Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Album Review: Liquid Mind XIII: Mindfulness by Liquid Mind

Liquid Mind is the successful longtime recording project of veteran musician Chuck Wild, whose music career of more than 40 years boasts some noteworthy accolades and highlights. Prominent among these includes his keyboardist days with the 80s-rock band Missing Persons (alongside bassist and latter-day ambient musician Patrick O’Hearn) as well as studio work with Michael Jackson in the 90s. However, the introspective musical sphere that Wild occupies as Liquid Mind, which saw its inception with the album Animus Minimus in 1994, is a notable contrast to the more bustling pop-rock world that he formerly immersed himself in. Having released sixteen Liquid Mind albums to date, Wild’s peaceful music has garnered a well-earned listener following with his works being especially popular in the spa, massage and wellness industries.

Titled Liquid Mind XIII: Mindfulness, Wild’s latest album is named for what could be deemed the most popular new age trend to arise over the last few years. However, for the dedicated mindfulness enthusiasts out there, as well as those less familiar with what the practice entails, it’s worth noting that Liquid Mind has long been a leading mindful music trendsetter by crafting harmonious sounds which are intended to promote many of the same purported benefits that mindfulness exercises strive to achieve.

Spanning just over an hour, the album features a total of six soothingly serene soundscapes comprised of slowly-shifting and oscillating major-key chord progressions, which mostly occupy the mid-to-high range. Continually unfolding throughout in a gradually ascending motion, silken chords with softened edges smoothly transition from one to the next. Given that the compositional structure is all ‘release’ and no ‘tension’, there aren't any elements of surprise along the way, which allows for the listener to simply achieve an uninterruptedly passive state of mind. Overall, it’s a listening experience which could be figuratively compared to that of floating like a cloud in the lotus position without pause, nor a tangible destination in mind.

Without getting too bogged down in genre categorization, I’ve always perceived this kind of music to be an emblematic representation of the new age genre, which I intuitively distinguish from the often overlapping yet nonetheless distinct ambient genre. Specifically, Mindfulness is positivity-minded, pure relaxation music that feels like receiving a mental massage or aromatherapy for the ears. And though as a listener I do tend to gravitate towards moodier atmospheres that convey some suspense and tensity, likewise, as someone coming from the perspective of having worked in the spa industry, I’ve found this type of music to be perfectly suited to that environment with its oft-reported therapeutic effect on both clients and holistic practitioners! ~Candice Michelle

Available at Amazon and other musical retail & streaming platforms. For more information, please visit the artist's website.

Monday, August 24, 2020

PGM 273: Land's End 2

More space-ambient panoramas inspired by nocturnal seafaring!

Artist Name / Track Title / Album Title
Jeff Pearce / Opening / Archive 1: Songs for the Gatherings
Isostatic / Planetary Approach / Glacial Epoch
Chris Russell / Invitation / Destiny
Acheloo / Underworld / Debris of Nostalgia
Chris Russell / Tycho Crater / Elliptical
Jeff Pearce / Mist / Hidden Shores/Empty Beach
Hollan Holmes / The Farthest Fringes / The Farthest Fringes

Friday, August 21, 2020

Album Review: Debris of Nostalgia by Acheloo

Acheloo is the recording alias of Italian ambient composer and guitarist Carlo Luzi, whose music I initially discovered in early 2018 with his 2017 album Ethereal. Titled Debris of Nostalgia, Acheloo’s latest full-length release is comprised of nine hauntingly beautiful soundscapes filled with mystery and melancholy. Written, produced, mixed and mastered by Luzi, who also designed the album’s cover artwork, Debris of Nostalgia features luminously drifting electric guitar figures and sparsely shimmering piano notes, which are carried along throughout by expanding clouds of quasi-cinematic permeance.

The profoundly affecting compositions are quietly understated yet emotionally intense, a characteristic that is perhaps best exemplified on “Distant Sign”, which perfectly captures how a piece of music can be so subtly simple yet magnificently moving. Softly rolling in and out like an ocean tide, the main repeating chord figure of this unforgettably gorgeous passage conveys a poignant comfort and mysterious longing that washes over the senses, as shadowy tonal atmospheres materialize like rising mists from the sea.

The album’s use of the word “nostalgia” effectively conjures both a relative personal past and ancient mythical past, as such is the case with the mesmerizing farewell, “Underworld”, which exceptionally embodies this quality. Evocative of entering a gateway to another realm, metallically shimmering guitar notes peer through towering icy blasts, which can be likened to sailing on a cold sea through a mountainous strait, as we are briefly met by a hauntingly disembodied echo that beckons from the amorphous ambient fog.

Easily a top contender for the year's finest ambient recording, Debris of Nostalgia immediately captivated my ears upon first listen and has only increasingly enamored me over the past few months. A crowning achievement for Acheloo, the minimalistic elegance and aching sense of yearning the compositions convey puts me in a similar headspace as Harold Budd’s outstanding classic The White Arcades – a compliment of the highest order! ~Candice Michelle 

Available at Amazon and Bandcamp. For more information please visit the artist's website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

PGM 272: Rainforest Sojourn 5

Another ethno-chill / tribal-ambient journey through the tropics!

Artist Name / Track Title / Album Title
David Lyndon Huff / The Journey / Worldbeat
Diane Arkenstone / Night Flight / Spirits of the Rainforest
Soulfood / Chameleon / Breathe
Chris Spheeris with Robert Cory / Island of 1000 Temples / Mystic Traveller
Enigma / Light of Your Smile / Beyond the Invisible [EP]
Mark Barrott / Island Life / Sketches from an Island
Baka Beyond / Ndaweh’s Dream / The Meeting Pool
Kamarius / Earth Element / Elements
Brannan Lane & Tom Larson / Tails of the Rain Forest, Part 1 / Tribal Spirit
Sambox / Amazon / Freedom World

Monday, August 17, 2020

Album Review: Celtic Fairy Dream by 2002

Originally comprised of husband and wife duo Randy and Pamela Copus, multiple award-winning and Billboard charting phenomenon 2002 debuted on the music scene nearly three decades ago with their album Wings (1992). Progressively evolving over the years to incorporate more lyrical and tangible melodies into their definable 'neoclassical new age' sound, more structured songs would eventually become a mainstay when the couple’s then-adolescent daughter Sarah Copus was officially recruited as 2002's third member and lead singer in 2014 for their landmark album Trail of Dreams.

A thematic sequel to Celtic Fairy Lullaby (2016) and follow-up to A World Away (2018), the band’s latest release, Celtic Fairy Dream, serendipitously parallels the maturing artistry of Sarah Copus, with her angelic lullabies once again shining in the incandescent glow of celestially sailing soundscapes. Comprised of cinematic orchestral and synthesizer arrangements, listeners are treated to the lulling sounds of harp, flute, guitar and additional multi-layered vocals throughout. Included are several renditions of traditional Irish and Welsh songs in signature 2002 fashion, as the musical sojourner is spirited away to another time and place where ancient lore and mythic beauty comes to life.

Of particular noteworthiness is “The Green Fields of Autumn (Coinleach Glas an Fhomhair)”, a traditional Irish song popularized by the legendary Irish band Clannad. Although both renditions are equally exquisite, 2002 contrasts Clannad’s mainly acoustic and earthier version with one that's more ethereal and shimmering.

My absolute favorite piece on the album is “David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen)”, a solemn 18th-century Welsh musical air and folk song. With the harp central to its poetically lyrical theme, 2002's gorgeous rendition aptly showcases the enchanting instrument, while the soundscape simultaneously exudes both a monastic and romantic atmosphere. Visions of majestic castles and mythical lands emerge from its velvety mists, as Sarah imparts a haunting melody in the beautiful Welsh language.

Another stunning offering from 2002, every composition herein magically unfolds like the turning of sparkling pages of a fairytale picture book. Sure to be embraced by many adults and children alike, Celtic Fairy Dream is another must-have album for fans of Celtic, ethereal and fantasy music in the spirit of Enya, Clannad and Loreena McKennitt! ~Candice Michelle

Available at Amazon and other music retail & streaming platforms. For more information, please visit the artist's website

Monday, August 10, 2020

PGM 271: Dharmic Odyssey 2

Another meditative mix of Eastern-inspired ambient mystique!

Artist Name / Track Title / Album Title
Madhavi Devi / Jade Breeze / The Truth of Being
Ragani / Protection (Ganesha Gayatri) / Light of Savitri
Mark Seelig / Raga Ayahausa / The Disciple’s Path
Jarguna & Henrik Meierkord / Älva / Tapestry Flow
Yuval Ron / Equanimity (Upekkha) / Four Divine States of Mind
Howard Givens & Craig Padilla / Prana / The Bodhi Mantra

Monday, August 3, 2020

PGM 270: Close Encounters 3

Another ambient/electronic sci-fi set inspired by unidentified aerial phenomena!

Artist Name / Track Title / Album Title
Ancient Astronaut / Ancient Astronauts Part 1 / Through the Tunnel of Love
K. Markov / Close Encounter / Visitors
Alien Mutation / Dubula Technoid / Chill Out Trance, Vol. 2
Thaneco / Little Greys / Alien Species
Eguana / UFO / Destiny
Shinpal / Twisted Sensation / Momentary Disappeared Memory
Side Liner & Aviron / That Friday (Space Ambient Mix) / That Friday [single]
Martin Stürtzer / Pleiades / Far Beyond the Stars
Mark Dwane / Light Years / Future Tense