Sunday, August 29, 2021
Album Review: Gratitude by The Haiku Project
The Haiku Project is the creation of Henrik Hytteballe, a versatile artist (musician and painter) from Denmark who has composed music for theater, short film, and television. Henrik studied piano at the Alternative Rhythm Conservatory in Copenhagen. He also played in various rock bands in the 1980’s.
Surviving a near fatal traffic accident in 2001 inspired Henrik to start Haiku in 2004, and to release his first album Haiku in 2006 fusing ambient and rock, with a thematic emphasis on facing life’s difficult challenges with renewed hope and courage. Haiku is a form of poetry in the Japanese tradition which Henrik was especially attracted to because of its natural poetic qualities of beauty and simplicity.
Since then, Henrik has produced and released 8 albums in the Haiku series with the last four under “The Haiku Project“ name which are categorically in the ambient/electronic/new age chill genre. The music of Haiku underscores the natural world and all its beauty, grandeur and serenity, and our appreciation of such. The Haiku Project series have been warmly received by many around the globe including, but not limited to, practitioners of the healing and spirituality arts such as yoga and meditation.
In the latest album by The Haiku Project, Gratitude, Henrik’s piano illustrations are again complemented by Olav Madsen’s guitar, with Canberk Ulas sharing talents on the Duduk, and Christophe Luciani on the cello. Synthesizer and electronic beats are skillfully mixed to create a very solid, coalesced musical experience. I enjoyed all the tracks on this album.
Deep intense guitar work and melody in “Choices” introduces us to the first track which seems to deliberately emphasize the importance of choices we make that mark our life’s path and destiny and sets the canvas for the rest of the album.
Duduk and Cello take center stage in “Before Sunset” supported by delicate piano and synth interludes amidst a backdrop of electronic beat and rhythms. A perfect soundtrack for a twilight meditation as one begins to unwind from the receding day.
A hauntingly melancholic guitar in “Another Spring” (my favorite) sweeps you into the season of new beginnings which the Spring season symbolizes for many; another chance to begin again. This lovely piece with its somatic chill-out sensation reminds me a bit of Chicane’s “Offshore" from their album Far From the Maddening Crowds.
“I Receive” with its chilled, resonant piano and guitar, heavenly aura and rhythm crescendo is alluring, while “Rivendell” and “Wide Open Spaces” tell their own stories in pretty and expansive landscapes blanketed in deep, intense melodies and determined pace.
“My Life” dazzles with crystal-clear piano and synth strings and bells in background. Its poignant title urges the listener to pause and reflect on life’s journey. The cello adds a beautiful mystique to this piece.
The clock-like rhythm and melody in “Hummingbirds”, a fusion of acoustics and electronics, seems to remind us of the harmonic humming sound this amazing bird’s wingbeats make in aerodynamic force while flying and hovering to feed. Another wonder of nature.
Another favorite of mine is “Fjords”. Retrospective, introspective, and awesome guitar, piano, drumbeats, synthesizer create an ambiance of adventure and exploration, like witnessing the wondrous glacial formations. “Gratitude” is a lengthier piano-led piece which closes the album with a downtempo, almost bluesy feel, and effectively conveys appreciation for another opportunity to enjoy the beauty in nature and blessing of life.
Gratitude is a lovely, pensive album with a wonderful blend of instruments in evocative arrangements inviting you to close your eyes and let it take you where you want to go. I also think it would be great video music for drone aerial footage of exciting places with majestic scenery. Serene, tranquil, mysterious… it’s the perfect soundtrack for your early morning walk or nature hike, or just to watch the setting sun from wherever you are.
~Lissette Cascante for Journeyscapes Radio
For more information, please visit The Haiku Project's website. Gratitude is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.
Friday, August 20, 2021
Album Review: Mirror of Desire by Ananta Govinda
Responding to current times, inspirational Author, Musician, Vedic Science and Bhakti Yoga practitioner, Ananta Govinda, enwrapped himself in his latest project, a fantasy novel Mirror of Desire, and an epic album by the same name. Ananta produced the album as the accompanying music to the first in a trilogy of the novel which he released as an e-Book and in printed form in November of 2020. The eight tracks comprised of all original music are themed around the story’s adventures.
Ananta grew up along the banks of the great Volga River in Russia. His artistic personality was formed at an early age with the encouragement of his father, as he studied the piano and the great classical composers.
“I truly believe that rediscovering our common heritage will help us overcome the tendency to divide and see each other on opposite sides of life” affirms Ananta. In the allegorical storyline of the Mirror of Desire trilogy, dueling wizards compete for access to the mysterious land of the Pyramid. You can read more about Ananta’s fascinating artistic and spiritual journey on his website.
The title track “Mirror of Desire” opens the album with harmonized Sanskrit chants performed by Ananta Govinda. His voice and style are very pleasant to the ear, and somewhat reminiscent of Jon Anderson of the progressive English rock band YES. The song invites the listener to look inward for self-revelation. A sublime ambient guitar is nicely weaved into the fabric of the song by Alex Liapin, the legendary Russian rocker (Sir Paul McCartney, DDT, Aquarium), with many other accomplished artists and music engineers adding their touches in percussion, drums, sax, as well as production and mastering.
Infused with Reggae-style rhythm and chants, the second track “Self-Writing Book” with lyrics on destiny and karma, features reggae hitmakers Indubious, which adds a fun twist to the song while at the same time seems to captivate with consuming sounds and lyrical nudgings. The third track “Golden Goddess” features more world music stars such as Will Calhoun on drums and percussion, Alan Tower on the hung, and John Wubbenhurst on bansuri flute. It is a “prayer for protection” as a beautiful and melodic, quiet singing hymn, expresses the essence of the divine feminine energy.
Beautiful vocals and violin added by Lili Haydn (of Grammy Award-winning band Opium Moon); guitar, flute, Tibetan-style throat singing and deep, flowing Indian rhythms come together to create an introspective and entrancing listening experience on “Mazes of the Mind”, the fourth track on the album.
The enigmatic Indian infusion intensifies as we go deeper into the heart of the album (or story). “Onto the Timelessness” grows in mystery combining strings, operatic vocals, as hypnotic rhythms build suspense. We pass through the gates to discover the mystical “River of Time” which divides the natural reality from the spiritual realm. Vocal textures and improvisations by Pierre Edel, the Voice of France, and the Voice of Russia (both 2014) complement Ananta’s vocals on this piece. Multi-layered textures were created and added by Alex Liapin with saxophone performed by Scott Page (Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Toto).
“Room of Darshan”, a very short piece, features atmospheric guitars, soft sax and string orchestration as in a moment of awe and meditation.
The album closes with “Mantra of ParaDesha”, a beautiful version of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, with the introductory chant being performed by the Indian Classical singer Gopal Krishna Balaram. It is an engaging and enthralling piece which sweeps the listener in its flowing harmonies and trancelike rhythms.
Mirror of Desire is a beautiful work of art; an interlocking of cultural, spiritual, and artistic aspects through music that transcends life as we perceive it, revealing our true self and connecting us with all things universal.
~Abdul Yamani for Journeyscapes Radio
For more information, please visit Ananta Govinda's website. Mirror of Desire is also available at Amazon, Apple Music, and more.
Monday, August 16, 2021
Album Review: Sound Condition by Nicholas Gunn
UK native and veteran composer, producer, arranger and music engineer, Nicholas Gunn, returns with his hotly anticipated third album in the Balearic chill/ambient-trance genre titled Sound Condition. With a professional recording career spanning several decades, Gunn became a household name in the new age/world music scene during the early 1990s, having since evolved and progressed through a myriad of sensuous soundscapes on his many solo and collaborative recordings over the years.
An immediately striking element that sets Sound Condition somewhat apart from Gunn’s prior two chill-out albums is the return of his enchanting flute melodies that became a defining signature hallmark of global fusion albums such as the American Southwest themed Music of the Grand Canyon and the Latin extravaganza Thirty-One Nights. With Sound Condition, Gunn has perfectly re-integrated this old familiar friend into the framework of the ultra-chilled vocal trance stylings (courtesy again of Alina Renae) and sequenced synth-patterns of his newfound musical motifs.
A sensual “Unfolding” introduces the first track, which combines haunting flute and subtle guitar with drifting piano figures. A gradual build-up of hi-hats and trance-loops impart an emotional tension amidst a spacious breath of underlying calm, like deep still waters concealed beneath raging tides.
A euphoric aesthesis descends upon “Shine” which employs encircling piano drops and electric guitar shimmers amid a churning ocean rhythm, effectively evoking a sunny paradise island with birds soaring above the seascape.
Edging up the pace ever slightly more is “Angels”, wherein the familiar vocals of Alina Renae lend their lyrical sultriness to yet another Balearic chill anthem.
Dipping back into a more nocturnal pensive mood, the instrumental title track, “Sound Condition”, slowly rises and falls throughout to a gently cruising pace. Continuing along this vibe while also circling us back to the opening track is the sensually sacred “My Body is a Temple”, one of my favorite pieces on the album. Drifting along a floating dreamscape, the familiar flute returns along with emotive piano and guitar figures, as a stirring sense of passion that’s been seemingly restrained begins to emerge like a flame from a nighttime fog.
Alina returns for the urban-tinged “Broken”, a downtempo clubby track that imparts feelings of longing while lounging to the groove.
“Language” speaks to us in the form of chill-trance waves of intermediary calm and swirling synth blasts. Easing right into the intimate space of “Just Us”, Alina lends a soulful melody to an atmospheric haze.
Continuing with the “Flow”, this mysterious flute-led piece is another favorite of mine wherein crystalline textures illuminate a watery environ like a bioluminescent tide under starlit skies.
Closing out the album with Alina’s final vocal performance, “The Promise” strikes a perfect balance between celebration and serenity.
“Music gives life to everything” as Nicholas Gunn says, and Sound Condition perfectly exemplifies all that music has to offer to the senses, emotions, and boundless imagination. Having spent the earlier part of this year and the summer by Atlantic-Mediterranean shores, likewise the album’s sonic brilliance beckons us like the irresistible call of the sea!
~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes Radio
For more information, please visit Nicholas Gunn's website. Sound Condition is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.
Friday, August 13, 2021
Album Review: Sapphire by Marya Stark
Marya Stark is a vocalist, composer, storyteller, songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist who seems to have mastered the art of transforming herself into many muses or goddesses through her music, dramatic style, and lyrics. In this context, her latest album, Sapphire, a collaboration with Joshua Penman of Akara consisting of 10 songs, tells the story of an intimate and mystical journey of heart exploration and renascence bringing into play the many stages and emotions experienced in one’s earthly or other-worldly existence.
“Sapphire”, the title of the album and of the fourth track, was a deliberate and conscious choice. The precious gemstone gets its name from the Latin and Greek word for blue and is believed by many to emanate energies that help bring peace and harmony to the wearer. The album compositions with its lush vocals, engaging lyrics, organic and digital instrumentations, and masterful arrangements of strings, acoustic guitar, piano, horn, drums, and percussion, seem to do just that as the dreamy and lively tunes succeed in infusing indie folk and dream-pop styles with ethereal and elevated substance.
The album begins with “Echo”, a beautiful and fluttering song of love and luminous stars amidst a backdrop of strings and piano. We dance with the Northern Lights in “Stargazer” in pursuit of mysteries and deeper meaning.
Beautiful vocal work and soft flowing guitar caress the listening ear as the lovely and catchy chorus of “In Between” carries this piece; a favorite of mine since first hearing the song and viewing its accompanying lyric video online. “Blood of the Stones” presents a luminescent piano sound along with Marya’s exquisite high vocals which lead into an arrangement of guitar and drums creating images of intensity and passion.
More sublime musical aesthetics and vibrant lyrics present in the songs that follow such as in “Celestial Butterflies” where guitar and cello dance around each other in a world music environment leading the listener to diverse landscapes.
“Negra Luz” with its beautiful Spanish lyrics has a mystical intro and echoey bells encouraging the listener to reach a harmonic balance between darkness and light, pain and joy, in this musical passage.
Each song on the album seems to radiate an aura of wonder, mystery, and magic. Sapphire is truly a delightful escape from the cares of the present world; a musically resplendent listening experience sure to calm the soul and brighten any day.
~Lissette Cascante for Journeyscapes Radio
For more information, please visit Marya Stark's website. Sapphire is also available at Amazon, Bandcamp and more.
Sunday, August 8, 2021
Journeyscapes DJ Set: Mil Pensamientos 3
A sultry mix of Latin chill & Balearic ambience!
ARTIST / TRACK TITLE / ALBUM-EP-SINGLE
Nicholas Gunn & Johannes Linstead / To the Sea / Encanto
Villa Dayze / Sangria Nights / Sangria Nights
David Lyndon Huff & Jack Jezzro / Night in Bolivia / Worldbeat Brazil
Eric Hilton / Alma de Lisboa / The Impossible Silence
La Estación Del Mar / Sol de los Andes / Landscapes
Vargo / The Moment (Short Chorus Edit) / Beauty
Chicane / Already There / Far from the Maddening Crowd
B-Tribe / Ahoy Ahoy / Sensual Sensual
Nicholas Gunn / Ibiza Sunset / Riding the Thermals
Jose Padilla / Que Bonito / Café Del Mar Volumen Cuatro
Lebensart / Enigmatic Chiller (Mystic Guitar Chill Mix) / The Forest Chill Lounge
Monica Ramos / Eternidad (The Eternity) / Moai
Achillea / A Maria Santissima / Amadas Estrellas
Nicholas Gunn / My Body is a Temple / Sound Condition
Journeyscapes DJ Set: Vision Quest
A spacious mix of healing flute & ethno-tribal atmospheres!
ARTIST / TRACK TITLE / ALBUM TITLE
Bodhi / Every Breath / Deep Dream
Douglas Blue Feather / Finding Peace / Ascension
Cornell Kinderknecht & Martin McCall / Big Sky / Dreamtime
Kenneth Hooper / Graceful Expanse / Directions
Suzanne Teng & Gilbert Levy / Andromeda / Autumn Monsoon
Jonny Lipford / Sun Salutation / Balance
Sherry Finzer / Tempest / Renewal
R. Carlos Nakai & Will Clipman / Endless Journey / Awakening the Fire
Byron Metcalf & Jennifer Grais / The Air We Breathe / They Were Here
Dean Evenson, Scott Huckabay & Phil Heaven / Remarkable Formations / Healing Resonance
Journeyscapes DJ Set: Biotic Worlds 4
A luminescent mix of organic ambient electronics!
ARTIST / TRACK TITLE / ALBUM TITLE
The Orb / Valley / Orbvs Terrarvm
Loren Nerell / Return to the Temple of the Frog / The Gong Prophet
Jarguna & Uzbazur / Black Vapor / Sublimation
Jose Padilla / Solito / So Many Colors
Forrest Fang / Tale of the Egret / The Book of Wanderers
Erik Wøllo / The Presence of Future / Recurrence
Biome / Return to the Source / Essence
Journeyscapes DJ Set: Electric Dreams 2
A smooth lounge mix featuring liquid chill guitars!
ARTIST / TRACK / ALBUM-EP-SINGLE
ELEON ft. Jeff Pearce / Floating Just Above You / Floating Just Above You
Nicholas Gunn / Shine / Sound Condition
La Estacion del Dar & Albert Candela / Deeper than the Ocean / Unno
Majestica / How Does it Feel? / In the Midst of Stars
Schiller & Mike Oldfield / Morning Dew / Day and Night
Mythos / Progression / XXV
Doug Blair / Between Two Worlds / Of Dreams and Fantasy
David Helpling / Free Dive / RUNE
Ken Verheecke / Breathe / Tripping the Light Fantastic
Tsode ft. David Clavijo / Sunday Sun / The Quiet Music, The Sonorous Loneliness
David Wright / The Lost Colony / The Lost Colony
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Album Review: Starway to Nirvana by Samir Bodhi
Recording and producing under his artist’s name, guitarist, composer, producer and recording engineer Samir Bodhi has released his début album in the World/New Age genre titled Stairway to Nirvana in which the Indian-born resident of Southern California, masterfully fuses Eastern (Indian) classical music and instruments with modern Western styles.
An accomplished and internationally recognized scientist and scholar, with a PhD in Computer Science under his real name Samir Chatterjee, he skillfully applies his expertise in academia to his work as a musical artist. “I feel I have quite a bit of creativity in me and part of it manifests through my academic research and the other via my musical outlets”, says Bodhi.
Samir and his ensemble of exceptionally talented and successful performers and musicians, delicately craft a melodic, rhythmic, and spiritually transcendent album that offers a musical roadmap to peace and serenity in these troubled times.
Samir expresses his purpose for the album with words of gratefulness and compassion: “Stairway to Nirvana is a project that fulfills my vision for creating beautiful music that brings serenity and enlightenment to people of all cultures. I am indebted to my incredible collaborators for blessing me with their tremendous talent and unique ideas. Music has the power to be a great healer of the body, mind and spirit, and beyond providing a meaningful listening experience, I would love this album to serve as a healing agent for people during this challenging time in world history.”
Embellished throughout with haunting melodies, exquisite vocals, electric guitar, hypnotic sounds of the sitar and synth-generated droning, against a backdrop of flowing rhythms, earthy percussion and messages of peace, Stairway to Nirvana gently invites us to ascend a musical ladder by which we reach a state of transition and completeness, or “nirvana”, through music and meditation in which all external influences seem to disappear; separating the listener from the physical world as the listening experience seems to charge the soul with pure and transporting energy. Samir weaves a delicate thread that crosses from loss and pain, to joy, tranquility, and peace.
In "Tranquility", the first track on the album, the flute collaborates with the sitar and beautiful stringed arrangements, gently offering you space to reflect outside of the noise and chaos of the present world. Samir chose to make the flute the center and heart of the melody, attracting you to an interesting dialogue between flute and flowing rhythm.
"OM" like a sacred symbol is a sacred sound which introduces you to an esoteric, meditative experience. The vocals are mesmerizing; almost entrancing.
"Harmony", my favorite piece on the album, is where Eastern and Western styles masterfully intertwine; its profound, deep tones of electric guitar and bass combine with sitar and piano to lure the listener into a sultry, down-tempo harmonic exploration of the senses that dazzlingly recalls the music of Bombay Dub Orchestra.
In the track that follows we move gently to the path of “Peace” we all seek, accompanied by guitar and western influences, in this enchanting melody beautifully sung by Madhumita Chatterjee, Samir’s wife and renown Bollywood singer.
The final track “Nirvana” mystically transports the listener through the journey of life with its joys and sorrows to our ultimate destination of true enlightenment and eternal bliss.
Listening to and reviewing this album was an indescribable pleasure. The music truly conveys a state of tranquility, harmony, and peace.
We thank Samir Bodhi and his friends for this beautiful album, and eagerly await his future artistic releases. To learn more about this incredible artist, please visit his website at SamirBodhi.com.
~Abdul Yamani for Journeyscapes Radio
Stairway to Nirvana is also available at Amazon, iTunes and more.
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