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A Day Like Any Other by Darshan Ambient
- posted by Robin James on 1/13/2020
A Day Like Any Other
NOTE: it is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Michael Allison, aka Darshan Ambient, January 9, 2020

Instrumental electronica, with layers so loopy and delicate, with components of cycling patterns, with surprising line breaks, with quick, associative leaps, and peppy repetition on this moment of insight or revelation. The music overall constantly has the beat, especially the brighter melodies, it is consistently energetic. With all of its richness and vitality, this day is, in the end just “like any other,” subject to an exotic location and a masterpiece of varied tones and sample sources, such as you might hear from synthesizers, strings, guitars, and chimes. Electronics zoom in like a telephoto lens to see the dust inside yesterday and then tomorrow, and pulls back to consider the entire, ordinary day in which all these things occur. It also registers the mixture of repetition and variety in everyday life, with its insistence underscored by reiteration, to make a declaration about what is valuable, what is worth noticing, because that will so fascinate the listener. It is a day like any other, deliberately leaving open what “it” is meant to refer to, is “it” the meaning of this specific everyday moment? It’s a day like any other, calling us as it explores the complex and moving musical poetics of everyday life at the center of this work.

Darshan Ambient discovers a new, more vital mode of music, one highly attuned to what is happening right in front of our noses, all the time. In a way, he realizes a song could be born simply from paying close attention to the present and immediate, to what was happening outside the window, he turns away from the remote and the antique, and toward the common and familiar. Through his gift we are suddenly aware that this kind of “marvelous” event happens every day, and that only our inattention obscures it from view.

The first track is titled “City of the Seven Hymns” (5:20) and features percussion and synthesizer beats with celestial organ and steel guitar, using precise and fresh images to notate how the listener’s ear perceives the minute and shifting details of an ordinary dusk in an ordinary evening at sunset.

“Ah! Sunflower” (4:01) brings strings and uplifting feelings, the resulting sensation itself serves as both the fruit of that recognition and a recognition about subject matter, about attentiveness to daily life, and about form, with intelligent light.

Flowing out of fragments he chose but might have otherwise never used, “The Echoing Green” (2:56) is a slower darker deeper track to listen and think about, in an associative fashion that is possibly meant to mirror the way consciousness actually moves in daily life, as if concealed in each drop of water is the sea.

Up the pace again with piano sounds including the hammer strikes and reverb pedal wide open, embracing organic form, quotidian experience, and colloquial instrumental language, “Wishful Thinking” (4:33).

“A Little Wool Gathering” (4:38) so whimsical with strings bright pace, the listener’s jaw drops open at the wonderful, accidental congruence of this contingent everyday moment. Or so it seems now.

Next the sound is slower and darker, reflective and somber, “He Lamented His Thoughtless Acts” (4:34) echoing the colors of the setting sun in the sky and building facades, vividly etching the gritty details of the urban scene, with dizzy whirls between self and world, where the differences blur.

A succeeding sortie of heavy sustainment systems that allow long term survival, the bare necessities to live another day, behold “LightFighter” (5:11). Here and now I cannot adequately tell you why I like it (I do) and why it works (it does), it features many new textures including passages of backwards sounds, perhaps from a piano. An efficient design, demonstrating the benefits of the element of surprise, lyrical superiority in the air, to simultaneously have superior maneuverability, and to possess suitable melodic effectiveness.

This next track for me allows the present to mingle with memories of the past, in particular. Enjoy glimpses of the “Shadow Lines” (5:23) featuring guitar electronique, expanding loops which seem to effortlessly arrive at this commitment and devotion to the literal and unsymbolic day.

While the reference remains loose and indeterminate, “The Rain Has Flown” (4:49) favors a classical guitar sound, with electric guitar trills and decorations, a bit of steel guitar (country-western style slide guitar sounds) at a moderate pace that is not so up and also not so dark, to conjure up memories of other rhythm and rhyme.

The title song, “A Day Like Any Other” (4:02), has a nice energetic pace, strummed guitars with electric spices, a pronounced beat, a walk on a sunny day’s conclusion which turns the everyday – and everydayness – into its central theme and subject, as well as an object of representation, ‘a day like any other.’

The album’s listening adventure concludes with “The Republic Of Dreams” (4:44) perhaps a bit energetic for a sleep piece but illustrative of positive dreaming, an upbeat tune. It comes in with a quiet feeling and then rises in tempo and pace, to help us find out more, including how to control something marvelous happening, transforming everything. It then occurred to me that this happened more often than not, which catches the composer at the very moment of a conversion to an everyday-life aesthetic.

Michael Allison hales from San Francisco, California. In 1992 after several years as bassist, guitarist, and vocalist, for groups like Nona Hendryx & Zero Cool, Richard Hell And The Voidoids, China Shop and Empty House, he began a solo project using the name Darshan Ambient. The name Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit word darshana meaning something like “sight,” “vision,” or “appearance.” In 2008 his CD From Pale Hands To Weary Skies won Best Ambient Album for the New Age Reporter (NAR) Lifestyle Music Awards. His music has been used in films, documentaries and television commercials.

In an interview on the radio program Echoes (October 2013), Allison reveals that “Growing up with the Beatles and progressive rock, I’m always trying to be progressive with the music that I’m doing and that’s really what I, what I consider myself doing is more progressive music than anything else. And that could be anything. Progressive music could have jazz elements, classical rock, you know, that sort of thing.”

Overall, A Day Like Any Other is an upbeat, melodic and energetic album, positive and well lit, no brooding darkness or strange zones. Most of the songs are a walk on a bright sunny day, moving right along and with a happy feeling, as reflected in the cover art created by Spotted Peccary graphic design master Daniel Pipitone.

1 City of the Seven Hymns
2 Ah! Sunflower
3 The Echoing Green
4 Wishful Thinking
5 A Little Wool Gathering
6 He Lamented His Thoughtless Acts
7 LightFighter
8 Shadow Lines
9 The Rain Has Flown
10 A Day Like Any Other
11 The Republic Of Dreams
Rating: Excellent
Beautiful by Matali
- posted by Glenda Jumelet on 1/7/2020
‘Beautiful’ is an extraordinarily beautiful album - comprising of 70 minutes of pure sonic beauty. A fusion of World, Neo-classical,New Age & Ambient music. All 13 tracks were composed & performed by Matali.
A gifted composer & multi- instrumentalist, the 14 different acoustic instruments on this album were all played by Matali. 8 of the 13 tracks are hauntingly beautiful instrumental tapestries while 4 of the other 5 tracks are devotional/love songs – with a very danceable environmental anthem towards the end of this outstanding album. Recorded, arranged, mixed and mastered by Guiseppe ‘Joe’ Vizzone of The Sound Sculptors Studio over an 18 month period, ‘Beautiful’ is a remarkable collaboration between two very gifted Australian talents.
Here’s what one local music identity has written about ‘Beautiful’….
‘ Immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of stunningly beautiful instruments played with love by Matali. A gifted and spiritual musician, Matali is the essence of calm and serenity.
Close your eyes and be taken on a deeply relaxing and healing musical journey.
Matali plays 14 different instruments on this, his first studio album - weaving them in and out of incredible birdsong and voice. ’Beautiful’ is heart opening medicine music – providing a musical healing journey for our troubled times; a musical journey that most of us need; to be nurtured, and to find inner peace. ‘Beautiful’ is just that! Beautiful!’
Glenda Jumelet , Founder - Misty Mountains Music FNQ
Rating: Excellent
Promise by FLOW
- posted by BT Fasmer on 1/6/2020
FLOW - Promise review
What is a promise? Listening to New Age music supergroup FLOW’s new album got me thinking about how promises, big or small, are guiding stars. They follow us wherever we go, and our wellbeing is directly linked to how people around us live up to their promises – and how we keep promises to ourselves. I’m happy to report that we can have trust in FLOW too. “Promise” continues where their 2017 album left off, proving that the band was meant to be. It is a rock-solid second release, taking the group’s sound to new heights.

FLOW consists of Australian pianist Fiona Joy, acoustic guitarist Lawrence Blatt, flugelhorn player Jeff Oster, and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Will Ackerman. The album was produced by Tom Eaton and Will Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios with guest artists
Jeff Haynes (Percussion) and the already mentioned Tom Eaton on guitar, bass, and keyboards.

The title track opens the album. “Promise” starts gently with guitars, piano, flugelhorn, and light percussion. True to their name, FLOW uses little time to find that groove that made their debut album highly memorable. I like how the song makes each group member shine. Notice how every instrument is center stage at some point. It is a fabulous piece and a promise of what’s to come.

The first part of this album is quite contemplative and dreamy. “Something on Tuesday” makes us reflect on time, and how everyday life is filled with moments of beauty. Its quiet elegance makes the listener relax and dream. “Adrift at Sea” is one of the finest pieces on “Promise”. To be carried by ocean currents, when you have all the time in the world and no appointment on your calendar, is a fantastic experience. The song communicates this feeling splendidly. I like the ending; the song fades away as we hear waves, birds, and Oster’s lonely sounding flugelhorn. It is a good kind of loneliness.

All these Years
Time is an important topic on “Promise”. “All these Years” takes us down memory lane, to revisit places we used to know, people of the past, and moments in our lives when the world was new and filled with opportunities. The light vocalization is very nice, like a distant whisper.

At this stage, it really begins to get interesting. “Last Light”, the album’s first single, has a long intro. Around 2 minutes, the rhythm picks up, and we are introduced to the song’s theme. Wow, what a fantastic gift to us FLOW fans, and to the world. Just like “Arrival” defined their 2017 release, so do “Last Light” defines this album. “Fresh Air” continues in the same atmosphere. Fiona’s piano is center stage. It is a very colorful piece, taking the listener on a refreshing walk. I don’t know about you, but FLOW’s music always makes me breath easier. “Fresh Air” is an inspired piece!

“Nightfall” is quite different. Darkness is upon us, and FLOW does a fantastic job creating an exciting ambiance. It is indeed dark. Halfway into the song, we sense a shift; This night is not filled with dangers, but life and warmth. “Blue Umbrella” is another contrast. Its light, carefree vibe and triumphant ending make it into a very enjoyable listen.

FLOW has saved a jewel for the ending. “Chasing Secrets” has a nice touch of jazz and a free-flowing structure. Oster’s flugelhorn is in its right elements, backed beautifully by guitars and piano. It seems like a truism; when a FLOW song has a steady rhythm, Mr. Ackerman & co. deliver yet another winner.

“Memoire du Dome”, the last track, seems to underline the album’s thoughtful nature. Without the guitars, the piano and flugelhorn have a lonely sound. It is a homage to a memory, sad and lovely at the same time.

In conclusion: FLOW has delivered a well-made, positive, and unpretentious follow-up to their 2017 debut album. At this stage, FLOW is almost like a genre description. They have a sound other artists and bands will try to imitate. Playing in a band brings out the best in each artist. The album is a promise of what’s the future has in store for this unique supergroup.
Rating: Excellent
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