By Jim Brenholts
R Carlos Nakai &
Winds of Devotion
Sounds True Music
R Carlos Nakai is a very wise man, a spiritual leader and a brilliant musician. He is often recognized as one of the world’s premier performers on the Native American flute. Nawang Khechog is also a wise man, a spiritual leader and a brilliant musician. He is often recognized as one of the world’s premier performers on the Tibetan flute and the Tibetan horn (also known as “the really big horn”). Together, they have created harmonic transcendence on Winds of Devotion, one of the top 100 CD’s of all time (at least on my list).
This disc is 75 minutes of devotional bliss. David Darling contributed his cello timbres to the set. Peter Kater added his synthesizer and produced the album. Carlos and Nawang top the sound design with chants and wordless vocals, giving the soundscapes auras of mystery and mysticism.
The music simply flows and glides around deep listeners — easily, gently, softly and lovingly. The atmospheres are as smooth as silk and as comfortable as old jeans. The organic textures promote healing and wellness. This is as close to perfection as possible. (Indeed, if the perfect CD exists, I have not heard it. There are dozens that approach perfection, at least on my list.)
Peter originally released this disc on his own EarthSea label in 1998. He has founded that label for music to use in “intimate settings — massage, meditation, yoga, martial arts, healing and love.” By combining essences of the Native American and Tibetan visions, this CD fits that mission perfectly.
This fantastic CD carries the highest possible recommendation. It is a necessary
and vital addition to any healing music collection.
Marjorie de Muynck
In the Key of Earth
Sounds True Music
Marjorie de Muynck (pronounced “Monk”) has a gentle soul. It shows in her face, her work, her vision and — most importantly (for me, anyway) — her music. In the Key of Earth is a remarkable CD. Admittedly, it takes one or two listens to grasp it and deep listening to absorb it but that is time well spent. Marjorie and Dick Orr have designed these atmospheres and soundscapes in alignment with the primordial tones and elemental beauty of Earth. William Shakespeare said (or wrote), “The Earth has music for those who listen.” Marjorie has embraced that notion, taken it to heart and expanded upon it to the nth degree.
The tones and drones within the soundscapes are both subtle and profound. They resonate with depth and dissonance — dissonance being important in life and in music. The music just gets right to the core — to the heart and soul of the essence of being. The overtones traverse the neuropathways and guide the mind to the soul. It is, in some mysterious fashion, making the intangible tangible.
Deep listeners will experience the soul with every sense — sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. The emotional and spiritual journeys are quintessential and profound. The visions become reality as the experience is almost narcotic.
Nay — it is narcotic — without the harmful side effects. Focused listeners will leave the confines of the aforementioned reality and encounter several levels of the inner and outer selves — alternate realities as it were. The internal and external beings meet, embrace and share the essence of life.
Is it real or is it an illusion? To paraphrase a popular character in a popular
book — “of course it is in your mind. Why should that make it any less real?”
As the disc fades and listeners begin to decompress, Marjorie lessens the intensity and allows the music to glide to a close. There is no denouement because there is no climax. The ride was gentle, smooth and consistent.
There are many CD’s that have an impact this powerful. While not for the feint
of heart or will, this disc has something for everyone and everything for some.
David Parsons is a modern renaissance man — at least musically. He is a multi-instrumentalist and a virtuoso on virtually every instrument he has mastered. His primary instrument is the synthesizer but he is equally adept on several instruments from India and surrounding countries. He is one of the world’s leading creators of cross-cultural ambience. Himalaya is a musical documentary of his sojourns to India where he has studied their music and culture.
The disc is basically a tour guide to sacred sites and festivals — to the unseen majesty of mountain tops and to the inner regions of the soul. David’s atmospheres have ethereal, surreal and spiritual qualities that transcend natural existence. They sweep across the listening area like icy winds from — well — the Himalayas. The overtones gather warmth from India’s planes and they reflect upon deep listeners’ biosonic feedback devices.
The diversity of the soundscapes matches that of India’s climate and culture. David’s virtuosity allows him to design and create sonic integrity. The transitions are seamless. The depths are bottomless. The heights have no ceiling.
This is one of many excellent CD’s in David’s discography. Each one is special
in its own way. This one just happens to be most appropriate for this issue.
Deep Sky Music
Deserts are natural vistas for relaxation, serenity and deep meditation. When created correctly, desert ambience evokes vivid imagery of the beauty of those vast lands. Very few perform desert ambience better than Robert Carty, a master of all things ambient. Ethereal Deserts is his interpretation of desert ambience with space music auras.
Robert combines electronics, acoustic instruments, percussion and chants to create sonic paintings and deep atmospheres. The drones shimmer as the sun passes across the sands and the solar winds create dust funnels that crawl lazily across the flatlands.
Indeed, the experimental sounds and electronic overtones bring outer space to
Mojave Desert. The rings of Saturn surround the arid Southwest. Explorers
seek and find new paths to enlightenment.
New experiences abound as reality, surreality and ethereality collide. The starbursts scatter as the solar winds flourish anew, bringing a rare cloudburst that drenches the soundscape briefly.
It is, after all, a very dry heat. The organic textures and vast timbres complement the flat drones. The atmospheres roll languidly. There is very little respite from the heat. That is a good thing. It is time to stop, meditate, contemplate and heal.
Robert also has dozens of CD’s available. All of them are excellent. There are a
few in the top 100. This is one of them.
Vostok is a different kind of desert ambience. Inspired by Lake Vostok, a huge underground body of water beneath Antarctica, this is icy and chilly ambience — yet desert ambience all the same. Craig Padilla writes “the muse of Lake Vostok flowed through me like a resonant glacier.” He has translated that muse into long-form (almost 52 min) composition.
This music evokes imagery of the barren world that surrounds the South Pole. Craig’s sound design also incorporates space music qualities. It pulls the outerworlds down to another outerworld — the Antarctic. Those frigid landscapes collide with the frozen vacuums of outer space and the starburst is crystalline as the clouds freeze immediately.
The atmospheres are jewel-like but the harsh edges collapse as they clash. Released from their limits, the atmospheres flow gently and softly.
The soundscapes are massive ice sculptures. They loom in the distance and
sparkle with cold timbres. Deep listening reveals the calmness to be found in
such a scene. It is finite and consistent. The structure is almost mathematical.
The order of the imagery is stark and pleasing. It is good to relax while the
mind is focusing instead of wandering. The stillness rejuvenates.
This is easily the best CD in Craig’s extensive library. It is a worthy addition to any collection.
Jim Brenholts resides in N. Versailles, PA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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