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Other Weather by Jeff Greinke
- posted by Robin B. James on 2/20/2021
A New Album of Elegant Music Landscapes
Ambient electronic instrumental music that is based on acoustic instruments including piano, cello, viola, violin, French horn, clarinets, flutes, and small percussion, blended subtle and exquisitely with electronica from a Roland FA 06 workstation, Ensoniq ASR 10 sampling keyboard, and an iPad equipped with the Animoog app. All of the music on Other Weather was composed, arranged, and produced by Jeff Greinke. The album was recorded at Another Room studio, in Tucson, and Invisible Studio, in Seattle. The Seattle session was engineered by Rob Angus, and Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary Music mastered it all.

High-level stratocumuli form clouds open out before me, an enchanted world of the genus cirrocumulus forms, where snow begins when moist air at high tropospheric altitude reaches saturation, creating eloquent ice crystals or supercooled water droplets. Other Weather presents with eleven pieces, chiefly excited by movements taking place high up in the air. The overall mood of Other Weather is subtle, the sound is primed for interpretation, like clouds, with a huge vista appearing solid while being gentle. The sound possesses a quite extraordinary range of different timbres and vibrates along with the air inside it. The sensation is of the instruments having a conversation or perhaps painting a picture, always truly beautiful, and often formed by woven piano with strings and various wind instrument combinations, a complex satin fabric of sound.

…celebrates the vibrant introspective ascendance of the piano, the gossamer light texture of spirit and form floating in the sky, slow, supernatural and dreamy, with subtle electronic highlights and drifting melody fragments. “A Stretch of Sun” (04:35), Greinke makes use of the extra brightness, which vibrates to produce appreciable magic.

Full, lustrous, and metallic, a clear, clean, and brilliant sound, “Rain Through the Night” (04:00), is an introspective piano and percussion exposition, building out of the heart of darkness and joined by subtle sensuous deep strings with a mellow, dark and rich tone. My favorite track of this album is “Falling Sky” (05:19), coming in with very distant cold shimmering glimmers of tones, subtle glimpses of approaching astral matter traversing from so far away. A dreamy piano emerges from electronic clouds that hang there.

Cumulus clouds are rounded masses heaped upon each other above a flat base that hangs in the sky. These are the big puffy clouds you see most of the time, but they can appear to be quite huge and rise to fantastic distances. Cumulo is a Latin word that means heap or pile. “Rising Cumulus” (04:27) features a piano joined by bowed strings, building to great heights, massive acoustic forms accentuated by emerging electronics and shapes that continue on and on, building and ascending, a thread woven through, blending and balancing, a beautiful, mellow, sweet tone. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, cumulus clouds can eventually turn into other types of clouds, including storm clouds, also known as thunderheads or cumulonimbus clouds.

…an insulating blanket of diamond dust, what you will hear is an orchestral meditation on a big-sky winter horizon, an endless horizontal vanishing point under an infinite outlook. The hunter-magicians play their musical bows, Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; Alex Guy on viola; and Paris Hurley on the violin. “Snow Across a Windswept Plain” (09:05), interleaving a slow, melancholic section, the snow drifts with the wind leaving sastrugi forms, which are the wave-like ridges caused by wind erosion on the surface of mature snow.

Greinke sometimes intrepidly includes the squeaks and bowing sounds that real instruments make, and that adds a lot of emotional depth to the pictures that he paints with his compositions, thus the sound characteristics of the violin are not predetermined by the score, but their presence is accommodated to bring about a deeper realization of the intended compositional design.

From silence there is a lustrous distant sound, we are drawn in closer and pause to hear some fine details, then we float on beyond the source, and our perception of the sound fades, the music possibly forever continuing in our absence. Piano and classical guitar glide together using subtle phasing techniques to layer up lots of depth and gradual motion across the sky, to create a tone poem that defies categorization, “Clouds Like Flying Saucers” (04:19). Now join a search for new resonance and a new type of voice for the keyboard dream machine, “Outflow” (04:38), with electronica arranged in changing layers, bits of piano sustaining this solemn transfer, with sparkles and hints of complex forms hidden inside.

…travels to locations where severe weather is forecast, as a hobby, or to study it, or perhaps just to take photographs. The sound of the track titled “Storm Chaser” (05:41) features strings plucked in simple stuttering patterns, emerging like gentle rain, met with slowly glowing electronica which brings breezes from different directions, and color with texture associated with the sweet, round, dark, and rich earthy cyclic forms that come about following a storm. Next, behold a piano emerging like the gentle sun, slowly covering the wet earth with warm and joyful light, discovering bright new complexities and patterns while easing away the puddles and dripping surfaces, “After the Rain” (03:49) with its colors constantly changing, mixing melodic motives to create a fabric of refreshed air and calm cleansing.

Shelf ice occurs when floating pieces of ice are driven by the wind, piling up on the lee shore. The track’s title, “Icebreaker” (07:26), made me think there is going to be a crushing sound and shattering sheets of ice, but to me the music is actually about delicate arctic poetry, cold shivering strings take form, joined by woodwinds and haunting brass, featuring Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; James DeJoie on clarinets and flutes, with the sound perhaps portraying the electromechanical properties of ice and its nano rheology (the flow of sub-microscopic crystalline water matter). In the final analysis, what I am left with is a dream about traversing the vast northernmost waters.

…ambient standards, proceeding like a stream of veiled consciousness that determines the degree of freedom you have at any given moment, “Across the Sky” (05:41), is imagination let loose, to swoop and drift, ephemeral hesitant piano mirages engaged in a sort of echoing conversation that is often disjointed, distracted by flights of distant electronic birds becoming audible now and then. The empty sky is calm, interwoven seamlessly into the overall compositional texture, with distant constellations and falling stars isolated in the vastness overhead.
Rating: Excellent
Mandala by Eric Bikales
- posted by Dyan Garris on 1/11/2021
Mandala by Eric Bikales
“Beautifully melodic and flowing, every song on this uplifting album feels like a universal embrace from something much bigger than we are. It is full circle back to wholeness.” – Dyan Garris

A mandala – simplified – is a cosmic symbol; a “circle of life,” representing unity or wholeness. Here, on the newest album from Eric Bikales, “Mandala,” we have 12 tracks each representing a specific universal concept. These are: Generosity, Kindness, Honesty, Love, Compassion, Charity, Forgiveness, Devotion, Resourcefulness, Humility, and Serenity. These are all characteristics and qualities that human nature aspires to master while here on Earth. Well, we can certainly try. And should. I think, too, it is no accident that there are 12 tracks. The number 12 has many spiritual connotations.

Now, let’s dig in.

I’m going to start by saying that I cannot pick a favorite on this album. I don’t think you’d be able to either. It’s outstanding, the whole thing. I also think it’s important to note that there is nothing even remotely “heavy” here. The album is easy, breezy, jazzy, upbeat, eloquent, feel-good music.

And every single note is as authentic as it gets. I think it’s all a stunning mirror reflection of Eric’s spirit. I do. Just beautiful. And the music makes US feel good about being here and being alive. It just does. This is the gift of a true artist.

Who is this guy? Eric Bikales is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist from an artistic and musical family. An accomplished, professional musician, he has played in orchestras, jazz groups, and rock ’n roll bands, and for 30 years maintained a career as a studio musician in California, as well as composing tons of music for television while he lived there. In addition, his solo albums are: “Tranquility,” “Fire in the Clouds,” “Follow Your Heart,” “Energy,” “Autumn Whispers-Winter Dreams,” “Ocean Reflections,” and now, “Mandala.”

Just to give you a little flavor of his illustrious career, Eric has played keyboards for numerous notables – too many to name all – such as Bette Midler, Cher, Dolly Parton, and Neil Sedaka. He’s also recorded with Kenny Rogers, Tom Waits, Mike Post, and Lisa Hartman Black, just to name a few. He’s performed on television shows such as The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, Good Morning America, A-Team, and Dragnet. He is also an online professor at the Academy of Art, San Francisco, and has also authored several courses on music theory, arranging and film scoring.
You get the idea, right? Right.

On “Mandala,” Eric plays ALL the instruments, including bass, alto and C flutes, melodica, and a host of synthesizers: Yamaha DX-7, Korg M1R, MS2000R, Waldorf MicroQ Synthesizers, Fender Rhodes/Wurlitzer electric pianos, Oberheim OB-8, Matrix 1000, Hammond B3/122. The word, “impressive” for the instrumentation on the album doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Some brief highlights from “Mandala:” The album opens with “Generosity.” This is melodic and happy. “Kindness” is warm and flowing. I found it artistically interesting that “Honesty” feels mysterious and brimming with intrigue. Not shady. Just a mysterious vibe to it. Light, smooth, and graceful, “Love” is heart-warming and twinkling with its supple synths and flute. “Compassion” is a flowing river of grace. Love it. I do want to point out that while all the instrumentation is simply superb throughout, I immensely enjoyed the flute performances on this album, which I found to be exquisite and uplifting, particularly in these two songs.

The melodic, piano based, “Charity” is just beautiful in every way. The atmospheric “Forgiveness” is effortless, and, again, we have a stunning flute performance here as well, with cinematic strings and poignant piano. Heart-opening and gently expansive, for sure. The piano on “Devotion” is melodic and memorable. Nicely done. Now, you’re going along on your journey of life, and wherever it takes you, there indeed comes a time when inevitably, you find you must dig deep into being resourceful. That is this song, “Resourcefulness.” Perfectly conveyed, it’s a “journey.”

I think humility is generally an oft misunderstood term. True humility has nothing to do with low self-worth. Simplified, it has everything to do with lack of arrogance. That’s what we have here in the song, “Humility.” Flowing grace and elegance with zero pretentiousness. Authenticity. Such cannot be faked.

The jazz vibe in “Respect” is wonderful, just wonderful. And the album closes out with “Serenity,” which is not one of those songs that puts you to sleep. This is one that genuinely soothes the soul on every level. Not the ambient, wandering, fuzzy kind of New Agey “serenity,” this is beautifully melodic, and it truly feels like an extremely comforting universal embrace from something much bigger than we are. The whole album is like that. This is full circle, back to wholeness. Thank you.

And by the way, I do want to mention the CD artwork is stunning, gives me chills, and is by the late Charles (Charlie) Hedges, to whom the album is also dedicated.

“Mandala” is available on all digital platforms, as well as in the form of a physical CD. Yay!

Official artist website:

Broadcast/media promotion:
LAZZ Promotions (Ed & Stacey Bonk)

Rating: Excellent
Shunia by Shunia
- posted by on 1/2/2021
Shunia Releases a New Genre-Defying Album of Chant
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.

This album 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.

In advance of the album’s full release on January 15, 2021, three tracks are releasing in the coming weeks, including “Sa Re Sa Sa” (Oct. 23, 2020); “Breeze At Dawn” (Nov. 13, 2020); and “Alleluia” (Dec. 4, 2020).

To create their self-titled album of transcendent music and melodic harmonies, Shunia, music duo Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson co-composed with Tony Award-winning producer Jamshied Sharifi. The album takes the listener through mantra melodies, energetic vocals, and dynamic compositions worthy of a feature film score ( They are joined by renowned Moroccan artist Hassan Hakmoun on two of the tracks.

Asked for their thoughts on making the album,Reagan and Jackson said, “When we set out to make this album, our focus was to make it musically stunning. As musicians whose lives have been enriched by chanting, we wanted to create a beautiful garden of sound where the chants could come alive. We thought about the unique energy of each of these mantras and created music that would be in harmony with it. Our hope is that people will sing and dance along with this album because it profoundly moves them.”

Reagan and Jackson became friends while attending graduate school at University of Maryland. Both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years while launching successful solo careers. The duo decided to meld their love for the power of chanting with their Western vocal prowess. This led them to form Shunia (pronounced SHOON-ya), choosing the Sanskrit word meaning “stillness and receptivity” as the name of their duo. “Shunia” describes a stillness of power, not passivity; quiet, unmoving and totally focused.

There is indeed a sense of deep focus present in each track on Shunia, which invites listening on dual levels. On one level, listeners are entertained by stunning compositions, virtuosic playing, and the duos’ rich vocals. On another level, one can focus on the wisdom of each mantra and lyric as it is expressed with deep conviction and impressive clarity.

Music journalist Robin James previewed Shunia, writing, “Overall, the album has a powerful sound that brings clarity and joy to the spirit,” going on to highlight a few of the new tracks as such: “Sa Re Sa Sa” (4:54) featuring the bright energetic voice of Hakmoun and the choral voices of Reagan and Jackson; followed by “Breeze at Dawn” (4:12), a traditional poem of mystical romance by the beloved 13th Century Persian poet Rumi, accented with percussion, oud, flute and choral vocals. Heading into the winter holidays, radio programmers will embrace “Alleluia” (6:51) performed in Latin with a celebratory feeling including vocals, drums, bass and flute.

If charting singles are an indication of future album success, it bodes well that the sensitive and empathetic “Akal” landed in the Top 10 of the New Age Music Guide chart for two months after its June release. Shunia felt called to release it ahead of the album in response to the mournful period of loss in the United States, hoping to lend some comfort. It garnered positive reviews from the U.S. to India; LA-based music writer Jonathan Widran of THE JW VIBE wrote, “You certainly don’t need to know these deeper meanings to appreciate, and more importantly, feel and connect with, the subtle yet sweeping energy wafting through ‘Akal.’”

Shunia’s popular debut album Ascend, released in 2017,offers exquisite harmonies and nine powerful mantras in a healing balm of sound. Both Shunia and Ascend are available worldwide in both physical and digital format, and available for streaming on your favorite music and video platforms.

Shunia is recommended for group classes or personal practice of yoga, or for simply gathering inspiration to move through the remainder of 2020 and into a healthier and more enlightened future.

Shunia Album Track List (Playing Time) – Releasing January 15, 2021

Sa Re Sa Sa (4:54) – releasing Oct. 23, 2020

Breeze At Dawn (4:12) – releasing Nov. 13, 2020

Alleluia (6:51) – releasing Dec. 4, 2020

Akal (6:48)

Har Hare Han Wahe Guru (6:21)

Ang Sang Wahe Guru (6:42)

Ong Namo (5:37)

Sa Ta Na Ma (8:27)

Primary Music & Social Media Links:



Youtube: (new video October 24th)


Lisa Reagan, Suzanne Jackson, and Jamshied Sharifi are available for media interviews about the album. Shunia, individually or as a duo, are available to give guest commentary regarding the power of breathwork, yoga and chant, while Jamshied can speak to producing across all formats from music to TV to stage.

Physical CDs and digital dropbox of the album are available upon request to Windy Campbell at The B Company,
Rating: Excellent
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