MUSIC REVIEWS
By Jim Brenholts

 

 

Ram Dass
Meditations on the Gita
Karuna Music
Triloka Records
Artemis Records
www.karunamusic.com
www.trilokarecords.com
www.artemisrecords.com
The Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God) is a “jewel of Hindu spiritual literature.” Meditations on the Gita is a set of verses from that book, read by Ram Dass, nee Richard Alpert. The “slokes” are in the first person and represent God speaking to a devotee, or the inner self speaking to the outer self. It is very deep, very personal and very humble.

There are five meditations and two chants on this disc. Ram surrounds the meditations with gentle atmospheres created by acoustic and electronic instruments. The meditations, as described above, are powerful in and of themselves. The instrumentation adds overtone properties that augment the pathways to the soul. The chants are superb and downright narcotic!  Deep listeners will feel the enhanced presence of Spirit as the music fires receptors and neuro-transmitters in the brain.

This disc is an awesome holistic healing tool and is absolutely essential!

 

Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf, Mark Seelig
Mantram
Projekt Records
www.projekt.com

Steve Roach is the Shaman’s Shaman. Byron Metcalf is an extraordinary spiritual and learned Sha-manic practitioner. While Mark Seelig is not as well-known as Byron or Steve, he is also deeply involved in holistic and Shamanic practices.

Steve is also a master multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound designer and a musical icon. Byron is a gifted percussionist and Mark is a consummate bansuri flautist and overtone vocalist.

They have all collaborated on Mantram and with pedigrees like that, listeners expect — and get — a great CD! Steve’s electronics and ethnic acoustics surround Byron’s percussion. Mark’s subtle vocal drones and flute atmospheres complement and complete the soundscape. Three soundworlds become one as these eight movements play as a continuous environment. The music is awesome!

This is also an excellent trance and meditation tool. The atmospheres and pulses enter the listeners’ biosonic feedback devices (brains) and take them on deep journeys of introspection and discovery.

This CD is very highly recommended!

 

Dirk Barkemeijer de Wit
Didgeridoo Alchemy
Sacred Sounds of Shambala
www.sacredsoundsofshambala.com
www.hbdidgeridoo.com
The didgeridoo is — perhaps — the second oldest musical instrument on earth. (The human voice is the oldest.)  There are dozens of maestros performing and releasing didg music in traditional and modern formats. Each release must have its own character and trademark to differentiate it from the others, lest the instrument become commonplace and its drones become boring.

On Didgeridoo Alchemy, Dirk Barkemeijer de Wit complements his didgeridoo stylings with field recordings and nature samples. His unique techniques and deft touch create nuances and atmospheres that invite listeners into his musical environs. While there are nine distinct tracks, this disc plays as a single soundscape with shifting themes and deep integrity. Dirk uses his sound design to transform atmospheres into relaxing and healing temples.

This is a very cool CD and a must have for fans of tribal ambience.

 

Serah
A Thousand Candles
Great Northern Arts
www.serah.com
The difficulty in using a vocal CD as an ambient meditation tool is that the lyrics can get in the way. There is a technique that involves getting out of oneself and hearing the voice only as a chant. That is hard to do when the words are in the listener’s native tongue but it is possible.

Serah is a very talented performer with a full rich voice that has loads of texture and ambient qualities. The lyrics on A Thousand Candles are poignant and humble. Serah delivers them deftly and smoothly. The sound design features — of course — her voice. The surrounding instrumentation is excellent and supports her strength and vision.

Serah is also an excellent composer and lyricist but the highlight of the CD is her interpretation of Angel, a classic Jimi Hendrix composition.

This is a good CD. It is essential for fans of vocal ambience.

 

Krishna Das
Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga
Karuna Music
Triloka Records
www.karunarecords.com
www.trilokarecords.com
www.krishnadas.com

It might be possible to listen to a Krishna Das (b. Jeffrey Kagel) CD without going into a meditative state of mind. The listener would have to be able to vegetate and shut him/herself off from the environment. Of course, that state could be a goal of a meditation/relaxation/healing session.

Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga is a collection of nine pieces from 1997-2004. There is also one new composition and a bonus DVD that tells of Krishna’s life journeys.

The CD is a remarkable collection from a remarkable man. Krishna’s deep overtone chants are the featured sound design elements. Those chants, however, surround vibrant melodies. Deep drones — acoustic and electronic — surround those melodies. Acoustic and traditional instruments enhance and complement the atmospheres and soundscapes. Occasional and subtle arpeggios play off and to the acoustics. The sound design is flawless. The performances are flawless and soulful. This is not “music to get inside of.” It is “music that gets inside.”

The DVD — One Life at a Time — is a very inspirational and inspired look at a very inspirational and inspired man. The movie looks at Krishna’s journeys from the 1970’s to the present, including his pilgrimages to India and experiences with his guru — Maharaji. The details are not as important as the humility with which they are delivered. Krishna discusses the teachings with awe and amazement at their simplicity and their depth.

Like most folks of his generation, Krishna Das was expecting — maybe even hoping for — an extremely complex detailed answer to the meaning of life and spiritual enlightenment. His guru told him that the way to serve God is to serve others. The best way to feed God is to feed another. That answer is entirely too simple! (Sic!) Great minds like Jeff Kagel’s need thought-provoking equations and difficult theorems. (Again, sic!)

The producers interviewed several of Krishna’s friends and associates to get the “inside” story. However, the most telling moment is Krishna’s playful teasing of his daughter during her interview. The love he shows for her is inspirational and — obviously — unconditional.

Now, there is one flaw in the DVD production. The producers did not focus enough on Krishna’s recovery from his self-disclosed drug problems of the 1970’s. Journeys of that nature require complete spiritual upheaval and divine interventions. While the story reveals the beauty of the journey, it does not dwell on all of the upsides of the journey.

The DVD also includes footage of some concert and studio performances. The music is beautiful and interactions between the musicians and the audience are priceless.

The entire production is overflowing with love and affection — for all the performers, the participants and — mostly — the listener/viewer. That is the special quality that Krishna Das brings to the table — unconditional love for humanity!

This is a unique and essential look at the life and love of a great man who wants only to be a servant of God.


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