January Febuary issue of Awareness Magazine : Mavis McCovey A Medicine Way of Life, Deanna Campbell Saving Tibetan Culture

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Awareness Magazine
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Scott August
Radiant Sky
Cedar Mesa Music

Among players of Native American flute music, such as Carlos Nakai and Coyote Oldman, Scott August ranks as one of the foremost in the world. He has been nominated and has won numerous awards including the Native American Music Award.

In addition to being a leading authority on the instrument, he has been a headline performer at various music festivals, and has produced four CD’s previous to this one, which have garnered airplay on nationally-syndicated radio programs such as “Hearts Of Space” and “Echoes”.

After being impressed by the visual nature of Scott’s early music, well-known composer Brian Eno suggested that Scott consider creating scores for film, TV, etc. Following that advice he soon had a client list that included The Discovery Channel, NASA, Minolta, Lexus, and many others.

Speaking about “Radiant Sky,” Scott says “this is probably my most contemplative album.” Ethereal space-music dreamscapes provide a soothing and mystical background for his flute playing along with additional accompaniment by Scott on piano, guitar, percussion, and exotic world instruments. In addition to the traditional native wood flute, he also plays the rare Anasazi rim-blown flutes, which very few musicians have mastered.

The combination of ancient hand-made instruments with more modern electronic textures is mesmerizing, and transports the listener into the dreamtime. While some of the compositions float effortlessly in spacious ambience, gentle rhythmic currents provide a bit of percussive groove to other songs. This album weaves a sensuous sonic tapestry and I highly recommend it.

Mercedes Bahleda
Mercy Songs
White Swan Records

“Mercy Songs” is a beautiful and haunting album of devotional music that encompasses Latin Christian church hymns, Tibetan Buddhist mantras, and ancient Vedic chants. It is rare to find these diverse musical and spiritual influences together under one roof, so to speak. However, given Mercedes’ diverse background it all makes perfect sense. Beginning life in New York City as a Roman Catholic, she became deeply involved in the study of voice, choir, chanting, and Christian meditation.

Her later spiritual evolution led her to the East where she became immersed in the yogic tradition and teachings. She is currently practicing Buddhism and incorporates all that she has learned about spirituality and music over the years in her own classes as well as serving on the teaching staff of New York University.

All of this exploration and education comes together in “Mercy Songs” which ranges from “Ave Maria “to “Kali Durga” and “Om Mani Padme Hum” and much more. Mercedes’ voice is stunning and is a perfect vehicle for such deeply devotional music.

A meeting in a Buddhist temple with Parisian-born classical musician and producer Ferenz Kalios, who played a major role in this production, was the beginning of bringing this recording to fruition.

His music, with its elements of classical, new age, and ethnic influences is the perfect accompaniment for her evocative singing — providing a subtle, yet supportive soundscape for her voice to soar over. All in all, an interesting and heartfelt multi-cultural listening experience.

Good Sign

I’ve been a fan of Davol (pronounced duh-VOL) since the late 1980’s when I first heard his debut album “Mystic Waters,” which made it to #15 on the Billboard New Age Chart, and remained on the charts for 25 weeks. The music from his albums has been used worldwide in TV, radio, video and multimedia productions.

This Denver-based electronic music composer has come a long way since getting his first Moog synthesizer at the age of 13, and in my opinion is on equal ground with some of the pioneers of this genre that he idolized in his early days.

Perhaps it is a cliche to call something “feel good,” but that’s exactly what Davol’s “Good Sign” is. It is bright, bouncy, upbeat, and hits you like the sun breaking through on a cloudy day. Electronic music comes in many flavors, some with elements of classical, rock, deep space, techno, etc.

Davol’s instrumental compositions display influences of pop and perhaps a touch of smooth jazz giving it the accessible, uplifting ambience that it has. The music has the unique quality of being both relaxing and energizing at the same time — a perfect balance of yin and yang.

Every song on the CD is excellent, and I particularly enjoyed his use of sonic accents — the little electronic sparkles, wooshes, cymbal swells, and arpeggios that appear out of the mix and add an air of magic to the soundscape. This is the seventh of Davol’s outstanding albums, and perhaps his best yet.

Lia Scallon
The Sounds Of Sirius

Subtitled “Songs To Soothe The Soul,” this album is a compilation that includes excerpts from all seven of Lia Scallon’s “Sounds Of Sirius” CD’s. Her music is now available in the U.S. and worldwide after enjoying popularity in Australia, where this Irish-born recording artist has been residing.

Before following an inner calling to music and healing, Lia worked as an actress who has shared the stage and screen with the likes of Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, and Glenn Close.

This CD, like her various albums, is quite diverse and is an excellent introduction and overview of her work. The first track, “Lullaby of Love” features her beautiful clear voice, which is vaguely reminiscent of Enya, evoking channeled melodies of Sirius accompanied by the music of crystal bowls.

Also from the same album, “The First Little Angels On Earth,” is the title track, which opens with a narrated story and full musical score for the first two thirds before evolving into Lia’s sacred harmonic singing.

The next track, which has a deep and haunting feel, is from her CD, “Breath Of Life,” and is designed to help us deal with various forms of grief and loss. Her “Diamond Light Meditation,” one for women and one for men, begins with a guided-imagery narration leading to her mystical melodies. In addition to music, some pieces include the sounds of water, birds, or whale songs. A generous sample from her various music albums can be heard on her website.

AMAdea Records

It’s not every day I get a CD in the mail addressed from Bulgaria, so this one piqued my curiosity a bit. Upon opening it, I was surprised to find that a number of songs from this German-born recording artist had titles like “Mojave Mystery,” “Pacific Coast Highway,” and “Summer In New England.” The music, however, has a definite Euro influence and bears some resemblance to artists such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze, Jean Michel Jarre, and Vangelis.

Tigerforest is the name that synthesist/electronic music producer Gunnar Spardel creates under. “Daybreak” is the follow up to his debut “The Sound Of Life” CD, and as mentioned, the music is influenced by the beauty of the American landscape, where he spends much of his time. Having worked the last few years composing music for film and TV, it is not surprising that there is a cinematic feel to his recordings.

While most of his songs are instrumental, some of them feature female vocals. One of the vocalists involved is Amehyste, whose own wonderful album “Shimmer” was produced by Gunnar. There are also a number of other musicians lending their talents on piano, guitars, and vocals.

The music encompasses ambient, down-tempo chill, and electronica which ranges from drifting dreamscapes to more groove-oriented numbers. Gunnar, who wrote, composed, and produced most of the tunes on “Daybreak,” has a wonderful creative spirit and a feel for this genre that is sure to be enjoyed by fans of electronic music.

Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and journalist in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit: www.mdiamondsound.com