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Sempre: A New Dimension by Ian Maksin
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/6/2019
Every composition is a story unto its own
The Cello is a remarkable instrument, it is a creator of reflective musical images that can sometimes break the heart, and at other times bring comfort and delight to the soul, it seems Ian Maksin feels somewhat similar to myself, as his love of the Cello shines like a beacon in the night on this his latest release entitled, Sempre: A New Dimension.
Sempre I believe means loosely, always, forever, and this opening piece called just that gives us a charming opening to the album, one that lays the melody open for us all to enjoy, and makes the music truly accessible to all, in a very stylish opening composition.
At just five years old the artist was entranced by the Cello, his deft skills on this next offering is a sample of that cultured craft on the composition called Blues Au Jardin Du Luxembourg. This fine example of a crossover arrangement is not only superbly played; it is done so with such a high level of skill and fluency to manifest something that is so incredibly transfixing.
On Vancouver Rain we have a track that has a real energy of reflection within its overall construction, there is something about this opus that is wonderfully addictive, but then the Cello is a masterful instrument, a tool of musical emotion and charm, and on this piece you have both, a combination of a slight Jazz ethic, blues and a little classical all meet to manifest a thoroughly compelling piece.
The short form piece Summer Garden could have taken us back in time to years gone by, to an era where the summers were as long as ladies dresses, this beautifully little danceable number will Waltz its way into your heart.
Respiro was one of my favourites off the album, its depth and intensity drew me into the composition with ease, it is without doubt the most fluent arrangement off the release. Strange thing is I feel so drawn to this music, and have now listened to it three times in a row already, the beauty of the arrangement is utterly outstanding, and now if you pardon me, I will enjoy its refrains again and just, breathe!
Lacrimae Novae is our next offering and another moving moment of musical interpretation from Maksim. At slightly under 6 minutes we have a piece that held its energies quite beautifully and manifested something quite ambient for me. This would be another favourite of mine, the depth in both performance and arrangement was sublime and to be honest, I could have listened to this on repeat for hours and would have still loved every second of it, a track as deeply mournful as the tears of a young child.
A shift in energy occurs as we reach the track entitled Per Me Per Te, a familiar tune indeed, but one played by the artist with a true uniqueness of style and performance. The melody seems to drift in and out with each note played, as if we stand on a musical shore and the tide of time and tone moves back and forth before us.
If we were silent within silence, perhaps we could detect the universal love we can all tap into, this is made much easier when listening to the following track entitled Sunset On The Cascade. A redolent moment, a halcyon segment of musical life;I can picture myself with my wife, just outside of the harbour on a boat, and as the engine stills, this music plays in the background across the backdrop of the Mediterranean ocean, as a glorious orange sun sets beneath salmon pink skies.
We have finally reached the last composition on the album; it is called Brand New Page. A fine sense of movement can be found here with the light but pertinent percussion that is contained within, this lively and vibrant song is simply the perfect way to leave an album of such classy intent.
Sempre: A New Dimension is an album that will hook it’s listeners with the intent of entertaining and engaging its audience in something fresh new and exciting. Ian Maksin has brought something very different to this musical table of ours, and I think you will love it, his unique performance style is bathed with such intelligence and class that each and every composition is a story unto its own, a thoroughly thoughtful and fascinating release, one that offers it’s listeners a totally different musical perspective.
Rating: Excellent
Healing Hands by Cathy Oakes
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/6/2019
Creative and beautiful, bringing peace and calm to
There can be no harder journey to travel than one through Cancer, and to have the courage to create an album based on that journey is not only remarkable, it is inspirational and beautiful, the essence of gratitude and the love of life shines bright within Cathy Oakes, and this her latest offering is breath taking for many reasons.
The opener The Threshold speaks volumes for the alley way and corridors that a person walks down on their way to this portal of physical and psychological change, and Oakes melody is so heartfelt and poignant, one can actually feel the letting go of control as we literally have non at this point, yet still this performance and it’s resulting sound, has a colourful element of beauty about its nature that is so deeply felt.
Healing Hands is a mournful repose that has highlights of empowering tones built perfectly within its structures, ones that contain both hope and respect and played with such calmness of spirt, however Oakes doesn’t shy away from the The Darkest Hour, her track entitled just that, is a walk through those moments when you wake up in the early hours, and crazy thoughts of dark proportions enter your mind, her composition here explores her belief system, and how it brings comfort to her at these times.
A Fragile Grasp continues that theme, but illustrates the sheer lack of control over life that we all actually have, but even more so when you are going through a journey like this, her performance on this piece is emotional and thought provoking, but played with such a harmonious attitude, that may give to us the only control we may have at this point, to let go of everything.
The twists and turns of a journey through extreme illness are all beautifully portrayed here by Cathy Oakes on this 12 track offering, and one must commend the artist for this courageous musical narrative, and as a constant reminder to us all, she finishes this deeply moving album off with a track called Blessed Journey, something perhaps that we may all take for granted, it is enough surely, to celebrate each breath that we take on this wonderful journey of human experience.
Healing Hands is an album that is as creative and beautiful, as it is therapeutic and cathartic for the artist, it is very likely that many will not only find a good deal of peace and calm from listening to and reading about this album, they may also find a deep well of inspiration and courage from it too, now if on those conditions only, surely that’s enough to thoroughly recommend this album completely.
Rating: Excellent
Pastoral Memory by Dan Palladino
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/6/2019
The best ambient album I have heard for a decade
It’s always a pleasure for me to review an ambient music release, I find this genre can be so creative, so image filled and calming, and it is this realm we go to now with artist Dan Palladino, as we take a look at the dimension of music now known to us as Pastoral Memory.
The blissful beginning of a distant storm rattling across nature’s landscapes and soft sounds of water greet our ears, in one of the most soothing musical narratives in the ambient genre for years. Rising, the opening piece is both transformative and transcendent, what a master piece of a composition it is indeed, its multi-instrumental nature adds to its collective musical weight, and I for one could get lost within its ambient constructs for eons.
Thankful is a track that is so smooth and deliberately timeless, it is simply one of those ambient moments you would crave for when seeking out music of this elk. The light guitar, the gentle pads and hovering synths all go to bring us a spacious, but also warming music narrative for us to enjoy.
As we reach Joyful Cleansing we find a composition that creates an atmospheric environment all of its own. The small bass segment here is delicious; the delicacy of musicianship needs to also be applauded, and the purposeful and professional arrangement that is birthed from this particular offering is literally perfection in utter ambience.
For me Aftermath was a track of a different energy signature, there was a hovering sense of anticipation in the keyboards, but the backdrop of natural sounds and bird song was so deeply charming. The organ sound nearly brought a Pink Floyd lyric from my mind’s eye, “Remember when we were young, we shone like the sun”! But if there was any doubt that this must be the best ambient album released in 2019, then this piece will explain why it should be up there with the best, a moment of genius can be found here, and one that also reminds me a little of early David Wright.
Our penultimate offering is entitled Yesterday’s Dream; there is indeed a floating sense of reality within the construction of this composition that is incredibly artistic, a gentle flowing stream trickles it’s ambience through the pathways of this fine offering, and a light and fantasy filled musical arrangement takes you on a journey, in a sonic voyage of peace and tranquillity.
The last portal to this dimension of ambient brilliance is called Counting Stars, the soothing narrative of the last track continues the theme of the previous piece here as well, and emphasises a sequence of images that appear pleasantly within the mind’s eye. This is a beautiful and peaceful way to leave the album, and one that can only be matched by having this release of constant repeat.
Pastoral Memory by Dan Palladino in my view is the best ambient album I have heard for a decade, it keeps its balance and its gentle but floating energies never lose cohesion. Palladino, in gifting the world this work of masterful proportions, has given us an album that we can drift away to indeed, but also a timeless collection of opuses that we will willingly return to at any time.
Rating: Excellent
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