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Healing Hands by Cathy Oakes
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/6/2019
Creative and beautiful, bringing peace and calm to
There can be no harder journey to travel than one through Cancer, and to have the courage to create an album based on that journey is not only remarkable, it is inspirational and beautiful, the essence of gratitude and the love of life shines bright within Cathy Oakes, and this her latest offering is breath taking for many reasons.
The opener The Threshold speaks volumes for the alley way and corridors that a person walks down on their way to this portal of physical and psychological change, and Oakes melody is so heartfelt and poignant, one can actually feel the letting go of control as we literally have non at this point, yet still this performance and it’s resulting sound, has a colourful element of beauty about its nature that is so deeply felt.
Healing Hands is a mournful repose that has highlights of empowering tones built perfectly within its structures, ones that contain both hope and respect and played with such calmness of spirt, however Oakes doesn’t shy away from the The Darkest Hour, her track entitled just that, is a walk through those moments when you wake up in the early hours, and crazy thoughts of dark proportions enter your mind, her composition here explores her belief system, and how it brings comfort to her at these times.
A Fragile Grasp continues that theme, but illustrates the sheer lack of control over life that we all actually have, but even more so when you are going through a journey like this, her performance on this piece is emotional and thought provoking, but played with such a harmonious attitude, that may give to us the only control we may have at this point, to let go of everything.
The twists and turns of a journey through extreme illness are all beautifully portrayed here by Cathy Oakes on this 12 track offering, and one must commend the artist for this courageous musical narrative, and as a constant reminder to us all, she finishes this deeply moving album off with a track called Blessed Journey, something perhaps that we may all take for granted, it is enough surely, to celebrate each breath that we take on this wonderful journey of human experience.
Healing Hands is an album that is as creative and beautiful, as it is therapeutic and cathartic for the artist, it is very likely that many will not only find a good deal of peace and calm from listening to and reading about this album, they may also find a deep well of inspiration and courage from it too, now if on those conditions only, surely that’s enough to thoroughly recommend this album completely.
Rating: Excellent
Pastoral Memory by Dan Palladino
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/6/2019
The best ambient album I have heard for a decade
It’s always a pleasure for me to review an ambient music release, I find this genre can be so creative, so image filled and calming, and it is this realm we go to now with artist Dan Palladino, as we take a look at the dimension of music now known to us as Pastoral Memory.
The blissful beginning of a distant storm rattling across nature’s landscapes and soft sounds of water greet our ears, in one of the most soothing musical narratives in the ambient genre for years. Rising, the opening piece is both transformative and transcendent, what a master piece of a composition it is indeed, its multi-instrumental nature adds to its collective musical weight, and I for one could get lost within its ambient constructs for eons.
Thankful is a track that is so smooth and deliberately timeless, it is simply one of those ambient moments you would crave for when seeking out music of this elk. The light guitar, the gentle pads and hovering synths all go to bring us a spacious, but also warming music narrative for us to enjoy.
As we reach Joyful Cleansing we find a composition that creates an atmospheric environment all of its own. The small bass segment here is delicious; the delicacy of musicianship needs to also be applauded, and the purposeful and professional arrangement that is birthed from this particular offering is literally perfection in utter ambience.
For me Aftermath was a track of a different energy signature, there was a hovering sense of anticipation in the keyboards, but the backdrop of natural sounds and bird song was so deeply charming. The organ sound nearly brought a Pink Floyd lyric from my mind’s eye, “Remember when we were young, we shone like the sun”! But if there was any doubt that this must be the best ambient album released in 2019, then this piece will explain why it should be up there with the best, a moment of genius can be found here, and one that also reminds me a little of early David Wright.
Our penultimate offering is entitled Yesterday’s Dream; there is indeed a floating sense of reality within the construction of this composition that is incredibly artistic, a gentle flowing stream trickles it’s ambience through the pathways of this fine offering, and a light and fantasy filled musical arrangement takes you on a journey, in a sonic voyage of peace and tranquillity.
The last portal to this dimension of ambient brilliance is called Counting Stars, the soothing narrative of the last track continues the theme of the previous piece here as well, and emphasises a sequence of images that appear pleasantly within the mind’s eye. This is a beautiful and peaceful way to leave the album, and one that can only be matched by having this release of constant repeat.
Pastoral Memory by Dan Palladino in my view is the best ambient album I have heard for a decade, it keeps its balance and its gentle but floating energies never lose cohesion. Palladino, in gifting the world this work of masterful proportions, has given us an album that we can drift away to indeed, but also a timeless collection of opuses that we will willingly return to at any time.
Rating: Excellent
Woodlands by Rudy Adrian
- posted by Robin James on 10/28/2019
Woodlands by Rudy Adrian
Woodlands is an electronic slow homage to nature, the feeling of meditating while walking through the forest. Rudy Adrian is a musician with a history in the study of botany and forestry who lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. His magic blends the universe of his Yamaha SY77 synthesiser and Kurzweil K2000R sampler, with wee bits of natural sounds occasionally seasoning the musical mixture. You will hear synthesizers with some field recordings of birds, trickling water, and a little bit of thunder peeking out of the electronics, and some sustained ethereal vocal intonations, also a bit of Baroque flute.

The title song "Woodlands" (4:55) features what sounds to me like synthesizers hidden in the breeze. The woodlands in nature are a magical place, they once covered huge portions of the earth. According to the almost forgotten old legends, there once were no walls, pavement, or plowed zones, just a continuous flowing region of arboreal splendor. Persisting on the path, behold the "Moonrise" (4:02) celebrated with gentle gongs and chimes, perhaps the slow call of an owl or some nocturnal creature and an ethereal vocal suspended nearby with bending notes slowly twisting in the darkness.

The closing track is titled "Three Views of a Japanese Garden, Part 1" (5:24) which opens with the sound of trickling water, decorated with chimes and ethereal vocals forming syllables, never words, perhaps this is the language of the tree spirits.

The sounds on the album Woodlands are pure atmosphere, the listener is drifting in space, imagining the sensations of walking along a wooded path and experiencing the bliss of deep listening, in a contemplative forest of mystical moods, expressed using textural electronics. Your visit to the timeless spirit of the woodlands will bring you back again and again to an electronic dream of future and ancient arboreal beauty.
Rating: Excellent
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