On their eighth studio release ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and award-winning songwriter and vocalist Candice Night, along with their band of minstrels have created an earthy stew of folk rock with Celtic and Renaissance influences, lovingly called “Ren-rock” by fans.
In addition to the impressive vocals of Candice Night, the album features acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, bass guitar and drums, along with a host of historical instruments from their vast collection. The music, which bridges the 16th and 21st centuries draws inspiration from nature, mythology, and fairy tales, as well as from their travels.
The album opens with a rousing rocker entitled “Highland.” There is an excellent video of this song available for viewing on their website which gives a good feel for the vibe of the band, and highlights the charismatic persona of Candice Night.
Tracks like “Journeyman” and “Keeper Of The Flame” give Richie’s electric guitar fans a taste of what they’ve been waiting to hear as he breaks into a fiery finger dance on the fretboard of a Stratocaster… only to turn around and play a lilting folk ballad on the mandolin, showcasing his musical dexterity as well as his evolution as an artist.
“Autumn Sky” definitely cast its spell on me and I appreciated the band’s commitment to their roots without being bound by them. From authentic Renaissance sounds to Jethro Tull-type rock, the music of Blackmore’s Night reflects a creative spirit that infuses centuries-old music with fresh energy and vision.
Although “kirtan” or Indian devotional singing has existed for centuries, it has been enjoying a new-found popularity, especially in the new age community. The music of Devaa Haley, which finds some of its roots in this ancient tradition, also brings a contemporary perspective to the mix. The thematic vision of “Sacred Alchemy” is the exploration and expression of wisdom and power of the sacred feminine.
The album musically reflects 13 faces of the Goddess, including Tara, Kali, Mary Magdalene, Isis, Aphrodite, Pele, and others. While some of the songs lean towards the traditional, others include ambient grooves, electronica, and world percussion.
In addition to Devaa’s heavenly heartfelt vocals and harmonium (an Indian pump organ), the album features a cast of incredible musicians and singers including Suzanne Sterling, Sarah Eden Davis, Sonja Drakulich from Stellamara, and others.
Also of note is an all-star group of producers including Geoffrey Gordon, Christopher Krotky, and Ben Leinbach, who also lent additional music support on keyboards, guitars, percussion, and more. The music has been described as ranging “from sexy and untamed (great for dancing) to reverential and tender (perfect for yoga).”
As one might expect from a CD with the title “Sacred Alchemy” there is communion, not only of ancient and modern, but also of diverse spiritual and cultural traditions such as Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Christian, Egyptian, Greek, Hawaiian, etc. This album certainly achieves its goal of “expressing the glory of God/Goddess and love for Spirit embodied in all that surrounds us.”
World Without Walls
It has been said that “history repeats itself” and this is certainly the case with Ancient Future and their “World Without Walls” CD. Initially released in 1990, it has very recently been re-released by Capitol Records, and is available for the first time in digital format on Amazon, iTunes, etc.
This coincides with a current reunion tour of the exact members of Ancient Future who played on this album at that time. The group played at the world-famous Yoshi’s jazz club in San Francisco, as well as continuing on to other venues. A video of this performance can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro0VAo7a9BY
The reunion show features Matthew Montfort on scalloped fretboard guitar, Jim Hurley on violin, Doug McKeehan on keyboards, and Ian Dogole on percussion who perform their first concerts together in over 15 years. A highlight on the album is a guest appearance by legendary tabla master Zakir Hussain on three songs.
Bandleader and founder Matthew Montfort coined the term “world fusion music” to define the band’s sound, which at the time of their formation in 1978 was pretty much uncharted territory compared to today.
In fact, the prestigious Billboard Magazine cited them as “trendsetters” for their early contribution. Their music has been described as “ an exhilarating fusion of exciting rhythms and sounds from around the globe.” It’s gratifying to see this timeless classic album being reincarnated in this fashion, as well as the fact that Ancient Future has continued its musical evolution over a span of three decades.
Circles Of Light
For this album Peter Sterling traveled from southern California to Wiltshire, England to record in the famous crop circles that are found in that area. Peter is an award-nominated recording artist who has produced approximately a dozen albums of new age music, as well as being a workshop leader and lecturer on various aspects of metaphysics including the power of sound, vibration, sacred geometry, and more.
This focus is evident in this latest CD release “Circles Of Light.” The primary instrument used in the crop circles was the wind harp, along with crystal bowl, zither, and Tibetan bell. The sound of the wind harp (in which the music is created by wind blowing through the strings) is one of the most fascinating I’ve ever heard.
I listened to this album through headphones with eyes closed and was transported by it. In the liner notes, Peter talks about how the sound of the wind moving through the strings creates high-frequency harmonics that interact with our subtle energy fields and elevates our state of consciousness.
It should be noted that this recording is more about sonics, vibration, and sacred space than about “music” in the traditional sense of melody, harmony, rhythm, etc. although there are a bit of those elements present, especially in the second half.
But as Peter states, it is “optimally used for meditation, healing, and spiritual activation.” This is a deeply metaphysical endeavor created by a visionary recording artist who is devoted to the evolution of consciousness.
Migration Of The Soul
The album’s subtitle, “A Meditative Journey,” illuminates the purpose Gera had in mind when she created her new CD, “Migration Of The Soul.” Her primary “voice” is the Native American flute, which blends with percussion and synthesizers by T.M Dubas, and with nature sounds — recorded by Gera herself on her extensive world travels.
She has studied the instrument for seven years with some of its preeminent masters, including R. Carlos Nakai. Another famous name associated with this production is multi-Grammy Award-winning producer/ engineer, Elliot Scheiner, who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Sting, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, The Eagles, and many others.
Elliot lent his expertise in the producing, recording, and mixing of the album in NYC — however, the music evokes the painted canyons of the Southwest more than the concrete canyons of Manhattan.
Each composition is created as an inner journey and the liner notes provide context and description of the song’s inspiration. Reading the notes first helps set the scene for the listener’s sound voyage. The release of this CD is perfectly timed to coincide with the September 2011 World Flutes Festival in Argentina where Gera has been chosen to represent the United States as a performer and lecturer at this auspicious event.
In addition to being a musician and registered nurse, Gera is a true renaissance woman with experience as a yoga enthusiast, energy worker, and professional masseuse. So, of course, it is not surprising that this music makes a nice background for these activities.
Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and music journalist in the San Francisco Bay area with over 30 years of experience writing for nationally-published magazines and more recently worldwide on the internet. He currently has five CDs including two with new age music pioneer Steven Halpern. For additional reviews of CDs, DVDs and more, visit www.michaeldiamondmusic.com