By Jim Brenholts



Deva Premal
White Swan Records
Deva Premal is a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul, a beautiful voice and a beautiful heart. Dakshima is a set of light wonderful chants that “express the ancient wisdom of mantra.” Deva has dedicated this album to Osho, her guiding light and spiritual advisor. She states that this CD is “a celebration of the Divine Essence that dwells at the core of every religious path.”

It takes courage, strength and unconditional love to dedicate an album to such an important person. The strong words take even stronger convictions. Deva has all of those qualities in great abundance.

She also has abundant talent and a strong supporting cast. She layers and loops her voice in lush soundworlds. Deep atmospheres — created by ethnic, traditional and modern instruments — surround and augment her vocals. The outcome is an intensely beautiful soundscape that speaks directly to the heart.

This CD is perfect for meditation, relaxation, yoga and all of the healing arts.

David Parsons
Inner Places
Celestial Harmonies
David Parsons is one of the premier — if not the premier — creators of electro-tribal ambience in the world. From his home in New Zealand he has traveled to Asia — frequently — for spiritual and musical inspiration.

Inner Places takes everything to the next level. There are no rhythmic or percussive elements on this album — leaving listeners free to journey in their own imaginations. The track titles — in Hindi/Sanskrit — translate to “First World, Second World ... Sixth World.” Use of generic titles allows for deeper focus on those personal journeys. (There are no preconceived notions of what to expect on the journey.)

Deep is only one word to describe these soundscapes. They are, indeed, deep and they are mystical and expansive as well. David uses mostly synths to create these pockets of meditative delight and devotion. They allow deep listeners to float into and out of the mystical drifts that expand consciousness. To use an overused (by me) cliché, these atmospheres are psychoactive.

David is definitely a devout and spiritual man. This CD enhances that reputation while allowing listeners to enhance their own depths.

David Parsons
Groove Unlimited
David Parsons is always on the cutting edge of ambient world music. He is a master synthesist and a master multi-instrumentalist. He combines those talents with a deep soul and a sharp sense of sound design to create brilliant electro-tribal music.

“Vajra, his first release on Groove Unlimited, is a major milestone in that style. While he emphasizes his use of electronics, David brings acoustic and ethnic instruments to the table as well. On this CD he uses no vocals but the music chants in its own language at its own pace. The messages vary but they tend to be about love, devotion, harmony and peace.

The messages are not subtle. David’s soundworlds are remarkably calm and intense. He uses very few rhythmic elements but the pace is overt. The juxtapositions enhance the listening experience. Listeners are free to choose their own paths. This disc — like all of David’s CD’s — is essential!

Daniel Paul
Between Two Worlds
Soundings of the Planet
Daniel Paul is one of the world’s top melodic drummers. He is a master on the tabla and the tabla tarong — an array of six to 16 precisely tuned tabla arranged in a circle around the musician. (Tabla means “waves” and refers to their underwater sound.) Daniel has a strong supporting cast on Between Two Worlds. The more notable contributors are: Lorelei, Dean Evenson, Raphael, Scott Huckabay and Deva Driyo.

This strong ensemble blends acoustic and electronic instruments smoothly and adroitly to create exquisite spiritual ambience. Under Daniel’s direction and production the music comes to life. The tabla tarong becomes ethereal and otherworldly. The natural overtone qualities of the instruments give the healing atmospheres extra strength and acoustic space music appeal.

Everything that comes from Soundings of the Planet is great. Some of the CD’s are more special than others. This one is more special.

Dirk Barkemeijer de Wit
Didgeridoo Meditation
Didgeridoo Meditation is a difficult CD to review. It is a great CD by Dirk Barkemeijer de Wit. It is an intensely personal moving experience. This CD is tuned to the Chakras of the body. Dirk uses a didg, tuning forks, tingsha, a zither, drums, chants and nature samples to resonate with the body’s biorhythms.

(As I listened, I decided the intensity of the personal experience dictated that I should write this in the first person. Dirk suggests starting the healing session with track ten — “Space Clearing” — to, well, clear space. I did this and let the music wash over me as I began my journey to my own inner space. With a clear head and a grateful heart, I let go.

WOW! The intensity was far beyond any and all expectations that I had! Years ago, when I was 13 years old, I began a journey that proved to be fruitless and almost fatal. That journey ended, ironically, 17 years ago when I was 31. The goal of that journey was to add color to my world via chemistry. However, recovery has taught me that color comes from within my spirit. This CD helped me to deepen those colors and to see hues I did not know existed!

As I looked at Jim’s insides, I did see things that disturbed me. Mostly I saw my growth. As an active addict, I was a scared little boy who grew up to be a scared little boy. As a recovering addict, I know that I have become a man.

Dirk’s wonderful soundscapes helped me to appreciate that journey on a different level. Music with the depth of this impact is rare. I cannot promise you a similar experience. I can, however, promise you an experience!)

Spooky Actions
Songs of the Nations
Spooky Actions is Bruce Arnold, Thomas Buckner, Kirk Driscoll and John Gunther. Songs of the Nations contains seven compositions — one each representing the Sioux, Arapaho, Teton Sioux and Chippewa and two representing the Zuni. It is a great concept and a great idea. Unfortunately, it does not come to fruition.

Kirk is part Cherokee and Thomas’ wife is half Mohawk. John grew up in Colorado, Bruce in South Dakota. For the most part, only Native Americans perform Native American music well. Coyote Oldman is a rare exception. Groups like Cusco and Spooky Actions, sadly, are the norm.

There are some nice moments on this CD. However, the overriding impression is that the performances are pretentious. The vocals sound more operatic than native. The instrumentation sounds like misguided rock and roll.

Track four — “Behold the Dream” — is an excellent composition and performance. It is the Teton Sioux piece and has great atmospheres and gentle touches. There are no vocals.

That does not make up for the weakness of the rest of the disc and its contrived reality. This CD merits a big pass. 

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