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Emerald Waters by Hollan Holmes
- posted by Robin B. James on 1/14/2022
Emerald Waters
Hollan Holmes’ second album for Spotted Peccary, Emerald Waters, is an electronic paean to the beauty, power and importance of water, both calm and dynamic. Here, a plethora of synthesizers ebb and flow around each other like shifting tides in a sonic mix of Berlin School sequences, traditional melodic structures and emotional chord progressions—all infused into enchanting electronic landscapes.

To celebrate the release, the artist will join a live chat on YouTube for the reveal of his "Emerald Waters" video at 1 pm ET January 14, 2022. Join or set a reminder notification at this YouTube channel.

Close your eyes and become immersed in the soundscapes and transported to another state of mind, a most potent and pure combination of perception-altering collection of pieces of music thrilling to the senses. This is music with a logical purpose, and there is always a progression. There are infinite free wheeling electronic sounds but there is an overall tonal framework.

The first track of Emerald Waters is all about motion, with many things happening at once, creating a tapestry of powerful proud melodic punchy layers, calm on the surface but obviously very energetic below. The sound is a tight purposeful weave demonstrating sustainable energy in motion: "Hydroelectric" (6:10). Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is electricity produced from hydropower.

The third track, "A Ribbon of Life" (6:00), is an homage to all the elements of ecology, joyful whirling, dancing and calling, little bells and circles of melodic weaving signs of life and its gradual rise and fall with each successive undulation. In those chasms from which no one returns, new and varied features of the coast are constantly opening up. The whole surface of the sea becomes one dizzy whirl of rushing, writhing motion, bounding, and crashing, and coiling in an anarchy of enormous power, subdivided into myriads of waves, but the rage quiets and there are rapid small movements, transparent currents blending and bubbling. "Tales from the Abyss" (7:15).

"The River" (5:57) has an epic sound, an imaginary massive cathedral organ creates the sense of a rippling moving body of water, winding its way towards the distant blue sea, full of life and motion as far as the eye can reach. Imagine that all the streams in the world, small as well as large, the tiniest brooks no less than the enormous rivers, flowing unceasingly into the oceans.

Water is a versatile substance that makes life as we know it possible. This album of wonder elicits visions of layered power, is uplifting, contemplative and emotionally moving. There is considerable science in this celebration of the constant evolution of all the blips and beeps portraying fluid dynamics of futuristic relentlessness.

Emerald Waters, the album, is uplifting, contemplative and emotionally moving, with its sharper, icier precision and fascination with melody and repetition and textures, and with implied messages about technology's impact on the planet. This album of wonderful water, elicits visions of layered power, is uplifting, contemplative and emotionally moving. There is considerable science in this celebration of the constant evolution of all the blips and beeps portraying fluid dynamics of futuristic relentlessness. In one word: Fantastiche!

01 Hydroelectric
02 Hell or High Water
03 A Ribbon of Life
04 Tales from the Abyss
05 The River
06 Taken by the Current
07 The Sublime Shimmer
08 Changing Course
09 Leviathan
10 Fathom
11 Emerald Waters

Spotted Peccary Music
Rating: Excellent
Ludwig van Beethoven: in Celebration of the 250th Anniversary of his Birth by Sophia Agranovich
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 12/20/2021
Celebrating Beethoven By Sophia Agranovich
The master and utter genius that was Ludwig Van Beethoven, is regarded as one of the finest composers and pianists that has ever graced this most beautiful planet, and we can now reflect on this master musicians time, with an album released to celebrate what would have been his 250th birthday, so let’s reflect and enjoy this quite breath taking new release from Steinway artist Sophia Agranovich.
Celebrating Beethoven by Sophia Agranovich is a true classical reflection of an artist who deeply cares, and shows such a vast level of attention to the smallest of details and performance structures, from the abundant refrains of Beethoven Fantasia Op. 77 through to the albums conclusion, and the presentation of Beethoven. Tempest III. Allegretto, a masterful work in its own right, and it must be said, Agranovich’s performance on both pieces is incredibly stunning.
One of my personal favourite performances by the artist can be found by enjoying the incredible efforts given on the piece Beethoven Pathetique I. Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio. It has pace, power, intensity and a wonderfully fluent sense of balance and texture.
A few years ago in the vast reaches of our existences, I came across this offering mainly thanks to my father’s love of all things classical, and I have loved it ever since, it has a sensitivity that sometimes is hidden by Beethoven, a smoothness of approach, and a gentle refrain to utterly bathe in, and of course called Beethoven Pathetique II Adagio cantabile.
This is an album of pure culture and made accessible by the masterful performances and open interpretations of Beethoven’s work by Agranovich, from the artistic nuances of Beethoven. Pathetique III. Rondo allegro, and to the loving arms of one of Beethoven’s most famous works entitled Beethoven. Moonlight I. Adagio sostenuto, a body of work used in so many movies and musical arenas worldwide over many years, and beautifully played by Agranovich, with such heart, sensitivity, and an almost symbiotic energy, it is as if she is literally channelling the grand master here.
From start to finish, from page to page Sophia Agranovich flows with the essences of Beethoven’s crafted compositions, on the light energies of Beethoven. Moonlight II. Allegretto, into the intensity and powerful force that is known as Beethoven Moonlight III Presto agitato, a track that has an abundance of depth, complexity and tone.
One can also deeply enjoy the tapestry of a crafted performance on Beethoven. Tempest I. Largo – Allegro, a presentation where two opposing sides seem to literally dance around each other in a chaotic energy of dominance.
The penultimate offering on the album is entitled Beethoven. Tempest II. Adagio and Agranovich’s performance here was delightfully subtle, profound in its presentation, and perceptive in its overall tones, one which would of course lead us to the final concluding offering, the aforementioned Beethoven. Tempest III. Allegretto, a more fluent presentation you will not find, and performed with such an amazing technically emotive performance, but one held within the musical constraints of the piece beautifully, but adding a deeply compelling romantic hint into the weave of the composition.
Celebrating Beethoven by Sophia Agranovich celebrates the anniversary of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, and she does this with such style and panache. Each and every performance on this wondrous new album is utterly sublime, and I am sure the grand master himself would have been very pleased indeed at the penetrating, profound, assured, and eloquent presentations given here. If you are appreciative of the works of Ludwig Van Beethoven, then you really must have a copy of Celebrating Beethoven by Sophia Agranovich in your musical collections as quickly as you can.
Rating: Excellent
Touch & Sound by Juan Sanchez
- posted by Robin B. James on 12/2/2021
Generous Emotional Beauty
Juan Sánchez always experiments, calling himself a classical musician falling in love with Ambient/New Age electronic music. Touch & Sound is his third indie album, with an astonishing and nourishing 17 tracks. This time he is exploring the combination of strings and ethereal female voices, while continuing his passion for the sound of the acoustic piano in different settings. There is the most subtle electronica present in many places, but the sound is stories told on a solo piano without lyrics, created to allow a connection with the music on an emotional level.
Listeners hear generous epic soundscapes exploring notions of time, childhood, the moon, the rain, piano with a duduk, a lullaby, the discipline of calm, international human rights, a candle in the window, the afterlife, under the ocean, living by the sea, the air, daybreak, water mixed with sky, an unclad piano, and dreams.
The first track, "Sands of Time" (6:32), is a composition about the steady unstoppable advancement of time, featuring the timeless voice of soprano Morgane Matteuzzi. Juan uses very interesting keyboard phrasing, hurrying and then slowing to a pause. The vocalist and synthesizers blend, water flows, heights are reached, the sands of time are running out. The term “The Sands of Time” comes from the sand used in hourglasses, an ancient way of measuring time, scattered with unanswered questions, questions that imply – unthinkably to the young romantic – that love and goodness may be illusory.
The title of the next track is "Piga Al Cel" (7:07), and is a personal favorite in this collection of beautiful and emotional piano personal favorites. The song name is a Catalan language expression that in English means “freckle in the sky.” As a listener, what I like is the special razor’s edge sound, both violinist Mirela Nita and the mechanical aspects of the piano blend into the construction; we can hear the felt hammers gently move against the strings, it is a natural force that cannot be resisted.
The mood starts unsteadily and eerily on the title track, "Touch & Sound" (4:21), when electronica gently touches the piano and reaches us in our dreams, crossing over from reality to create an amazing atmosphere anchored in the depths of the sound of desires and more importantly cravings, the melody becomes human enough to weep and despair, to talk and to aspire.
Touch & Sound is a piano-driven album with increased instrumentation like ethereal female voices, subtle synthesizer backgrounds and string arrangements, proving that sound can expand consciousness. With the syncing of these two diverse worlds comes the ultimate journey to transcend current time, space and reality, with the songs acting as mood shifters so any atmosphere can be created.
The music of Juan Sánchez is a reflective musical journey through moments of hope as well as despair, featuring arpeggios that seemingly float in the air. He does not want people to only listen to his music, he wants them to feel it and connect with it. Touch & Sound achieves that connection with grace and serenity. This is a timeless album which brings an inspirational feeling of peaceful insight.
1) Sands of Time
2) Those Fridays
3) Piga Al Cel
4) For When It Rains
5) A Nocturne
6) Lullaby For A Frantic World
7) Ataraxia
8) Human Rights
9) Into The Night
10) Where Are They Now?
11) Le Grand Bleu
12) Paralian
13) Astral Voices
14) When Daybreak Comes
15) Immersion
16) Astral Voices (Solo Piano)
17) Touch & Sound

Rating: Excellent
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