MUSIC REVIEWS
By Jim Brenholts

 

 

Jeff ball
The Shape of Light
Red Feather Music
www.fourwinds-trading.com
www.jeffball.net
This might be one of the most unique CD’s in quite some time. Jeff Ball combines quite a few traditional, classical, experimental and ethnic instruments and influences on The Shape of Light. The instrument of focus is the Native American flute and Jeff is a master there. His guests contribute on cello, violin, guitar, assorted percussion devices, assorted flutes, piano and the hang, a newcomer to the percussion family

This is a true hybrid of several styles. While the album is definitely new age and meditative, the experimental features and influences take it to new and exciting levels. While there isn’t a synthesizer in sight, there are some very cool space music riffs and ambient passages. The acoustic guitar adds a touch of folk music. The violin adds sparks of bluegrass and C&W. the bansuri flute brings international flair.

So this CD has a little bit of something for everyone and a lot for the fan of Native American music. Jeff has won awards for his prowess on the flute and he demonstrates it here. He also has a flair for sound design and his arrangements bring out the best from his guests as well. The eclectic mix is breathtaking and serene. The slow pieces have great ambient qualities. The more energetic pieces beget movement and meditation.

This is a very cool CD, worthy of addition to any collection.



Krishna Das
Flow of Grace:
(Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa)
Sounds True
www.soundstrue.com
www.krishnadas.com
Krishna Das (born Jeffrey Kagel) is a great man. In his own humility, he would, of course, deny that. Such is the nature of spiritual bliss and its inherent greatness. Flow of Grace: (Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa) is a brilliant work and — one would suspect — a labor of unconditional love.

The origins of the sacred chants go back centuries, even millennia. The seeds of this performance were sown in the early 1970’s when Krishna learned the Hindi alphabet and transcribed these ancient devotions.

It is not necessary to repeat the history of the chants here. Suffice it to say that the story is beautiful and steeped in love, purity and devotion. The story of how Krishna came to learn the chants, while not part of Hindu lore, is also beautiful and steeped in love, purity and devotion.

Jeff had traveled to India in 1970 to meet Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-Ji). In the spring of 1971, Krishna was staying in Nairital, near the Hanuman temple. He went to the temple with other westerners as often as possible. On each visit he received a booklet of verses — all written in Hindi. They were the Hanuman Chalesa, chants praising the life, character and exploits of Hanuman. Krishna and his friends learned the Hindi alphabet so they could sing the chants for Maharaj-Ji. They did so out of love and to deepen their connections with God.

The performance on CD One is phenomenal. It will absolutely captivate deep listeners. It will surround their hearts and souls with bliss, peace, serenity, joy and love. Listeners will feel and succumb to urges to hum along and move or dance with the music as it flows along smoothly.

Disc Two contains two spoken recitations of the Chalisa. The first is an oral presentation with gentle atmospheres. The second is a phrase by phrase pronunciation guide. The disc is useful for those who wish to go deeper into the soundworlds and spiritual experiences of Krishna Das.



Nawang Khechog
Tibetan Meditation Music
(For Quiet Mind & Peaceful Heart)
Sounds True
www.soundstrue.com
www.nawangkhechog.com
To write about Nawang Khechog’s accomplishments, awards and exploits would be very cool. It would also be easy because they are many. It would also be repetitive because they are also well-documented. Those wishing to learn of his achievements should visit one of the listed websites.

To write about Tibetan Meditation Music (For Quiet Mind and Peaceful Heart) is also very cool, albeit not as easy. This is a deeply spiritual event and it is always difficult to translate such events into words.
There are 11 tracks on the CD. (Nawang received the “Blessing transmission” from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Khunu Lama Rinpoche for all the Tibetan Chants except for those on tracks three and ten.) Nawang crafted each piece with love and compassion for humanity. His music promotes worldwide religious harmony as it crosses all boundaries and has no boundaries.

The music goes farther and deeper, too. Through releases like this, the Tibetan culture remains alive — even thriving as it exposes more listeners to the true nature of Tibetan Buddhism.
The depth of these atmospheres is infinite! Nawang’s gentle flutes take listeners beyond themselves into the realms of bliss and the edges of Heaven. There are no limits to the journey except for listeners’ own realities. Augmenting his flute with western acoustics (violin and cello), ethnic depth (Tibetan bowls, Tibetan bells, drilbu, long horn and aud), electronics (synths) and chants, Nawang creates a meditation chamber that caresses each listener with serenity and love.

There are no greater gifts than those earned from giving. Nawang continues to give of himself in efforts to promote spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical harmony. This CD is a treasure and a work of true brilliance.




Dean Evenson
Wood on Water
Soundings of the Planet
www.soundings.com
“In a subtle way, the essence and spirit of the pipe have been transferred to and through the Soundings of the Planet recordings, allowing people an aural doorway into the world of balance with Mother Nature and the Great Mystery. This is a special mission of Soundings of the Planet and one we are honored to be part of (sic).”

Thus does Dean Evenson introduce Wood on Water and summarize the metaphor of the Native American flute having taken on characteristics of the pipe. The journey that began in 1979 continues — stronger than ever. Dean has become a major influence in the holistic healing community and his message is still clear — Peace through music.

(Every time I sit down to listen to and/or write about this wonderful music, I am struck by its awesome power and the power of music in general.

Many experts have written and theorized that heavy metal has a negative influence on America’s youth. The same experts decry rap as a major influence on our urban decay and crime in the streets. There are several documented cases of teenage suicide pacts influenced by a song or songs. Indeed, Helter Skelter, a Beatles tune, incited mass murder in California.

I wonder why authorities do not use this music for more positive effects on society at large. Every session of Congress should include music from Soundings of the Planet. Every cabinet meeting should begin and end with Wood on Water. Dean should play at every meeting of the United Nations and  NATO, and at every international summit and all peace talks. We might get widespread peace, harmony and unity. I could live with that!

This CD, like all of Dean’s releases, is a collection of atmospheres and soundscapes that caress and love listeners. There are no hidden agendas or subtle messages although the music is, in and of itself, subtle. The music promotes healing.

This is another essential CD for all fans of the holistic New Age.




Rishi
The Ancient Secret: Music
for the 5 Tibetan Exercises
Fonix Music
www.fonixmusic.com
There are dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of albums dedicated to the ancient healing arts. Each one has its own charm and each claims something unique. (That does not mean each has something unique.) The Ancient Secret: Music for the 5 Tibetan Exercises, by Rishi, does have something unique.

This is free-flowing music. There is no formal structure and there are no boundaries. Rishi’s sound design goes beyond the confines of his studio. The atmospheres transcend the confines of the CD. The music comes from everywhere and uses the surroundings to enter and intertwine with the very essence of the listener.

This music goes beyond psychoactive into the narcotic and hallucinogenic realms. Deep listeners will be taking trips without leaving their seats. They will venture into Rishi’s soundworlds where they can experience any of the infinite free-form journeys awaiting them there.

WOW! This is a brilliant CD! It takes listeners in many different directions at the same time and does so gently, effortlessly and seamlessly. The subtlety of the shifts is such that a listener will find him/herself in two zones without realizing how they got there. It is like being on the Scrambler at an amusement park except in slow — very slow — motion. It is languid and it is intense. It is also fun!

This CD is a grand adventure and it is a grand adventure. After the grand adventure, there is another grand adventure. Each journey produces a different experience and a vivid memory. That makes a great CD!

Jim Brenholts resides in N. Versailles, PA and can be reached at jbrenholts@comcast.net


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