Diamond Crystal Music
Buena Park, CA
This is more than music, this CD is beyond music. At first I didn't know what I was going to say when reviewing this Music. I didn't even know how to describe it.. What Shad Diamond has created is a new sound dimension that allows the listener to enter and experience a multitude of dimensions in sound. When I first put the CD on I was moving about my office cleaning up files and other paper work. After about ten minutes, I had an incredible urge to stop whatever I was doing and go to the sound system and sit quietly in front of my speakers.
What I was feeling can only be described as "a pull into another dimension." This music is produced with the actual sounds of resonating crystals, and represents a major portion of every sonority you hear. Each tone is individually analyzed to determine its usefulness in terms of psycho-energetics. Each time I listened to this CD, I experienced different hidden emotions. The first listening gave me deep chills, the second listening brought me through what I imagined was a journey through my mind. In this journey, I released many negative feelings of fear, greed, jealousy and a permanence to the physical world. At the final reprise of the CD I had an openness to all my emotions, and was left with a feeling of deep cleansing that can only be compared to telling your deepest secrets to someone.
To speak of Shad Diamond's music in purely musical terms would be limiting, however to truly appreciate the ambiance of his work an open mind as well as an open ear must be used. The entrance sound to Inside The Crystal is a wind chime glissando which is dissolved into the back ground of a low bass (Cathedral Organ) pitch which is sustained continually in the opening section. Perfect fourths and fifths are stacked on top of each other giving the soundscape a gothic and ancient presence. Sequences of small phrases are then manipulated and minimalistically repeated and re-orchestrated and increase speed and resonation, which gave this reviewer a real rollercoaster high. Like many of the 20 Century minimalist composers, Shad Diamond employs the technique of slow building repetitive phrases with a sustaining pedal tone. The music comes to several highs and tension, and then sweet releases giving the listener a strong sense of harmonic release and arrival. Inside The Crystal has a series of sections which all flow into each other seamlessly. This is some of the most convincing music of the electronic composition medium to come along.
--reviewed by Anthony Scafide, composer/musician NYC
Anthony is a composer and musician from New York City, and a long-time friend of Asheville Magazine
Sound, Mind & Body: Music & Vibrational Healing
John Volk Producer
Epping, NH (70 min)
This tape could best be described as an analogy of sound from all its perspectives. Produced by Jeff Volk, who took three years to produce this documentary, it includes notables like Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Bernie Siegel, Jill Purce, Steven Halpern, Don Campbell, Jonathan Goldman, Kay Gardner and several other leading new age music folk. This video is sure to become the classic of sound and healing.
Of Sound Healing Body, & Mind penetrates deep into the mysteries of sound and presents clear evidence of the connection between body, mind and spirit. Included are several excellent cymatic scenes by Dr. Hans Jenny, one of the world's leading sound researchers. Not only do we hear about "how" the sri yantra is formed by the sound aum, in this video we actually "see" it happening. The video is well-produced in all aspects, content, vidography and sound. It's divided into different segments. One segment, entitled "Integration of Music & Medicine," I found it be rich in its coverage and endorsement of sound for its power to heal.
Another called "The Power of the Voice," provides outstanding visuals and discussion on how our own bodies may indeed be our most powerful medical tool.
The credits indicate that this is the first part in a series of programs exploring the myriad ways in which music, sound and vibration influence every aspect of our being. Well, if they are as good as this you can bet it will go into this reviewer's library.
--Reviewed by Mary Travis
Mary is a video producer from Los Angeles. This is here first contribution to Asheville Magazine.
Mantra and Secrets of Life
These two CDs are worth being in your music library. Mantra is composed of two ancient Sanskrit chants, chanted by Kriyananda (Donald Walters) and accompanied by the sound of 120 electronically multiplied tambouras. These two chants have been used for centuries to bring about healing, peace, wisdom, and freedom from all limitations. Musically, the chants have a strong baritone flavor which hangs in the air with resonance and clarity. Kriyananda uses his voice like a recurring belltone; direct, pure, steady, and unchanging in tempo. I meditated to this beautiful CD for 21 days, and at the end of my personal experiment, I found that life was falling back in place with work issues, money issues, and just a stronger feeling of who I am.
In Secrets of Life (the companion CD to Mantra), composer Walters (he uses his non-spiritual name on this one) has successfully written instrumental pieces of music to evoke the mood of the recited sayings from his book of the same title (which incidentally has sold over 31 thousand copies in its first 2 months). With soaring melodies, inspiring words, and powerful sounds, Secrets of Life takes the listener to a private place to feel and heal within, while remaining extremely musical. These two CD's make strong companions for each other and are great additions to the catalog of Crystal Clarity Sound and Light Productions.
-- reviewed by Anthony Scafide
Robert Rich and Lisa Moskow
Hearts of Space
San Francisco, CA
When Hearts of Space released Robert Rich's Propagation a few years ago, several tracks stood out for me. Robert's particular brand of dark, redemptive tracks always strike an epic chord with me, so "Spirit Catcher" and "Guilin" were my instant favorites. But another, "Whispers of Eden," with sarod player Lisa Moskow, was just as memorable. His Eastern-influenced explorations had usually been tempered by regular collaborator Steve Roach or by the overriding concept of his album. (For instance, Geometry explored the minimalist modus operandi of applying mathematical structures and relationships to music; nothing new there, but Robert added his own experience in dream concerts and organic ambiance to the fashion. In his tribute to the progressive Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, he opted for a more rhythmic, classical approach to modern electronic music.) The influence that Indian and Asian music had on his early music (heard in his early albums Trances and Drones, recently re-released by Extreme) simply lay fertile below the surface. Until "Whispers of Eden." Until Lisa Moskow's slow, somnambulant exploration provided the perfect soliloquy in which Rich's own synth and bamboo flute weavings could entwine. It was inevitable that they collaborate on a full-length work.
Yearning is that collaboration--the fruit of two virtuosos who've come together to share the best of their musical psyches. Like Krishna's dialogue with Arjuna, Moskow's etudes instruct and are complemented by Rich's floating synthetic and acoustic ambiance, and each take their turn giving voice to inner voices. The music wavers and flows under its own impetus, with neither musician ever fully taking over; it simply unfolds for an uninterrupted hour, descending upon the listener like a sandalwood-scented gauze. This is a remarkable release, and much like Al Gromer Khan's Mahogany Nights (Hearts of Space HS11020-2; 56:53, 1990), it will improve with age.
All told, I believe I now have about eight or more of Robert Rich's ambient albums in my library, with even more pieces in various compilations. I've been listening to them all recently. I've noticed that as a gifted musician matures, he begins to return to the same palette, and reach for familiar brushes. So it is with the likes of Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Brian Eno, Jonn Serrie, Michael Stearns,... and Robert Rich. The masters of ambient music are recognizable, because they are recognizable, and their voices speak clearly in each composition.
As ambient composers, the sum of their work becomes as one extended, ambient work, with pauses and rests when we listeners go out and hear other sounds, visit other spaces,... only to return, and hear more of the music. Life is an ambient, multi-cultural and multi-sensual dream, and music like the extended alap of Robert and Lisa are but momentary entr'actes in the passage of life. Oh, by the way....: Although it's completely unrelated by time or record label, I've found Sheila Chandra's The Zen Kiss (RealWorld/Caroline Carol 2342-2; 46:31, 1994) to be a marvelous complement to Yearning. Chandra travels a similar path, exploring classical Indian vocal traditions in a new, wired world. Drawing on assorted Western idioms, she imbues them with her own sense and passion, and delivers a collection of ballads that is entirely original. What other female vocalists strive for, Sheila Chandra's Zen Kiss achieves effortlessly.
--reviewed by D.B. Spalding
A self-described multi-careerist, D.B. Spalding is a writer, musician, independent radio producer, computer consultant and online sysop; he writes frequently about music, film, computing and the mass- and multimedia. This is his first contribution to Asheville Magazine.
If You Could See Where I've Been
The sound and spirit of Maniko's latest project has touched me with the same freshness and excitement of spring. I heard she was working for months on something completely new at Boulder's Akashic Recording Studios, but I wasn't prepared for the rich and sensuous sounds of ten lovely songs about the search for love and truth in contemporary adult language.
From start to finish, Maniko's clear voice carries the listener through sweet and haunting spaces. Her songs compel you to feel, to love, to move, to meditate and celebrate life in all its joy and sorrow. She offers a great range of thoughtful compositions using smooth jazz, rock and pop formats allow people of different musical preferences their choice. The songs are delivered by a group of excellent studio musicians with outstanding arrangements and superb production equal to any Grammy-like performance. The balance and harmony between Maniko and the group give the listener space to melt and flow easily form song to song.
The first feature I loved about the album is that is plays well over and over, leaving me with many unforgettable melodies. This is especially the case with the haunting chorus of "Make Me Cry." I wondered why they did not call it by its full name: "Why Do You Try To Make Me Cry?" This selection is a gem, certain to reach mainstream music lovers everywhere. Maniko sings about the universal dance of lovers in emotional query trying to understand and accept each other. She sings with sweet female compassion, while the brilliance of saxophonist, Prasanna, almost seems to apologize for the conflicts. The result is a sensuous musical solution you will not soon forget.
The other enjoyable part of this CD for me, is that Maniko is giving us a juicy, diverse musical experience about the way of the heart that urges the listener to dance and not take life too seriously. The opening cut, "Put On The Music," sets the tone for the entire album by inviting us to dance away the stress of everyday life and let the music carry you away. In between songs about the struggle to love and be true to yourself, she mixes it up with the musicians to create "Nitrous Oxide." This is a delirious unpredictable piece that underlines the idea that love is chaos, and you can enjoy it.
What struck me about this recording, is that Maniko sings about things that matter, to people who have the courage to love their way through life without losing integrity. This indeed is a noble and creative challenge: to honor the strength of the human spirit in the form of contemporary music. Maniko accomplishes this task with style and grace in some profound pieces spaced evenly through the album. The title selection, "If You Could See Where I've Been," gives some perspective to the album. Unlike typical "new age" music reviewed in this magazine, this album is about the process of transformation that happens through letting go. The songs are lyrical, and music expressions that voice the rebellious spirit. While most new age music trends to be soft and airy, If You Could See Where I've Been takes you into the mainstream sound with new age consciousness. Today, more than ever, the world needs music that touches our hearts and makes our spirit soar. Maniko's performance promises to captivate your heart and touch your soul.
--reviewed by Michael Shakyamuni Cull
Shakyamuni is a long-time friend of Asheville Magazine. A former national rep for several new age record companies, this is his first contribution to the magazine.
Finding a new voice from the ancient seems to be a trend these days, with more creative musicians and composers. Bands like Dead Can Dance, Peter Gabriel, and even the Talking Heads, have gone back to earlier forms of music like Motets, Contra Dances, and even Gregorian Chants to reawaken the ears of mass marketed audiences. Searching for that fresh sound is always the task at hand for the creator. There is a fine line between directly "ripping off" early music and using it as a texture for a "new sound".
On a CD that came across my desk I had the knee jerk reaction to think, "oh no, here we go again," when I read that the instrumentation was culled from traditional Aztec and Meso-American culture. Much to my surprise, Elisabeth Waldo (a brilliant Violinist in her own class) has created not only a convincing reconstruction of what the sounds and textures might have been of the early Aztec's (not that I am an expert, only going with what I have seen and heard), but she has added her own special orchestration technique's and compositional textures to not only recreate, but to recompose what must have been the music of these people. Combining traditional western instruments like, Violin, Timpani (chromatic),and French Horns, with the traditional clay flutes and drums of the Aztec's, Ms. Waldo gives the listener a chance to enter this unknown world and explore the sound scapes of these early Meso-American musicians. Sacred Rites is a album with a vision.
The fifteen tracks on this CD are each a small journey within themselves. Each selection brings us more and more into the rainforests of our minds; perhaps even bringing us back to a past life experience and unlocking those stored memories which are lurking way back in the confines of our karmic journeys. So, what are the names of some of these exotic instruments, I am glad you asked. Sonajas (So-nah-haws) are clay rattles, Silbatos are clay whistles, Omitzicahuastli (Oh-me'-stzee-ka-wash-tlee) is a human bone rasp, other instruments such as Bombo (Andean Drum) are used as well on this CD. There are over twelve different traditional instruments ranging from pitched whistles and drums to non pitched string instruments, which are rarely scored for almost never recorded.
These Indian peoples lived and died centuries ago, leaving artifacts of great beauty in graves and tombs to recall their pageantry and culture. Though they had no known musical notation, we know that music was created for each Festival Of Adoration to their many Pagan Deities. An error or uncouth sound in the midst of the music heard during such sacred ceremonies was often punishable by death. The first half of this album subtitled "The Rites Of The Pagan," features Aztec and other related Meso-American cultures and instruments. Many of their musical instruments were fashioned in either zoomorphic (animal and bird) forms or effigy (image) forms, and were made of human and animal bone, baked clay, sea shells, reed, stone, copper, gold and bronze.
The second half of the CD explores the mystic "Realm of The Incas." Through their musical instruments, and those of other brilliant Indian Civilizations which preceded them (Nazca, Mochica, Chimu, etc.), the Incas had a high degree of musical development rivaling their other great accomplishments of art and architecture. A semblance of the ancient musical still exists in remote areas, but is fast disappearing with the discordant advances of modern living.
--reviewed by Anthony Scafide
Song For The New World Peoples
A DVD for all who enjoy a celebration of multiculturalism. An original suite by Elisabeth Waldo is the focus of this DVD which is intersected with commentary both on cultural, anthropological, and historical content of the music, and ceremonies of Mexican and earlier Aztec peoples.
"I have always blended the instruments of Indigenous America into my musical score... rescuing their sounds from the silence of the tombs. I fuse the past with the present to create music of the spirit for today." With this quote from Waldo, one can appreciate the dedication with which she creates her work. This video Song For The New World Peoples is certainly a video for any home library. From the beginning prologue to the recessional closing, we are transported to a world of traditional dress and ceremony. The participants are all Native people who have come to celebrate in beautiful traditional dress. Ms. Waldo gives us a beautiful and reminiscent score combining traditional Meso-American and Mexican instruments, along with contemporary percussion instruments, as well including French Horns and even a classical guitar. Some sections of the composition are named from traditional rituals like Acagchemen Acorn Gathering, Alabado (Hymn to the Dawn), Ullama (Mayan Games), etc.
What makes this video so interesting is the beautiful transformative experience that seems to take place from beginning to end. In contemporary society, most of us have neglected the need to celebrate ourselves and our community with each other. What Elizabeth Waldo has done in Song For The New World Peoples is perhaps a jump point for all of us to watch and appreciate what has come before, and what can still be manifested. In all the diversity of people and their ritual, ceremony and beliefs, there is a strong bonding that takes place when we all gather for a common experience, and forget about our own existential needs. Beautifully filmed in the Church of Mission San Juan Capistrano, and at other locations, this video leaves the viewer with an uplifting feeling of celebration and communion, with deep appreciation for traditions which are not Western, yet are ancient and universal.
--reviewed by Anthony Scafide
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