Loreena McKennitt – The Book Of Secrets (1997)

FrontCover1Loreena Isabel Irene McKennitt, CM OM (born February 17, 1957) is a Canadian musician, composer, harpist, accordionist, and pianist who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined and clear dramatic soprano vocals. She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide

The Book of Secrets is the sixth studio album by Loreena McKennitt, released in 1997. It reached #17 on the Billboard 200. Its single “The Mummers’ Dance,” remixed by DNA, was released during the winter of 1997–98, and peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #17 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album is certified double-platinum in the United States. It has now sold more than four million copies worldwide.

The DNA remix of “The Mummers’ Dance” was made into a music video.
“Skellig” relates the dying words of a monk from a monastery that existed during the 6th–12th centuries on the island Skellig Michael (Great Skellig), 11.6 km west of Ireland.
“The Highwayman” is an adaptation of the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes.
“Night Ride Across the Caucasus” was featured in the 1998 film Soldier.
The music from “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” was featured in the song Kokli by Ulytau.
“Dante’s Prayer” is a reference to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. (by wikipedia)

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Some artists or albums can hit you so hard on a personal level that you can’t help but fall for them at first listen. Such is my liaison with Loreena McKennitt. Even though the level of my knowledge is nonexistent when it comes to new age/world/celtic music, McKennitt’s voice is such that blends perfectly with the instrumentation of her compositions. She sounds sincere in a manner that travels the listener right into the scene of the tale she narrates. Her music can transport you to the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, Ireland, all over the world. Most of all though, her work is introspective; by listening to her albums, one can view life from a different perspective.

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The Book of Secrets is McKennitt’s sixth release and her most successful album in terms of sales, having reached double platinum status in the US. The nature of music on this release is mostly soothing with only a few faster and lively moments. Nevertheless, the majority of the album consists of mid tempo songs centered around McKennitt’s expressive voice. However, that doesn’t mean that the instrumentation is second rate or cannot stand by itself without the vocals. With string instruments ranging from acoustic guitars to violin, hurdy gurdy and cello to table, drone and bodhran used for percussion, the arrangements are lush and immaculate.

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Another important aspect of the album is the lyrics. Often, Loreena McKennitt does extensive research on the subjects that her albums deal with to the point where she visits places that her music draws influences from. Therefore, those of you who like to read lyrics will definitely feel more engaged while listening to The Book of Secrets. Moreover, a flaw that one might find at albums consisting of mid tempo songs is that they tend to sound a bit samey and linear. For most part, that’s not the case with this album as it contains a variety of melodies coming from different cultures. Therefore, even though the tempo is almost constant throughout The Book of Secrets, one can hear influences from the Middle East or the Mediterranean accompanied by the relevant instruments; an element that helps diversify the songs.

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Overall, regardless of one’s taste, this is an album that people who seek for emotional music should give a chance. It’s a pity that Loreena McKennitt seems to be enjoyed mostly by older audiences because her work can appeal equally to younger folks so give this album a spin and you won’t regret it. (by manosg)

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Personnel:
Anne Bourne (cello on 06.)
Aidan Brennan (guitar on 03.,  mandola 0n 04. + 07.)
Martin Brown (guitar, mandolin, mandola on 05.)
Stuart Bruce (assembled drone on 01., vocal drone on 04.)
Paul Clarvis (snare drum on 05.)
Nigel Eaton (hurdy-gurdy on 02. + 04.)
Steáfán Hannigan (bodhrán on 05.)
Nick Hayley (serang, rebec, lira da braccio on 07.)
Brian Hughes (oud on 02., 04., 07. , guitar on 01., 04., 06., 07.,  irish bouzouki on 04., 05., 07.,  guitar synthesizer on 04., vocal drone on 04.)
Robin Jeffrey (guitar on 06.)
Martin Jenkins (mandocello on 03., 04., 05. + 07.)
Manu Katché (drums on 01., 02., 04. + 07.)
Caroline Lavelle (cello on 02., 05. + 08.)
Rick Lazar (percussion on 01., 02., 04., 05. + 07.)
Joanna Levine (viola da gamba on 03. + 06.)
Hugh Marsh (violin on 02. – 08.)
Loreena McKennitt (vocals, piano on 08., keyboards, harp on 06., kanun on 01.,  accordion on 04. + 05.)
Osama (violin on 04.)
Steve Pigott (keyboards on 03. + 08.)
Donald Quan (tabla on 02., 04., 07., timba, esraj on 01., viola on 02., 04., 05., 06., 08.,  keyboards on 03., 04., vocal drone on 04.)
Hossam Ramzy (percussion on 02., 04., 05. + 07.)
David Rhodes (guitar on 02.)
Danny Thompson (bass)
Bob White (tin whistle on 03., shawm on 04.)
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String Quartet (on 03. + 07.):
Andy Brown (viola)
Chris van Kampen (cello)
Iain King (2nd violin)
Jonathan Rees (1st violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Prologue 4.20
02. The Mummers’ Dance 6.04
03. Skellig 6.07
04. Marco Polo 5.11
05. The Highwayman 10.22
06. Night Ride Across The Caucasus 8.27
07. Dante’s Prayer 7.10

All music written by Loreena McKennitt. All lyrics written by Loreena McKennitt except 05, which was writen by Alfred Noyes)

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Paul Winter Consort – Miho-Journey To The Mountain (2010)

FrontCover1Paul Winter (born August 31, 1939) is an American saxophonist, composer and bandleader. A seven-time Grammy Award-winner, he is recognized as one of the pioneers of the world music genre, and also for his genre of “earth music,” which interweaves the voices of the greater symphony of the wild with instrumental voices from classical, jazz and world music traditions. The music is often improvised, and recorded in natural acoustic spaces, to reflect the qualities and instincts brought into play by the environment. With his various ensembles—the Paul Winter Sextet, the Paul Winter Consort, and the Earth Band—he has recorded more than 40 albums, and performed in 52 countries and six continents. (by wikipedia)

And here´s one of his finet recordings, a musical celebration of I.M. Pei’s Miho Museum in the Shigaraki Mountains of Japan

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In this, the finest album by Paul Winter and friends in many a year (2010 Grammy finalist, thus far, at time of this review), we hear a large variety of sounds and rhythms performed on saxophone, sarangi, koto, bansuri, taiko, bendir and other percussion, English horn, oboe, organ, keyboard, carillon, plus voice and chorus. All-star musicians include Winter, Paul McCandless, Eugene Freisen, Glen Velez, Don Gruisin, Steve Gorn, Yangjin Lamu, Dhruba Ghosh, and Japanese specialists. The rich acoustic resonance of the recording chamber is in the Shigaraki Mountain museum designed by I. M. Pei in the form of a Japanese farmhouse, though the bulk of the collection is actually underground. The variety of musical forms reflect the diverse Asian collections of this famous museum, and although they are not traditional but contemporary and musical fusions, they are instilled with the spirit of the ethnic source.

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Certainly quiet and slow, spiritual and meditative, the frequent changes in timbre and style excite and maintain attention. As Winter has done in the past, samples of animal sounds, e.g., birds and whale, are part of some tracks. Unusual in setting and format, this outstanding and beautiful music will be particularly appreciated by jazz fans of Oregon, new age enthusiasts of Paul Winter, and devotees of world music. As the sublime natural site of the museum inspired the musicians, this recording will delight the listener. (Dr. Debra Jan Bibel)

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And yes, this is my answer to the fucking corona virus !

Recorded by Akira Kato at the Miho Museum (Shiga, Japan) and Dixon Van Winkle in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City) and at Living Music Studios (Litchfield, Connecticut). Additional recording by Bobby Cochran at Laughing Coyote Studio in Redwood Valley, California

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Personnel:
Tim Brumfield (organ on 07., piano on 18.)
Eugene Friesen (cello on 08., 11., 18., 19. + 22.)
Dhruba Ghosh (sarangi on 02., 15., 20.
Steve Gorn (bansuroi on 07., 08., 13., 20. + 22.)
Don Grusin (keboards on 02., 04., 06., 16., 17., 21. + 22.)
Eriko Koide (carillon on 12., 21.)
Yangjin Lamu (vocals on 08.)
Yukiko Matsuyama (koto on 05., 13.
Paul McCandless (english horn on 04., 13. + 17., clarinet on 20., oboe on 22.)
Jordan Rudess (keyboards on 03., 11., 19.)
Cafe (Edson Aparecido da Silva) (percussion on 08.
Arto Tuncboyaciyan (vocals on 03., 11., 13., 16., 20., percussion on 20.
Glen Velez (percussion on 06., 14., bendir on 09.)
Uguisu (vocals on 12.)
Paul Winter (saxophone)
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Shumei Taiko Ensemble (drums on 14.)
Chorus Of Worcester Polytechnic conducted by Wayne Abercrombie (on 19.)
The Shumei Chorus conducted by Hiroko Matsui (on 20.)
The Peach Valley Precision Marching Band (on 20.)
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Asian Elephant, African  Elephant (voice on 14.)
Humpback Whale (voice on 15.)
Western Wind (on 17.)

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Tracklist:

Part I: Many Paths To Paradise:
01. Saxophone (Song Of Miho) (Winter) 3.20
02. Sarangi (Dawn Raga) (Ahir Bairav) (Ghosh) 5.19
03. Arto (Before It’s Too Late) 4.48
04. English Horn (Theme From “On The Steppes of Central Asia”) (Borodin) 4.09
05. Koto (Matsuyama) 1.42
06. Frame Drum (Cedar Grove Dance) (Velez) 2.09
07. Bansuri & Saxophone (Winter/Gorn) 3.53
08. Yangjin (Words Of Wish Fulfillment) (Lamu) 4.48
09. Bendir & Heckelphone (Velez/McCandless) 2.25
10. Saxophone Reprise (Winter) 0.43
11. Arto (Singing To The Mountains) (Tuncboyaciyan) 4.39

Part II: Shangri-la:
12. The Welcome (Song Of Miho): Mitarashi Waterfall  / Carillon (Winter) 0.50
13. Koto Spring (Tuncboyaciyan/McCandless/Gorn/Matsuyama) 5.02

Jakuchu Suite:
14. Elephant Dance (Velez/Winter) 2.55
15. Whale Raga (Gosh/Humpback Whale) 4.25
16. Love Is Not In Your Mind (Tuncboyaciyan) 4.13
17. Twilight (Grusin/McCandless) 2.15
18. Andante (From Sonata #2 In A Minor For Unaccompanied Violin) (Bach) 6.01
19. Remembering (Winter) 4.13
20. Saturday Night In Peach Valley (Tuncboyaciyan) 2.53
21. Song Of Miho (Winer) 0.48
22. Morning Sun (Grusin/Friesen/McCandless/Winte/Gorn) 6.32

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Clem Leek – America (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgClem Leek is a musician, composer and sound artist based in the UK. He creates modern classical ambient music which has been released on several independent labels.

Clem’s works are subtle and dreamlike, using pianos, guitars, ethereal pads, field recordings, and other solo instruments.

There always been something quite personal in the music of Clem Leek. Trained as a pianist from a young age and now a developed into a composer, sound artist, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, he has drawn heavily on his surroundings and life experiences from the very start; consider the misty, overcast reflections of growing up in England on Holly Lane (2010) and the intimate piano & guitar based sketches of Lifenotes (2011) and Rest (2013). The past year has apparently been on one of significant change for Leek and this is reflected in his latest opus and third studio album entitled America.

“America is a reflection of Clem’s personal transition from Europe to the U.S. Each track refers to new experiences, both information and sensory. Moving from the countryside to the city brought about a plethora of new friends, landscapes and routines and this is reflected in the new styles, instruments and techniques that have bled into the album. “

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One thing that has not changed a great deal, however, is Leek’s penchant for concise forms. He is a masterful musical sketch artist who captivates here with a dozen colorful vignettes of an expansive, filmic quality that belies their diminutive length. Leek can express more in two minutes than many artists can in ten as he uses lyrical piano lines and layers of strings, voice, & electronics to convey wide-eyed wonder and the willing embrace of both personal change & new opportunities so well symbolized by Chris Keenan’s striking rural highway scene gracing the album’s cover. This is one musical road trip you won’t want to miss.

There is genuine enthusiasm and empathy in these songs – they acknowledge and move through feelings and moods, without dwelling (as evidenced by shorter song lengths, for one). The count-in on “Progress” is sheer brilliance. (by bjorns)

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Personnel:
Clem Leek (all instruments)

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Tracklist:
01. Change 1.16
02. Challenger 2.55
03. Dorsay 2.00
04. Skyscraping 2.23
05. Streets 1.54
06. Snow Tale #5 1.23
07. New Day 3.02
08. The Breeze 3.35
09. What Happens Next? 2.18
10. City Birds 2.17
11. Progress 3.22
12. Endeavour 2.40

Music composed by Clem Leek

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Rick Wakeman – Country Airs (1992)

FrontCover1.jpgThis is very strange album by Rick Wakeman:

Country Airs is a piano album written by Rick Wakeman and released in 1986 by Coda Records.

The album reached number one in the UK New Age charts. It was followed by two sequels, Sea Airs and Night Airs, released in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

A re-recording with four new compositions was released in 1992, published this time by President Records. Wakeman later revealed on his website that he regretted this version, doing it only because Coda had gone bankrupt, and refused to sell him the rights to the original. (by wikipedia)

Rick Wakeman wrote about this album:

This was a digital re-record and in retrospect I should never have done it. The only reason was that the original company who had Country Airs went bankrupt and they wouldn’t sell me the original back. Digital pianos had just arrived at the time and I thought it would be a good idea to record the album again on one. I can now look back and honestly say it was a huge mistake.

Forget I ever recorded it please!

All the original music for Country Airs and music notes mysteriously had gone missing and so I had to sit with the original recording and try and recall as much as I could exactly what I had done on the original. (taken from the offical Rick Wakeman website)

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Dear Rick … this album is not so bad … no !

Times may have been hard for Rick when this album was recorded but you would never have guessed it from sense of peace and tranquility that comes from these pieces of music. Forget the “New Age” tag that will probably deter a lot of people from buying this – this is superb solo piano music. No flash or bombast here – just Rick and a Grand Piano. The result is charming and peaceful – yet it reamins an involving collection of music unlike the usual insipid,Muzak wallpaper that you normally find in “New Age”. Some of Rick’s undoubted spirituality seems to shine through here too and this really is a record that you will find will refreshing and uplifting. It always makes me feel good! If you have not heard any of Ricks Piano works this is a superb place to start. Give yourself a treat and track this down You will not be disappointed. (Charles Goulding)

Good album. Any doubts. Even very good. Listening to the musician in structure of group, we not always can tell, how much it is good in solo work. Here only one musician and one tool – piano. Good emotions, the magnificent beginning and quieter end. I estimate in 4 stars. I like such albums. If I am tired from prog-metal, I listen to meditative albums of Rick: cycle “Aspirant” and cycle “Airs”. (mypost4spam )

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Personnel:
Rock Wakeman (piano)

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Front + back cover from the original recording from 1986

Tracklist:
01. Lakeland Walks 3.50
02. Wild Moors 4.01
03. Harvest Festival 3.14
04. The Glade 3.02
05. Dandelion Dreams 5.45
06. Ducks And Drakes 4.07
07. Green To Gold 3.29
08. Stepping Stones 5.18
09. Morning Haze 4.07
10. Waterfalls 5.33
11. The Spring 3.49
12. Quite Valleys 6.01
13. Nature Trails 4.11
14. Heather Carpets 3.49

Music composed by Rick Wakeman

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Klaus Schønning – Locrian Arabesque (1987)

FrontCover1A prolific multi-instrumentalist, Klaus Schønning became one of Europe’s most well-known new age artists during the 1980s. Born in Copenhagen in 1954, he began composing music as a child and also played piano. He made the move to blues and rock while a teenager, but also studied musicology at college. Schønning debuted in 1979 with Lydglimt, and soon began broadening the palate of electronic synthesizer music with deft orchestrations and a large array of instruments including harp, zither, dulcimer, bouzouki, glockenspiel, and many guitars. Nasavu, released in 1982, was an early touchstone in the continuing growth of new age music. Schønning recorded often throughout the 1980s, and debuted a four-part series of Symphodysse works in 1989. His music has also appeared on the Hearts of Space collection Cruisers 1.0. (by John Bush)

This is a valuable collection for space music fans, as it contains four pieces from the classic Nasavu, an out-of-print Schonning title that really shined in the area of pop instrumental music.

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The first four pieces are from a different production, and the fifth piece, the epic title track, acts as a bridge between his Kitaro-esque sweeping style and the more rhythmic, guitar-laden end of Schonning’s musical spectrum. The 20-minute middle piece covers it all, with a recurring theme that will likely catch your memory banks in a most lingering manner. Lasting impressions are the key here, collectively created by Schonning on synthesizers, autoharp, kantele, piano and keyboards, and accordion, etc, plus drums and guitars on most tracks, with Schonning’s ear for the overall sound guiding the way. (allmusic)

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Personnel:
Klaus Schønning (accordion, synthesizer, autoharp, guitar, kantele, percussion, piano, tin Whistle, zither)
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Peter Brander (guitar)
Suzanne Menzel (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Cosmix Syrinx 4.56
02. Calliope 5.40
03. Nadir 4.27
04. Celestial Mirage 5.23
05. Locrian Arabesque 20.01
06. Cygnus 6.26
07. Pyxis 5.38
08. Trix 6.26
09. Leda 3.42

Music composed by Klaus Schønning

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Brian Crain – Spring Symphonies (2005)

FrontCover1.jpgBrian Crain was a musically inclined child, but he was never formally educated in music, and yet has still found success as a pianist/composer. He was born in Hollywood, and although offered piano lessons, he preferred honing his baseball skills to practicing. He also built his own home studio while working on audio production for films as a teenager. Crain’s dreams of being a professional ballplayer did not come to fruition, but in the meantime, he had managed to teach himself how to play piano as he picked out his own melodies. He released his first CD, Morning Light, in 1997, and met with enough success to make music his career. Crain has since made more than a dozen albums of his own music. The use of one of his piano pieces, Butterfly Waltz, in a South Korean drama has made him an artist better known in Asia than in his home country. He has a large fan base and toured there several times, as his music is used in more TV commercials and programming. Crain enjoys trying new ideas in his music, such as unusual meters and minimalist concepts used on his albums Piano Opus (2011) and Piano and Light (2009), to complement his flowing, attractive melodies. (by Patsy Morita)

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In 2004, Brian Crain took the opportunity to reflect on his recording portfolio by revisiting his catalog and re-recording with a string quartet. Apparently, this was one small step toward the giant leap that Crain has made here. The great adventure is that his latest recording includes a collaboration with the 52 member Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. This progressive statement comes without the backing of any recording label and yet the results are grand and magnificent.

In a short two-year period, Crain has gone from the synthesized string arrangements of the 2003 Sienna to organic warmth of the quartet arrangements on his retrospective release last year. This time around Spring Symphonies, despite all the risks and investment is not only a heroic but equally bold and successful creative step. Crain not only collaborated with a full orchestra, he also traveled to the Czech Republic which was probably a huge financial risk taking into account that the project comes with no label backing.

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Considering the creative use of an orchestra, the classical influences are obvious and are even reflected in the title of the compositions that are also divided into two symphonies. The intermission comes courtesy of the one stripped down track appropriately entitled “Piano Solo”. The tempo is slow and the mood very somber giving the album its most philosophical and reflective moment. Otherwise, the remainder of the album makes full use of the orchestration made available to Crain who continues to emphasize the melody line that he repeats over and over with additional embellishments from various members of the orchestra. Though Crain maintains his own identity his blending of classical movements along with memorable memories brings to mind the musical comparisons of Tim Janis. The tearful strings of “Andante Affettuoso” are about as powerful as the vapors of an onion to the naked human eye.

Also most memorable is the opening movement “Andante Cantabile” that is arousing and emotive. Countered by Brian’s piano bridge brings the listener to the early realization that Spring Symphonies has something very special to say. Though not quite as complex, it would be daring to compare this album with David Foster’s Symphony Sessions and the equally remarkable Skyline Firedance of David Lanz. Again, keep in mind that these two talented artists created their epics with the backing of major recording labels. Crain still managed to pull this feat off without the same assistance.

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Frankly, all of the movements are for the lack of a better phrase, very moving. But one specific mention should be given to “Allegro Maestoso” that has a stunning piano bridge that returns the listener to a luscious string overture. It is simply wonderful, as is the entire 49 minutes and odd seconds of this ambitious and audacious album.

Brian Crain has shown the ability not only to create and compose but do so on a grand scale whether it comes with major label backing or not. This artist will not be stopped and is starting to secure the word of mouth that is far overdue. However, Spring Symphonies is so superior to anything Crain has done that the only negative aspect is how does he follow up on this tour de force? However, this is a great quandary to be in. (by Michael Debbage)

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Personnel:
Brian Crain (piano)
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Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Petr Vronsky

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Tracklist:

Symphony No. 1:
01. Andante Cantabile 6.17
02. Andantino 4.00
03. Adagio Con Amore 7.05
04. Allegro Maestoso 4.59

05.Piano Solo 4.18

Symphony No. 2:
06. Andante Affettuoso 5.12
07. Adagio Appassionato 5.41
08. Largo Maestoso 6.37
09. Allegretto 5.16

Music composed by Brian Crain

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Eberhard Schoener – Meditation (1973)

FrontCover1.JPGEberhard Schoener (born May 13, 1938, Stuttgart) is a German musician, composer, conductor, and arranger. His activities combine many styles and formats. Originally a classical violinist and conductor of chamber music and opera, he was one of the early adopters and popularizers of the Moog synthesizer in Europe.

In the 1970s he traveled to Indonesia and incorporated musical elements from Asia into his own work. He has collaborated with rock musicians such as Jon Lord, Pete York and The Police.

He has composed film scores, videos, music for television, and an opera to be broadcast via the Internet. He has won numerous awards, including the 1975 Schwabing Art Prize for music, the 1992 Bambi Award for creativity and a lifetime achievement award at the Soundtrack Cologne Festival of Music and Sound in Film and the Media in November, 2014. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s his 3rd solo-album:

Eberhard Schoener had, by 1973, made a couple of albums for Ariola, including the avowedly strange Destruction of Harmony in 1971, a proto-postmodern, irony-laced deconstruction of the classics that took as much of a cue from Stockhausen’s Hymnen, as it did Switched on Bach.

But after “a lengthy trip to Asia” (oh yes! one of those!) the idea for Meditation had come to Schoener, in what must have been a blazing Damascian white-light of revelatory gnostic visionary insight – if the results are anything to go by!

Of course, Schoener was good friends with the mystic, Florian Fricke, and would have, of course, heard the first two Popol Vuh lp’s – Affenstunde and In den Garten Pharoas, perhaps the nearest stylistic signposts we have for this lengthy piece of mantric musical nirvana.

In particular, the heady, ghostly, spectral musings of the title track of “Pharoas…” is close to the darkened electronic musings on offer here. Released in 1973, the LP is made up of two huge, gradually unfolding, electro-drone mantras – Music for Meditation I and Music for Meditation II. The first side begins amidst synthesised white-noise waves crashing on the shore, the underwater vibe remaining, as a bell-tone submarine pulse echoes as it passes by. Gothic cello-like synthesiser warbles intone at ominous intervals. It reminds one a lot of “On the Way” and “Through Pains to Heaven” (from side 2 of Popol Vuh’s Nosferatu soundtrack) as the notes curl and strain around the ever-present electronic EberhardSchoener02pulse. Zeit might be another obvious signpost here. From time to time huge swells of synthesised white noise swirl like fizzing breaking foam around the droning notes. The trance goes on – as the track barely changes for 17 minutes – allowing the listener time to let their mind drift and buffet against the shores of this glistening rare jewel of a track.

Side Two – although ostensibly another 17-minute electronic drone piece – has slightly more to it in terms of sonic components and is definitely the artistic peak of the LP. Here the Eastern flavour is a little more apparent, as resonating synthesiser notes unfurl like sun-drenched spheres of birthing light. Filters are skilfully manned to create a dry, arid solarscape of sound. It sounds like the musical equivalent of sun-blindness or heat exhaustion – but for the listener it’s a blissful, nurturing sound. Here and there gongs are gently struck and cooler, more spectral voices are heard – a distant woman-voiced lunar ululation calling from afar.

It’s an incredibly peaceful and hypnotic 17 minutes – with similarities to other abstracted sides of cosmic awe – including the aforementioned Popol Vuh’s early Liberty/Pilz sides and Nosferatu OST, Stomu Yamashita’s Red Buddha LP and “Mandala” (from Man from the East) and Zeit-era Tangerine Dream. A monolithic, pulsating, droning, glistening,primal slab of Kosmiche! (by aether)

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Personnel:
Eberhard Schoner (synthesizer)

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Tracklist:
01. Meditation – Part 1 / 17.16
02. Meditation – Part 2 / 18.27

Music composed by Eberhard Schoener

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SchoenerYork2019Eberhard Schoener & Pete York in 2019

 

Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy – Immortal Memory (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgImmortal Memory is an album by Dead Can Dance member Lisa Gerrard and Irish classical composer Patrick Cassidy, released in 2004. It was Gerrard’s first studio release since 1998’s Duality with Pieter Bourke.

Gerrard first met Cassidy in 2000 in Los Angeles (where he lives), when she came to work on the Gladiator soundtrack, and they planned to work together one day. When they eventually found a shared two-month break, they joined at Gerrard’s Australian studio for this record.

The W. B. Yeats poem “Sailing to Byzantium” inspired the track of the same name.

The lyrics utilise three ancient languages:

Gaelic Irish) in “The Song of Amergin” poetically deicted as the first song sung by a mortal on Irish soil).
Aramaic in “Maranatha” (meaning “come lord, come teacher”), and “Abwoon” (meaning “our father”, a rendition of the “Lord’s Prayer” in the language of Jesus).
Latin in “Psallit in Aure Dei” (meaning “singing in the ear of God”, a dirge for Patrick Cassidy’s late father). (by wikipedia)

Lisa Gerrard2Since the demise of Dead Can Dance, the Australian band who performed ethereal goth with medieval and eastern influences, Lisa Gerrard’s unique vision and rich contralto voice has graced a variety of soundtracks, most famously Gladiator’s.

Collaborator Patrick Cassidy is a celebrated Irish classical composer. You might think these talents could disappear up an obscure path. But while the scope of Immortal Memory is huge – Gerrard sings in Gaelic, Latin and Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Christ – the music is entirely accessible.

Forget that each song apparently evokes a stage through life, death and rebirth and concentrate on the spine-tingling beauty of the hums, wails and chants.

The Song of Amergin is primal, Gerrard concentrating on the buzzing sound of the Gaelic words. Maranatha is a spiritual mantra that transcends religion; Gerrard takes command of the melancholy melodies in a voice that is dark and dense, then high and fragile. Best of all is Abwoon (Our Father), which takes the Lord’s Prayer out of school assembly and re-creates it as a shimmering poem. (by Betty Clarke)

Immortal Memory is a collaboration between vocalist Lisa Gerrard and Irish composer Patrick Cassidy. Billed as a cycle of life and death and rebirth, Immortal Memory is better Lisa Gerrard + Patrick Cassadydescribed as an orphaned film score. Cassidy’s warm arrangements allow the former Dead Can Dance singer to step out of the dark medieval world that she’s called home for nearly 20 years — though there is much of that world within these castle walls — and focus on the simplicity of love, faith, and loss with a grace that’s bereft of the icy perfection of her previous work. Gerrard, whose voice has aged like the finest oak, displays an almost supernatural mastery of the material. Her effortless contralto wraps itself around the ten Gaelic, Latin, and Aramaic spirituals like an evening prayer, making each stunning entrance the equivalent of audio comfort food. Echoing her collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer on the Academy Award-winning Gladiator — Gerrard and Cassidy framed this work during the recording of the film’s soundtrack — ethereal pieces like the solo showpiece “Elegy” and the Cassidy-penned lament for his late father, “Psallit in Aure Dei,” are powerful statements hatched by two people who understand each other like old friends. The majestic opener, “Song of Amergin,” with its sublime Celtic melody and slow build, is indicative of the pieces to follow, allowing listeners the time to decide whether or not this is a road they wish to travel. Fans of Enya, Dead Can Dance, or snowy, image-laden soundscapes of powerful quietude will have no problem making that choice. (by James Christopher Monger)

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Personnel:
Patrick Cassidy (synthesized instruments)
Lisa Gerrard (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. The Song Of Amergin (Gerrard/Cassidy) 5.30
02. Maranatha (Come Lord) (Gerrard/Cassidy) 6.18
03. Amergin’s Invocation (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 6:19
04. Elegy (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 6:41
05. Sailing to Byzantium (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 5:04
06. Abwoon (Our Father) (Gerrard/Cassidy)– 4:12
07. Immortal Memory (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 4:28
08. Paradise Lost (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 7:03
09. I Asked for Love (Gerrard/Cassidy) – 5:00
10. Psallit in Aure Dei (Cassidy) – 9:01

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Lisa Gerrard1

Various Artists – Oriental Chill Out (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgChill-out (shortened as chill; also typeset as chillout or chill out) is a loosely defined form of popular music characterized by slow tempos and relaxed moods. The definition of “chill-out music” has evolved throughout the decades, and generally refers to anything that might be identified as a modern type of easy listening. Some of the genres associated with “chill” include downtempo, classical, dance, jazz, hip hop, world, pop, lounge, and ambient.

The term was originally conflated with “ambient house” and came from an area called “The White Room” at the Heaven nightclub in London in 1989. By playing ambient mixes from sources such as Brian Eno and Mike Oldfield, the room allowed dancers a place to “chill out” from the faster-paced music of the main dance floor. Ambient house became widely popular over the next decade before it declined due to market saturation. In the early 2000s, DJs in Ibiza’s Café Del Mar began creating ambient house mixes that drew on jazz, classical, Hispanic, and New Age sources. The popularity of chill-out subsequently expanded to dedicated satellite radio channels, outdoor festivals, and thousands of compilation albums. “Chill-out” was also removed from its ambient origins and became its own distinct genre.

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“Chillwave” was an ironic term coined in 2009 for music that could already be described with existing labels such as dream pop. Despite the facetious intent behind the term, chillwave was the subject of serious, analytical articles by mainstream newspapers, and became one of the first genres to acquire an identity online. As on-demand music streaming services grew in the 2010s, a form of downtempo tagged as “lo-fi hip hop” or “chillhop” became popular among YouTube users. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a pretty nice compilation with Chill Out Music from the Orient …

Relax an enjoy tunes like “Bejaria”, “Komal”, “Mantra”, Mountain River” …

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Tracklist:
01. Mahir Malik: Ma’a Wadi (Water Valley) 5.07
02. Sur Sudha & Tars Lootens: Chandrakauns 3.39
03. Fabrice Allman: Bejaria 5.05
04. Èrik & Vlad: Mercury Night 5.35
05. Arjuna Baghavad: Gita 3.54
06. Darjeeling: Komal 5.50
07. Sanjaya: Mantra 3.36
08. Mahir Malik: Bissalama (Have A Safe Journey) 4.24
09. Aquiles Sojo / Bert Joris: Suspended Garden 9.10
10. Time Zone: Mountain River 5:46
11. Mahir Malik: Aswad Qahwa (Black Coffee) 4.14
12. Yellow Sea: A Night In Qingdao 6.03
13. Asian Syndicate: On The Road To Bangalore 6.25
14. Salma Ghazal: Ghoom Charakhana 5.10

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Wind Machine – Voices In The Wind (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgSince its inception in 1986, Wind Machine has excelled at creating guitar-based music that dabbles in styles ranging from blues and bluegrass to jazz, rock, and new-age atmospherics. Core members Steve Mesple, Joe Scott, and Blake Eberhard utilize a vast arsenal of instruments ranging from mandolin, dobro, banjo, and some of their own guitar-hybrid inventions to trombone, harmonica, and fretless bass. (by Linda Kohanov)

Silver Wave was the place in the early ’90s for artists whose music was a little light to be jazz, but a bit too interesting to be new age. After wonderful efforts that year by Peter Kater and Steve Haun, another Colorado band hit the melodic mark in the form of Wind Machine. Voices in the Wind is smooth and delectable if hardly challenging, and the most remarkable thing is that the least impressive aspect of the guitar driven ensemble is the guitar work. More remarkable are the keyboard and bass solos. Acoustic and electric guitarist Steve Mesple is a fine composer, though he tends to play it safe, and his son Taylor’s acoustic work gives the disc atmosphere, while Michael Olson’s fluid basslines provide some moodiness. Rounding out the Mesple family affair is second son Ethan with the unobtrusive percussion. (by Jonathan Widran)

Last week my mother-in-law passed away, today I have to go the funeral … this is the perfect soundtrack for this event.

Wind Machine

Personnel:
Ethan Mesple (percussion)
Steve Mesplé (guitar, vocals)
Taylor Mesple (keyboards, saxophone, vocals)
Michael Olson (bass, vocals)
Joe Scott (guitar, guitjo, vocals)
Larry Thompson (drums)
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Blake Eberhard (bass)
Greg Fisher (vocals)
Franklin Quezada (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Voices In The Wind (T.Mesple/S.Mesplé) 5.59
02. Millwood Junction (S.Mesplé) 4.20
03. River Of Lost Souls (S.Mesplé) 5.30
04. After The Storm (S.Mesplé) 4.43
05. Franklin (S.Mesplé) 5.47
06. Our Salvadoran Brothers (Nuetros Hermanos de el Salvador) (S.Mesplé) 4.06
07. Cottonwood (S.Mesplé) 5.11
08. Sixth Sense (S.Mesplé) 5.10
09. Sunset Crossing (S.Mesplé) 5.32
10. Highway To The Sun (S.Mesplé) 4.39
11. Postscript (S.Mesplé) 4.52
12.  Soldiers Of Destiny (S.Mesplé) 4.42

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