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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 1
38 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 1
by Michael Diamond
Tibetan Mantras For
Turbulent Times
Given the unprecedented tur-
bulence, both natural and man-
made, that characterizes our
world today, this album is cer-
tainly timely and relevant. Deva
Premal, a best-selling new age
vocalist and kirtan singer, has
taken a bold step in creating
this cross-cultural fusion which
brings the sacred sounds of Tibet
to Western listeners.
Describing her interaction
with the monks: "Their incred-
ible voices and the intense vi-
bration they create, infused with
such a deep immersion into the
holy sound, has always inspired
and intrigued me. Together we
chose eight mantras that we
felt to be most helpful in daily
life." The mantras reflect com-
passion, purification, Buddha,
White Tara, perfection, wisdom,
healing, and prosperity.
It is an interesting yin-yang
that is created by the blending
of Deva Premal's crystal-clear
angelic voice and the deep gut-
tural vocalizations of the monks.
The chanting is accompanied
and enhanced by the accom-
plished musicianship of David
Darling on cello, keyboards by
Kit Walker, and flutes by Manose
and Marina Stanton, adding
more familiar and musical ele-
ment to the mantras which can
sound esoteric to Western ears.
This is not the kind of album
you would put on while kicking
back with a glass of Chardon-
nay. It is best used as an interac-
tive experience with the listener
meditating or chanting along to
the CD. Those purchasing the
album, which comes with a
beautiful 12-page booklet, are
further interacting since all pro-
ceeds are directed to the Gyoto
Monastery in India and related
If you haven't heard the mu-
sic of Matthew Schoening (pro-
nounced Shane-ing) you can
probably take whatever precon-
ceptions you may have about
what a solo cello concert might
sound like and toss them right
out the window. Listening to the
CD, you would swear you were
hearing a full ensemble consist-
ing of drums, bass, guitar, syn-
thesizers, and yes, even cello.
That is because Matthew plays
his futuristic-looking electric cel-
lo through a looping device that
allows him to play a part, record
it in real time, and then play over
that one layer at a time, includ-
ing melodies, harmonies, bass
lines, and percussive rhythms,
building up a complex composi-
tion that sounds like a complete
What is even more amazing
is that this album was recorded
in front of a live audience with
no backing tracks or accompa-
niment other than his solo in-
strument and electronic effects.
While on the CD it has been
divided into five movements --
Water, Air, Fire, Earth, and Spir-
it, it is actually one continuous
composition with no editing or
I recently had the good for-
tune to see Matthew in concert
and I highly recommend visit-
ing his website to view a video
of him performing to see how
he creates his unique sound-
I also appreciated the senti-
ments he expressed in the CD's
liner notes: "We are only part
of a much larger picture... my
hope is that we can all realize
how powerful we are, and use
that power to create a better
Doorway To A Dream
Music lovers who find solace
in soothing sounds will certain-
ly enjoy award-winning flautist
Ann Licater's latest CD. I men-
tion "award-winning" because
at the time of this writing, it was
just announced that the album
has won Best Native American
Album in the ZMR Music Awards
as well as having been chosen
one of the top ten albums in the
New Age category on Amazon
in 2010, and has been nomi-
nated in the Independent Music
While Ann has had formal
musical training in the silver
flute, it was the sound of the
wooden Native American flute
that spoke to her Spirit and led
her to study with one of the ac-
knowledged masters of the in-
strument, R. Carlos Nakai. She
now records and gives concerts
using a variety of flutes from
around the world, including hav-
ing performed at Carnegie Hall,
and as a featured soloist with
the San Jose Chamber Orches-
tra, among others.
On "Doorway To A Dream"
there are tracks that feature
solo and duet flutes, as well
as those with accompaniment
by a number of highly-talented
guest musicians on keyboards,
guitar, percussion, electric sitar,
flugelhorn, and more. These se-
rene instrumentals beautifully
showcase her impressive abili-
ties as well as the range of the
flute to be both earthy and airy.
Ann also facilitates a work-
shop called "Flute For The Soul"
and sees "creativity as a divine
journey." This ideal certainly
shines through in the graceful
and heartfelt music of "Doorway
To A Dream."
Sonic Venue
Michael Spriggs is some-
what of an anomaly in the mu-
sic world, displaying what some
might even call a split personal-
ity. On the one hand this Brit-
ish transplant has worked for
decades as a well-known Nash-
ville studio guitarist and has
recorded and toured with some
of the biggest names in country,
blues, and pop music.
But late at night in the seclu-
sion of his personal studio, he
is busy creating the instrumen-
tal music that expresses another
aspect of his being and which
leans more towards the new
age/Windham Hill side of the
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