By Jim Brenholts
Touch of Silence:
Tibetan Singing Bowls
Aquarius International Music
There might be a better artist on the Tibetan bowls than Klaus Wiese, but it is highly unlikely. (What would one call a singing bowl artist? A bowler? A bowlist?) With an extensive discography of close to 100 CD’s and CDR’s (both solo and collaborative) spanning almost 20 years, he is probably the most prolific as well. Touch of Silence: Tibetan Singing Bowls is another brilliant effort from this humble man. (He refuses to be photographed or to have his bio printed in CD booklets. He does not want any focus to taken from the music.)
There are several possible outcomes from listening to this CD. It causes deep relaxation, higher levels of consciousness, the ability to let go and/or balance brain-waves and chakras. There are several other likely impacts and they are all desirable and pleasant.
Regular readers of this column have seen the terms “psychoactive” and “overtone properties” used quite liberally. In each case the terms have been applied accurately. However, no instrument implements those properties as strongly as Tibetan singing bowls. As stated above, Klaus is the master of the bowls (or is certainly among the top five).
This CD has one track of 55’30” and it is deep from the start to the finish. The tones and overtones react in the bio-sonic feedback system and create trance-like states in which vivid colors and soothing imagery occur. It washes smoothly, slowly and evenly over listeners and takes them to places of clarity and heightened awareness.
The overtones also wend their way into the conscious and subconscious experiences. Deep listeners will find themselves floating in space with no cares, worries or boundaries. It is an escape from the tensions and stresses of reality.
(As a recovering addict I have found this — and many other albums by Klaus — to be as close to a drug-induced trance as I can get. The experience has all of the positives of such adventures with NONE of the negatives. [Yes, there were good times. When they faded, they faded quickly and destructively.])
It is important to note that Klaus worked on this CD for over three years. He
took great pains in selecting the proper bowls and placing the microphones just
so. He used no loops and no “cut and paste” in this work of art. It is “live off
the floor” and it is a remarkable and essential CD. It is easily in the All-Time
Dante’s Divine Comedy inspired Gandalf to produce Lotus Land, a musical tale about seeking — and perhaps finding — the place where all creatures live in perfect harmony. Man has dreamed of such a place since time began, perhaps even longer than that.
If, indeed, there is such a place, there will be room for this music. Using primarily acoustic instruments, Gandalf creates layers of gentle atmospheres with organic textures. The music floats aimlessly around the listening area. The soundscapes are seamless. The music breathes and comes to life, seeking to become a place of solace and respite — a rest stop on the highway of life. It succeeds in that mission.
While some CD’s of this ilk earn descriptions like “psychoacoustic,’ “narcotic” and/or even “psychoactive,” this one does not. That does not demean or detract from it in any way and is not meant as a slight. (A CD does not have to go there to be great.)
While this CD does relax and soothe on many levels, it finds its real niche in its melodic integrity and strong sound design. Gandalf is an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist and a first-class composer. Each of these pieces — there are nine — has solid and intricate structure.
It takes fine craftsmanship to develop music like this. Gandalf is a true
artiste and artisan. This is a very strong CD.
“Let yourself disappear into this gentle tropical world where a symphony of beautiful instruments plays along with the sounds of nature.”
Thus, Mark Ciaburri introduces Tropical Meditation, a journey into a world of incredible beauty and depth. Mark found inspiration for this CD from the scenery surrounding Hawaii and its accompanying sounds.
After several nights and days of contemplation and meditation, Mark developed the idea for this symphony. He invited Bruce BecVar (guitar, steel harp), Daniel Paul (tamboura), Charles Ka’upa (chanting), Prio (sarod berimbau), Ken Stove (piano), John Zangrando (flutes), Ginny Morgan (cello), Jazlynn Woods (oboe, English horn) and The Angels Choir of Maui (chorale vocals) to perform. Mark is responsible for all other sounds and — most importantly — mixing, producing and engineering. Those are the true stars of this album.
Mark’s vision for this construction was to set the nature sounds as the backdrop and have each instrument fade in and out at various intervals. Synths and synth drones surround the soundscape. The chants complement the instrumental interludes randomly but not haphazardly. The sound design is meticulous. The instruments overlap rarely as the structure calls for each instrument to have its own voice.
This is an excellent CD with one minor flaw. While Mark declares the nature
sounds to be an integral element of the sound design, the mix does not give them
proper due. It would be a better CD if they had been more prominent.
Relax Mind & Body
Soft Stone Publishing
KRS Edstrom has developed the Inner Mastery Series as a set of six CD’s designed to help listeners overcome obstacles through their own inner strengths. Relax Mind & Body helps listeners relax. Conquer Stress helps them, well, conquer stress.
It is important to note that her voice is almost the perfect guided-meditation voice. Her gentle sound is relaxing in and of itself. It is steady and consistent with minor fluctuations for emphasis and encouragement.
Jeff Silverman and Jeff Harrington created all the music for these two discs and
it is very nice. The mix, by necessity, puts the focus on KRS’ spoken words but
that does not render the music extraneous. Appropriately subtle and soft, the
sound design incorporates smooth drones of ambiguous pastels and gentle melodies
that create their own atmospheres.
It is in this environment that KRS talks to listeners. She does not talk at them — that would be destructive. She sounds like a friend giving suggestions over a cup of coffee or — even better — a cup of chai tea.
(I was particularly excited that one of the testimonials in the liner notes is from a recovering addict. I promise you, readers, that I wrote the review of the Klaus Wiese CD before I saw that.)
There are dozens of guided meditation CD’s on the market. KRS’ directions hit
closer to home and are easier to follow than most. These discs come with the
Deva Premal Sings
the Moola Mantra
White Swan Records
Deva Premal is a wonderful artist. Her ability to thrive in the music industry is a testament to her tenacity and — most importantly — her talent. She and Miten, her longtime partner, consider their music to be a gift from God. Such gist must be shared in order to be kept so this duo tours tirelessly and plays fervently.
Deva Premal Sings the Moola Mantra is inspired by the vision of Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma. Their vision honors all spiritual paths, religions, creeds and traditions. It is a special performance, indeed, as Deva puts love into every breath of her chants. Deep listeners will drift into the depths of her devotion as they traverse their own paths of peace.
Ben Leinbach produced, arranged, mixed and recorded this CD. His sound design surrounds Deva’s silky vibrato with electronics, acoustics and native instruments. The instruments create their own atmospheres. The atmospheres float out and surround the listening zone with warm embraces. Each atmosphere begets a new one as the soundscape rolls along smoothly.
The album opens with an Invocation. Parts One, Two and Three follow. The set closes with an Incantation. In actuality, this is one long piece with five movements — like a symphony. The transitions are seamless.
There are thousands of “special” and “essential” CD’s available. (Indeed, I tend
to overuse both terms.) Listeners must decide for themselves where to turn for
their healing music. This is a good turn.
Jim Brenholts resides in N. Versailles, PA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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