Thursday, July 28, 2022

Journeyscapes DJ Set: Imaginary Boundaries 2

A cinematic chillscape of surreal ambient electronica.

00:20 / Sine / Caught in Time / Einklang
04:41 / Michael Whalen / Imaginary Trains / Imaginary Trains
08:42 / Divine Matrix / Blue Origin / Journeys
13:55 / Cosmic Cadence / Coriolis Effect / Eclipse
21:11 / Keith Richie / There Are Other Worlds Than These / Epica
24:48 / Robert Fox / The Serpent’s Tail / Timeless Vol. 2 (Best of 2005-2022)
30:10 / Delerium / Metaphor / Semantic Spaces
37:45 / Santiago Trigueros / Daydreamer / Daydreamer
42:49 / ELEON / Dive / Hidden in Time
48:26 / David Helpling / Slipping (featuring Miriam Stockley) / IN

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Album Review: Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II by David Arkenstone

Review by Candice Michelle

I have long been fascinated by the life of J.R.R. Tolkien and his best-selling classic epic fantasy novel series The Lord of the Rings. If there is one composer who can most perfectly pay musical homage to the enduring legacy of Tolkien’s greatest works, it’s the creatively prolific David Arkenstone. A musical novelist in his own right, as well as multi-Grammy Award nominated recording artist and Billboard New Age chart-topper whose career spans more than three decades, Arkenstone is certainly no stranger to the fantasy genre. Having mastered a diversity of musical styles – including Ambient/Chill, Celtic, World and Classical Crossover/Pop – Arkenstone frequently draws creative inspiration from ancient folklore, mythology and natural places of wonder across the globe.

The second companion to Arkenstone’s 2001 album Music Inspired by Middle Earth, Tolkien’s epic story is sonically re-imagined once again on Arkenstone’s Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II – a 14-track album spanning approximately 63 minutes – whereby the listener is invited along for another enthrallingly magical adventure.

Atmospheric symphony and haunting choral figures open “The Shadow of the Past” wherein the veil between our world and the enchanting one depicted in the novels is once again lifted for a time. “The Green Dragon” follows with a festive arrangement of Celtic rhythms and violin (courtesy of Luanne Homzy) as one might imagine themselves joining the lovely hobbits for some dancing, drinking and playfulness among the green hills and pastures. Subsequently, Jillian Aversa provides ethereal wordless vocals on the mesmerizing “Daughter of the River”, a delicate and flowing piece that feels like sailing down a sparkling river in a paradisiacal elven forest.

Other outstanding pieces like “Servant of The Secret Fire” and “Minas Morgul” make use of darkly dramatic orchestration, shadowy gothic choirs and thunderously cinematic drumming, recalling the darker neoclassical mood of Arkenstone’s 2016 album Beneath a Darkening Sky.

Two other notable favorites include the back-to-back compositions “Caras Galadhon” and “Fangorn Forest”. On the watery and crystal-like “Caras Galadhon”, gently whirling minor-key orchestration conveys a bewitching suspense that feels reminiscent of "Lothlórien" or “The Palantír” from the first Music Inspired by Middle Earth album. In gentle contrast, “Fangorn Forest” recalls some of Arkenstone’s more world-tinged albums (plus the classical symphonic touch) with its native flute, rhythmic shakers and clicking percussion.

For those who enjoyed the accompanying film scores by Howard Shore to Peter Jackson’s cinematographically gorgeous and otherworldly movie adaption of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, David Arkenstone’s Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II is an absolute must-have for any L.O.T.R. novel, movie, music or memorabilia fan. Variably moving along its course from dramatic to dreamy, and suspenseful to serene, Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II is another poetically magnificent musical journey that could be described as ‘atmospheric classical fantasy music’ – and sure to be a top contender in the genre for this year’s best album.  

~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Music Inspired by Middle Earth Vol. II is also available at AmazonApple Music and more.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Album Review: Into the Unknown by Joseph L Young

Review by Lissette Cascante

Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Joseph L Young has enjoyed a proliferous career as a musician unafraid to go beyond boundaries of genre, style, or sound. Joseph is an established chart-topping, award-winning musician whose music has enjoyed broad radio and internet airplay, spanning such genres as New Age, Ambient, Relaxation/Meditation, Native Fusion, Jazz Fusion, and Contemporary Instrumental. But not to be limited, he has also played with a variety of bands ranging from rock, blues, folk, jazz and even Celtic.

In his sixth full-length album, Into the Unknown, Young delves deeper into musical expanses, with compositions that explore the mystical dimensions of time, space, psyche, and spirit, normally related to the unexplained, mysterious, or concealed. The album features three songs previously released as singles: “Secrets of Stone” released in 2021, “Remembrance of Time” in 2020 featuring pianist Lynn Tredeau, and a remix of his 2019 single “Between Worlds.”

The album also showcases more of his talent as a composer and arranger as well as his mastery of the flute. “Every note I play comes from my heart and is how I share my love of music with others, it's how I express my passion for the flute”, explains Joseph. He interlaces ancient sounds with modern synth arrangements which prevail in world fusion authenticity.

Joseph holds a second degree black-belt in Chinese Shao-Lin Kung Fu and Tai Chi which evidently contribute to his unique approach to music. “I want my music to take listeners on a journey of discovery”, he expounds, “to help them work through their emotions, releasing the negative, as they grow and change, and serving as a catalyst to help with their transformation."

The title track “Into the Unknown” is my favorite piece as it abounds with mystique and features a myriad of exotic instruments, voices, and rhythms bathed in a Middle Eastern style melody. In tracks like “Remembrance of Time”, “Enchanted”, “Secrets of Stone”, “Eclipsed”, and “Windswayed”, the alluring flute and creative musical arrangements transport the listener to ancient times, distant lands, sacred ceremonies, and mysterious places.

On other tracks like “Beyond the Horizon”, “Between Worlds”, “Transcendence”, “The Forgotten”, and “Ancestral Crossings”, Joseph seems to venture into other spheres such as space exploration, and perhaps even the afterlife. Into the Unknown is a treasure chest of musical jewels you’ll delight in listening time and time again. The unknown calls us to live consciously. Joseph composes music that speaks to the human soul, and which infuses the silence with the sounds of life.  

~Lissette Cascante for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Into the Unknown is also available at BandcampAmazon, and Apple Music.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Friday, July 15, 2022

Journeyscapes DJ Set: Parallel Worlds 3

A dream-chill mix of mind-bending ambient electronica!.

00:20 / S1gns of L1fe / Astral Alignment / Age of Cymatics
08:50 / Eguana / Water of Life (Vocal Edition) / Water of Life Remixes
16:45 / Evadez / Everlasting / Late Mercy
20:02 / Translippers & GMO & Dense / Bloom / Ghost Herbs
26:55 / Cosmic Cadence / Orbital Decay / Eclipse
31:48 / Lars Leonhard / Magnetar / Spaceflight
38:06 / Echo Season / Siderostat / Solarmetric
47:05 / Divine Matrix / One Small Step / Journeys
53:45 / Germind / My Space / My Space

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Album Review: Pilgrimage by Meg Bowles

Review by Candice Michelle

Meg Bowles began her musical journey as a flutist and classically trained musician before releasing her first two albums, Inner Space and Solstice Dreams in 1993, which launched her into orbit on the ambient/electronic music scene. She released the critically-acclaimed Blue Cosmos in 1996 – an album that was also my entry-point to discovering her music – which was subsequently followed by the release of From the Dark Earth in 1999. After a decade-long hiatus from recording new music, Meg triumphantly returned with A Quiet Light (2011) followed by The Shimmering Land (2013) and finally, Evensong: Canticles for the Earth (2018).

Returning in 2022 with Pilgrimage – a six-track album spanning just under an hour – Meg delights us once again with her classic signature style of electronic space music that has guided many listeners over the years through atmospheric sound worlds of contemplative beauty.

Bridging inner space to the outer cosmos, Pilgrimage evokes meteorological phenomena with its subtly shifting tonal expanses billowing out like clouds that become vaporous, forming new shapes along its path. Creating seamless contrasts of light and shadow, these ethereal yet earthbound passages convey the solitary observance of time cycles, weather changes and colorful auroras.

On one of my favorite pieces, “Cave of Secrets”, the organic sound of a water stream combined with minimalist piano drifting amid gossamer tonal mists, conveys melting icicles in a starlit cave and subterranean exploration.

At just under 13 minutes in length, “Mountains Reaching for Stars” is perhaps the most pristine piece on the album with its darkly expanding tonal waves of cinematic mystery, as intricate sound textures threaded among the ever-evolving synth-scape portray a sonic illustration of earth meets heaven.

Sending the listener dreaming into the night, “Source of Enduring Light” concludes the album with slowly interlocking high-and-low register tonal pulsations accentuated by a watery undercurrent, creating a most serene sense of being drawn to sleep beneath a canopy of stars by the sea.

A perfect album for late night listening, Pilgrimage is endlessly shaped throughout by hauntingly beautiful soundscapes imprinted with a sense of the sacred and reverent.

~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Pilgrimage is also available at BandcampAmazon and Apple Music.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Album Review: IN by David Helpling

Review by Candice Michelle

San Diego based guitarist and ambient composer David Helpling released his debut album Between Green and Blue in 1996 on Spotted Peccary Music and has remained one of the most prominent artists on the label’s roster – and in the ambient/electronic music scene. Since his debut album’s landmark follow-up release, Sleeping on the Edge of the World, Helpling has subsequently composed music for film, released collaborative albums with Jon Jenkins, and collaborative tracks with chill-trance acts like Tigerforest and ELEON. Following his first space-ambient solo electric guitar album A Sea Without Memory in 2017, Helpling released the more melodically dynamic and oceanic inspired RUNE in 2019.

As if coming full circle with his latest album IN, Helpling revisits the rhythmic hallmarks of his initial albums and collaborations with Jon Jenkins, incorporates signature elements of his more recent albums, and adds newer subtleties of world, vocal and classical touches to his magnificent compendium of sound.

Comprised of 13 compositions spanning 1 ½ hours, IN is characterized by lush ambient sound passages of liquid electric guitars, drifting piano notes and echoing tribal-esque rhythms. A lot of Helpling’s earlier work was stylistically reminiscent of Patrick O’Hearn’s – a welcome comparison he received much praise for – and I’m incredibly overjoyed that he’s re-incorporated a lot of that feel throughout as a seeming nod to his musical past. Nevertheless, there are certainly other previously unfamiliar surprises here; among them includes the worldly sample-like vocals of Nidhi Bhatmuley on “This Burning Sky”, a sensual and soaring epic chill-out track and one of my favorites on the album.

Additionally, Miriam Stockley of Adiemus and AO Music lends her distinctive ethereal vocalise to the songs “Slipping” and “I Too Am Coming Home”, while instrumentalist guest performances grace the songs “The Bliss You’ve Always Carried” (featuring Benjy Wertheimer) and “You Already Are” (featuring Matthew Schoening).

Essentially electronic yet inherently organic, IN caressingly washes over the senses like warm ocean waves with its silky sonic layers magnified by panoptic reverberation. Conveying a perpetual state of daydream throughout, experiencing the music is like passing through mirrored halls of sound – variably projecting mental images of swimming and flying, the sand and sea, and the sun and stars – in a breathtaking overview of planet earth.

Stunningly beautiful in and out, IN is another ingenious leap forward for David Helpling, recalling the nostalgia of many memorable ambient/electronic music releases of the 1990s and early 2000s yet creatively and technologically rooted in the present decade.

~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. IN is also available at BandcampAmazon, Apple Music and Spotted Peccary Music.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Album Review: Imaginary Trains by Michael Whalen

Review by Candice Michelle

One consistent thing I’ve come to expect from Michael Whalen is that I never know where his endless flow of creativity will lead him next. A distinguished composer, producer and Emmy Award winner, Whalen effortlessly moves through various musical styles and influences ranging from ambient to jazz, film score, solo piano and experimental fusions of different genres.

His most recent album Imaginary Trains notably recaptures the melodic ambient and euphoric chill vibes of previous masterworks like Sacred Spaces and Dream Cycle, while at times incorporating subtle touches of the colorfully vibrant nu-jazz elements of his prior 2021 album Future Shock.

Comprised of eleven compositions spanning just under an hour, Imaginary Trains could be described as sleek and sophisticated ambient-electronica that mesmerizingly elevates the soul and ignites the imagination with its bubbling and buoyantly complex three-dimensional spheres of sound. Cycling and shimmering sequencer patterns characterize most of the arrangements, which are often led by soaring synth-horn melodies that convey a sustained mood throughout of emotional suspense and elegant sensuality.

From the opening title track, “Imaginary Trains”, the listener embarks on a whimsical voyage through a seemingly utopian dream-world that simultaneously feels tangible yet surreal. “Against the Sky” follows with an equally lush arrangement and sultry bass-laden chill groove that sends this piece to the top of my favorites on the album.

Whalen enlists the guest performance of Grammy Award winning artist Ricky Kej, who lends a delicate touch of Indian instrumentation on the third track “Across the World to Be With You”.

The fifth track, “The Wayward Sun”, is especially noteworthy for its glistening aquatic textures and haunting atmospheric tension that subtly recalls the mystique of Tangerine Dream’s film song classic “Love on a Real Train”.

The closing “Distance” features singer Donna Lewis whose breathy soprano voice casts a magical haze upon this dream-pop soundscape of serenity and sunshine!

~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Imaginary Trains is also available at BandcampAmazon and Apple Music.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Album Review: Epica by Keith Richie

Review by Candice Michelle

Keith Richie is an ambient/electronic music composer whose brilliant artistry I initially discovered a few years ago with his landmark album Ambient Highways, originally released in 2015. An emerging artist on the scene back then, I was equally enthralled by Keith’s subsequent releases including For the Willow Wept… (2012), Skylines (2016) and others.

Influenced by electronic music greats such as Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Christopher Franke and John Carpenter, Keith creates cinematic ambient and sequencer-driven electronic music vistas to produce hauntingly emotive and imaginary sound-worlds.

Keith’s 2021 album Epica opens with “Remote Isolation”, gradually swelling in like an encroaching storm of descending clouds which are illuminated by distant female vocals. The mysteriously fog-filled “Rebirth” and “Dawn” follow in sequence with encompassing airy synth-pads and subtly melodic textures that further expand the inner visual-audio experience.

The next piece and one of my favorites, “Tiny Creatures”, conveys a twilight forest with its swirling synths and crystal-like keyboard notes imparting an emotionally stirring yet mistily serene atmosphere of innocence, melancholy and mystery. Another favorite, “Jade”, follows with classic electronic space sequencing set to a downtempo chill groove, relaying a futuristic dream-world of cruising and flying.

The very Blade Runner-esque “Dusk” and “Epica” ensue with ethereal wordless vocals and suspenseful rhythms, gradually building in cinematic fashion as if finally approaching an interstellar destination.

Saving the best for last, “There Are Other Worlds Than These” magnificently closes the album on a hauntingly sensual note with its pensively suspenseful melody and forebodingly thunderous drums. Whether alluding to other parallel or physical worlds seemingly just beyond reach, the piece brilliantly ignites the imagination with epic dreams and hopes of exploring new frontiers.

A must-have album for fans of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack and other sci-fi/fantasy themed music and film scores, Keith Richie continues to impressively deliver with each new album and single, securing his place among the finest ranks of electronic music’s next generation!

~Candice Michelle for Journeyscapes 

For more information please visit the artist's website. Epica is also available at BandcampAmazon and Apple Music.