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Beyond Measures & Time by Steve Rivera
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 1/24/2019
Beautiful calm ambient piano
Steve Rivera has made a steady progression in his musical career, I remember the intensity and emotion of his last offering Dividing The Darkness back in 2015, now he is back with a sparkling new release called Beyond Measures & Time.
On this new offering there seems to be a real connection with the soul and heart, a combination of emotive performances with such a beautiful arrangement and performance structure, all of that is here and more, like for example the supremely gentle and radiant opener Suspended Dream, simply the perfect starting composition.
Rivera has manifested something so emotive and meaningful on this new release, listening to tracks like Unlocking the Moments, is like pulling the curtains back on a brand new sun kissed day and the hope of better things to come.
The artist embraces a longer style in Falling Closer, a track filled with a pristine gentleness, creating space and ambience with such natural precision, then the fluent tones of pieces like Waves and Particles, both tracks creating a rock pool of ambient pleasure in their own way.
Life can be dualistic in nature and on arrangements like Dark Tides we see a musical toe being dipped into those murkier waters of emotive intensity, the performance here is sublime at creating a really introspective mood.
There can be no doubt that as a pianist Steve Rivera is on the rise in this genre and this album is a fine example of this steady and thoughtful progression. The last track of the album Measures & Time is perhaps a fine example of future musical foot paths that the artist may travel. This has to be one of the most spacious, calm and ambient releases on piano I have heard for some time, and an album that is so very easy and charming to listen to as well.
Rating: Excellent
Life by Haiku (The Haiku Project)
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 1/24/2019
Another notch of brilliance
There are somethings in life that are certain, one is that when you receive a new album by The Haiku Project, it is going to be utterly encapsulating and smoothly brilliant and that premise has not changed with the arrival of this latest album called Life.
From the very off we are transformed into a world of mellow tunes, tranquil compositions and angelic vocalisations. I was initially transfixed by the opening two tracks, a gentle piano soothes us all on Little Calf and an added guitar layers a realm of comfort and calm on A Turtle Song, however my favourite moment of bliss came from the long form composition Existence, which in my view is one of the best slices of ambient music I have heard for years.
Henrik Hytteballe has a talent that is rare and a skill set bathed in genius to bring to the listener some of the most beautiful and tranquil music ever, tracks like the inspiringly moving The Bright Side and the warmth and relaxation enthused paradise manifested by the lush tones of pieces like Great Barrier Reef, are but two stand out examples of this.
Life by The Haiku Project is yet another notch of brilliance in the headboard of master pieces by the artist, and in my view is an album you could leave on all day and lose yourself in with ease. This is an release easy to recommend, it’s jam packed with pristine performances and utterly exceptional compositions, that have all been created by a musician who is clearly in touch with his musical muse.
Rating: Excellent
Little Paws On The Walls by Peter Calandra
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 1/24/2019
Top notch from Peter
Peter Calandra is in a rich vein of form with three releases in 2018 and a single, it’s clear that the musical muse is running rampant and free within the artists creative psyche. On this charming guitar based album, one packed with short form compositions, Calandra is back with another exciting and energetic album entitled Little Paws on the Walls.
This grand journey of a light hearted energy, starts with a track packed with an effervescence that seems to be bursting the banks of his musical river, the title track Little Paws on the Wall is the first energetic offering, one that contains a little slide work and a full flowing acoustic guitar, the work of guitarist Stom Takeishi is in full flow here also.
It’s interesting for me as a part time guitarist, to hear Peter Calandra perform on this instrument. When we get to the track The Manor, I feel pulled back in time to the early 70’s with some of the unusual acoustic works of the great rock bands of the day, this is a really listenable piece that I think I will investigate more.
The strange thing is my two favoured instruments are guitar and Harmonica, and on this next arrangement that you may well feel is familiar in title in someway, On the Levee, you will find them both, perhaps this is a tip of the hat to the Led Zeppelin song of a similar name, but certainly one that contains a fine example of Harmonica playing by one Greg Krockta.
With a little slide guitar we slip into the next piece called Better Days, here we have a track with a lot of soul and fluency, one that could easily transport us way down south. I adore the lightness of Calandra’s guitar though, there is something quite empowering about its tones, but one that is also reflective at the same time.
Cool Cruising is just that, one could imagine with ease driving along the highways of the country and playing your guitar on an open top sun kissed day, for me there is a slight Latin motif here too, one that is mixed with a little slide, that when combined makes it a very interesting and inventive composition indeed.
At just under a minute and a half we arrive at the shortest track off the album called Misty Morning. The guitar manifests the energy of a new day with ease, one that flows beautifully into the next piece entitled Night Stars, the opposite of the preceding piece, this is a fascinating offering, we have had a feel of the 70’s in a couple of compositions, but now we seem to have gone back further to the excitement and simplicity of the early 60’s in arrangement and style, and done so with great class and style it also has to be said.
The short form of Texas Special is up next at just under two minutes long, there is a distinctive bluesy feel here that I love, a real mixture of blues can be found here that ranges from Gary Moore to Robert Cray, needless to say this is quite brilliant and I loved every second of it.
The energy rises again with this next offering called For the One, for some reason this reminds me a little of the acoustic work of 70’s progressive band Yes, mixed with the slide and a rhythmic pulsating acoustic fluency that is so addictive from the artist.
Unplugged Roots featuring Greg Krockta makes me want to run upstairs and grab my harmonica right now, and the whole vibe of this lively bluesy number, especially with Calandra’s performance on acoustic, reminds me of some of the early work of the great man himself, mister Clapton. I have to say I am truly impressed with where this album is taking me, it is so refreshing.
The gentle acoustic nature of this next track called One for JP, is much like the kind of material I wish I had the time to play, songs like Stairway to Heaven, Battle of Evermore, etc. it surprised me little, to find out that this song was dedicated to the master of this trade, the one and only Jimmy Page, pure class will be found right here.
As we move into the darker regions of the album we come across a really deep track, perhaps one that could have been used in a film like Deliverance. The musical narrative on Rambling Time drives hard and has a real edge about its construction; again that 70’s rock ethic is there, as Calandra delivers a really intense offering indeed.
Now we arrive at the penultimate offering off the album called Seventh Street, one would have to say this would be perfect for a TV show in its arrangement and progression, it has an addictive melody and a perfect light percussive beat, and you also can’t help but adore the organ in the piece too, on what is a truly smooth composition.
The last port of call for us is a song called Southern Plain, the slide and acoustic mix works brilliantly here, there is also a superb steady build on the piece that really adds musical weight to the song, the light hearted energy of this offering also for me, makes this the perfect way to exit the album.
Peter Calandra continues this rich tapestry of music making, with a truly fun and colourful release. Little Paws on the Walls is simply brilliant and shows a whole new side of the artist, one that many maybe totally unaware of; it brings a release to us that is perfectly produced and performed, brimming full of energy and extremely easy to listen to, one that may well provoke some happy memories for us all. Top notch stuff from Peter Calandra, I thoroughly recommend taking a listening to this one.
Rating: Excellent
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