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Beyond Dreams - Pathways to Deep Relaxation
By Hennie Bekker
Label: Abbeywood Records
Released 7/22/2016
Beyond Dreams - Pathways to Deep Relaxation tracks
1. Self Connect  
2. Floating to Forever  
3. Letting Go  
4. The Calm  
5. Quiescence  
6. Beyond Dreams  
Hennie Bekker-Beyond Dreams
Hennie Bekker has a long and storied career in composing and recording an assortment of instrumental music covering a variety of genres. However, his latest album, Beyond Dreams (subtitled Pathways to Deep Relaxation) sees the highly-accomplished artist taking a new path in his musical voyage. While Bekker has certainly released some relaxing music over the course of his decades' long discography, Beyond Dreams is specifically designed, including from a scientific (based on research) approach, to aid in deep meditation and sleep inducement. The liner notes feature an intro from Dr. Lee Bartel, founding director of the Music and Health Research Collaboratory (University of Toronto). I won't try to put into layman's terms what lies at the core of Beyond Dreams except to say it has to do with syncing the rhythms of the music on the album with the listener's body rhythms. Specifically mentioned is the connection between the brain and music pulses in the 30 to 40 Hz range. Okay, since I dropped out of high school physics, that's where my comments on the science behind this recording will end.

The six tracks on Beyond Dreams, while not separated by gaps (i.e. the album is a continuous play recording), do each have a different sound (in fact, distinctly so), however, it is to Bekker's credit that these transitions are handled so deftly and seamlessly that I believe even someone in a deep meditative state wouldn't be distracted by the subtle changeover between songs. The music itself is, in a word, wonderfully serene. It shares some of the same characteristics of David Wahler's latest work, Becoming Bliss, which is also meant for meditation and deep relaxation. However, neither work is either imitative or derivative of the other.

Throughout Beyond Dreams, Bekker lays down an undercurrents of assorted warm keyboard atmospheres and textures complemented by soothing tones (and in some cases, delicate piano notes) intermixed with pulsing rhythms. These rhythms are not what I would refer to us beats, since percussion is not present (that I could discern), instead the rhythms are expressed through melodic elements (although deep down in the mix, if one uses headphones, you can detect very gentle, even soothing, synth bass notes at times). Still, it would be completely false, from my perspective, to label this chill-out music (although one certainly can use it to relax in a more superficial way and it would be great for that as well).

Besides the smooth transitions between songs, each track goes through its own individual evolution as well, but again, Bekker executes any shifts in motifs so gradually that the music actually seems to have an organic feel to it, as if the slow morphing from one style to another happens so naturally that one has to pay close attention to truly perceive the moment the shift occurs. This is what makes Beyond Dreams so perfect for its intended purpose but it is also its greatest strength as a "mere" album of melodic new age music.

Regardless how one approaches Beyond Dreams, whether as a vehicle to help achieve deep meditative states or merely to unwind after a hectic day, this is an album that will enable you to achieve either end result. While some deep relaxation recordings are good at the first aspect, it is rare to find one that also excels as musical entertainment. I never tired of listening to the album and did just that over ten times before writing this review. I think you will feel the same way.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 3/4/2017
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