Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music Albums

March 30, 2015 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music albums released during the fourth quarter of 2014 (or recently submitted to us directly). We highly recommend each of these albums. To qualify for this list, an album had to be a new release (not a re-release) in either October, November, or December of 2014 (or submitted directly to us since January 1, 2015). They must also feature primarily multi-instrumental music, and be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon.com, or CDBaby.com. In selecting these nine albums from over a hundred possibilities, we applied the same rigorous standards that we use in choosing music for play on GAIA Prime Radio. So if you enjoy the music we play on our station, we are confident that you will enjoy the music on these albums as well. Click on the album title or CD cover image and you will be taken to iTunes where you can listen to samples of music from that album and/or purchase it.

image

Infinito – Corciolli

Corciolli is a Brazilian composer, producer and musician, and official YAMAHA artist. Born in São Paulo in 1968, he began his piano studies at the age of 13 and developed an interest in jazz and Brazilian popular music. In 1986, while studying to be an architect and urban planner, he began performing as a professional musician. He plays piano and keyboards and has recorded over 30 highly successful albums and sold countless millions of records since 1993. Some of his work has been featured on international compilation albums, with artists like Vangelis, Hans Zimmer, The Alan Parsons Project, Kitaro, Dead Can Dance, Secret Garden, Era, Sarah Brightman, Enigma, Luciano Pavarotti, Andreas Vollenweider and Diana Krall, among others.

In 1993, he also founded the record label Azul Music, releasing his first solo album “All That Binds U.” In 1995, inspired by ancient Latin texts and studies on alchemy, he produced one of his most well known works, the album “Unio Mystica”. This outstanding album features a singular mixture of Gregorian chants, ethereal piano melodies and innovative orchestral arrangements. The album was released in several countries and achieved a great success with both audiences and critics. It also received the Apostolic blessing of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II. In 1996, Corciolli played at the America Latina memorial in São Paulo with the Tibetan Monks of Gaden Shartse. With the same group he recorded the album “The New Moon Of East”. This album was an unprecedented meeting of Tibetan sacred chants and music made by a Western artist. In the following years, he produced and released many more albums as a solo artist and several special projects for his recording company. Since 2011, Corciolli has dedicated himself to composing original soundtracks for films, producing the music of other artists, and performing live concerts throughout Brazil.

His newest album, “Infinito” (Portuguese for infinity), is an organic blend of electronic textures, orchestral layers and uplifting melodies, with dreamy atmospheres and a strong cinematic quality. The 14 tracks include 10 new compositions as well as exquisite arrangements of 4 masterpieces of Brazilian popular music: “A Noite Do Meu Bem” (The Night of My Well) by Delores Duran, “Melodia Sentimental” (Sentimental Melody) by Villa-Lobos, “Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Voce” (If Everyone Were Like You) by Vinicius de Moraes and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and “Eu Sonhei Que Tu Estavas Tao Linda” (I Dreamt You Were So Beautiful) by Lamartine Babo and Francisco Mattoso.

Enhancing Corciolli’s exquisite piano playing and array of synthesizers are special guests like Georgian flautist Gracieli Valverde, saxophonist Ma3, and Leonardo Padovani on the violin and erhu.

The real strength of Corciolli’s style is his masterful ability to seamlessly integrate multiple sound layers yielding music that is at once subtle, but also complex, sophisticated, mature, and rich in variety, creativity, and interest appeal. The music on “Infinito” in particular demonstrates his magnificent ability to evolve his compositions as they move forward and to allow the various components, e.g., instruments, voices, electronic accents, etc., to softly float into the track’s foreground and then transition into the background, allowing other sounds to take over.

Several of the tracks on “Infinito” have distinct “smooth-jazz-like” elements (Dream of Us, Infinite Love Song, and Solace), while other works, like “Spiral” and “Tucuma,” have a more up-tempo and lively quality that reminded us a lot of the music of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, respectively. “Mono No Aware” “San Telmo,” and “Lacrimae,” on the other hand, feature clear ethnic music elements and influences. “Dandelion,” at the outset, has a more down-tempo “space music” quality that slowly gives way to pulsating rhythms interlaced with orchestration and ethereal voices, in parts reminiscent of the early music of Kitaro. And the four covers of Brazilian popular songs are each, in their own right, particularly beautiful pieces of music, well chosen for this album, and compelling examples of Cociolli’s singular style.

For these reasons, we give this album our highest possible recommendation.

image

Night Flower – Nathan Connelly

The music on “Night Flower” features a variety of instruments and sounds, artfully integrated with occasional vocals, in an innovative style. More specifically, powerful rhythms, peaceful piano solos, Native American vocalists (both male and female voices), light electronics, and choir voices, are artfully integrated with unusual and beautiful instruments such as the Duduk, the Erhu, the Bawu, the Shakuhachi, and the Dizi. The result is music that is complex, sophisticated, layered, melodic, powerful, and lightly orchestrated, while also relaxing, soothing, and peaceful, and at times intensely emotional and incredibly beautiful.

A singular theme and purpose unites each piece of music. In the artists own words:

“Whether to the high peaks of joy and courage or the low valleys of reflection and sorrow, my music attempts to lead the listener on an emotional journey that is altogether challenging, comforting, rewarding, and inspiring.” Does it ever!!!

Despite this common theme, and many common elements, the music on “Night Flower” is nonetheless quite varied. There are deeply “emotional” songs, e.g.,”The Heart’s Cry,” with it’s stirring piano and plaintiff ethereal male vocal element, and “Two Paths,” again with strong emotive piano accompanied by heartfelt violin; soaring, uplifting, orchestration, e.g. “Strength of The Spirit” and “Adventures”; earthy and mysterious Native American inspired tracks “Running With The Wind,” “Shadows of Light,” and “Voices On The Wind”; and tracks that make use of innovative sounds, melodies, rhythms, and instruments, e.g., “Night Flower” and “Rivers of Grace.” Nearly all of the tracks have some type of vocal component in them, and where it is used, it is simply mesmerizing, beautiful, and exceptionally well-crafted and integrated with the music. The album ends with a stirring piano focused work, “On Mountains High,” which may be the most beautiful track on the entire album.

This is an easy album to listen to, as it moves quickly and provides a highly rewarding musical experience along the way. The only drawback may be that it leaves you wanting more. Very highly recommended.

image

Soul Nektar – Diane Arkenstone

As a true multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, guitar, mandolin, wood flutes, dulcimers, percussion), and with work on over 45 separate albums, Diane Arkenstone, from California, is certainly one of the most multi-talented musicians and music producers in the contemporary instrumental, Celtic music, and New Age genres. This is exactly why we chose to make her one of the key “featured artists” on GAIA Prime Radio.

Diane wrote her first song at the age of three and picked up her first guitar at the age of seven, eventually studying music at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, before moving to Los Angeles. She worked as a photographer for the Fender guitar company for a year, then spent four years running rival Gibson’s West Coast operations office, working with recording artists including Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, Guns and Roses, and Ozzy Osborne.

In the late 1990s, she left Gibson to pursue her own musical career. She experimented with punk, heavy metal, and folk music until she co-formed the supremely successful duo Enaid & Einalem with a musician friend named Melanie (the names Enaid and Einalem are simply Diane and Melanie spelled backwards) and began to focus on Celtic inspired instrumental music. They recorded eight outstanding albums together. Later, she married multi-instrumentalist and prolific musician David Arkenstone and together they formed the Neo Pacifica music label. They then collaborated on many projects, with varied musical styles, including music recorded under the names Earth Trybe (Trance, Electonic), Adventure Cargo (World), and Ah Nee Mah (Native American), as well as albums recorded under their own names separately and together.

In 2001, after a divorce, Diane broke out on her own, and continued her outstanding work.

“Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape,” released in 2001, is a particularly impressive album and a true work of art. “Jewel in the Sun,” debuted at No. 16 on Billboard’s New Age charts when it was released in October 2002, peaking at number 11. In 2005, her album, “The Best of Diane Arkenstone” went No. 1 on the New Age radio charts.

Her latest release, “Soul Nektar,” features retitled selections from several of her previous albums, e.g., Jewel in The Sun, Echoes of Egypt, and African Skies. At least two of the tracks “Expansion” and “A Million Stars” do seem to be remastered and re-crafted, as well as renamed, works from previous albums. So if you already are a fan of Diane Arkenstone, and have the original albums, you won’t find much new here. But if you are new to her music, we highly, highly recommend this album, since the selections on it are truly representative of her best work, and some the best music that the contemporary instrumental genre has to offer.

image

Aurora – Brunuhville

“Aurora” is the eighth album from the Portuguese Neo-classical composer BrunuhVille, pseudonym of Miguel Correia José Bruno. Heavily influenced by Celtic, Fantasy, and Gothic music, and the epic “soundtrack” music of Hans Zimmer, Jeremy Soule, and Howard Shore, the music of Brunuhville masterfully interweaves traditional Celtic music instrumentation, with light electronics, strong rhythms, complex and inspired orchestration (strings, woodwinds, percussion, brass, etc.), angelic choirs, and beautiful and soaring vocals from “Sharm.” The result is a “cinematic music” world of mystical lands, wizards, fairies, dragons, mermaids, romantic heroes, pirates, magical animals, kings and queens, and epic adventures.

On “Aurora,” while a few of the selections have a much more energized and upbeat quality, e.g., “Tales of Ice and Blood,” “Falls of Glory,” and “Fields of Elysium,” other tracks have a distinctly more melancholy feel to them, e.g., “Blue Rose” and “Black Heart.” Cry of the Dragons” is a particularly poignant and powerful track with a distinctly uplifting quality and may stand out as one of Brunuhville’s best works to date. And the Celtic version of “The Wolf and The Moon” is simply beautiful, and the non-Celtic verion is quite good as well. It is always a pleasure to review an album of such unquestionable careful crafting and sophisticated production quality. Every track on Aurora is simply outstanding. Highly Recommended.

image

Trail of Dreams – 2002

Over the past 20 years, the New Age/Neo-classical group 2002 has continued to evolve artistically with increasingly creative, complex, inspired, and sophisticated instrumental arrangements, infused with elements from World, pop, folk and rock music. Each of their nine albums has seemingly raised the standard higher and pushed the boundaries of the genre. This is nonetheless true of their most recent release, Trail of Dreams. This album is simply outstanding.

Until recently, 2002 was the project of husband and wife team Randy and Pamela Copus. Randy plays piano, electric cello, guitar, bass, and keyboards and Pamela plays flutes, harp, keyboards, and a wind instrument called a WX5. Both musicians have also frequently provided ethereal and carefully crafted vocal harmonies on their albums, layering their voices multiple times to create a “virtual choir” with a celestial and distinctly angelic quality. Their vocals often have many dimensions, including not only words, but also artfully integrated chants in Sanskrit, Spanish, Latin and Japanese, representing sacred traditions from throughout the world.

However, on Trail of Dreams, their remarkably talented 10 year old daughter Sarah is now featured prominently. In addition to playing one of the harp tracks, she is now also the primary vocalist. In fact, she created many of the harmonies and vocal arrangements. With qualities reminiscent of the voices of the various Celtic Women, Sarah’s vocals are mature, sophisticated, angelic, and have a distinctly Celtic quality. And backing up these vocals are innovative, crisp, and memorable instrumentals — as we have come to expect from 2002 over the years.

Trail of Dreams is about “that great journey into the unknown, to find one’s destiny.” The first two tracks – “Into The Light” and “Forever Sky” – featuring the stunning voice of Sarah, are quite beautiful. “Wait For Me,” which is mostly instrumental, is exceptional. And the title track, which features the voice of Randy, is an exquisite, upbeat, masterfully crafted work. It is based the great spiritual epic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” where Yoga Nanda travels to far away America to bring the spirituality of India to the west. The Celtic qualities of Sarah’s voice really come through on “Ta Me ‘Mo Shui” and “Follow Your Star,” the latter being our favorite track on the entire album. It tells the story of Honera O’Flynn, who is kidnapped from her homeland of Ireland and brought to America, where she ultimately finds her destiny, and true love. “Navagatio, ” which is also a particularly strong track, recounts the voyage of Saint Brendan from Ireland in the sixth century, setting out to find the “terra repromissionis sanctorum,” the Promised Land of the Saints or the Earthly Paradise. The album ends with “Ever Onward”, a life-affirming anthem, again performed by Randy, about following dreams, and always moving forward.

Trail of Dreams is an emotional, relaxing, distinctly spiritual listening experience worthy of our high recommendation.

image

Journey – Kelly Andrew

Kelly Andrew, originally from Denver, Colorado, is an accomplished musician, composer, pianist, producer, and sound engineer. Although previous albums from Kelly have leaned more in the direction of a “Trance” style (The Incursion) or an “epic music/soundtrack” style (e.g., Epoch Dawn), the music on “Journey” is a distinct departure, in that it has a more classic “New Age” feel. The music artfully integrates innovative melodies with elements of jazz, ethereal vocals, modern phrasing, tribal rhythms, world music, occasional electronics (synthesizer, electric guitar), and sophisticated and rich orchestration (especially strings and flutes). The result is music that is not quite as “ambient” and certainly not quite as “soaring” as some of Kelly’s previous work. Nevertheless, the result is outstanding contemporary instrumental music that is powerful, memorable, varied, uplifting, engaging, inspiring, and captivating, and represents a clear maturing of Kelly’s musical talents. In fact, we would rate this album as his best work to date.

“World of Discovery” and “Promised Land”, for example, feature exceptional and emotionally evocative “string” elements, while “Glistening Waters, “Keepers of The Veldt,” and “Sail Away” have a delightful and distinctly “jazz” quality reminiscent of some of the music from the early days of New Age/Jazz crossover music. “Dreamscapes, “Rainforest,” and “Dancing Dunes”, in contrast have clear world music influences — Asian, South American, and Middle Eastern, respectively. And “Into The Sun” and “Along The River” are enlivened by pulsating percussion and amazingly beautiful vocals. The title track, in particular, which is arguably the best on the album, along with several of the other tracks, e.g., “Expedition,” easily calls to mind the early music of David Arkenstone, especially from his “Echoes of Light and Shadow.” And it is every bit as good!!!

“Journey” truly carries the listener on a exciting, wondrous, and worldly musical adventure. For that reason, we give this album our highest possible recommendation.

image

Sacred Nation – Ah Nee Mah / Diane Arkenstone

Ah Nee Mah is the “Native American culture and music” inspired project of musicians Diane Arkenstone (of Cherokee heritage) and David Arkenstone who provide the sounds of flute and keyboards respectively, along with Tom Torre on violin and guitar, David Kaplan on drums/percussion and Seth Osburn with additional keyboard and percussion accompaniment.

Their latest album “Sacred Nation” continues the outstanding work that the collaboration between these two master artists has yielded in the past. while most of the the tracks on this album are renamed selections from previous albums, a few of the seem to have been remastered and recrafted as well. The music, while prominently featuring Native-American instruments and rhythms, is nonetheless complex and sophisticated, creating a musical environment that is both rich and filled with emotion. If you are not a familiar with the work of Ah Nee Mah, but are a fan of Native American influenced music, this album will be an excellent starting point. We highly recommend Sacred Nation.

image

Summon The Wind – Timothy Wenzel

American born artist Timothy Wenzel, who also holds a is Ph.D. in chemistry, radically changed direction in life recently by embarking on a pursuit of his other passion: music. His debut album, “Mountains Take Wing” was selected as a Best New Age Album of 2012 by New Age Music World. His second album, “A Coalescence of Dreams” (October 2012) received widespread airplay and acclaim, climbing to #6 in the International New Age Charts (Zone Music Reporter) in 2013. His third album, River Serene, also jumped into the top 10 at ZMR. It was mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer Corin Nelsen and was released November 23, 2013 on the Coyote Floe label. And as Timothy continues to pursue his musical passions, he is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the top keyboardists in the new age genre.

This album, “Summon the Wind,” is his fourth and explores the general theme of “wind,” as well as the themes of love, dreaming, exploration, inventions, and the earth and nature. It also continues Timothy’s tradition of creating excellent contemporary instrumental ensemble music that is innovative, thoroughly developed, sophisticated, and well produced. Again Mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer Corin Nelsen, the music displays a variety of instrumentation, including keyboards, synthesizers, violins, cellos, flutes, harps, bells, guitars, bass, and percussion, as well as wordless male and female voices. Electric guitarist Michael Rud from Denmark makes a special guest appearance on one tune.

The music on “Summon The Wind” is varied, complex, melodic, well-crafted, innovative, visual, and at times emotional and gentle, but also with a quiet power behind the compositions. Mariner’s Lament,” “Still The Wind,” and “All That Might Have Been” are emotionally evocative compositions with an undercurrent of sadness. “Crystal Man” was inspired by poor workers digging for diamonds in Africa and features lush piano accompanied by soulful violins. “Elven Dance” and “Tesla’s dream” are more upbeat and lively with an obvious Celtic music influence. While the music does make a bit more use of light electronics than what we usually prefer, the use of electronics is not overly done, with those elements typically serving more to accent the main instrumental theme, and not carry it. Ranging from lively to serene, the album takes the listener on a contemporary instrumental music journey rich with emotional peaks and valleys yielding a powerfully rewarding and memorable sonic experience.

image

Total Serenity (Music for Meditation) – Niall

Born in Luton, England, Niall (pronounced Nee-Al) is a prolific writer and producer of World, Relaxation and New Age music. He began learning the trumpet and recorder at the age of 7. As a teenager he progressed to playing drums, flute, guitar and keyboards. In the early 90’s he started writing and producing music for various production companies, as well as music films, radio, television, and computer games, and taking on location recording projects for choirs, orchestras and bands.

His first full album release in 2007 was “Spirit of the Shaman,” a Native American inspired album with Native American flutes and chants accenting a powerful musical underscore. With several other successful album projects completed over the past few years, in January 2014 Niall released his first independent album titled “Earth Angels,” an album of stunning and diverse music as he pushes the boundaries of New Age music. We reviewed Earth Angels in May of 2014 and described the album as “a truly compelling work of art.”

Niall’s music can generally be described as uplifting, relaxing and hauntingly beautiful. He plays the majority of the instruments featured on his albums, and works in a style that blends ethnic, world and new age together. “Total Serenity” brings you over 75 minutes of beautiful meditation music. Specially timed 5, 10 & 20 minute tracks are ideal for sitting, standing & walking meditation. Working closely with meditation expert, Susan West, each track is designed to take you on a slow, relaxing journey of discovery and an unfolding of your body and mind. The music sets out to encompass different meditation disciplines and draws on influences including Buddhist Sutras, Asian, Native American and ethereal landscapes. The goal of the album is to help you experience the benefits of deep relaxation and inner peace.

While the music on “Total Serenity” is generally speaking down-tempo, ambient, “meditation” style music, two of the tracks – “Sacred Spirit” and “Buddha Temple” – display the same hauntingly beautiful music masterfully integrated with spiritual chants (Native American, Buddhist, etc.), and innovative rhythms that we have come to expect from Niall’s music. These two tracks, along with “Star of Siam,” which is simply mesmerizing, are particularly poignant and powerful examples of Niall’s singular and compelling style – music that we thoroughly enjoy.

Coming Soon: Our favorite albums released in the first quarter of 2015.

Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music Albums

December 10, 2014 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music albums released during the third quarter of 2014. We highly recommend each of these albums. To qualify for this list, an album had to be a new release (not a re-release) in either July, August or September of 2014, feature primarily multi-instrumental music, and be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon.com, or CDBaby.com. In selecting these seven albums from over a hundred possibilities, we applied the same rigorous standards that we use in choosing music for play on GAIA Prime Radio. So if you enjoy the music we play on our station, we are confident that you will enjoy the music on these albums as well. Click on the album title or CD cover image and you will be taken to iTunes where you can listen to samples of music from that album and/or purchase it.

image

Medicine Woman 5: Transformation – Medwyn Goodall

“Medicine Woman 5: Transformation” is the latest in the Medicine Woman album series from composer and musician Medwyn Goodall. Born in Yorkshire, England, and most recently residing in Cornwall, Medwyn began composing original songs as a teen, earning local notoriety with his band Trax. In the years to follow, he learned to play a vast range of instruments, including mandolin, piano, drums, harp, flute, glockenspiel, panpipes, vibraphone and synthesizer, and cut his first album in 1987 at age 26. Since then, he has recorded over 75 albums, sold over three million records, and topped the UK music charts twice.

Some of Medwyn’s recent releases have been under the alias Midori. He explains that he chose this alias so he “could record projects that were more ethnic, eastern, or produced for the healing arts” without confusing fans of his other music.

Inspired by elements of Mayan culture and the indescribable beauty of the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, the music on “Medicine Woman 5” can best be described as melodic, relaxing, inspiring, and at times astonishingly beautiful. Light and emotional acoustic and electric guitar expressions are interwoven with soulful panpipes and stirring Bamboo flutes; all on an ambient foundation of natural rainforest soundscapes. The result is music that evokes visions of penetrating light filtering through lush green trees and ancient ruins, transporting mind and soul, though healing energy and deeply relaxing moods.

image

The Healing Muse – Ron Clearfield

An accomplished cellist, composer and conductor, Ron Clearfield graduated Summa Cum Laude with Bachelors and Masters degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music studying with Brazilian cellist Aldo Parisot and string pedagogues Joseph Silverstein and Leon Barzan. he also attended the Berkshire Music Festival (Tanglewood) as a fellowship student for two consecutive summers. Ron comes from a lineage of gifted musicians. His father was a professional clarinetist who performed with major orchestras through out the United States and Ron’s grandfather, originally from Russia, was a fine pianist and teacher. Ron performs on a beautifully restored cello made in 1696.

As a cellist, Ron Clearfield was previously a member of the Indianapolis Symphony, the Miami Philharmonic and the Miami Opera Orchestra. He has performed with such pop notables as George Benson, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt and Dionne Warwick as well as with classical luminaries Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, Aaron Copland and Seiji Ozawa. Ron was featured on national TV as solo cellist for the A&E Judy Collins Christmas Special at the Biltmore Estate. Just recently, Ron recorded on the Grammy Award nominated CD Rare Bird Alert with Steve Martin and Paul McCartney.

As a composer, he has previously released three critically acclaimed recordings: “Dream Manifestation,” “Time on Earth,” and “Music in the Silence.” He has scored for numerous television and film projects including: Homeward Journey, which aired on PBS and the film Opening Doors Within, awarded first prize at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

As a conductor, Ron Clearfield has served as Associate Conductor with the Miami Beach Sinfonia from 1980-1988. He was also the founder and Music Director of the Blue Ridge Orchestra from 1999-2011, and has conducted the Asheville Youth Orchestra since 1994. In 2011 he started the Appalachian Festival Orchestra, an orchestra dedicated to performances for humanitarian benefits and causes.

Clearfield’s music has been acclaimed by physicians, therapists and body workers as an amazing tool for relaxation, therapy and healing. In fact, the cello has been studied sonically and shown to have the closest wave pattern to the human voice. Ron has observed first hand that this quality can have profound healing abilities. In the liner notes of “The Healing Muse,” He describes two particularly poignant and powerful examples of how his music calmed a young boy with severe ADHD who felt like his head was on fire and how playing for a comatose friend who had been in a horrendous car wreck and was unresponsive for weeks responded to Clearfield’s music after only a few minutes and began the long journey to recovery.

On “The Healing Muse,” Ron is joined by a cast of gifted musicians in an inspiring hour-long compilation of the most relaxing, meditative and healing selections from his three previous albums “Dream Manifestation,” “Time on Earth,” and “Music in the Silence.” Guest artists appear on bamboo flute, zither, silver flute, harp, keyboards, guitar, percussion, English horn, violins, and viola. This album beautifully incorporates all the elements we look for in the music we choose to play on GAIA Prime Radio. With the warmth of Ron’s cello taking the lead, the music is innovative, complex, melodic, sophisticated, memorable, peaceful, deeply emotional, soothing, and mostly “simply beautiful.” Very highly recommended.

image

Winds of Samsara – Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman

Recently nominated for a Grammy Award (New Age Album of The Year), “Winds of Samsara” started off as a simple tribute to the respective “Fathers of their Nations,” Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela (India and South Africa). However it eventually blossomed into an epic album involving more than 120 spirited musicians from 5 separate continents and took over two years to write and record.

The dream of Wouter Kellerman (south African flutist) and Ricky Kej (composer from India), this album draws from many disparate cultures and speaks to themes of peace and positivity. The music is wistful, sincere, full of symbolism, and swells and ebbs with multiple layers of complex rhythms and harmony. In fact, everything about this album is outstanding–beautiful cover artwork, outstanding compositions, exceptional production. and mesmerizing performances.

Notable artists supporting Kej and Kellerman on “The Winds of Samsara” include Guitarist Paul Carlos (Crystal Moon), Ciro Hurtado, Vanil Veigas, (Mahatma), Tholsi Pillay (New Earth Calling), Michael Gallant, (Journey To Higher Ground), Lamine Sonko, Susan Mouton, (Madiba), Prakash Sontakke, (Longing), Chaitra HG and Gayathri Suresh, Mauritz Lotz, (River of Time), Fiona Joy, (Grace), Michael Lewin, Seattle Pro Musica Choir, Devan Ekambaram and Dave Gross (Nocturne)

Recalling Gandhi’s mantra “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” Winds of Samsara truly puts happiness within your grasp.

UPDATE February 10, 2015: Winds of Samsara has won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.

image

Voices From Heaven, Vol. II – Tron Syversen & Runar Halonen

Tron Syversen, who began taking piano lessons at the age of 7, is from Norway and often records his music at his cabin close to the sea near Oslo, or at a monastery in Italy close to Assisi. He has become a pioneer in the growing European relaxation music community. Blending his improvisational skills as a jazz pianist, his deep roots in the melodic folk music of Norway, and his subtle intuitive perceptions developed from his meditation practice, Tron has distilled a unique form of music that is both evocative and healing. His soothing and relaxing compositions have therefore become a favorite among the new age audiences and holistic therapists all over the world.

Voices From Heaven, Vol. 2, as was the case with Vol. 1, is composed and performed with Runar Halonen, an authorized Nordic spiritual healer, and features the angelic voices of Tron’s musical soulmate, Helene Edler Lorentzen, and others. It’s goal is to take you on a deep journey within yourself.

With Tron’s expressive and reflective piano as the primary voice, varied instrumental accompaniment, and the ethereal vocals, the music on this album is certainly spiritually soothing and calming. And each of the three tracks on the album is nearly twenty minutes in length, so if you prefer uninterrupted extended play background music for work, meditation, relaxation, massage, yoga, or some other activity, you will definitely enjoy this album.

image

Music That Matters: Relaxing Music Benefiting Lovelight, Helping South African Children In Need – Various Artists

How this album came to be is quite an interesting story. “Music That Matters” is produced by NewVision Music, a music production and promotion company based in Austin, Texas. The organization is headed by Kevin Wood, a 10-year radio and retail promoter in the music industry, as well as a New Age music recording artist. He and his wife Jennifer were inspired by the philanthropic works of Martin and Kelly Dowman from Austin. The Dowman’s had for several years been pursuing the betterment of impoverished communities in the country of South Africa by joining the forces of LoveLight, a non-profit program serving the kids in that country. The core mission and vision of LoveLight is to help these communities rise above the circumstances of pandemics like HIV/AIDs, hunger and poverty in the post apartheid era. Lovelight funds programs and provides volunteers to give these kids hope and a brighter future.

For Kevin an Jennifer, “The Music That Matters” compilation was seen as a beautiful and inspiring way to bring together talented artists with extraordinary music to support the LoveLight cause.

The album features the music of 36 cutting edge, established, and award winning artists, including 9 Grammy nominees, drawn from the “new age,” “meditative,” “world fusion,” and “relaxing music” genres. Moreover, all of the artists donated their musical participation without any expectation of remuneration. A small sampling of those notable participants include: Fiona Joy, David Arkenstone, Stephen Peppos, David Lanz, Chris Spheeris, Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel, Karunesh, Paul Avgerinos, Phil Coulter, Ashana, Michael Hoppé & Martin Tillman, Diane Arkenstone, Medwyn Goodall, and many others.

The quality of the music on this album simply outstanding, and it is indeed unprecedented to have so many of these fine musicians on one compilation. “Music That Matters” is a wonderful way to become familiar with a wide variety of new music created by star caliber artists who care enough to donate their work freely in service to others. Not since “We Are The World” nearly thirty years ago has such a distinguished group of socially conscious musicians come together to lend a helping hand to those in need.

This stupendous collection of three-dozen songs, which has been called the finest compilation of New Age music in many years, is only $9.98 as a download. Please consider donating to LoveLight and supporting the great work they do by purchasing this album. We give the music our highest possible recommendation.

image

The Gathering II – Various Artists

“The Gathering II is a compilation of musical selections from artists who have recently recorded albums at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. Co-produced by Ackerman and Tom Eaton, “The Gathering II” is a follow-up album to the outstanding and highly successful (Zone Music Reporter’s Album of The Year) “The Gathering” from 2012. This latest album features twenty-one different artists performing one track each. Most are solo instrumentals (piano, guitar) while others feature instrumental and vocal (wordless) support.

The pianists include Jim Gabriel, Dave Kydd, Laura Sullivan (from her Grammy-winning Love’s River), Kathryn Kaye, Louis Colaiannia, Masako, Denise Young, Rebecca Harrold, Heidi Breyer, Dominic Silla, Stanton Lanier, Fiona Joy, Ann Sweeten, Vicente Avella, Isadar, and Lynn Yew Evers. The guitarists are Lawrence Blatt, Matteo Palmer, Shambhu, Ryan Michael Richards, and Vin Downes – some of the best acoustic instrumental musicians composing and recording today.

Supporting artists include Imaginary Road studio luminaries such as Eugene Friesen, Charlie Bisharat, Noah Wilding, Jill Haley, Jeff Oster, and Ackerman himself.

For those who are new to the appreciation of high quality solo instrumental music, this album is an excellent place to start. For those not new to this genre, this album should definitely take an honored place in your collection. Very highly recommended.

image

Native Chill: Spirits Calling – David Arkenstone

With three GRAMMY nominations, twenty Billboard hits, and millions of fans worldwide, David Arkenstone has established himself as one of the best contemporary instrumental musicians of our time. David has recorded over thirty albums, toured extensively including performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, scored dozens of films and documentaries, and composed music for the Olympics that is used to this day. NBC Producer David Michaels, who makes frequent use of David s music, says, ‘David writes with fire, passion and emotion, all at once simple and complex. He’s an artist capable of constant inspiration.’ That is why we have made him one the featured artists on GAIA Prime Radio.

“Native Chill: Spirits Calling” combines Native American musical elements with a somewhat down-tempo chill-out sound. As we have come to expect from David, the music on this album is innovative, complex, sophisticated, and well crafted; deftly blending intersecting layers of Native American flute, various types of percussion, light electronics, traditional Native American chants, and other subtle instrumentation. If you are need of a laid back, relaxing sound, to put off stress or unwind from a hectic day, this album will fit the bill.

Coming Soon: Our favorite albums released in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music Albums

September 25, 2014 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music albums released during the second three months of 2014. We highly recommend each of these albums. To qualify for this list, an album had to be a new release (not a re-release) in either April, May or June of 2014, feature primarily multi-instrumental music, and be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon.com, or CDBaby.com. In selecting these seven albums from over a hundred possibilities, we applied the same rigorous standards that we use in choosing music for play on GAIA Prime Radio. So if you enjoy the music we play on our station, we are confident that you will enjoy the music on these albums as well. Click on the album title or CD cover image and you will be taken to iTunes where you can listen to samples of music from that album and/or purchase it.

image

Mesa Verde Soundscapes – Jill Haley

Mesa Verde Soundscapes is the third album in a series of works from wind instrument virtuoso and accomplished pianist Jill Haley, and inspired by US National Parks. While serving for two weeks as an Artist-in-Residence at Mesa Verde, Jill composed various pieces of music based on the many sacred sites, cliff dwellings, and landscapes she saw there, as well as her imaginings of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived there. The music is rich, nuanced, and beautiful and includes members of Haley’s family on many of the accompanying instruments. Haley performs on piano, guitar, bass, oboe and English horn; Haley’s husband, David Cullen appears on guitar and bass; and her children, Dana, Graham, and Risa appear on horn, cello and viola respectively.

Jill has appeared as a studio musician playing oboe and English horn on many albums produced by other artists. In particular, she has been a frequent collaborator on various projects recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. So it is not surprising that this CD was recorded there, and co-produced with studio wiz Tom Eaton, who mixed and mastered the album. The hardcopy CD package also includes a 15-page booklet with gorgeous photos of Mesa Verde taken by Jill to illustrate each of the 14 tracks. So it is well worth purchasing the physical CD package, and not just downloading the .mp3 files. Overall, Mesa Verde Soundscapes is an impressive collection of exceptional musical works that invite the listener to experience the incomparable beauty of Mesa Verde by way of masterful musical expression.

image
Simply Beautiful Collection – Laima Gaizutis
Laima’s parents always wanted her to play the piano. She was born in Lithuania and moved with her family to Cleveland, Ohio. She studied with pianist Andrius Kuprevicius at the Cleveland Music School Settlement at age six. Three years later she made her TV debut on a talent show. In high school she was the accompanist for all the musical events and won first place in piano competitions in Cleveland and Chicago. She graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, with a B.M. in piano performance and theory. Later, she married and moved to Houston, Texas. Then, with the degree in hand, Laima began a career as a piano teacher and she continues to teach today – hoping to instill her students with the same passion for music that has been a part of her life.

In 1990, Laima got a digital piano as a Christmas gift from her husband. “THAT was the year the composer in me emerged. I was hearing music in my sleep and was jumping out of bed to write it down before I’d lose the melody. I would have to stop whatever I was doing so I could notate it. And so it began… I worked alone and also collaborated with various songwriters, which resulted in a bountiful collection of melodies and songs.”

“By 2013 I knew it was time to share…after all, why write if not to be heard? Each track of ‘Simply Beautiful Collection I ‘ has its own mood and instrumentation. I enjoyed varying the rhythms and the extra piano melody lines. Listen with closed eyes and be swept away by these music gems…”

image

Namaste Healing – Various Artists
Namasté Healing is a gathering together of inspiring and restorative musical works from several prominent contemporary instrumental artists who record on the Real Music label, including Liquid Mind, Kevin Kern, Kenio Fuke, The Haiku Project, Peter Kater, 2002, Bernward Koch, and Sacred Earth, among others. While some of the music presents a distinctly downtempo, ambient, and contemplative sound, other selections are more uplifting and energizing. And the overall album presents a good balance of the two styles. No matter what type of activity engages you while you listen, you will find sonic tranquility within the boundaries of this inspiring spiritual soundscape.

image

Uplifting Classical 2 – Gandharvak

Gandharvák is a small orchestra (19-20 members at any one time) based in Hungary and founded in 2011 by chamber drum artist and music teacher Róbert Takáts and conductor, music teacher and linguist Anikó Novák. Most of the orchestra members are both artists and teachers of their particular instruments. The name Gandharvák is taken from Hindu mythology and refers to the celestial musicians (gandharvas) who, at great festivals, would descend from heaven to entertain the people with their delightful music.

Uplifting Classical, a relatively new sub-genre of contemporary instrumental and world music has been created by and is best represented by Gandharvák. The word ’uplifting’ reflects the joyful, elated spirit of the genre, while ’classical’ refers to the fact that all pieces are composed for symphonic instruments first, with the modern chord and rhythm accompaniment added to it later. More specifically, the music is distinctly orchestral at its core (violins, violas, cellos, flutes, oboes, French Horns, English Horns, etc.), but with clear ethnic influences from Spanish, Celtic, Baroque, Renaissance, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern traditional music, and more contemporary instrumental expressions and rhythms.

Uplifting Classical 2 is the second album of this style of music from Gandharvák; the first having been released in 2012. While this album is in many ways much better than the first, the blending of the classical and ethnic themes with contemporary styles and rhythms works better on some selections than on others. On “Sunrise” and “Flow”, for example, the mixture of different styles is magnificently integrated, but on others such as “Lancelot” and “Legions”, the distinctively traditional music cobbled together with overly prominent modern jazz/Rock percussion accompaniment and/or ill-conceived and ill-placed drum solos most definitely does not work. Nonetheless, on “Renewal”, which is aptly the last song on the CD, it all seems to come together with a brilliant integration of Celtic dance music with Classical undertones, a modern Celtic fusion feel, and traditional acoustic instrumentation, that invokes in the listener imagery of a substantial line if Irish Step Dancers hoofing across a stage somewhere.

image

Ritual – Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai
Legendary musical artists R. Carlos Nakai (Native American flute, eagle bone whistle, chanting) and Peter Kater (piano) reunite for their first collaboration in over ten years. They are joined by much-acclaimed reed player Paul McCandless (soprano sax, oboe, and English horn) along with talented cellist Jaques Morelenbaum and vocalist Trisha Bowden. Ritual is a wholly improvised recording that doesn’t feel like one, and features exceptionally beautiful and spiritually expressive music. Kater states (in the liner notes) “It is an offering and invitation for us all to meet in this place of pure beingness that transcends time, duality and concept. It is an expression of the totality and gift of each moment and the awareness that the experience of this journey is its own reward.”

Sometimes uplifting and joyful, other times somber and reflective, the music is, for the most part, unapologetically downtempo, drifting, meditative, and sometimes dreamlike. Throughout, the music reflects the instinctive connectedness that the players have with each other, even as one steps into the spotlight and the others recede into the shadows. As Bill Binkelman of the Zone Music Reporter puts it, this music shows “a melding of intelligence with heart, a musical hybrid that speaks to both the listener’s mind and the listener’s soul.” The physical CD package is also accompanied by some exceptionally beautiful artwork.

UPDATE (December 6, 2014): We learned today that this album has been selected as one of the nominees for the Grammy Award for the Best New Age Music Album for 2015.

image

Waiting For Yesterday – Myristica

From East Sussex, UK-based composer, Mei-Ling Grey, started writing music at a young age after discovering piano at three years old. Her parents fueled her passion for writing her own melodies by encouraging her to perform, at the age of 12, in summer concerts at school. She began writing music under the pseudonym, ‘Myristica’ in 1998. After taking a break to concentrate on her family she started composing again in 2011. Since then she has gone on to compose three instrumental albums featuring gentle, spacious, melodious, and other-worldly piano instrumentals, lightly orchestrated and infused with Celtic and Medieval passages. This particular album is dedicated to her father, who spent many years in the British Royal Navy. It is her musical interpretation of his memories at sea as a young sailor, thousands of miles away from home. Through her melodious piano vignettes and ambient soundscapes, Myristica translates her father’s tales of beautiful sunsets, the friendships he made on-board, and the experiences that he gained while sailing around the world. Guest artists include Phil Thornton and Chris Philpotts.
image

Arctic Sunrise – Kerani

This is the third album from Holland’s pianist and composer Kerani, and is inspired by the austere beauty of the desolate Arctic – the long awaited Arctic Sunrise, the Majestic Aurora Borealis, the legends and culture of the native Inuit peoples, and the spirit, bravery and unimaginable sacrifices of polar explorers such as Knud Rasmussen, Roald Amundsen, and Col. Robert Falcon Scott, the last of whom, along with his crew of four, perished in the unbelievably harsh conditions of one of the last true wildernesses on Earth. While the music has “electronic” elements (but not overly so), Kerani brings warmth and depth to the music with her delicate and captivating piano segments, the use of a quintet of musicians playing acoustic instruments (cello, flute, horn, guitar, violin), as well as ethereal, whispering voices for added mystery. There’s an intensely spiritual essence to everything here–a deep appreciation for the awe and wonder of the icy world of the Arctic.

Coming Soon: Our favorite albums released in the third quarter of 2014.

back to top