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High Tech. High Touch by Wendy Loomis
- posted by Steve Sheppard, One World Music on 10/9/2018
High Tech, High Touch by Wendy Loomis
If you’re looking for something very unique, something refreshing and breathtakingly sublime, then you need to look no further that the new release by Wendy Loomis entitled High Tech, High Touch. This offering is actually a double CD release and gives us two styles of music created by the artist to roam within. High Tech is Loomis on synths and percussion with an array of other fine artists who join her to bring us some of the most inventive EM we may have heard for some time, like the Berlin styled track Cassiopeia and the full flowing and quite deep arrangement Apogee.
High Tech is an intelligent and well thought out collection of arrangements, which contain a myriad of added instrumentation, a big tip of the hat goes to Michele Walter for her work on violin on the aforementioned Cassiopeia and my personal favourite Pleiades.

Disc two takes us to a totally different musical dimension, as High Touch is brimmed to the top with utterly sublime solo piano recordings and contains my favourite track of all called Cumulus Cloud. This particular piece is one of the finest compositions I have heard in this genre for years, empowering and inspiring; the use of minor chord structures in the narrative is nothing more than genius.
On Romantic Hearts Loomis creates a retrospective feeling and one could easily be forgiven for thinking we were back to the early years of artists like George Winston and Scott Cossu. The ambience of Nagano Reflection was both moving and creative, while the artistic flair in the confident last offering of Eternity was simply the perfect way to leave the project, and performed with
such a high level of professionalism it was a delight to be able to be a part of its tone created dimension.

High Tech, High Touch is a double cd of pure class and one I personally could listen to for hours. There are eight tracks on each album, and all of them produced with a pristine quality of sound and technique. This is an album that has really freshened up the multi genres of the new age music industry and one that I completely recommend without hesitation.
Half Moon Bay by Rick Sparks
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/28/2018
A sublime creation of beauty
I remember being totally entranced with the album Nightfall London by Rick Sparks and now the artist is back with an incredibly beautifully release entitled Half Moon Bay. Like Rick I share in his passion of a love of nature and the sea, I only have to look from my balcony to gaze upon its lapis depths.
On this Ricks fifth album we explore that very narrative of the ocean, nature and the tranquil peace and the serenity that can be found by embracing it. The release is a simply delicious 10 tracks of utter summer bliss and reflection, all mixed into a glorious sun kissed compilation of tranquillity.
My first and favourite selection would be the opening piece Sand and Stars, I adored the major and minor combinations here, the ethereal wordless vocals are so moving that one could literally be there, in the moment, in Half Moon Bay. The natural floating keyboards here are divine. I fell in love with this piece, I could imagine walking in a summer sunset along this mystical beach with my beautiful wife Chrissie, yes this is a composition filled with love and created with the same wondrous energy and to be shared in love too.
Rick has a passion for the incredible talent of The Beach Boys, and surely they must be the musical epitome of the word summer when you think about it. The guitar here is beyond serene and Half Moon Bay, the title track, is as beautiful as the title suggests, I would imagine that Beach Boys Brian Wilson would completely approve of this moment of musical mastery, it is simply stunning.
The entire album is faultlessly magnificent, this for me is how real New Age music should be performed, with sensitivity, from the heart and bathed in love and a sense of tranquillity and peace.
My last suggested moment of genius from this incredibly gorgeous album is the final piece, Summer's Gone, this really moved me; I guess I am feeling that right now as autumn starts to poke its head around the corner of our world on my island. The gentle and reflective energy of this composition and the soft strings sections allows us to wave goodbye to the summer for now, and leave the album in a state of complete relaxation and happiness.
Half Moon Bay by Rick Sparks is one of those albums that only comes around every so often, but when it does one must snap it up quickly, and bathe in its tones daily. Half Moon Bay has been produced and created by the tender soul of an artist who really feels his music and Rick Sparks will be proud of this timeless creation of sublime beauty for many years, they don’t get much better than this, and I would recommend Half Moon Bay in a heartbeat.
Rating: Excellent
World Café by Ron Korb
- posted by Lise Watson on 9/24/2018
Ron Korb Continues to Amaze!
Grammy-nominated Ron Korb continues to amaze with his versatility and virtuosity in his latest release, World Café. Once again Ron knocks down cultural boundaries as he sends us sailing around Cuba, Argentina, the Caribbean, New Orleans, Spain, Brazil and Old Montreal. Latin jazz meets tango, flamenco, tresillo, samba, saudade and French café music.

World Café is a perfect example of what is possible in a culturally diverse city like Toronto, Canada. Based on the Carnevale traditions celebrated all over the Caribbean and Latin America, in Carnival, Ron manages to show his Japanese roots by inserting the shinobue flute. He does this again on Island Life, which features Ron on Japanese ocarina. This track has a feel-good sound that is reminiscent of the South African penny whistle and township jive rhythms. Such is the magic of what we have come to know as World Music.

A lively tribute to the Grammy-nominated and JUNO award winning Hilario Duran, Hilario draws on Ron’s jazz talents and, in fact, features the Cuban born jazz pianist himself. Along for this fine ride are excellent Cuban percussionist Jorge Luis Torres Paumier “Papiosco” on congas and jazz bassist Roberto Riveron.

Argentina, the country, features largely in two pieces. Argentina invokes images of the sultry tango, with Ron’s flute blending nicely with the accordion, cello and piano. Patagonia is a road song; we can imagine Ron’s long hair blowing in the breeze as he drives through the Argentinian desert.

Take My Hand is a departure for Ron Korb in that he wrote personal lyrics to accompany the melody. Although they are not vocalized on this track, they are part of the cd notes. This song has the melancholy of Portuguese/Brazilian saudade, but it also gives a feeling of hope. The warbling of the unique cuica flute is a lovely touch.

Other notable tracks include Bailar Conmigo, Cordoba and New Orleans. Bailar Conmigo starts off the cd with optimism. The flavourful Spanish guitar of Johannes Linstead is a highlight of Cordoba. New Orleans is a bouncy Afro-Cuban blues tribute to the infamous multi-musical city.

The French inspired Sans Regret holds World Café together solidly, appearing as both a reprise and a finale after the opening version on Track 2. Ron’s choice of showcasing the seductive accordion of Joseph Macerollo in the first two versions pays off soundly. Sans Regret Reprise has a faster tempo and again features, Macerollo, whereas in Sans Regret Finale, the accordion is replaced with Ron on bass flute, Margaret Maria on cello and Laila Biali on piano. We could be in Paris or Old Montreal, as Ron references, and It all works.

The tremendous effort Ron Korb puts into every project with which he is involved shows again in World Café. As with his previous release Asia Beauty, it comes with an attractive cover complete with twenty-four full colour pages of beautiful photos and notes about each song. Kudos to Jade Yeh, for another tour de force in graphic design and photography.

Rating: Excellent
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