I’d imagine that there are few new age recording artists who need less of an introduction to readers of this publication than Steven Halpern. In his more than 35 years as a music pioneer with over 6 million albums sold, he has earned a reputation as the foremost creator of sounds for healing and relaxation. His atmospheric, non-linear compositions helped define a genre and create a “quiet revolution.”
His influence has extended beyond the borders of the new age community and has been heard on 48 Hours (CBS), 20/20 (ABC), BBC, Oprah and covered in The New York Times, USA Today, Yoga Journal and many other media outlets.
This latest project is timely and relevant with the Center For Disease Control declaring on 3/17/11 that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. With over 65 million Americans suffering from this problem, in particular when related to stress, “Sleepscape Delta” could be an effective solution to your sleepless nights. On the album, Steven combines new ambient instrumental music with brainwave sound medicine.
On this funtional soundscape, Steven combines his soothing ambient instrumental music with next-generation Audio Brainwave Entrainment (Aural-SyncTM), which gently and effectively guides your brain into the delta frequencies (1-3 cycles per second) associated with deep restorative sleep. This combination seems to work so well at bedtime that many listeners say that they have never heard the end of the album.
While there is not room in this review to go into more detail, for those who may be more interested, Steven has a number of informative videos related to the healing effects of sound at: www.youtube.com/StevenHalpernMusic
Ambrosial Waves – Healing Waters
It’s been a while since we’ve had a new release from Grammy-nominated, award winning recording artist Constance Demby, whose name has been at the forefront of distinguished new age artists for decades.
Classically trained and performing since the age of 12, she has toured the world and played at major festivals and conferences sharing the same stage as the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Joseph Campbell, and many others including Dr. Jean Houston, who referred to Constance as “one of the world's greatest living musicians.”
Although she is most known for her accomplishments as a keyboardist, she is also the designer and creator of such unusual one of a kind instruments as the Sonic Steel Space Bass, a ten foot sheet of steel that produces deep, primordial, resonant sounds which has been recorded by George Lucas’ Skywalker Studios for use in their film scores, and also filmed by The Discovery Channel.
Her latest release is somewhat of a departure from her classic albums such as the mind and heart awakening “Novus Magnificat” and “Aeterna,” which reflect intricate composition, orchestration, and arrangement. Here she has created a more Zen-like soundscape featuring ethereal bells, aquatic ambience, and dreamy synthesizers, which weave a sound tapestry that is extremely nurturing and relaxing.
This is ambient music that works well in the background creating a peaceful vibe in the space. The description of this CD as “A soothing sonic salve for the soul… necessary in this turbulent age” couldn’t be more perfect.
Donna De Lory
Wikipedia defines “remix” as “an alternative version of a recorded song (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song), made from an original version” – a practice having its roots in the dance hall culture of late-1960s/early-1970s Jamaica (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica). Carrying on in the currently-popular tradition is the latest release from devotional pop singer Donna De Lory in collaboration with a number of cutting edge trance and down-tempo remix artists, most notably Mac Quayle who has worked with Annie Lennox, Sting, Indigo Girls, Christina Aguilera, and others.
Although Donna’s music on her numerous albums reflects her love of yoga, meditation, and Sanskrit mantras, releasing a CD of more electronic dance-oriented music is not that much of a stretch considering she spent 20 years as a background singer and dancer with Madonna.
The Eastern influence is very much present on these eleven re-mixed songs from her previous albums (“Sanctuary,” “Sky Is Open,” and “The Lover and the Beloved.”) On tracks like “Guru Om,” Jai Ma,” “Om Namah Shivaya,” and others, tabla drums and ethnic sounds blend alchemically with synthesizers, samplers, and psychedelic effects as well as other world music influences.
However, the light at the center of this swirling universe is the crystal clear heart-opening sound of Donna De Lory’s exquisite voice, which draws listeners to the inner realms while the electronica grooves keep the head nodding and the body swaying. Her intention was clear: “…to create music that brings forth a feeling of oneness with all things, and takes us back to a place of innocent joy and freedom.”
Sounds from the Circle 3
The New Age Music Circle is an online community with over a thousand recording artists and fans. For three years in a row, they have put out a compilation of member’s recordings and made it available to press and radio programmers on a 40 song MP3 disc as well as to the public as an iTunes playlist from which they can download individual tracks.
The compilation is the work of new age music pioneer Suzanne Doucet, who is also the creator and organizing force behind the community. She is an international award-winning composer/producer who has been active in this genre for 30 years and merits a great deal of respect for her accomplishments. Also contributing to the success of this project is Beth Ann Hilton, a well-known LA music publicist.
The music on the compilation is quite diverse and covers many New Age sub-genres including meditation, nature, solo piano, vocals, electronic space music, chill, and more. The participating artists comprise a virtual United Nations of musicians, hailing from all corners of the globe. There are too many tracks to go into detail here but suffice it to say that there is some absolutely wonderful music that will appeal to a wide range of tastes.
One great thing about it being available as iTunes downloads is that the listener can preview any track individually and decide which ones they would like to purchase for 99 cents each. The playlist can be heard at: http://c.itunes.apple.com/us/imix/sounds-from-the-circle-3-new/id434319876
Prem Joshua & Band
Every once in a while I receive a CD from an artist I’m not familiar with that totally knocks my socks off, and Luminous Secrets is one of them. Having been a huge fan of jazz-fusion music in the 70’s, especially Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as Jean Luc Ponty, Weather Report, and others, I have a special affection for the genre’s virtuoso musicianship, interesting time signatures, and creative exploration. The music on this album recaptures that magic and adds elements of world music, especially the sound and mystery of India.
Originally from Germany, Prem Joshua has made India his second home for nearly two decades. In that time he has absorbed many of its influences, including playing sitar and Bansuri flute, and blends them seamlessly with jazz, funk, lounge, chill, and trance into what he calls an “Indo-Global' sound.” Today he is the number one best-selling World Music artist in India and the foremost Indian newspaper - the Times of India - has even lauded him as the “New Guru of World Fusion Music.”
The album features both instrumental and vocal tracks and ranges from high-octane groove fests to mystical moments. His band - all absolutely amazing musicians in their own right, hail from India, Germany, and Japan. There are also a number of guest musicians including harpist Andreas Vollenweider. As Prem Joshua’s music begins to make greater inroads in the West, I’m sure that other listeners will be as impressed as I am with this stunning musical melange.
Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and music journalist in the San Francisco Bay area with over 30 years of experience writing for nationally-published magazines and more recently worldwide on the internet. He currently has five CD’s including two with new age music pioneer Steven Halpern. For additional reviews of CD’s, DVD’s, and more, visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com