Ardor is the 11th studio album from pianist-composer Matthew Mayer, and follow-up to his children’s album Art, which earned him a Parents Choice Award. A pioneering supporter of piano music, Matthew is the owner and founder of SoloPiano™, an internationally renowned website and online station that features over 300 piano artists from around the world. Comprised of 12 solo piano compositions spanning 43 minutes, Ardor is an exquisite album of both emotional reflection and expression, which gracefully unfolds among a soundscape of personal moods and scenic settings throughout.

Synpheria Records artist Ascendant has just released another fantastic ambient/psychill album called Particle Horizon; available on multiple digital download formats, as well as compact disc limited to 300 copies.

The Swedish ambient/chill/downtempo duo Carbon Based Lifeforms have released an amazing new album called Derelicts; available in multiple digital download formats, as well as a 6-panel digipack on professionally glass-mastered CD!   

Playlists for November 2017

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.

Held in the Light (subtitled Solo Piano Improvisations) is the seventh solo piano album by pianist and composer, Dan Chadburn, which was recorded at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona, Arizona. A native of Oregon, Dan began studying piano at the age of nine and later earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree at Pacific Lutheran University. Later residing in London for a time to study electroacoustic composition, he has since become well-versed in both classical and modern musical traditions. Dedicated to his father and mother, Held in the Light features thirteen inspirational instrumentals, of which includes ten improvised solo piano renditions of his parents’ favorite traditional hymns and three original improvisations of his own.

Michael Kollwitz has been playing the Chapman Stick for over forty years, having recorded his first solo album on this widely lesser-known instrument in the early 2000’s. A guitar/piano type of hybrid named for its inventor, Emmett Chapman (of whom Michael had the serendipitous opportunity of crossing paths with in the 1970’s), the Chapman Stick resembles the head and neck of a guitar but is played more like a piano by using two-handed tapping, and it possesses the capacity of producing a diverse range of sounds. While there aren’t many stick players on the music scene, I became familiar with its innately soothing sound upon hearing Jeff Pearce’s solo Chapman Stick recording, Rainshadow Sky, several years ago – so I’m certainly delighted to have discovered another master of this instrument! Having previously lived in Sacramento, California, Michael would perform on his stick while dressed as a 19th century gold miner, and he even opened for acts such as The Beach Boys and Goo Goo dolls. After moving to Hawaii in 2007, Michael encountered Carlos Santana who praised his talents, and later Mick Fleetwood who inspired him to play traditional Hawaiian music on the instrument. His 2017 album, Serenity, is a continuation of that Hawaiian influence and offers fourteen compositions spanning just over an hour of Pacific-imbued tranquility.

Blackmore’s Night is a British/American duo comprised of Ritchie Blackmore (founding member of the hard rock band Deep Purple) and his wife, Candice Night. Having recorded ten studio albums since 1997, To the Moon and Back compiles some of their finest work over the past 20 years onto a double album of 26 tracks, which totals nearly two hours of wonderful music. Described as a kind of renaissance folk-rock, the duo was initially inspired by artists such as Enya and Mike Oldfield, having founded Blackmore’s Night with a goal in mind of creating a type of fantasy-themed music that blended both ancient and modern elements. Rightfully heralded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Ritchie plays a variety of guitars (both acoustic and electric) as well as guitar-playing styles throughout. The album also incorporates classical strings, a chanter, hurdy-gurdy (a stringed folk instrument), keyboards and percussion – all topped-off by Candice’s lovely vocals, which possess a beautifully feminine tone that is gentle yet expressive. With compositions ranging from festive folk rock to enchanting ethereal ballads, subtle comparisons in both essence and style may be variably drawn to Loreena McKennitt, Mediaeval Baebes and Mike Oldfield.

Sign of Us is the debut album from Brazilian-based electronic music composer Dlaivison Ribarmares Silva. Introduced to the world of music at a young age, Dlaivison took piano lessons as a child while acquiring a refined taste for classical, new age, progressive rock and electro-pop over the years. Inspired by a theme of “signatures” or “signs” which are said to be universally present among everything, each song title includes a glyph-like symbol next to them, while the album’s liner notes detail brief explanations for each composition and the universal concepts for their inspiration. Comprised of ten tracks spanning just under an hour, Sign of Us was recorded on an array of electronic music equipment and features guest drummer, Arthur Rezende, on one composition. Throughout the album, I’m frequently and pleasantly reminded of both Jean-Michel Jarre and the early 1990’s German “ambient-techno” artist Cosmic Baby, while additionally, the music’s often whimsically classical nuances recall a bit of Danny Elfman.

From the Darker Seasons continues in the signature ethereal-ambient, electric guitar style of music that Jeff Pearce triumphantly re-embraced in 2014 with his album With Evening Above, which was subsequently followed up by his 2016 album Follow the River the Home. The last album in this style that Jeff recorded before taking a hiatus for over a decade was his landmark 2002 release, Bleed, which preceded some lovely albums recorded on Chapman Stick followed by one piano album. As the album’s title and captivating artwork suggest, the eight compositions spanning nearly an hour that make up From the Darker Seasons was inspired by autumn and winter, which Jeff states are his favorite times of the year (and mine too!). As with his previous two ambient guitar recordings, as well as those of his from the 1990’s and early 2000’s (of which this album was similarly created in the image), From the Darker Seasons mostly exudes a nocturnal essence comprised of drifting ambient melodies and enveloping atmospheres, which possess melancholic underpinnings.

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