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In the Distance by Michael Bohne
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/26/2018
A moving and deeply personal album
Michael Bohne is a new artist to me, but anyone who starts an album off in such an artistic manner as Bohne does with When the Time Comes, the ticking of an old clock and a steady rainfall outside the window, is always going to get a thumbs up from me, it’s the perfect way to draw a wonderful opening narrative to a new album.
In The Distance by Michael Bohne is a new and fresh look into the world of solo piano, one that takes many twists and turns down the alleyways of the genre, when we reach the composition Regarding Stonehenge I am stunned, as I it reminds me so very much of Cristofori’s Dream by the amazing David Lanz.
The energy and effervesce of this next offering is intriguing too and called Solar Flare, there is a serious essence here that almost tells of a warning within music, the tempo is almost breathless in its arrangement, one that is quite addictive to listen to.
This next piece is one of my personal favourites and entitled Never Looking Back. This has such a depth that it is undeniably emotive in its construction; however there is also a gentleness of performance here, which shows its light and darkness, as the arrangement moves ever onward, perhaps giving us hope from lessons learned in life.
The moody refrains of this next piece enthralled me and took me on a voyage of reflection like no other, this is called Descent and there is such sadness on its musical shoulders, there is an emphasis of days that were happier contained within, but as a performance Bohne has manifested one of the most meaningful tracks I have heard in this genre for a long while.
Phantoms Along the Shore takes us over the half way marker and is a sublimely fluent offering that seems to illustrate a really picturesque moment in time, there can be no doubt that Bohne really feels his music and the style of arrangement here is fascinating, pay also close attention to the ending of the track, leaving us in anticipation of more, or have the phantom’s just dissipated into the ether?
The Wolves’ Den is a well-crafted offering, there is a deepness of intensity here that is beautiful to listen to, but once more I am impressed with the artists ability to change from shadow to lightness and back again with such a calming, yet insightful ease, this piece is a fine example of that and also one that manifests a mood of depth and texture at the same time quite cleverly.
The shorter styled composition entitled Disconnected is up next; here we get to hear that fluency mentioned earlier in complete abundance, one that leads us sublimely into the next offering called Taking the Scenic Route. This for me was my favourite off the album, from the very first notes I could picture taking that route, sometimes you find things you never imagined and beauties in abundance may lay just around the corner, as of yet unfound, perhaps this piece could be the soundtrack for this moment of musical exploration.
We are near to completing our voyage and we do so by listening to this next piece called Fading Memories, our penultimate offering. This is a real treasure in the attic arrangement, but even as we do come across those gems from yesteryear, it seems to get harder to picture their energy in the mind. Here Bohne draws a quite loving last look back at the past, minor and major keys manifest a truly memorable offering and after all perhaps music is something we won’t forget.
So we arrive at the docking of our boat along this river of solo piano by artist Michael Bohne and he finishes with his last gift for us to enjoy, called When the Stars Disappeared. This anthem like ending piece has all the hall marks of a future great solo piano composition, the fluent and charming tones from this quite powerful offering are emotive and leaves us, the listener, with a flutter in the heart and a tear in the eye.
In The Distance by Michael Bohne is a moving and deeply personal release, one can feel the healing and cathartic energies that flow from his piano. The David Lanz influence is strong in this offering, you can feel that. Bohne has performed with his musical heart on his sleeve with the release of this album and anyone who adores solo piano, will fall in love with In The Distance and welcome it lovingly into their ever growing collections of very classy music.
Rating: Excellent
Sky Worship by Al Gromer Khan
- posted by R J Lannan on 11/25/2018
Al Gromer Khan's Sky Worship
Al Gromer Khan
Sky Worship
Eyes Up
Sit still. Take a breath. Take another. Now open a door in your mind. Step inside. And close the door. Once inside you will hear the spiritually cleansing music of Al Gromer Khan called Sky Worship.
It is so difficult to leave the physical world behind right now, but the ten World/ambient/ethnic tracks on Sky Worship should be a welcomed companion in the attempt. There are breathy whispers and calmly spoken words here and there courtesy of Ute Gromer. I have reviewed Khan’s music before and he always fascinates me with his unlikely combinations of traditional and contemporary instrumentation. His is a Grand Master of the sitar and his pairings with electronic music on his latest release are harmonious in intriguing ways. It just works. Khan’s music makes for an environment in the mind where sun and sky and openness prevail. When humankind first became cognizant of its surroundings, surely Sky was their first God.
Reso opens the album with ambient ringing tones. It segues into touches of sitar and waves of synth, exhibiting their dualities. There is a flow to Khan’s composition, an endless river of serenity. Ironically, your consciousness is traveling on this stream. Meaning contentedness in Arabic, Naima is a song with an ebb and flow, like wave action on shore or like breathing. A pendulum of the mind perhaps. The mild surge is calming, sedate, and comforting. There is no gravity, no bounds in this mesmerizing tune.
One of my favorites on Sky Worship is called Have You Seen? It is an unanswered question with an open framework of percussion, sitar and synth strings. When I listened to it I thought of a kaleidoscope of colors; blues, greens, and aquas in my mind. Freeform shapes amongst the clouds. As with the other tracks, Khan has composed a fantasy induced world tailored to the individual listener. Another case of music doing its job.
Kali, the Hindu Goddess of many identities, get a devotion on Khan’s tune Hymn in Praise of Goddess Kali. Shyama, her other appellation, is also known as the Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power. She is also dutifully worshipped as Mother of the Universe. The music has an inorganic voice and echoing sitar. Maybe a symbol of east meets west in a modern age. Deo D’Or or Golden God resonates quietly until a strong sitar form takes the lead. Swirls of weightless currents are uplifting, stabilizing energies. Vérité est beauté, French for Truth is Beauty is poignant, maybe even sad, for what is truth and beauty but concepts created by our senses. Some Transcendentalist believe that truth stands for science and beauty for the arts. On the other hand, John Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”. So the music speaks for itself.
The final cut is Sky Clad on Park Crescent. Wave on wave of synth quavers, sitar, and tabla stride along in a warm ending of aural dreams. Khan’s vivid younger years in London get revisited in this fantasy driven reverie. The piece is just over six minutes and it contributes strongly to an ambient mood. It’s another favorite, and it is sad for it to all end. I’m playing it again.
For composer and Grand Master Sitar Player Al Gromer Khan, this eclectic mix is par for the course. I say this as he is known for mixing elements of different genres and having them result in a highly listenable matrix. Sky Worship is a good example. His use of “sky” as an endless musical canvas allows him to take sonic liberties that are uplifting and inspiring. Take a breath.

Rating: Excellent
Small Treasures by Kerani
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/22/2018
Ageless music, created with skill and talent
You can pretty much guarantee yourself a feast of passionate empowering music when a new Kerani album is released, her style is addictive and I personally rate her as one of the foremost female electronic and new age composers of her time; on Small Treasures, she has raised the musical bar up sky high.
This musical sojourn starts with the haunting and quite stunning Temple of Roses. This utilises the extremely delightful vocal talents of singer Chanele McGuinness, and Kerani just builds layer upon layer of synth based harmonies to lift you into a wonderland of musical magic. The Celtic feel is enhanced further with a delicate but delicious percussive beat, creating a perfect opening piece for us to drool over.
Her last album Stardust captured the hearts of the listeners and I think this one is certain to do that and more, just listen to the string development in this almost classical reverie entitled Fields of Hungry. On this piece Kerani wanted to give us a flavour of the culture of Hungry, which is where my next door neighbours come from. I must play them this and see what they say. In my view, the artist has created a soundtrack of a composition here, one that is absolutely glorious; the exciting crescendos only add to the supreme brilliance of the piece.
This next piece has fellow chart musician Ron Korb within its construction and his style on flute only adds a whole new layer of class to this already stunning arrangement called Sakura. The gentle keyboards manifest a soothing reverie and the flute of Korb accompanies the natural beauty of the song; just listen to the simply seamless genius of the strings here, one could almost see the performers playing for us under the cherry blossom filled trees of Japan.
Kerani is one of those artists that you may think how she can get any better, but constantly and with each and every composition she continues to excel and thrill, as much the same can be said about this next piece called Fantasy in White. When I first heard this piano based track I was convinced it was David Lanz playing, the motifs were similar, the minor and major combination and melody, all of which were so lovingly performed, this has to be some of the best work on piano I have heard from the artist.
Now a return to the Celtic lands and an oasis of tone and timbre now opens up for us that could easily take us to the otherworld and beyond, Celtic Mystery is a sublime composition of creative cleverness. Kerani certainly has a wonderful ear for an addictive melody and a passionate ability for manifesting great arrangements, here on this light hearted offering you will find all of that in a piece that is as fluent as an ocean stream in autumn. Ethereal vocalisations are provided by Davinia Van der Zee, while the spoken word gives a return to the album, for vocalist Chanele McGuinness. Listen to the build here and the simply amazing partnership on piano and flute by Kerani and Isaac “les” Muller, utterly stunning.
This is an album of outstanding natural beauty and when you arrive at this next instrumental work of clarity and colour, you will once more be amazed by the simple yet poignant fluency of this piece entitled Garden of Dreams. The strings are once again so scene setting; we can immediately be transported to our own secret garden with this opus. For me this is a mix of Debussy, meets Kevin Kendle and that can’t be a bad combination can it?
The soothing narrative of this next piece called Where the Heart Belongs is now upon us, it is a combination of strings and piano that wend a tale of an aged energy, the melody has an almost timeless feel about its essence; it’s one of those tunes that you may have in your head for years and will never leave.
We now move to Echo of Our Souls, this features Brazilian guitarist Carla Maffioletti, together they bring to our ears something completely transcendent, something utterly awe-inspiring, with strains of Medwyn Goodall and a crescendo worthy of the great Vangelis. Echo of Our Souls is a real stand out piece, a composition that will literally make you tingle from head to toe, perfect build and construction and timed crescendos that raise the emotional level so high, your heart will burst with love whilst listening to this outstanding arrangement, this is what magnificent contemporary instrumental music should be all about.
We are now about to unlock the doorway to the penultimate offering of the album and the gift that awaits us inside is called To the Heavens. This created for me an intensely moving moment of musical emotion. Here lies a track beyond beauty, beyond a simple melody, one feels like this very composition has been created from the deep sense of love and reverence two people can have for each other, that all empowering essence of partnership though struggles and bathing in the ponds of happiness, it is all here in this utterly charming offering.
So sadly we come to the end of the album, but Kerani has one more gift to give us before we must go, and she will now perform for us the last piece called Reflections of the Heart. I must admit I thought I had heard this before and when I checked the notes with the album I was correct, it originally came from her 2011 album Wings of Comfort, although that offering was well over 20 minutes long, one must applaud Kerani for finishing with this piece, it has the perfect energy to allow us to leave the album, with a feeling of total peace, harmonic bliss, and a feeling of being utterly fulfilled in every musical way
Small Treasures is of one of the biggest albums of this year with ease; it is an award winning album waiting to happen, it is a collection of some of the finest new age styled music I have heard for absolutely years. Kerani has proven herself as one of the finest composers of this modern age and albums like Small Treasures should be part of any sensible music collector’s library, this is ageless music, created with such skill and talent, but birthed from a passion of her art, a completely recommended release indeed.
Rating: Excellent
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