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Urban Metta, Vol. 2 by Anaamaly
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/8/2017
An oasis of serenity and calm
I firmly believe that music will come into your life when you most need it, and after enjoying the sonic bath of Anaamaly’s last release Urban Metta Vol 1, we now enter a new and inspiring realm of Urban Metta Vol 2.
Only yesterday I made a personal breakthrough about a state of mind that had been troubling me for years, and now I feel fully ready to embrace each and every loving track upon this album, with an open heart and a lightness of spirit.
So let’s start this most profound journey through music, with a look at track one, and how appropriately entitled, I Am Ready to Forgive. The person who we always seem to leave last on the forgiveness list is ourselves, so let’s embrace that now; our path is made easy through the smooth and caring tones of this absolutely beautiful piece. The long languid ultimate healing process begins here with such a delicate softness on keyboards, so just let go, and enjoy.
After letting go and releasing that forgiveness, we now allow ourselves the energy of new growth through the ambient bliss of I Am Inspired by Possibility. This is a real open door of new realms to explore; a lush but perfect bass is mixed with consummate ease, with warm synth pads that create a cocoon of unlimited prospects.
Each and every day we wake from our slumbers, and begin the process of creation; from the moment we swing our legs from the mattress, we assume the role of co-creators in our universe, by our very actions. On I Am a Co-Creator, we have the soundtrack to that moment. I found this opus fascinating, there is a certain crackling of energy that seems to be manifesting here, a gentle bass sound that creates a distinct warmth, and a lightness on keyboards that seems to literally float around us in a dimension of infinite possibilities, perhaps even yet to form.
We now move to a track of both realisation and acceptance, it is called I Am Light and Love. This intrigued me, yes this is ambience personified, but I also sense a certain playfulness here as well, that is so appealing. The higher resonation of tone here would be a perfect healing opportunity for us all to take advantage of.
I Am a Reflection of You is now upon us. We seem to have floated into a higher realm where a gentleness of the pads manifests an almost angelic presence within our surroundings. The strings and distant vocalisations lift’s our souls into a place of complete peace, in this ultra-inspiring composition of great harmony and balance.
We now edge across the half way marker and come across a track entitled I Am Fully Present. Once more we have an opportunity to embrace acceptance through this offering. The keyboards here seem to deliver a tidal effect of music, in a style similar to Eno on the release Discreet Music. The relentless and eternal energy of the synths here move to and fro, like an ocean dancing upon a full moon.
We now drift on the edge of infinity, as we touch the hem of the next arrangement called, I Remember My Purpose. I found this an incredibly empowering piece; the dramatic keyboards here raise the energy, but are not out of sync with the overall essence of positive manifestation thus far created by this stunning album. This for me is a track of realisation; a piece that one could perhaps say is a light bulb moment within music.
On I Give My Truth, we have an ambient back drop of soft rain falling, Tibetan Bowls chime with the timbre of truth and a reverberation of honesty. This is a musical offering of sincerity and candour. One can feel the safety and security of the planet, as we secure ourselves in alignment with the earth and state our truths. The deepness of this offering is immense and all encompassing.
We are now deep within the weave of the release and nearing the final corner of our musical voyage of self-discovery and awareness, as we do so, we come across another very empowering composition called I Affirm That All Is Good. Listen very carefully for the distant vocalisations, which once more give us energy of the protective angelic realms that are around us now. The bass here has a depth rarely found in musical offerings these days, and allows the arrangement to expand and grow with ease.
As we continue on our sojourn, we note that we have arrived at the penultimate piece off the release; this portal of ambient perfection is called I Radiate Healing Energy. The melodious tones gift us a dimension of musical delight, one that within the mists of tranquillity, we can release our own healing to all that need it, in the name of unconditional love. The synths here create a wondrous realm of musical healing rain for us all to bathe in.
Our last, but not least offering is called I Have All That I Need, and for me is a piece of acceptance, awareness and the confidence of knowing. The keyboards here manifest a reality of oneness with all things, the swirling nature of this composition on my headphones is amazing to listen to and partake in; the slight elevation in energy here is the perfect way to leave an album of this nature.
Anaamaly has brought into our world another album that speaks directly to our hearts and affirms the truths we already knew, but were afraid to accept; now with a release of this nature, that acceptance can be completed with a happy smile of confidence. Fans of the new age meditational styles of music will lap this album up, but this is a release that is beyond beauty. If you require a little sanctuary of peace in your life, an oasis of serenity and calm, then Urban Metta Vol 2 would be the perfect album to take with you on that tour of inner reflection.
Rating: Excellent
Held in the Light by Dan Chadburn
- posted by Dyan Garris - New Age CD on 11/3/2017
Dan Chadburn - Held in the Light
Dan’s Chadburn’s love and passion for music, and compassion for humanity, shines clearly through in this, his 7th improvisational solo piano album. “Held in the Light” is 13 tracks from Dan’s heart to ours, consisting of ten improvised arrangements of traditional hymns and three original studio improvisations. The album is almost one hour of feeling like you are fully supported and embraced by the Light. It’s something to lose yourself in, something to immerse yourself in, and yet find yourself in at the same time. The album effortlessly evokes a sense of deep and profound peace and transports you to a place where you just know without any doubt that all is well. And it is. You are held in the light.
The album opens blissfully with Dan’s improvised version of the traditional hymn, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.” Simple, yet at the same time, complex, not unlike the nature of humanity, it’s an English Christian hymn that was penned by Edwin Hatch in the late 1800s. It’s a tribute to God, the giver of life, and speaks to the creation of man through the spiritual breath of God. It’s the perfect song to begin this album. But in this version, if you didn’t know it was a hymn, you wouldn’t know it was a hymn. Dan’s interpretation honors this “creation energy” perfectly and cuts across any and all religious boundaries to embrace all that is Light. The whole album is that way.
“Be Thou My Vision,” a traditional hymn from Ireland, follows as track 2 and again, what we feel here is just the love.
Dan’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” on track 3 is a purely lovely, heartfelt, and unique interpretation of this beloved, classic, and well-recognized hymn.
Track 4, “Wondrous Love,” is my favorite track on the album. So peaceful and soothing, it’s certainly one to play over and over again.
“Love Divine,” track 5, is aptly named, as it is indeed divine. It’s also a great showcase for Dan’s impeccable timing and graceful sensitivity. Here we feel as one with the Divine just as surely as Dan is one with the instrument.
Track 7, “Lo, How a Rose,” is another personal favorite. In Christianity, this is a familiar and beloved Advent hymn. Dan’s rendition is just amazingly beautiful, perfectly capturing the essence and purity of a rose and all of its symbolism.
The “Breath of Life” improvisation as track 9, was born in a live studio performance where Dan asked the audience to pick a note and a key. Hence, “Breath of Life” in the key of C sharp minor was birthed right then and there.
Soft, tender, and gentle, the title track “Held in the Light,” is interestingly and very well placed as the last track on the album. It is the perfect ending to a light-filled album that you’d certainly like never to end at all, but rather, have it go on into forever. And maybe it does, as the love emanating from this album will stay in your soul long after the music stops playing.
In my opinion, Dan Chadburn is one of the most important solo piano artists of our time. “Held In The Light” is outstanding and definitely not to be missed. Exceptionally beautiful solo piano.
Rating: Excellent
Once Upon A Time by Mark Barnes
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/2/2017
Everything you need in an album
Mark Barnes has produced many gems in his musical career, and from the creator of In the Beginning comes a brand new compilation of moving and emotive melodies called Once Upon A Time.
The very first footsteps are the moving and magical Lulu’s Lullaby, the gentleness of performance is so evident and so calming, but it also has a wonderful flowing narrative of calm running throughout the composition.
As we continue these early gentle musical footsteps into this brand new release by Mark Barnes, we come across a composition that is so very restful, it’s called Believe. Marks skill here is sublime; he produces something so delicate that one could with ease fall into a blissful and peace-filled sleep. The narrative of this piece reminds me of the golden age of New Age music, but the master narrator Mark Barnes continues this perambulation through the mists of sleep with the amazing and outer worldly, Drifting. This moment is captured with perfection by the performance on keyboards, and its angelic tones allow us to drift on the wings of peace with consummate ease.
The tempo is raised for this next one called Simple Pleasures. There’s something very sun kissed about this composition, one could easily imagine this as a road trip anthem, the full flowing and happy narrative runs with the energy of a summer’s day, the windows open, the music playing, as the shards of sunlit shadows caress our senses as we travel.
Valentine's Rhapsody is up next and a lusher cinematic composition you won’t find on your musical travels. There is something very emotional about this offering and the nature of that passion can be felt within the performance on an arrangement that seems to quicken like the beating of the heart. This is one very clever composition by Barnes and credit must be given for its compelling narrative.
A complete change now as we lay in the arms of a reflective piece called If I Could Go Back in Time. Barnes allows the tempo to drop and as he does, he creates something we haven’t heard the likes of since Mike Rowland’s “And So to Dream” released back in 1993. This is an arrangement with a charming sense of wonder and again has that cinematic energy about its construction.
We now arrive at the half way juncture and come across one of my favourites from the release, it’s called Anthem. This one really moved me, each hair stood to attention upon my arms as I wrote and, I am so very glad that this opus of a proud emotional nature is just shy of a blissful 5 minutes long. Barnes has built in a wonderfully layered symphonic energy to this piece that is so deeply moving. I rate this composition to be one of the best arrangements that Barnes has ever written.
Dreamcatcher felt very familiar to me, that melody seemed timeless, but very memorable, this song is so very gentle, so I began to visualise the Dreamcatcher in my bedroom, just gently blowing in the late summer afternoon breeze, for me there is something so very simple and easy about this one, a track I just love to pieces and reminds me a little of Holland Phillips last album Circles of Eight. I can see this one will be played relentlessly on my shows, it’s truly addictive.
This whole experience known as Once Upon a Time just keeps on getting better and better, we now arrive at a little laid back, easy like Sunday morning piece called Morningside. As I swing my legs out of bed I can see the palm trees and at the end of my ocean drive the sea, the blue of the clouds and the dust filtering, dancing on the sunbeams, this music inspires me to create this description for you, it’s simply divine.
A more thought provoking piece is upon us now and called The Gift of You, for me this has all the hall marks of a ballad bathed in unconditional love. Barnes performance here is emotive, but it’s more than that, he manifests a melody that screams through the darkness of the night, ‘How can I ever be alone, when I have the Gift of You?’ Simply sublime, simply beautiful, at every corner and turn of the composition.
The resonance of Walking on Air takes us to a whole new dimension of performance, once more that cinematic element is there, and also the energy of freedom either through dreams or running in the early dawn dew. Barnes has once again used his ever growing knowledge of composition here and manifested something that is truly remarkable and energizing.
We are now very deep within the weave world of this album, and as such we have travelled to a musical land known as, The Whisper of Leaves. It’s good to hear the slight use of pause on this piece, and then the elevation of power as the wind perhaps shakes the cadence from the day. This track also has a wonderful sense of movement built into its arrangement, it is as if the leaves themselves are performing a dance for us, and perhaps they are.
The penultimate offering is that glorious moment of the title track and of course called Once Upon A Time. Mark Barnes as a composer has the fluency of a mountain stream, the music runs free within him and through this piece we can feel that honesty and that love for his art. At just short of 6 and half minutes, this is the longest composition off the album and one that we can literally ease back to and enjoy each and every nuance.
Now be prepared for this last track, as we leave the peaceful world of Once Upon a Time with a little rocky up beat number called Get With It. If you’re a regular listener to One World Music Radio, you may recognise the voice introducing the piece as the one and only Bruce Gall, presenter here at my station. A totally unique way to leave the album, but one clever enough to feature both of Bruce’s loves Rock and Electronic music. Always a good thing to do, leave the listener with a smile and a good feeling and this track certainly achieves that.
Once Upon A Time by Mark Barnes is an album of 14 tracks that takes you, on a journey through sight and sound, that at all times is both blissful and memorable. You have everything on this album that you would ever need reflection, peace and tranquillity, a heartfelt moment of deep emotion and a little fun. Barnes should be proud of his creation and I can see this being very popular with both listeners new and old.
Rating: Excellent
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