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Eirlandia by Jeff Johnson
- posted by Gena on 6/20/2018
Exceptional Contempo Celtic CD Johnson & Dunning

If you like Contemporary Celtic music, you probably have heard Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning previously because they have been making acclaimed Celtic recordings together for more than 30 years over the course of about 18 albums. Their new one is EIRLANDIA, full of beautiful melodies made by wood flutes (Dunning), keyboards (Johnson) and special guests on violin, wordless vocalizations, bass, guitars and Ebow guitar. The music was inspired by the new Celtic fantasy novel by best-selling author Stephen R. Lawhead, “In The Region of the Summer Stars - Book 1 of the Eirlandia Series.” Johnson & Dunning have worked with Lawhead many times in the past to create veritable soundtracks-for-the-novels. The fiction inspires this Celtic duo to make visual, cinematic sounds. This is highly-accessible, instantly-likeable music not to be missed.
Rating: Excellent
Alive Inside the Tank by Mysteries of the Night
- posted by Lillian on 6/20/2018
Alive Inside The Tank Follows Paul Horn Tradition
Remember flutist Paul Horn, one of the godfathers of new age music, who did a famous series of albums recorded live INSIDE the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid and various cathedrals around the world? Now there is a new album, ALIVE INSIDE THE TANK by the group Mysteries of the Night, that follows in that same grand tradition of soaring, ethereal, ambient flute music recorded inside an unusual space where the echoes, reverberation and resonance are stunning. In this case the place was an abandoned steel water-tank, sixty-feet tall and serving as the ultimate echo chamber. You MUST experience this outstanding recording (that also includes percussion and wordless vocalizations). This is simply amazing, transcendent, extraordinary music.
Rating: Excellent
Yesterday Passing by Jim Ottaway
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/19/2018
Moments of contemplative bliss
I must admit I have been in a reflective mood lately, perhaps it’s my age, I have got to that point of my life when I realise that I am now the oldest member of the family, and I have many memories to look back over, times good, sad, happy and not so good, life really I guess, but reflection is also a part of healing and in a way that’s the voyage we are undertaking today.
Jim Ottaway is well known for his excellence in the electronic music field and here the artist takes a journey through his own memories and allows us to travel with him along the way. We start with a very emotional beginning indeed, one called Distant Friend. This is so very deep and poignant that its performance is both meaningful and a little melancholy at times. The symphonic electronic nature of this composition though, is both grand and very moving to listen to.
In my past my father had a fondness for electronic music as well, and loved the styles of both Vangelis and Jean Michael Jarre, on Lightning Strikes Twice, we have a little of that past energy as well. The energy of this piece is lighter and flows with the essence of an early spring river, the piece seems to simply lift the spirits and remind one of a day when things didn’t seem so complicated.
A Moment In Time (A Song For Joseph) is up next, here you will find a composition that has a somewhat delicate layer of sensitivity manifested into its construction. Again Ottaway brings such a sense of emotion into the offering, it is quite beautiful to behold. The charming nature of this piece is one that for me has a lush sense of warmth; one can almost hear the keyboards singing the melody throughout the ages.
As we moved forever onward through these passages of time and tone, we come across my favourite from the album and one that took me back to the great days of Vangelis himself, it’s called Back In Time, and I went with it, right back to a glorious album of its day called Albedo 0.39, one that holds special memories for me. I was so impressed with the synth and keyboard work on this piece that I featured it on one of my shows on OWMR, and more than likely will do so again.
Time holds no prisoners and keeps marching onward, allowing us to be the constant participant of our musings, and within this next piece called The Jewel, we find reflection personified within a sublime performance. The light drums pads serve as a constant narrator for a composition of great quality and colour. The keyboards here are filled with such a beautiful artistic flair, that when added to the light symphonic nature of the piece, it creates a dimension of memory filled music all of its own.
That oh so glorious moment is here, it is the title track, Yesterday Passing, the headline composition that shines like a beacon of light across the whole of the project. Ottaway in manifesting this particular piece, has in fact created an anthem of sorts, one with a melody that will be constant in the mind during the day. This is one of those pieces that you will find yourself either humming or whistling, without even realising why. There is a very gentle but certain build within the offering too, one that makes it extremely appealing to the musical senses.
At the half way marker we come across a really powerful composition called New Suns Are Rising. Ottaway finds himself on more familiar territory here with that defined EM feel and lush production. This is one very classy offering, and at times reminds me of UK EM legend David Wright with its energies, construction and performance.
The Day Our World Changed is an incredible powerful title and one that we will have all sampled at some stage in our lives. This gentle and very smooth performance on keyboards manifests a piece that recognises a moment in time, and that fixed point now has its soundtrack with this offering. The light percussive connection here adds a clever layer of sound to an already brilliant opus of memory.
As we move deeper into the release we come across a track that says it all in its title, it is called Captured Memories (Doug’s Song). For some reason this reminds me of time spent with a friend of mine who is no longer here on this world, but the fun we had while he was, still floats past from time to time in my mind. The energy of this piece and its happiness, contains certain similar memories as well, I feel that here we have a piece that was really lovingly created by the artist, from a memory so powerfully poignant.
The more sombre composition entitled What Darkness Hides is now upon us, that same Jarre/Vangelis sound is still there, but the feeling here is deeper and more pronounced, and the keyboards of Ottaway almost seem to open up an attic of reflections that have not seen the light of day for ages. The performance from Ottaway here is delightful; there is a wonderful fluency about his performance that drifts along on the very horizon of time itself.
Simplicity is the header of our next composition and one can see why it has been called so. The keyboards and the performance here create something so simple and easy on the ears and once more the artist has cleverly manifested another melody that will hook you in and have you whistling all day long. One could also perhaps say that there may be a slight Celtic motif here too.
We have come a long way through this realm with Jim Ottaway and now something quite charming opens up before us called Angel’s Song. There is a lightness here that when added to the overall crafted performance on synths and keyboards, manifests something that exudes hope and an easy layer of happiness for us all to enjoy.
So we have arrived at the penultimate offering of the album, well technically so, as following this there is a bonus track. So, let’s have some Fun Times. With a real 80’s feel we have a track here packed with a real party feel to it. At times this reminds me a little of a mixture and a rather unusual one, of Jarre and Level 42, perhaps the synth pop with a little light jazzy funk feel brings me to that conclusion, whatever the case, one cannot help but love this very different, but very addictive composition of Ottaway’s.
Jim Ottaway has also provided us with a bonus track called Another Christmas Eve. I mean how do you have an album of many memories, without a musical reflective thought on Christmas, well you don’t, and here it is, one of those moments when perhaps all was as it should be and that warmth of love could be shared and offered to all in attendance, a quite beautiful way to end the album too.
Yesterday Passing will no doubt surprise many Ottaway fans, his departure from electronic ambience and EM power and intention, has given his fans and the listeners something personal to now place in their collections. Ottaway has worn his heart on his musical sleeve with this cathartic journey and has gracefully shone a truly radiant light over a compilation of reflective compositions whilst doing so.
Yesterday Passing will take you hand in hand down memory lane and allow you, with such a reverential love and attention, to be able enjoy each moment of musical contemplative bliss and leave you smiling in a meditative expression of reflective thought, once the journey has ended.
Rating: Excellent
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