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Hidden Flowers by Masako
- posted by Artisan Music Reviews on 7/21/2020
Hidden Flowers
Hidden Flowers

When I was a small child I used to go on walks with my mother and we would admire the flowers. She told me that flowers are “poor man’s jewels”. If this be so, then pianist and composer Masako’s latest album Hidden Flowers is an abundance of musical wealth. This 12 track album is blooming with contemporary piano music, some solo and others light, accompanied instrumentals. All are guaranteed to delight the senses. Masako started playing piano at age four, and composing a year later. An award winning pianist, Masako renders a velvet touch on the keys and in this case, her work is augmented by producer Will Ackermann and Master Engineer Tom Eaton. Joining her on the album are some talented musicians from Imaginary Road Studios.
When you exit the doors at Harajuku Station in the Shibuya District outside of Tokyo, the world opens before you in vibrant colors that dazzle the eyes and exciting sounds that defy description. Masako’s opening solo piano tune, Harajuku Memoir is an engaging song of treasured memories created in colorful tones and multiple moods; some sentimental, others as precious as diamonds. All are unforgettable.
There is something warmly nostalgic about Masako’s tune Age of Flowers. It is the soft fanfare on the first arrival of Lily of the Valley in that shady spot in the side yard. It is a quiet melody of long, dusty rows of nodding sunflowers under an azure summer sky. It is the sonic perfume of honeysuckle that grows wild and hangs on the fence like a leafy curtain. Premik Russell Tubb’s wind synth is just a buzzing bee while Eugene Friesen’s cello lends breezy notes to the scene.
Masako’s solo piano tune Remember the Rainy Day is melancholy, but it a good way. It’s the memories. The day you can’t forget where the weather person called for a light misty day, but the clouds opened up and you both got so wet. Still holding hands, you laughed all the way to the car. The positive power of Masako’s melody changes the calamity into a love story that was made in heaven.
Observing M31 became a favorite right away. Mixing Jeff Hayes thoughtful percussion, Tubb’s friendly horn, and Noah Wilding’s transparent background vocal, Masako’s piano voices an effortless, lively tribute to star gazing at its best. The Andromeda Galaxy never looked so good on that night. Sounds good, too.
Another of my favorites on Hidden Flowers is called Forgiving. Though bitterness and resentment may be carried about like a bag of rocks on your back, the grace of forgiving is like dropping that burden down a bottomless well. The tune is just Masako’s piano and the delicate voice of Wilding as they combine to make the act light as well as reverent. A beautiful tune.
Cello and piano blend seamlessly on the poetically balanced tune Suddenly Cherry Blossoms. You wake in the morning of a late spring day and there they are. The pink/white display of bud and petal, leaf and twig that is a feast for the eyes. Masako’s music touches the senses with sculptural notes of freshness and softness just like the annual spectacle of blushing blooming trees.
I’ve never been to New York City, but I now think that Central Park sounds like this. In the final tune, Central Park Retreat the meandering music puts me in mind of wide pathways, towering oak trees, and people in the landscape of everyday living. The music is the background to a brisk walk, but not without stopping to …smell the roses.
I found these dozen delightful tracks of instrumental music to be pleasing in every way. They are light, fluid, and fanciful. Masako creates a garden for the mind where thorns are banished and gentleness, warmth, and a plethora of daydreams greet you at every turn. Highly listenable all.
- R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews
Rating: Excellent
Around the Sun by Kirsten Agresta Copely
- posted by Dick Metcalf on 7/6/2020
Kirsten Agrest Copely - Around the Sun
Exquisitely soulful sensual harp Kirsten Agresta Copely – AROUND THE SUN: You will find yourself totally enchanted by Kirsten’s exquisitely soulful and sensual harp work on her recent January, 2020 album… to get an “up-close and personal” feel for her work, first watch this LIVE performance of “Persephone Rising” at her release party for the CD…

…since you’re visiting, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Kirsten’s YouTube channel, where you will find many more performances from this (and other) albums.

All of the content on the album is original composition, and as you listen to wonderful songs like the 3:49 “Wind Made Moan“, you’ll find yourself relaxing more than usual… Kirsten’s pacing on this piece is pure perfection, and I predict this one will be getting LOTS of airplay on (all kinds of) stations ’round the globe!

It’s quite amazing to be able to share the visions Kirsten creates with her harp… I expect memories of soft summer days will emerge as you listen to the simple elegance on “The Silver Swan“… each and every note leads you in a new direction; you’ll find yourself listening to this one over and over again, I’ve no doubt.

Kirsten’s husband Marc Copely helped her to realize these sonic treasures with his production, engineering and mixing mastery and songs like the opener, “Daybreak“, clearly display their talents… if any song should be considered for an award – this is IT!

Of the nine compositions on the album, I found the closer, “Winter’s Bone“, to be my choice for personal favorite… the overtones and angelic voices flowing in, ’round and through Kirsten’s harp playing create their own kind of magic.

I give Kirsten a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with a perfect “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 5.00… which means, of course, that it also gets my “PICK” for “best solo harp” album. Get more information on Kirsten’s website. Rotcod Zzaj

Celtic Fairy Dream by 2002
- posted by BT Fasmer on 5/25/2020
New Age Music Guide
“Celtic Fairy Dream” by 2002, the follow-up to the group’s highly successful “Celtic Fairy Lullaby” (2016), couldn‘t have been released at a better time. Taking a break from negative news has never felt better. Indeed, 2002 has always been one of the best New Age music bands, but today it is more apparent than ever that Randy and Pamela Copus’ daughter Sarah lifts the band to incredible new heights. Take my word for it: Even Enya would be amazed by “Celtic Fairy Dream”. It has musical magic dust sprinkled all over.

2002 debuted in 1992 with the album “Wings”. Since then they have had 12 albums on the Billboard Charts, encompassing a wide range of genres and styles. “River of Stars” (2000) spent 74 weeks on the Billboard New Age chart. With the release of “Trail of Dreams” (2014) it became clear that a new band member would offer something radically new. In my review I wrote; “Sarah Copus’ vocal is great, and I’m sure it will improve even further in the years to come. Already at age 10, she has just the right expression for New Age music, and the voice layering is done with skill and love.” “Celtic Fairy Lullaby” (2016) and “A World Away” (2018) showed that I was right; A new era in the history of 2002 had begun.

Castle of Dromore The album opener is called “Castle of Dromore” – and what a magnificent song it is! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself instantly looking for the replay button; Sarah’s vocal is amazing, reminding of a youthful Enya as heard on the album “The Frog Prince” (1985) (check for instance out the song “Dreams”, and you’ll hear how similar their voices are (Enya was about 23 at the time), and Sarah’s pitch may be even better and more refined). Another interesting aspect is the sharp, larger-than-life Vangelis synth in the background, which literally makes time stand still. You’ll never notice that over 5 minutes have passed. “Castle of Dromore“ is an Irish lullaby about a mother comforting her child to sleep singing ‘hush-a-bye-loo’. The melody appears, according to the booklet, in Hoffman’s collection of Petrie’s tunes (1877) and in O’Neill’s “Music of Ireland” (1903). The music video to “Castle of Dromore” is also terrific:

Talking about Enya; Next out is “The Green Fields of Autumn”, which is a traditional song many will remember from Clannad’s album “Magical Ring” (1983), under the name “Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómair”. 2002’s version is much more dreamy, in tune with the album’s overall theme. I love the synth lead, harp, nylon guitar and, a big WOW for the heavenly vocals. It is breathtakingly beautiful, yet unpretentious. A++ for the production.

Lullaby (Suantrai) “Lullaby (Suantrai)” is an Irish lullaby about Mary, who sings to her new-born son. Sarah’s vocal fits perfectly, and the voice layering is done with skill and is “just right”. I must also mention the flute segment in the middle, which serves as a link between the song’s traditional roots and the modern arrangement.

“South Wind” is an instrumental track with harp, flute, and light piano. 2002 is true to the Irish theme. The booklet reads “This air appears in Edward Bunting’s 1796 Collection of Irish Folk Music. Edward Bunting said he got this air in 1792 from an old man known as “Poor Folk” who roamed the northern counties playing a tin fiddle.”

David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen) The album is well-produced from start to finish, and 2002 takes no shortcuts. “David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen)” perhaps the most challenging song on the album from a vocal perspective, and Sarah shows how much she has grown as a singer since we heard her on “Trail of Dreams”. She can even sing Irish, as heard on “Close Your Eyes (Dun do Shuil)” (although I cannot say that her pronunciation is correct but it sounds fabulous!).

“She Moved Through the Fair” is a must, of course. The 2002 version is much less vulnerable than Loreena McKennitt’s , but it is really a bit too much to ask that a young singer like Sarah to be able to communicate such a dramatic narrative. “She Moved Through the Fair” is, after all, a tale of life, love, and tragic death. This version doesn’t lack anything in the synth department, though.

“Genevieve’s Waltz” is a song by Manus McGuire, and is in that sense a more “modern” song. It flows wonderfully, and I like how the guitar takes over from the flute halfway, exploring and refining the theme. The conclusion is magnificent!

Of all the fine lullabies on “Celtic Fairy Dream”, the song “Little Bird (Éiníní)” is the most sleep-inducing. It is like a sleeping pill, but much more effective. “Across the Waves (Trasna na d’Tonnta)” ends the album triumphantly. Nothing beats the feeling of returning home. The song is a feast for the ears.

In conclusion: I wrote above that “Celtic Fairy Dream” by 2002 couldn’t have been released at a better time. It offers the band’s many fans much-needed comfort during these difficult times. That said, it is a truly timeless album that will play well also under much more joyful circumstances. The fairy theme aside, “Celtic Fairy Dream” is really a down-to-earth release with many classical inspirations that will give joy to new and old fans alike. It is a great installment in 2002’s Celtic Fairy series, and the songs “Castle of Dromore” and “The Green Fields of Autumn” are destined to become New Age music hits.

It is tempting to ask; When will 2002 release an “Orinoco Flow”, “May It Be” or “Caribbean Blue”? My answer is simple; It is a matter of time. “Only time.”
Score: 97/100
Rating: Excellent
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