Michelle Qureshi is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who also classically trained in guitar, although she crafts her compositions with unique experimentation and genre-defying edginess. On her album “Meditations” she creates minimalist soundscapes with an arrangement of guitars, flutes, didgeridoos, synthesizers and percussion, combining inner reflection and natural observation within an overall space of quietude.

“The Walkabout” immediately creates a nocturnal setting with the sounds of crickets and didgeridoo, before subtly shifting metallic tones provide a backdrop for indigenous flute and gentle guitar plucks. Grounded and earth-centered, this mood carries into the mesmerizing “Light of Dawn”, as Michelle’s own voice enters in a wordless, ceremonial-like chant. “The Breeze at Dawn” follows next, where sparse guitar notes glide among humming timbres that move gently between a few basic chords. Leading into the lengthiest composition, “Morning Mist” clocks in at just over twelve minutes. Here gentle layers of gurgling synths and delicate bells convey a colder semblance that feels reminiscent of falling snowflakes, which is given more warmth by guitar towards the end of the piece. In keeping with a theme that’s based around nature’s daily cycles, “Afternoon Evening” appropriately illustrates the bright orange glow of a setting sun over a distant field, with its buzzing tones and Mediterranean-tinged guitar melody. “Magnolia” is another cool-toned composition characterized by minimal icy timbres; it further exemplifies an album, which overall, compels the listener to stop and closely observe the subtle details contained within nature, as they often go unnoticed in a hurried and busy environment. Moving later into the day is “Evening Shadows”, an interlude-like piece under two minutes with a murky atmosphere. It precedes the mysterious “Shivasana”, a beautiful piece that features recurring gentle gusts of wind along with contemplative guitar that embodies the deep of night. After this extended restful moment, “Above the Clouds” follows with singing bowls and eerie tones that lead into a definitively psychedelic arrangement of synthesizers. Michelle’s voice revisits this most interesting piece, repeating the sacred mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” throughout. Rounding out the album is “Revealed Spirit”, a lengthier atmospheric piece of tonal layers that drift softly for awhile, ultimately leaving the listener feeling overall centered and self-composed.

If there’s one thing that clearly defines the artistic vision of Michelle Qureshi, it’s that she’s not afraid to experiment or defy musical boundaries, instead taking a non-structured approach to music-making. The generally freeform compositions on “Meditations” are neither linear or cyclical in structure, instead evolving and morphing both slowly and unpredictably while remaining unbounded and unconfined by definite lines. Many details lay hidden within these musical shadows, where one must still the mind and listen carefully for all the subtle nuances and changes taking place beneath their surface. Nevertheless, “Meditations” will likely be most appreciated by those who enjoy both minimalist ambient and atmospheric guitar music. ~Candice Michelle

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