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Shunia by Shunia
- posted by Robin James on 4/27/2021
Shunia's Self-titled Chant Album Has Global Appeal
SHUNIA, by Shunia, features the fusion of classical instruments from different countries, multiple styles of vocals, and the focusing energy of ancient chants to bring feelings of joy, hope, and awareness to Western culture at a crucial moment in time. Shunia is a duo comprised of Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, the word “shunia” (shoon-ya) means a stillness of power -- quiet, unmoving, and totally focused. The core of the music is the synergy of these two voices in combination with various instruments, and on this, their second album, there is the amazing voice of Hassan Hakmoun on several tracks and the contributions of the legendary Jamshied Sharifi and flutist Jay Ghandi. The sound is a blend of chant, mantra and opera, always positive and uplifting. The music emanates empathic confidence, creating a sound that succeeds at reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and improving emotional health.

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About: Moroccan artist Hassan Hakmoun and producer Jamshied Sharifi join Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, aka Shunia, for a new album that blends Sanskrit chants, Latin prayer, ancient poetry, and exquisite orchestration into a sound that feels both new and timeless.

Rating: Excellent
A Gift of Moments by Louis Anthony deLise
- posted by R J Lannan on 4/19/2021
A Gift of Moments
Louis Anthony deLise
A Gift of Moments

Without a doubt it is all a bit anachronistic, but the latest work from pianist and composer Louis Anthony deLise, called A Gift of Moments was discovered deep in a lover’s heart. These memories are from long ago. Sometimes we learn the hard way that the greatest gift of all, may not be love, but time. Time to share that love and time to cherish it. Because when the time is over, cut short, or taken away, it is a destroyer of worlds. DeLise’s poignant music suggests we hold onto that time with two hands and dear life and treasure it. Those words are made simple and understandable by his ten passion-infused tracks of contemporary music. There are some hidden classical elements in the mix as well as are a welcomed cinematic feel. The piano and light orchestra are featured in most tracks, but some demonstrative solo piano makes it to the forefront.
The first cut is the title track A Gift of Moments. This lingering melody is a slow swirl of notes like a lazy waltz. It is the kind of music that doesn’t care if you can dance or not. Just hold on. The spotlight on the two of you. The cello comes in like a shadow across the floor. DeLise’s composition is a loop of that cherished moment, not exactly frozen in time, but playing endlessly in your heart.
Always in My Heart has a dramatic Henry Mancini-like theme of a love that never ends. This retrospective tune is from what they used to call the “salad days”. It was time of innocence, a time of carefree experiences that only lovers know. Whether they be young or old, for them romance is the engine of love. Louis’s tender music is an enduring rhapsody for the soul.
Heart of an Angel is deeply romantic. It is tribute to one with a giving nature. The music has a heartbeat tempo, measured, relaxed, strong and steady. It is a story song of gifts given, not festooned with a bow and ribbons, but with an open heart. Gifts of love, compassion and forgiveness. Things that really matter.
The past is remembered as a new start, a trial and error of emotions that ended up as a special love. In the Before Times is a recounting of the little falters, the silly mistakes, and the misunderstandings that made the heart grow fonder. This one, a sensitive solo piano leitmotif, is sort of a look back on all that happened to be where you are now. It wasn’t so bad, was it?
Louis offers the deeply emotional subliminally jazz-flavored tune Song for My Children. This is Louis’ sentimental journey song. A big swatch of your life is taken up by your children and you give it up unselfishly. And you’d do it all again for the times when those little fingers wrapped around one of yours and saying goodbye to training wheels day and here’s the keys to the car, be careful kind of moments. All that and so much more is nuanced in this pensive tune.
At the End of the Tunnel is a dream-like sequence with full orchestra and a lush piano score. The flute darts about as the journey forward takes you through landscape after landscape of colors and patterns. The finale proves that the light you see is created by the flame of passion. You might want to take your time with this one.
DeLise’s music is like a book you can’t put down. It flows like ink out of an old world pen, indelible on the mind, etched in the heart. These finely crafted songs are just what we need to remind us that life is beautiful despite these tumultuous times. We can use this music to remember the wonderful times in our lives and hope for them once again. Life will never be normal. Forget that word. But remember the word hopeful instead. Now hit the repeat button. Highly recommended. - R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews

Rating: Excellent
Ambient Highways by Keith Richie
- posted by Robin James on 4/13/2021
The Long Road to Ultima Thule
Electronic instrumental science-fiction cinematic soundscapes from other worlds, full of heroic processions, melodic and consistently moderate in tempo, mostly quiet with moments of strength, and brimming with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Keith Richie is a guy born in a small town who has always loved science fiction and now he gets to make things happen. He who controls the music controls the universe.
Space travel requires a certain kindred sense of wonder that is zealous enough to keep on trying in the face of the infinite void, truly the most valuable trait for surviving in deep space is persistence. One of Richie's favorite authors, Octavia E. Butler, was famously attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. She was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem her in and there was no human condition that she was stopped from examining. That kindred spirit can also be sensed in these 12 tracks available on vinyl, CD and in digital formats.
Percolating from darkness, slow mysterious signals are dancing like snowflakes seen from an extremely long distance. Neutrinos typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected. For each neutrino, there also exists a corresponding antiparticle, called an antineutrino, the mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles. "Neutrino" (7:36) asserts our awareness that we are already in space. We will be in space. We are building from the smallest particles to create our infinity.
Beginning as a tone poem parable, dreamy and slowly finding its way, building gradually, staying calm and serene all throughout. Thus unfolds the second track, "V Feeling" (5:45). Thinkers may be seen as cold and heartless by Feelers. Feelers may be seen as unreliable and emotional by Thinkers. Octavia E. Butler, in her Parable of the Sower, reminds us that “All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change.”
Sometimes the mystery has no explanation, such as when the offspring does not resemble its parents. Could there have been a foreign origin or source? That is the mystery, and each life creates endless ripples. "Xenogenesis" (6:25) begins with the electronic sound of veils or layers, each of which slowly fade to reveal new details, cycling through patterns which had their beginnings in ancient times.
The objective of this writer is to determine whether electronic sounds and chillout highways significantly influence ambient concentrations of melancholy feelings, ultimately leading to an inspired state, while passively observing the seemingly unaffected hydrogen ions left behind to float around freely. This road is constantly filled with steady lights and throbbing streams of energy. The title track, "Ambient Highways" (6:49) is a story never about the destination, this story is all about the journey itself.
The Weeping Angels are a dangerous race of predatory creatures from the long-running science fiction series Doctor Who. According to the strange Doctor, the Weeping Angels "are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one quite knows where they come from." I am hearing dark slow winds and harp patterns with strings, hidden breaths and sighs, and for my own survival I am remembering the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear. "Weeping Angels" (6:53), is the sound of uncoiling sadness through a dark hall of mirrors.
As a dream symbol, the Ptilopteri may represent feelings of being burdened by unwanted emotions, concrete thinking, lethargy, and a need to achieve balance. As an Alternate-Reality Supervillain, the symbolic Ptilopteri presence sometimes is said to indicate that your problems are probably not as serious as you may think them to be. Ptilopteri are highly gregarious, often locating each other by means of their braying cry, and they swim through arctic waters entirely by means of their flipper-like wings, using their webbed feet as rudders as they search for fish, squid, and shrimp. This track has a big screen feeling, imagine the entire Ptilopteri colony assembled in the arctic twilight, with the soundtrack "Faith's Song (Ptilopteri Waltz)" (5:21). As seen from above, they are whirling together in spirals and loops, dancing ceremonially, wholeheartedly lost in the moment, moving in triple time, around and around, while harp patterns and layers of shimmering electronic strings fill the darkness.
It came from a black hole, and landed somewhere in the Arctic regions. Arctic exploration has motivated some of the most persistent of scientists and speculative dreamers. They often come to their doom, stranded in remote frozen landscapes lost in wind and ice. The track begins with the sounds of waves breaking, "Arctic Shores" (6:34) in the darkness hear frosty synthesizer woodwinds as they hover over the darkest desolation.
Awakening from the darkness, "Dew from the Mourning Star" (5:08) comes offering an uplifting from out of the depths, progressing through changing patterns, expanding to a richer and colorful soundscape, melodic and harmonically pleasing, plucked tones with piano and strings weaving overhead.
"The night is a tunnel ... a hole into tomorrow." These are the words of Frank Herbert from his epic work Dune. "Keeping the Dream Alive" (5:09) brings to my mind the sounds of a harp and piano with an ethereal crown, providing uplifting and sustaining melodies, building and soaring, this is the key track to Ambient Highways, fulfilling the promise held hidden during the darkness of the prologue territories.
Poseidon is the Greek name, and Neptune is the Roman name for the chthonic god of all waters, presiding over the realms of heaven as well as the underworld, the horseman of the sea. "Neptune's Awakening" (4:32). The beginning brings a distant continuous eternal roar of the surf, followed by a triumphant rolling procesion with powerful beats. A hero takes measure of the forces around, the new empire is emerging from the darkness and taking form, "Distant Visions" (6:51).
The final track, ``Ultima Thule" (8:00) has a rich mixture of textures, bringing to mind travel to the farthest of all, which are known and spoken of. Thule is an ancient word for any distant place located beyond the borders of the known world, a place where they often say that no one has journeyed this far before, the ultimate destination. Polybius in his collection titled Histories (c. 140 BC), Book XXXIV, cites Pytheas, "Thule, those regions in which there was no longer any proper land nor sea nor air, but a sort of mixture of all three of the consistency of a jellyfish in which one can neither walk nor sail."
Richie's studio favorites include a Native Instruments S88 controller and mostly Virtual instruments, his philosophy has always been to pick the right tool for the job. Like so many expanding enthusiasts, he wants to invest in more hardware based modules in the future. His studio is a refuge for the spirits of lonely pioneers in a world of critical doubters who are too often bewildered by the term "science fiction."
He has been releasing his soundtrack-type listening experiences beginning in 2006 with The Maestoso Interstellar Suite, which contains a continuous piece of space music split across 6 movements. He reprised the album in 2016 as The Maestoso Interstellar Suite 10 Year Anniversary Edition and its’ Sister album Singularities – Music from The Maestoso Interstellar Suite, a space music epic. Other titles include La Famille Du Solénoïde (2008), which is a musical tour through our solar system, inspired by the book The Planets by Dava Sobel. For the Willow Wept…. (2012), a collection of soothing electronic music about those once lost and those found.
Rating: Excellent
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