MUSIC REVIEWS
By Chuck Diliberto

 

SACRED SINGING METALS
Xumantra
Music Design

The nature and direction of "Sacred Singing Metals" needs some
explanation.  The music is played upon a large collection of singing bowls, three different types of gongs - symphonic, accent, wind or chau, and two percussion instruments - a conga and Sioux drum. All the instruments are of ancient origin - there are no synthesizers or digital sources of any kind. The instruments are played by Marco Dolce, an alumni of Rutgers University, musician, composer, teacher and sonic explorer.

The music is a syncopated blend of sonic tones, each note adding a new direction to the composition. The musical patterns are seemingly random, yet not dissonant. This combination of tones produced a trance- like sound that had a direct effect on the central nervous system; corresponding feelings and physical sensations began to occur. I was intrigued by the ancient voice concept, that we might actually have been hearing the roof of ancestral man's Spiritual, cosmic music development. The music had a transportive quality about it, subtly, invisibly lifting the listener into a heightened state of consciousness.

"Xumantra" is part of a current movement in alternative music today. The deliberate use of music to open our minds in preparation for an altered state of consciousness is the intent. The actual ability to do this is more than just a phase. The evolution of consciousness of the planet is directly correspondent to this current phenomenon. The fact that ancient music is being used alludes to a fascinating understanding about the origin of the Earth's forefather's truths about consciousness. This CD is a keeper.
For more information, please call (908) 832-6091.

CIRCLE OF THE SUN
Aine Minogue
RCA Victor

This music is immediately recognizable, the Spirit and mystery unmistakable, the soul impermeable and eternal. The lush melodies of traditional Irish music lifts our hearts into a nether world of love and majesty. Through this cloud wafts the haunting vocals of Aine Minogue, surrounding us with a surreal veil made from Angel's wings. Minogue's voice has a transcendent quality, evoking feelings that would melt the most ardent heart.

Some of Minogue's lyrics are in Gaelic, leaving the listener to feel their way through the songs. Emotion does not change because the language is different, more importantly, the heart's communication is the same for all of us. Beneath the sweet gentleness of her voice lies the stark contrast of the meaning of the lyrics. The tumult that has plagued Ireland for centuries is poignantly explored through love ballads.

"Circle of the Sun" is a mix of fast-paced, up-tempo numbers and somber melancholy ballads that stretch traditional Irish folk music into a neo-contemporary beat. The addition of the tabla and the didjeridoo on some songs is a clever musical idea. The blending of these cross-cultural instruments with Minogue's soulful harp playing, whistles, cello and fiddle, has brought together a unique mixture of percussion and rhythm.

The Spirit of Ireland has found a new definition through the soul and vision of Aine Minogue. She has a talent that has a wide appeal on an international level. Give her a listen, there is plenty of Soul available.
For more information, please call (212) 930-4958.

KIMOKO ITOH with MAKOTO OZONE
at the MONTREAUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
Satellites Records

In the tradition of Billie Holiday and Judy Garland, Kimoko Itoh has carved out her own niche. The live setting of the Montreaux Jazz Festival proved to be the perfect environment for Ms. Itoh, one of Japan's top singers of American jazz and pop standards, to find her stride. In conjunction with the vast talent and creativity of pianist Makoto Ozone, Itoh embraced a pure symbiosis of voice and music.

The feeling and grace Kimoko Itoh brings to such well-known songs as "On A Clear Day", "My Funny Valentine", and "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" is comparable to all the great jazz singers who have come before her. The remarkable truth is that jazz music is not indigenous to Japan. Jazz is an American phenomenon that few cultures have embraced. Itoh and Ozone are not only comfortable in this medium, they have taken their place alongside previous innovators and improvisarios that have truly made Jazz music and jazz singing what it is today.

Makoto Ozone brings a spontaneous, inspiring style of piano playing that blends Classical, Jazz and Blues formats into a unique sound that is original and fresh. Ozone's accompaniment of Ms. Itoh is wonderfully playful, cajoling and pushing her to new heights. The live setting does not allow for many errors, with Kimoko Itoh digging deep inside herself to make every lyric come to life with emotion and sensitivity. Ms. Itoh comes from a different mold of performer. She is not the norm, she is not mainstream, yet she is a polished talent who enjoys her profession.
For more information, please call (719) 548-9872.

PAINTING TWILIGHT
Mark Rownd
Spotted Peccary Music

There is a profound sense of Creation, a Genesis, an emergence of life that is captured in Mark Rownd's musical compositions. The sound comes together as atoms in a sub-quantum level, finding their connection in a greater whole, to rise up, define its purpose, then once again, sink back into the subconscious lifestream. The music pulsates from places unknown, challenging our feelings to find recognition, forcing our souls to become cognizant of some mystery just outside our reach.

Through the use of keyboards, digital samplers, and various percussion instruments, Mark Rownd has found an outlet for some incredible secret he is no longer intent on keeping. The music is neither disruptive or unsettling; it falls between the cracks of tangible and intangible. The dreamworld where anything is possible, where discernment has few rules and the experiencer and the experience merge into a synergistic flow. This is the place where we leave the material world behind, unhindered by the limitations of fear and insecurities, ready to roam about the ether, searching for a glimpse of a new vision of ourselves.

Mark Rownd's knack for defining the indescribable is a unique talent indeed. The ability to take someone with you puts Rownd into a special category. "Painting Twilight" is the outlet for that category. Almost avant-garde, almost neo-contemporary, just within reach.
For more information, please call (760) 942-1694.
 
Chuck Diliberto is a resident of New York state. Having written for a hometown publication that covered local and national musicians, reviewing CDs is an extension of that experience. Chuck has written children's stories and essays on a wide variety of subjects. His main interests are spiritual in nature and right living in practice.


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