MUSIC REVIEWS
BY JIM BRENHOLTS

 

 

Dean Evenson and Soundings Ensemble
Eagle River
Soundings of the Planet
www.soundings.com
Eagle River is one of the gentlest recordings of all time — ever! It is by Dean Evenson and Soundings Ensemble. Dean defines the term “gentle man” by his very existence and his dedication to his goal of “Peace Through Music.” Soundings Ensemble is a collection of like-minded artists from Dean’s label — Soundings of the Planet. For this recording they are: Dean (silver flute, native flute, keyboards, field recordings), Scott Huckaby (guitar), d’Rachel (harp), Dudley Evenson (harp), Rivers Sterling (vocalizations), Phil Heaven (viola), Burke Mulvany (native flute) and Jason Darling (drums).

Of course, Dean has a purpose for every release from Soundings of the Planet. This soft soundscape — enhanced by “Earth Resonance Frequency” (ERF) for deeper relaxation — portrays the cycle of nature as symbolized by the eagle, the salmon and the river. The eagle is a proud predator. The salmon is a strong survivor. The river sustains all life. These talented artists have the ability to evoke imagery of the cycles and their relationships to the planet and to all life cycles.

From their new home base in Bellingham, WA, the Evensons study the river and its changes — positive and negative. They have observed the effects that man has had on the river. They celebrate the effects that the river has on man. They mourn the negative effects that man has on the river. The Evensons convey messages of hope, love, serenity and peace in their music and writings. This is essential music from a group of essential artists.


Jonathan Wilk
Light Bodies
Jonathan Wilk Music
www.jonathanwilk.com
While Jonathan Wilk has been a Reiki Master for nine years, Light Bodies is his first CD release. It is a pure winner and a world-class new age relaxation masterpiece.
The atmospheres unfold and develop gradually, and a soft glow emanates around the listener. It is the vehicle for today’s journey. Jonathan’s gentle touch guides focused listeners into a rainbow of colors, delights and pleasures. It is a comfortable and friendly environment, reminiscent of revisiting good times and good friends with a cup of tea. The aura is full of positive energy.

Jonathan has built these soundscapes with gentle strings, soft winds, light percussion and subtle electronics. (While the processing is there, it takes a backseat to the substance.) The elements ebb and flow in ripples and cascades. The instrumentation is top notch; the sound design is flawless; the engineering is perfect. Such high praise is usually reserved for the masters and the veterans. Jonathan is a veteran new age practitioner and a Reiki Master. He has developed — rather quickly — the knack for translating those attributes into music with meaning and integrity. That is the most important ingredient in relaxation, healing and meditation — the heart and soul of the artist. After it is all said and done, the holistic new age is about the salvation of the heart and soul. It is about achieving extraordinary results through ordinary methods.

This disc is sure to be at or near the top of many Best of 2005 lists. That is a richly deserved honor. This is an essential and highly-recommended CD!


Peter Sterling
Shadow, Mist & Light
Real Music
www.realmusic.com
www.harpmagic.com
Peter Sterling is a world-class harpist, composer and sound designer. Shadow, Mist & Light, his first release on Real Music, combines his harpistry (on concert and Chinese harps) with his own multi-instrumental talents and the diverse talents of many contributors. He blends harps, saxophones, keyboards, euphoric chants, flutes (Native American and bamboo), a didgeridoo, guitars, mandolins, basses, violins, violas, a penny whistle, congas, frame drums and Tibetan chants to create ten gorgeous meditative soundscapes. The inherent qualities of the instruments create unique atmospheres — deep and sensuous.

Each composition is another step in a musical seduction of the spirit and soul as well as the body. Certainly, this is a great CD for lovers and their quiet moments. It is also appropriate for contemplation of the self-promoting senses of belonging, togetherness and totality — all within the self, the community and the world. In an expansive sense, this CD acts as a conduit to a larger purpose and all that that encompasses.

Musically, this disc is flawless. Peter’s painstaking sound design gives each element its proper voice; each contributor is at his/her peak. While the unusual mix of instruments is amazing, “The Long Goodbye,” the final track, is the highlight. That piece features Peter on harp and keyboards. It is a superb love song — romantic, poignant, atmospheric, sensuous and sexy. There is none better.

This CD is absolutely essential at many levels. Peter is at the top of his craft RIGHT NOW! Put down the magazine, hop on the web, make a few clicks and get this disc — NOW!



Amilcar
Vacuuming the Forest
New Vibes Music
www.newvibesmusic.com

Vacuuming the Forest is a set of lush melodies with subtle nature sounds woven into and around the sound design. Amilcar (Dav-id Moreno) composed, engineered and performed all of the music.

There is a feature of this experience that deserves praise before and above all else. David is donating a portion of the proceeds from this CD to Covenant House Florida, an agency that serves runaway, homeless and at-risk youth (under 21 years old) in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Their services include outreach, crisis shelters, transitional housing, walk-in and aftercare assistance. Visit www.covenanthousefl.org. (Having worked with adolescents as a drug and alcohol therapist, I can assure all of you that it is an extremely difficult population. I now work with adjudicated adult males and they are much easier.)

After that noble and credible action, one could expect the music to be anti-climactic. It is not! David has created a masterful set of gentle atmospheres and soundscapes with subtle drama and widespread appeal. The atmospheres surround and caress focused listeners as the journey through the forest begins. The vehicle continues to be a conduit of love, purity and tranquility as David takes his charges through the paces to honor the natural heritage of this habitat. Each composition transitions smoothly to and sets the stage for the next. Deep listeners will finish the journey feeling refreshed — almost purified.

This is a necessary holistic wellness tool. The donations add much icing to the cake. David has a rich heritage and a promising future.


Cahill and Delene
Songs for Humanity
Ravin Raven Records
www.cahillanddelene.com
When listening to vocal music, it can be important to separate the singing from the instrumental accompaniment. That technique allows the listener to receive two messages — sometimes independent of each other. However, it can also be important to listen and absorb the music and vocals as one entity with one unified message. The latter technique is the case with Songs for Humanity by Cahill and Delene.

This is a special CD from a special couple — Barry and Delene St. Clair — husband and wife in every aspect of the terms. Their marriage has united them spiritually, emotionally and artistically. The liner notes document what the music implies — that this couple speaks with one voice from one heart and one soul. The music and the sound design resonate with messages of love, peace, serenity and harmony.

The music has something for everybody. Barry and Delene have been influenced by jazz, rock, folk, R&B and world musics. The soundscapes range from hard rock to gentle new age. Barry’s vocal exhibits a wide range from Dylan to Becker and Fagan and many points in between.

While there are many things to cherish on this CD, the musical highlight has to be Delene St. Clair’s divine voice. Her range is wide and deep. Her gentle touch allows her to shine in the ballads and to provide impeccable backup when Barry is on point.

The instrumentation is outstanding. Barry is an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist and Delene is an accomplished acoustic guitarist. They have assembled a strong supporting cast to augment their own considerable talents.

All music that comes from love goes to love and deserves attention. When spirituality enhances the love, everything goes deeper. This CD is essential on many levels. Barry and Delene have that extra oomph that takes it to the edge and beyond.


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