By Chuck Diliberto

Laurelin Music
Hugh Mc Gowan feels strongly about his life and his upbringing in Ireland. Indelibly stamped upon his heart is the role his family plays in his life. The whereabouts and travails of his family are shared as if they are his own. In this light, his own struggle on the path surfaces in his songs.

Mc Gowan's music sits somewhere between folk and rock-n-roll. I am reminded of U2, but only within the context of social sensibilities. The music is anchored by Mc Gowan's contemporary guitar playing along with the backing of drums and bass giving the music a recognizable groove that could easily be cross-formatted on different radio stations. Mc Gowan's lyrics are plaintive and to the point. He pulls no punches about his feelings. He isn't overly sentimental or angry, yet both emotions are felt in his music without any overwhelming edges.

Hugh Mc Gowan, in his first CD, has laid the guidelines for where his career is going. He is capable of stretching his music and content to a wider audience. The roots are there, so is the talent to carry this auspicious beginning. I was very impressed with the innocence Mc Gowan brought to his songs. He is an emerging artist who holds his own destiny cards. Worth the listen.

For more information, call (617) 776-1408.


Various Musicians
Wind Records
Music for Beauty represents a fascinating musical approach that encompasses many facets of alternative healing therapies. The primary understanding relates to the state of being where peace and tranquility are in a constant rhythm. The music on this CD is traditional Chinese music, played on traditional Chinese instruments. The concepts of Tao (The Way) are expressed in the pitch, rhythm and overtones of the music. The belief being, that both our external self (physical energy) and internal self (nervous system) are affected by the simpatico vibrations (waves) of the music. The result is a place of peace revealing itself within us. As a further step in this process, composer Su Qing and producer Wang Xo-dong offer tips (in the liner notes) to enhance the listener's healing.

Once I digested this information I sat down and listened. The music was a mosaic of sound that could be felt as well as heard. The tone was very relaxing, yet sonically vibrant and alive. In a short period of time, I could actually feel my body reacting to the music. There was a brief moment of adjustment before the music entered within me. I began to vibrate and feel a shifting of energies. Starting with the heart chakra, my body began to feel relaxed, comforted and nurtured. I found this to be a remarkable experience, real and exhilarating. As in any meditative practice, I recommend patience be exercised without any expectations.

Music for Beauty is about the inner beauty that belies the core of each one of us. This CD represents a multifaceted approach to reflecting that beauty. Impressive.

For more information, call (800) 850-5015.


Hildegard von Bingen:
The Fire of the Spirit
Richard Souther
Sony Classical
The saying that "History has a way of repeating itself" was never so evident as in Richard Souther's Illumination. First there is Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century German visionary, abbess, author, religious activist and composer amongst other titles. When placing von Bingen's life in perspective, you can trace the roots of the women's movement, dissatisfaction with institutionalized religion (Catholic Church), and the ability of an individual who lived by the truth to change the world, even 800 years later.

Richard Souther, a classically trained pianist and contemporary instrumentalist who has created numerous best-selling albums in the new age market, has now added one more title to his burgeoning list of credentials, interpreter of the works of Hildegard von Bingen. In Illumination, the listener is treated to the possibility of what von Bingen would sound like if she were alive today. The music is a pastiche of cultural and neo-styles, blending the old with a fresh sound that "illuminated" the window of awareness that von Bingen was being viewed from. Through Richard Souther's similar vision, Hildegard von Bingen's message and music has found a new audience.

The music is relaxing (Benedictine Monk Chanting), stretching and visionary (Enya) yet still comprising the special talent that is Richard Souther. Souther's soul breathes and expands in every composition. I would be remiss not to mention Souther's supporting players, Sister Germaine Fritz, O.S.B., Davy Spillane, Noirin Ni Riain, Katie McMahon and Cello. These performers have all lent formidable talents in helping Richard Souther achieve his vision. Illumination is just that, a ray of light spanning centuries that is fueled by a source greater than man. History continues.

For more information, call (719) 548-9872.


Anton Mizerak, Karl Joseph, Chuck Wilson
This CD is a delightful, soothing, eclectic musical journey. Anton Mizerak uses the terms "New Age" and "World Beat Music" to describe this project. The beauty of Desert Bloom lies in the effortlessness and seamlessness of the music. Tabla, flamenco style guitar, lap steel guitar and harmonica together, with lead embellishments on flute, sax, and violin, compromise the instruments.

Mizerak personifies the quintessential quest of an artist with his ability to express his vision and soul through the music. In Desert Bloom, the inner nuances of Spirit are made available to our hearts. The melodies are familiar and reminiscent, joyously resonating with the pure part of our being. The understanding that music is the universal communicative is what underlies each song. The grace and talents of Anton Mizerak, Karl Joseph and Chuck Wilson are what brings these songs off of the CD and into our hearts and consciousness.

Desert Bloom represents a wonderful trend in New Age music today. The combination of national and international musical styles speaks volumes for the meshing of Spirit on the planet today. Here we see the artist still leading the way down uncut paths, blazing new trails to what is to come. If only the world's leaders had the same vision and sense of adventure, we would all see the Desert Bloom.

For more information, call (916) 926-3740.


Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors
Musik International
Raven Recording
Gabrielle Roth is an internationally known artist who has a list of credentials that should place her in any volume of Who's Who In . . . Her main motivation is to help people free their bodies and explore their capacity for ecstasy. Roth approaches dance as part of a holistic step to freedom, i.e., free your body and your heart; mind and soul will follow.

In her latest release, Zone Unknown, she stretches her concept into new territory. The omnipresent tribal drumming, produced to excellence, is merged with familiar rhythms and beat grooves. The music first lifts you onto your feet, then with a firm unseen hand, guides you through movements that will elevate your consciousness and your blood pressure. This is a good thing. Without the sweating, the catharsis the body needs to become free will not be accomplished.

Roth brings an intuitive sense to her music of years of trial and error to achieve the freedom that her compositions deliver. She is the cosmic cartographer, mapping out an ethereal guideline that, combined with an honest participation, will bring the positive results desired. This is very exciting information indeed. I actually allowed the music to move me, and found myself dancing and swirling, swaying and hopping to a familiar yet unknown route. If you are looking for a holistic form of exercise that is healing and freeing, Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors have the right prescription in Zone Unknown.

For more information, call (303) 665-7528.


Various World Music Artists
Intercultured Niche Strategies
Angel Records
We must take notice here, the World is beginning to recognize and find its soul. The significance of this statement can not truly be put into words yet, in Vision II Spirit of Rumi, this fact can be felt in our hearts. Rumi, a Sufi and a Moslem mystic, is revered today around the world as one of history's greatest poets and spiritual masters. He died seven centuries ago in western Turkey.

The Spirit of Rumi brings us in direct contact with the message and meaning of Rumi's poetry. There is World Beat Music, chanting and singing. Each one of these elements places the truth of Rumi's words into a contemporary context. The bands Enigma and Enya come to mind, but there is no overt commercialism in Vision II's approach. This is a very intimate recording, the sincerity and expressiveness of the artists is unforced. The sense of discovery, and the revealing of deep secrets permeates every track. The feeling of immediacy and imminence is a compelling energy that drives the sound and the point of this project home (to the heart).

For those who are not familiar with the work of Rumi, there is a wonderful booklet (liner notes) that is included with the CD. The booklet is an informative guide, explaining the meaning of each song. Vision II Spirit of Rumi is a milestone in the consciousness of man, again we find the artist on the forefront of bringing the truth to the masses, a fact that can no longer be overlooked.

For more information, call (212) 288-3913.


Domo Records
In the wake of Kitaro's continuing popularity in the United States, the re-release of The Light of the Spirit (1987), co-produced with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, is being offered along with most of Kitaro's original early works. This recording is the first of five CDs for which Kitaro has received Grammy nominations.

In The Light of the Spirit, we hear the awakening of Kitaro's trademark synthesizer exploration. The music is visionary and expansive, mixing a steady beat with a panoply of guitars, synthesizers, and various other instruments to create a feeling of soaring. The key here is feeling. Kitaro is gifted with the ability to express special moments of solitude and reverence into music. In one track titled Sundance, the waiting for the sun to rise, its rising and ensuing explosion of rays all are captured in a sensitive, idyllic pantomime of his keyboards interpreting the sublime.

Throughout this CD there is a feeling of sentimentality and introspecting as if Kitaro is reviewing moments of his life, capturing the full magnitude as a living memory. Herein lies the juncture of Spirit with the external world. A gray line that is drawn differently for each individual, yet felt in the hearts of all who are listening. Kitaro is a master expressionist, music his canvas, soul and Spirit his muse.

In support of the project, besides Mickey Hart (percussion), we also find David Grissman (mandolin), Bobby Vega (electric bass), Zakir Hussain (percussion), and Bobby Black (pedal steel guitar), to name a few of the vastly talented musicians lending their support to the project. A good addition to the collection.

For more information, call (310) 557-2100.


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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