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Rhythmic Movement by Tania Stavreva
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/21/2018
Demands to be listened to
Tania Stavreva literally bares her musical soul on this her new album entitled Rhythmic Movement, within this 14 part album you will hear passion power and intensity like never before.
The opener, which is also the title track, Rhythmic Movement is described by the artist as the modern adaptation of the Tempest (Caliban’s theme); the tempo here is faster and adds an extra element of power into its overall construction.
Swiftly we now move to a couple of pieces originally composed by Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov, the first being the effervescent Ratchenitza, which is a Bulgarian folk dance and the second a sublime performance of Mouvement Rythmique performed by Stavreva; a wonderfully romantic lilt can be found here that reflects the influence of the French Impressionist age, both technically crafted performances by the artist.
We now find ourselves with three pieces of fascinating piano to listen to Danza Del Viejo Boyero, Danza De La Moza Donosa and Danza Del Gaucho Matrero. These compositions were the brainchild of classical composer Alberto Evaristo Ginastera, who was considered to be one of the most important classical composers of his day, who also used folk melodies to compose from. Here Stavreva is at her fluent best, the focus and intention of her performance on these three pieces is quite breath-taking, on the middle piece, utterly beautiful, and the latter intense powerful and energetic.
We now approach the half way mark of the album, and as we do so we come across the piece Ruvido Ed Ostinato. Here is a composition that really flies, the sheer intense nature of this arrangement is vast and all consuming, it’s fast pace is played in an almost breathless style, and one that will no doubt captivate the fan base of the artist, Tania’s interpretation of this piece is solo piano at its classical best.
There is something of a sea change at this juncture as Stavreva embraces a little Jazzy ethic on the next two compositions, Jazz Concert Etude Prelude and Jazz Concert Etude Toccatina. These would be my favourite pairing from the album and for some reason reminded me of the late but great Keith Emerson in style and performance. The original work came from Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin, whose style was to fuse influences in his compositions, using jazz idioms in formal classical structures. Here Stavreva embraces this moment with a flourishing narrative and performance, one that literally sparkles with an unbridled excitement.
There is always a moment so splendid and exciting, this is the room to which we have walked willingly into now, and above the frame is the title, The Dark Side Of The Sun. Here Stavreva improvises to bring us a short form composition that is dark, moody, and almost sinister and I love it, one that has an eerie emptiness towards the end, allowing the listener to make up their own narrative perhaps.
One of the longest offerings on the release is the artistically clever White Lies for Lomax. This composition was composed by Mason Bates and is a tribute to blues legend Alan Lomax, a man who has inspired such luminaries as the Stones and Muddy Waters in his time. Here Stavreva really manifests something absolutely original in performance, a fusion of improvisation perhaps, but bathed in respect and originality, toward the end you can hear in the background Lomax performing Dollar Maime, while the artist joins in and plays along, this for me is a first, and uniqueness is always good.
On the next track Dilmano, Dilbero (Original Vocal Theme) we hear the artist sing the theme as we are about to enter the long form opus entitled Dilmano, Dilbero (Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Song). It is now we pay reference to the Alexander Vladigerov, son of the aforementioned Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov, who originally wrote this vast work as 9 variations, here the artist connects the dots and plays them all as one piece, this is a true musical narrative to enjoy, it’s like opening your favourite nine chapters of a book and having the soundtrack to go with them. Her performance is flourishing and extremely colourful and at times completely mesmeric, one could easily get lost within this composition.
Will Calhoun now partners Stavreva on drums for an exciting climax entitled Ritmico Y Distorsionado, or rhythmic and distorted, as it has been, this has to be classed as one of the most inventive offerings on the album and simply the perfect way to leave the album, one that sums up the project and concludes the release with a light-hearted fun style.
Rhythmic Movement by Tania Stavreva is a step into the world of classical fusion, it is an album that creates an intense vibe that demands to be listened to, and has a narrative that is utterly addictive, one of the finest performances on piano you’re likely to hear
Rating: Excellent
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
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
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