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Sacred Night by Secret Garden
- posted by John Iverson - CKUW on 11/25/2021
A Stunningly Beautiful Christmas Album
When Secret Garden released their first Christmas album Sacred Night in 2020, their fans were ultimately left wanting more. The album was absolutely beautiful, a gem in the Christmas album oeuvre, but it contained only seven songs. It didn't take long for the wait to be over, however, as Secret Garden re-released the album containing five additional songs, and titled it "Sacred Night - The Christmas Album". This album is not comprised of the customary traditional Christmas songs, but rather a selection of mainly original compositions sung in both English and Norwegian. However the songs on this album are akin to traditional Christmas songs, and are magnificently performed with an abundance of Christmas joy and spirit.

As was the case with all the songs on the first Sacred Night album, the stunning voice of Norwegian soprano Cathrine Iversen is again front and center on all of the new songs. Fionnuala Sherry on violin and Rolf Løvland on piano, along with the members of Secret Garden and the orchestras employed, provide a magnificent backdrop for this stunning set of yuletide music.

And of the five new songs, four are new works by Rolf Løvland, and the other is a new recording of their piece Sigma, which appeared on their debut album Songs from a Secret Garden. Secret Garden is duly accompanied by the Irish choir Anúna on this piece. Espen Grjøtheim joins Cathrine Iversen for the beautiful duet 'Cause of You, and Rolf Løvland has created a beautiful new Ave Maria melody, arranging it with the traditional lyrics. The Junior Musicals Theatre School Choir, Dublin joins Secret Garden on the charming Christmas Time Is Here Again, and the opening track on the album, A Million Stars, is a touching Christmas song.

The album is rounded out by the seven songs from the original Sacred Night album including the breathtaking title track "Sacred Night", the Norwegian song "Desembernattens Sang", complete with its brass quintet that harks of Christmases of yore, and the beautiful hymn "I Know a Rose Tree", so wonderfully complimented by the Irish choir Anúna. And even if you don't fully comprehend the songs sung in Norwegian, you will still appreciate the sheer beauty of these songs. The quality of all the pieces on this album showcase Rolf Løvland's talent not only as an amazing writer and arranger of music, but also as a fine lyricist.

If you are looking for a Christmas album that is different from the norm, but still has that Christmas feeling, than this is the one. Secret Garden is once again at their very best, and the results are a magnificent Christmas album!

Bravo Secret Garden!

Rating: Excellent
Wrapped in Light by Jill Haley
- posted by Dyan Garris on 11/5/2021
Wrapped in Light | Jill Haley
Music from the very gifted multi-instrumentalist Jill Haley is always a treat. Her albums are always heartfelt, authentic, and impeccable. Jill is best known for her work with the National Park system. She visits various National Parks, spends time there as artist in residence, and writes music based upon her inspirations from each place of beauty. However, due to the pandemic, she was not able to visit a National Park as she normally does. So, she turned her artistic abilities inward and garnered her musical inspiration from The Book of Psalms instead. Her new album, “Wrapped In Light” is the result. I think that’s just brilliant.

Now, to the music on this gorgeous album. “Wrapped In Light” is 10 tracks, about 47 minutes of warm, richly hued music. The instrumentation consists of piano, English horn, oboe, and synth (Jill Haley), guitar and bass (husband, David Cullen), and cello (son, Graham Cullen).

The title track opens this album, and we can feel the Light bathe us in a soft cloak of comfort. Melodic piano, softly ethereal synth, and strings all make this so very beautiful, and it’s a wonderful beginning.

Following is “Clouds Rise.” With its tranquil guitar, soothing synth and sweet oboe, English horn, and melodic, gentle piano, we can feel our spirits rise. “Forest Sings for Joy” is equally as uplifting in every way.

Some other highlights: “The Mountains Rise” is stunningly beautiful and creates a wide, expansive, cinematic vista. I love this piece. Likewise regarding “Wings of Dawn.” Impressively gorgeous. I love that Jill has added synth into this album, which is new for her. It adds even more depth to her already magnificent compositions.

“Flourishing Grass” is very pretty, and conjures up in the imagination, lush fields of green blowing softly in the gentle breeze. Quite beautiful, as is all on this album.

Can you imagine how the waters of the Earth once looked in the beginning? The album closes out with “Pools of Water,” which effectively conveys that azure vision. And why wouldn’t it? Jill Haley clearly has a great gift for translating the beauty of nature into elegant musical soundscapes for us all to enjoy and get lost in. Simply gorgeous.

Official artist website: https://jillhaley.com/

“Wrapped In Light” will be released on November 5, 2021. Available at iTunes and Amazon and can be heard streaming on Spotify and Pandora. Or pre-order here: https://jillhaley.com/discography/


Broadcast and Media Promotion
Ed and Stacey Bonk
lazzpromotions@lazzpromotions.com
Rating: Excellent
Illusive by Kelly David
- posted by Robin James on 10/15/2021
Illusions and Aetheric Architecture
Gentle and mysterious electronic instrumental music,Illusive flows through various terrains and landscapes, responding to elemental changes and discoveries along the way, accomplishing thorough and ultimately dramatic transformations in the form, appearance, and character of the soundscape. What you will hear will sometimes be something that might not be what it seems to be, just when the view of a jungle plateau is coming into focus it might soon disappear and be replaced with something even more complex and inexplicable. This is the beauty and direction of the compositional work of Kelly David.

It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all of my perceptions are false. The ability of the mind to be tricked into believing that a mentally generated world is the "real world" is actually a common, even nightly event. Listening to Illusive, you might be able to see in this soundtrack a resemblance to various different unexplored planets adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, flora, fauna, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills and caverns. The first encounter is with a person or thing that watches or stands as if watching.

The curtain opens with a choral invocation, majestic vistas loom in the darkness. Gradually forms are suggested and rise from the mist. There are pauses between each sustained swirling paradox of sonic umbraic geography. "Sentinel" (9:20) brings an introduction that transforms from a meditation on stillness into a delicate dance of mystical convocation.

Giuseppe Palione was an Italian classical composer born in Rome in 1781 and died in Paris in 1819; there is a street named after him in Oahu with a vacation house located there. On the grounds of this vacation house there is a salt water pool where some of the music heard on this track was created, "Palione" (9:54). The echoes suggest that this cavern is gigantic and there are various textures and natural features to explore, a bubbling pool of many colors, a vast shimmering expanse, zones of uncertain substance and sensation, clouds of gloom with glitter, gulls floating in dark waters and eventually emerging into forests inhabited by crepuscular avian life forms.

The length of a specific path traveled between two points is known as the distance, however, distance measures in cosmology are complicated by the expansion of the universe. "Distance" (7:33) includes illusive vistas and offings, with cyclic dreamy pauses which build into floating sky palaces and ancient cathedral gardens. The details are luxurious with variety and exotic tiny whirling clockwork-like mechanisms.

Energetic vibrations and melodic fragments open into a yet larger chamber which turns out to be a conservatory with remote foghorns and forms of life that are allowed to flourish, beautifully written with satisfying cycles of tension and release. "Garden of the Forgotten" (5:19) is a more vibrant interlude, providing a tender sparkle. The pace of this track allows a bit of contrast to this unhurried journey of discovery. All of these elements are woven throughout.

Go and climb to the top of the trees; up there I thought I saw numerous gaily-plumaged birds that were strange, sitting at the top of the tree talking to one another. "Top of the Trees" (8:03) allows our ears to wander through the green velarium high above, into a canopy where breezes and flocks of flying creatures weave in and out of the leaves and branches.

Slow and elegant, with wide expanses that reveal complex golden mountains and valleys where high above in the sky metallic chimeras leisurely ring and wind and weave, and then disappear without leaving any evidence of their substance. "Into The Ether" (12:25) shows that it is possible to disappear into the mysterious matter that our ancestors once thought to suffuse the universe. This is what the best dreams float and sway upon. The reverberations fade into darkness.

How can such a journey be concluded? What can top the heights we have experienced so far? Start at the shore, where waves break and rattle the pebbles. "Northcoast" (15:52) is the universe collected into an electronic symphony, expressing new and timeless tributes to celestial intelligence, marching out of sight to suggest that what we think we see might not be the end of it. There is something hidden beyond and we could get there if only we had new wings. Higher and higher, at sunrise over the dark seas sparkling with whitecaps, at the furthest extent of our vision there are cliffs with another opening, leading to a world that has never been observed. The Northcoast has signs of long ago storms and tides that sometimes reveal the tops of large objects submerged in the depths of the sea, are they lost buildings? Perhaps a pyramid, or some kind of a shrine or ruins of a temple, remaining from some strange priesthood that spent centuries calling in vain on their gods to preserve them as the sea gradually rose around them, tides pulled by a moon that steadily and microscopically accumulated and caused the shoreline to rise to cover and submerge the work of these unknown ancient architects. Now the lights fade.

After an extensive and colorful career as a DJ in various American cities (Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Diego, Honolulu, Washington DC and Baltimore), Kelly David settled down at the edge of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and amongst other activities started a series of collaborative projects with Steve Roach, who mixed and produced Kelly’s first album, Broken Voyage in 2002 and mastered and added spatial enhancements to Kelly’s 2006 release, Angkor. In 2014, Kelly collaborated with Steve on an album called The Long Night and in 2019 Kelly released his first solo album with Spotted Peccary Music, Meditations in Green. This is his second album with Spotted Peccary.


TRACKS

1 Sentinel
2 Palione
3 Distance
4 Garden of the Forgotten
5 Top of the Trees
6 Into The Ether
7 Northcoast

Links:
Spotted Peccary Album Page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/illusive/
Multiplatform: https://orcd.co/illusive
CD unboxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcG-280CeZE
Bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/spottedpeccary
Rating: Excellent
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