A Winter Blessing is filled with stories all with layered harmonies and cheerful instrumentation to make everything just a little more bright.

The album opens with a unique take on Carol of the Bells. Who would have known that Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych’s 1914 folksong would become one of the top selling Christmas songs of all time. In this rendition each bell is the singular voice of Seay as her noel goes deep into our hearts.

All Around the World still pops up the chill bumps. Recorded in 2008, the musical wish for peace has a splendor that is rare in modern song. Once you have heard it, you will sing it in your mind all year long. To me there is no better feeling.

Snowfall is a wordless Christmas waltz. You can imagine the snow swirling around you, falling, drifting. Seay’s wafting voice covers the world like a soft, downy blanket of sound. Winter’s Light has a tropical feel, as if we stumbled onto an island full of jubilant singers.

The title is quite misleading for the song In The Bleak Midwinter, for it is anything but bleak. Christina Rosetti’s turn of the century’s Christmas ode is transformed into a beautiful carol. It is a song of praise, of joy at the coming of the Christ Child as the lyrics proclaim, “Angels and Archangels, May have gathered there, Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air”.
Also known as Mary’s Song, Seay vocally celebrates the song penned by Amy Grant called Breath of Heaven. It had a Celtic feel and a sense of nostalgia if you will. As Mother Mary treks across the cold, silent night she worries about her burden. Is she worthy enough? Is she strong enough? This is a divine prayer.

Alluring piano opens the song Whispering Pines. This is another instrumental with breathy vocalise. The wind, not harsh, but none too gentle, makes its own music as it murmurs through the forest. It is the breath of the planet, the changing of a season, and the omen of things that will come to pass.

The final tune, one with a strong piano lead, is called On This Starry Night and it is a dramatic finish to a glorious Christmas experience of sound. On this night stars become the wishes of every troubled heart and every restless spirit. Seay’s music is a crescendo of prayers lifted to the heavens by true believers.

The piano, programming, vocals, and other instrumentation is by Seay. On bass are Jerry Watts Jr. and John Billings. Guitar is by Pat Thomi. There’s no Jingle Bells here or Deck the Halls. What there is here is more than a dozen tracks of music that translates into a grand celebration of the season. Seay’s vocals and music elevate the sentiment to the highest heights. The music invites us to rejoice with her and the world. All Around the World.
Rating: Excellent
A Winter Blessing - The Gift by Seay
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/10/2018
Make your Christmas shine
When you hear that a new Seay album is in the offering, the one thing you can be sure of will be the pristine production quality of the album, and on A Winter Blessing – The Gift, we not only have that, but we have one of the most interesting and brilliantly performed seasonal albums I have heard for simply ages.
From the thoroughly entertaining and stunning arrangement of Carol of the Bells, which in my view was innovative to the max and extremely inventive to start with, to the quite breath-taking All Around the World, perhaps this should be the first ever world anthem, it’s a great song, beautifully sung and one of those pieces that will make you tingle from head to toe.
This album is a collection of winter arrangements that literally sparkles like the ice filled paths on a December afternoon; we have the ever charming and quite peaceful Snowfall, the utterly iridescent Winter’s Light and if we drift back we can marvel at the sublime lyrics of the song Father Christmas Eyes. I listened to this song a few times and got truly emotional over it, perhaps we need to have Father Christmas Eyes 365 days a year instead of one!
This is more than just a holiday album, to be honest it is far superior to that, this is not just a collection of really good seasonal compositions, this release is probably just what the world needs right now, and Seay as an artist has the passion and honesty to make it happen.
A Winter Blessing –The Gift in my view has set a new bench mark for seasonal/Christmas based albums, it has really raised the bar, or should that be the star, to the very top of the tree. This is an album with fourteen fabulous tracks, perfectly produced and performed; as an album goes this one will move you to tears of joy and will raise your hopes to think that perhaps we’re all not that much different from one another after all.
A Winter Blessing –The Gift is one album that you should have in your collection, it will make your Christmas shine and perhaps even inspire you to heights previously not known too; this is thoroughly recommended listening indeed.
Rating: Excellent
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