Union: Music for Lovers is a collection of works dating from 2006 to 2011 by electronic keyboardist Michael Stribling. Featuring eleven compositions spanning seventy-two minutes of soothing romantic bliss, the album is intended to create an environment of sacred intimacy and closeness with that special someone. While a lot of music of varying styles often gets tagged as “new age” (such as is the case with many contemporary instrumental or solo piano recordings), I would regard Michael’s music as epitomizing the truest essence of the new age musical genre, such as it relates to a specific brand of relaxing and instrumental synthesizer-based music that rose to its highest prominence in the 80’s and 90’s. Among some notable recording artists in the field to whom I’d compare Michael’s style are Llewellyn, Merlin’s Magic, Midori and Raphael.

One of my favorite pieces on the album is the opening, “New Day Dawning (Part 1) – a meditative soundscape of silky smoothness. Guided by a light, sparse melody comprised of aquatic notes, subtle tabla drums provide a gentle rhythm with a touch of Eastern mystique. Another personal favorite is “Seven Faces of Home”, which opens like a gentle breeze seemingly sweeping the listener up into the sky. Further introducing a subtle piano melody set to an airy mist of chords, sparse bass tones lend an additional layer of depth, as the collective musical elements effectively convey a notion of soaring through billowing white clouds illuminated by the sun’s rays. “Longing” is another favorite – a somewhat magical, fantasy-like piece that seemingly bears a touch of the Far East. Here, a high-pitched flute is set upon the composition’s main repeating metallic notes, which are soon accompanied by a light tapping rhythm that eventually leads up to a mesmerizing swirl of harp strings and glistening chimes. Curiously, this concluding part of the song makes me think of a mythical Chinese dragon taking flight overhead. Another particularly lovely piece is the 15-minute title track, “Union”, which features a dreamy melody of synthesized reed and wind instruments throughout. Continuously drifting along, the composition’s movement seemingly mimics the gently rocking motion of a boat, as the listener might perhaps imagine themselves sailing out at sea beneath a starry sky.

Perfect for baths, bedtime, massage or any other number of therapeutic past-times and practices, Union: Music for Lovers is a wonderfully selected and arranged compilation by an artist who seeks to heal and inspire through sound. Despite the thematic concept and intention of this collection, the music herein is tasteful, wholesome and won’t leave anyone blushing, therefore making it appropriate for any type of environment. Nevertheless, this album would make an especially suitable Valentine’s Day gift or listening selection for couple’s massages! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Michael Stribling, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Google Play

 

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