MUSIC REVIEWS
By Jim Brenholts

 

 

Lisa Lynne
Secret Songs
Lavender Sky Music
www.lisalynne.com

Lisa Lynne is a remarkable lady in every sense of the term. She is talented, beautiful, thoughtful, and considerate and has a heart of 24K gold with a soul to match. To top it off, she is also quite humble and will be somewhat embarrassed when she reads these words.

Shortly after the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, Lisa received an e-mail from a family of one of the wounded students. Their daughter, Anne, was hospitalized with injuries to her spinal cord and would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life.

She was responding most favorably to treatment while listening to one of Lisa’s CD’s. So Lisa packed up her harp and hopped on a plane for Denver where she made her way to the Swedish Medical Center. Finding Anne asleep and her family in a waiting room, she sat down and played her harp for them. Anne’s brother, Nathan, also a student at Columbine but not injured, talked about his experiences and feelings during that session.

When Anne awoke, she found Lisa sitting in her room, smiling at her and waiting to play for her. Thus began a friendship and bond that continues to this day.
When she returned to L.A., Lisa contacted some friends and colleagues and arranged for Anne to receive her own Celtic harp. Anne still considers Lisa to be one of her teachers and heroines. Lisa however knows that Anne is the real teacher and healer.

(I relate that story to illustrate the depth of Lisa’s soul and the goodness in her heart. That experience led to her experiences at the City of Hope and continued exploration of her gift as a therapeutic tool.)
Secret Songs is a set of 11 compositions, some new and some alternate versions of past favorites. (The CD also features a video of a performance of “Morning Dove” in Beaver Creek, Colorado, about two hours from Littleton.) This is classic acoustic ambience as only Lisa can do it. Her gentle touch on the harp creates voluminous atmospheres that spread her goodness and grace to all who hear them. Her charm is in every note.

There are no misses on this CD. It is as close to perfect as it can be. It gets the highest recommendation possible.

 

Lawrence Blatt
Out of the Woodwork
LMB Music
lmbmusic@gmail.com

It can be extremely difficult to like a CD of mostly acoustic guitars — especially when one is firmly rooted in the electronic arena of ambient music. (Hey, readers — does that apply to me? My fondness for Lisa Lynne and her music notwithstanding, it does!) However, Out of the Woodwork, by Lawrence Blatt, is not a typical acoustic guitar CD.
Yes, it has plenty of sappy melodies and self-indulgent wails. For some reason Larry makes it work and the melodies and wails come across as real with integrity. There is no garbage, only sincere music from a talented multi-instrumentalist.

There are also some very cool experimental sounds that spring — seemingly — from nowhere. “Here We Go” (track eight) has some delicious atmospheres that have to come from Larry’s technique as he used no electronics. Some manipulation of the bass or guitar strings creates this exotic “boing” sound.

The alternate realities on “Z-Squared” (track ten) are downright wicked. Larry rocks and lolls (no typo). This piece, about his children, Zach and Zoe, is very cool.
As Larry states in his liner notes, this is a journey through his musical world. He invites listeners to share the ride. It is a cool one.

 

Byron Metcalf
The Shaman’s Heart
Dr. Bam’s Music
www.byronmetcalf.com

Byron Metcalf is a modern Shaman. “‘The Shaman’s Heart’ is an invitation to journey into the infinite regions of … heart-space … and beyond.” It is 73 minutes of uninterrupted rhythmic ambient bliss.
With assistance from Steve Roach, also a modern Shaman, on synthesizers, didgeridoo and ocarinas, Byron has created a huge soundscape. He uses a variety of earth-based percussion devices and spirit winds to set the pace, varying the tempo from the “classic” 220 beats per minute. The music is grounded with nature sounds.

It is absolutely amazing how the simplicity of these natural drums has the capacity to soothe and heal the beast — both savage and mild. Steve’s style on the synths creates natural-sounding environments as well. Thus, these Shamans have created a natural journey above, below, beside, through and beyond the heart-space dimension. The journey is as comfortable as a leisurely stroll in the desert.
It is not difficult to get to the core of this journey, either. If one enters the experience knowing two basic tenets, the journey is simplified. First, one must be aware that Shamanism is an ancient practice helping one to live in the world to the fullest. One should also be aware that the ability to cling to one’s core beliefs and values in the face of adversity is an essential facet of spiritual maturity. With that in hand, the adventure unfolds thoroughly and the path presents itself.

There are many paths to many healing zones. Each has its own unique dimensions. This path defines itself based on the listener’s ability and willingness to participate in the journey. It is its own reward.

 

Life in Balance
Sound Healer
Life in Balance Music
www.lifeinbalancemusic.com

Some CD’s just go beyond description and definition. It usually takes at least two or three minutes for them to get there. Sound Healer Meditation, by Life in Balance (Steve and Ami Sciuli), gets there in about three seconds! Steve’s processed shakuhachi leads directly to Ami’s singing bowls. Together, they surround listeners with peace, warmth, harmony and serenity.

Then the atmospheres start flowing and “go with the flow” takes on new meaning. The organic textures invite listeners to become weightless and lucid — the experience becomes an out-of-body adventure. The meditation allows listeners to feel their own weightlessness as the senses — tangible and intangible — scale the ladder beyond the confines of standard existence.
This set is purely atmospheric, too. The atmospheres drive the pace and set the rhythm. Steve’s flutes — acoustic and processed — are the grounding mechanisms. However the overtones — natural and electronic — reign supreme.

But this is about the journey and the experience. It approaches the existential and surpasses the surreal. Juxtapositions and oxymorons abound as the journey continues in 360 degree increments. The circle is an endless spiral providing unlimited healing opportunities.

This is an absolutely essential CD! Life in Balance is lurking in the perpendicular universe with no intentions of returning to reality. Surreality reigns. Sometimes it rains.

 

Unius
Breathing Underwater
Unius
www.unius.net

Jamie McMenamy records serious organic ambience as Unius. His main instrument is the processed guitar. He does use synthesizers and samples as well. (It is interesting that his first appearance on a published was on Deeper by Life in Balance, reviewed in the May/June issue of 2006. He also contributed to Sound Healer Meditation, reviewed above.) Breathing Underwater is Jamie’s third — and deepest — CD.
The theme of this CD is — well — underwater and the mysteries surrounding the deep seas and oceans. Jamie approaches the subject in a child-like way — full of innocence, wonder and curiosity. His five soundscapes are full of the awe of discovery. The individual journeys are pathways to serenity and inner peace. The drones have great depth — a necessity as they set the paces for the adventures.
That is exactly what these are, too — adventures. Deep listeners will experience holistic realities as the aquaspheres unwind and meander along at the slow pace of a drone. Jamie has set no bars, no goals and no limits to the treks. Indeed, he leaves those tasks to the listeners. As with all meditation and/or relaxation tools, listeners must define their own fortunes and set their own goals.
The music is brilliant! It evokes vivid imagery and vague pastels. The nature samples enhance the soundscapes. The sound design is flawless. The layers of atmospheres and aquaspheres are smooth. Jamie’s joy at making music is evident throughout the set.
This set plays well at every level and works on most levels. It is quite essential.


Layne Redmond
Being in Rhythm
Interworld
www.layneredmond.com

(Reviewer’s note: This CD has been re-issued as Chakra Breathing Meditations with 30 minutes of new material.)

Being in Rhythm is the perfect guided meditation for beginners. Layne Redmond has created a gentle soundtrack to accompany her gentle voice.
(I find it necessary to relate my personal experiences as I listened to this disc.

While this is a perfect CD for beginners, it is not just for beginners. I am a serious and practiced meditator and this set took control of me as I tried to write. I found myself following Layne’s exhortations, looking for my inner peace and my healing space.

Without going into detail, I am suffering from two serious illnesses as I write this. The medication for one condition exacerbates the other and both illnesses are exacerbated by the other. In other words, I needed this CD — I was just not expecting it.

I put down my pen and allowed myself to go beyond the limits of my listening area. My body tingled as waves of gratitude and relaxation washed over me. I found myself smiling and responding to Layne’s voice and relating to the music. I spent an hour in my own world. It was rejuvenating!)

Part two is the soundtrack without the vocal exhortations. It allows for a free-form journey. The intensity is not as strong but it does not need to be. It is a worthy experience.
If world leaders were to play this at the next world conference or treaty negotiation, world peace would be a lot closer. As it is, however, listeners will have to focus on their own worlds.

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


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