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Spacemusic Reviews

Category: New Age Music

Meg Bowles: Evensong: Canticles for the Earth

Evensong: Canticles for the Earth

Evensong: Canticles for the Earth

Meg Bowles: Evensong: Canticles for the Earth
Released: 22 June 2018
www.megbowlesmusic.com

Meg Bowles makes us vulnerable to the beauty of our planet. In doing so, she shares something of herself with us. With each album release she is becoming new herself – in ways that matter. Evensong: Canticles for the Earth (63’13”) is a beautiful original, with echoes of the greats. It is rapturous music that grants us passage into a fair land where worry follows us no more. The seven soundscapes afford space for both melodic pleasure and probing reflection. Verdant harmonies, spacey modulations and lustrous tones float through these tracks, but what lingers is the overall aura. While beautiful synthesized chords and effects drift randomly between tones and textures, rounded string pads extend above a dramatic rumbling darkening realm. Along with its ethereal choirs, murmuring bass and delicate atmospheres, Evensong: Canticles for the Earth also offers glowing bursts of energy – yet it still feels like a refuge. In an engaging, converging arrangement of sounds Bowles exerts a force on our imagination. Blurry chords of keyboard tones and the occasional gently pulsating sequencer pattern provide sleek propulsion across shimmering sonic terrain, the musical equivalent of crossing a majestic landscape, over the earth and beneath the stars. Playing with an unforced tenderness and warmth, Bowles tries to help connect the listener with terrestrial currents. But as reassuring as this work is it does remind us that we live with many questions. People seek certainty and meaning, but all the world seems to give us is ambiguity. That is because the Earth lives in its own kind of deep time, moving at a rate we cannot comprehend. So better we embrace the beauty and impermanence of the human condition, celebrate the mystery and the unknowing of life, and add our voice to the chorus of humanity.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END5 July 2018

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Howard Givens & Craig Padilla: Being of Light

Being of Light

Being of Light

Howard Givens & Craig Padilla: Being of Light
Released: 8 September 2017
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.howardgivens.com
www.craigpadilla.com

While the synthesizer ceremony which begot Being of Light (68’26”) may have begun in a studio, it concludes well out into The Universe. Howard Givens & Craig Padilla have met again in a fellowship of the imagination, and aspire to be their best selves. Building on a musical relationship established on their previous release Life Flows Water (2015), they continue to mine the possibilities of Spacemusic as the perfect tool for exploring the possibilities of the world. As the robust dialogue unfolds in weightless flight, we find it hard to resist a work animated by such free-form randomness. Passing through the night, diffuse emanations rise against a much larger backdrop. As starlight chords shine in a shadowy midnight, waves of rounded electronic figures produce tranquil zones for inward contemplation. Within mesmerizing drones, this album’s momentous moments slip by in a beguiling ease. Yet, thanks to its recurring synth string chord motion, harmony and contrast interplay to great effect. Making a gentle path through the sense of hearing, Being of Light presents four sustained atmospheres for fathoming our own mental mysteries. Issuing cool notes as in a round silvery beam, well-warmed keyboards seem determined to conjure joy. Measure upon measure of slowly changing, undulating chords advance and recede along a musical arc of vague dimensions. The slowly breathing tones summon interesting variations in mood and space. Synthetic pads rush together to form a still subtle layer, as further in the atmosphere charges with a wispy, bewitching haze of restrained, poetic minimalism. Signaling forward motion, the quiet patter of slowly repeating bass notes support well-placed guitar and piano, hovering just within our grasp – offering much-needed points of reference along an expansive aural journey. Givens & Padilla shape the listening experience by stretching and compressing time through the arrangement of sound, its density and timbral elements. In cool constraint, they dwell in restful sonic colors – luxuriant in their stillness. Any work flooded with this level of emotion is worthy of our respect. The refuge of music offers (those open to it) safety from the prevailing contemporary spiritual vacancy. Being of Light brightens, and the darkness seems chased away – which should be quite helpful while charting the inner map of knowing.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END1 March 2018

Hollan Holmes: Prayer to the Energy

Prayer to the Energy

Prayer to the Energy

Hollan Holmes: Prayer to the Energy
Released: 1 February 2018
www.hollanholmesmusic.com

Beyond mainstream contemporary music we know well that there are worlds both surprising and fascinating – yet it is still quite difficult to get people to visit them. Encountering the music of Hollan Holmes would surely leave the first time traveler wondering what took them so long? Prayer to the Energy is his sixth release. A double CD of high principles, it is yet another opportunity for Holmes to share his excitement for his highly personal style of EM with others. Much more than a collection of mechanical signals, Prayer to the Energy is an interpretation of the self – his and ours. Felt like a spark of warmth through the icy Universe, the astute listener will enjoy the details and geometry in its texture (that is if you are not first lulled into a blissed-out state of repose). Sound waves propagate and exhibit colors, textures and opacities both intricate and alluring. Confident melodic lines lead into near digital black, while further in an Escherian lattice of cycling notes echo out like the furies at work. Here the sequencer patterns act like a force accelerator – as swooning dabs of sound achieve a strong, contrasty, multi-tonal soundfield. Variegated in tone and atmosphere, Prayer to the Energy moves from densely packed benighted soundscape to the brightfield sound of layered analogue synthesizers. Presented with shimmer and gleam, brilliant chords build and haunt. Holmes regards his gear as a rich sphere of aesthetic possibilities – always applying his instruments in an imaginative and individual way. The 14 tracks found on Prayer to the Energy (the two most lengthy works were commissioned for STAR’S END) lead us through a delicate realm. We the people of this community have the unique ability to hear things in a way others cannot. It is important to share this privilege. In realizing his work Holmes has made a journey that few can understand – yet through the simple act of listening, of traveling through this music, it may be fully comprehended… and Holmes always makes this destination worth the trip.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END1 February 2017

Another Fine Day: A Good Place to Be

A Good Place to Be

A Good Place to Be

Another Fine Day: A Good Place to Be
Released: 27 April 2015
www.interchill.com
www.anotherfineday.uk.co

The top track on A Good Place to Be (60’00”) is a familiar jazz classic, and will prove to be a most welcoming introduction to the more conventional listener. Once engaged, Another Fine Day (the music project by Tom Green) gently leads this audience down to a realm where the rest of us already are. One after another the 12 tracks unreel in a gradually disintegrating jazzy-dream style. Green’s piano is the heart of A Good Place to Be. He shows it to be capable of the ultimate delicacy, and combined with an occasional super laid back beat machine, synth strings and reeds, leslie organ, and various electronic accents and inflections, leads this beautiful work – flowing and glowing – into some unknown gulf of night. Outsiders will have to learn how to experience this music, to be still, to listen. The quieter pieces are of a realm dictated by moments, and not nano-seconds. Green spends these sections of A Good Place to Be tranquilly finding out what his own voice sounds like. Here, time slips away and we fall deep into sonic fibers. In a mounting montage of sound floating tone clusters pass through the listening space, stirring to life the deeper feelings and emotions not so often noticed. There are also zones of lazy elektro-idyll, made substantial by Green’s languorous and true melodic moves on the grand piano. A Good Place to Be is full of enchanted things. But, its best moment may be found at the point where its narrative line transfers from the hand of the player to the mind of the listener.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 7 January 2016

Palancar: Shani

Shani

Shani

Palancar: Shani
Released 24 September 2015
www.palancar.net

Palancar understands that sound itself is a vehicle for meaning. Known as Darrell Burgan outside of music, Palancar realizes works which explore the mysteries of the solar system as much as they do the internal workings of the human spirit. His CD Shani (72’15”) presents 10 cosmic sonic observations. As diffuse sounds appear against a larger background, tones rub and scrape in a tumultuous aural collage. Synthesized textures flicker lightly across the surface, or burrow deep within it – momentarily coming sharply into focus, or all but disappear. Other compositions are riven by tempest, simultaneously fearful while manifesting the divine. Yet, much of Shani offers a subdued palette of gentle harmonies and spacey sounds – calming, and evocative of the sweeping grandeur of The Universe. Palancar performs his secret ministry in an Electronic Music studio, but instead of hearing the white heat of technology, we find the cool reaches of the outer planets. Our night-time hero quietly shines, assuredly battling the extreme silences of space. While this album may seem quite dreamy and impressionistic, its other goal is to banish brain clutter and promote mental clarity in the listener. Shani‘s introspective atmosphere is sure to fill a quiet mind, and still a stormy one.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 December 2015

George Wallace: Light Music

Light Music

Light Music

George Wallace: Light Music
Released: 3 November 2015
www.airbornmusic.com

Light Music (72’23”) is an album made by a man who feels that music matters most. George Wallace believes he can touch magic, if the dream is worthy enough. Wallace stands for the idea that while music may be conceived and made in a studio, once it is released into the world, it serves only as raw material for the thought process. Judged solely as a New Age album, Light Music delivers the goods. A marvel of nunanced expressiveness, this album is also a beautiful journey through Wallace’s subconscious mind. His work has always been fed by ideas outside of his art, and Wallace incorporates his freshest discoveries into Light Music. A few tracks speak forcefully in tribal rhythms and soloing electric guitar, while others focus on the heart in evocations of dreamlike rapture. It is here that Wallace creates something gentle, pretty and substantive – which enchants at every spin of this disc. Sustaining synthesizer chords roll along in a current of electronic sound, as slow gongs and chimes ring above – and open up a cerebral ritual space. As listener thoughts recede Light Music steadily advances its digital ceremony, until such time that flashes of brilliance and bursts of sonic release again command our attention. Wallace is always on the lookout for the presence of wonder, and to our benefit Light Music offers us nine tracks worth. Resisting the market demand for musicians to work in a consistent style, Wallace practices his music not for money and fame, but to experience becoming – to find what is inside himself, and to grow his soul. Wallace’s existence, and decades long presence, imply that it is at our own peril that we neglect the nurturing of the soul. So let us take this lesson, and use his music as a way of opening up – without prejudice, to the unknowns of the universe.

– Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END   12 November 2015