Friday, 19 April 2013

Bill Douglas - Ty Durhoe - Kai Eckhardt - Steve Smith - Sky 2005

Sky is an inspired and daring blend of world fusion with elements of jazz, classical and funk. In this unique recording, the soulful sounds of Indian tabla blend seamlessly with the uplifting melodies of the piano and the deep groove of bass and drum. From lyrical ballads to world groove to J.S. Bach, this unique collaboration traverses a diverse soundscape which touches the spirit of creativity.
Sky features the music of composer/pianist Bill Douglas, together with the rich and heart felt tabla playing of Ty Burhoe. They are joined by the brilliant bass playing of Kai Eckhardt and the genius of Steve Smith on drum set.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Original Release Date: 2005
Label: Tala Records

Bill Douglas With a rich academic and performing background in jazz and classical music, composer/multi-instrumentalist Bill Douglas brings an experienced, creative approach to his playing and compositions. Douglas began his musical journey as a teenage rock and jazz performer in Canada, performing Elvis covers in his very first band. He went on to receive formal musical degrees from the University of Toronto and Yale University, where he studied with avant-garde composer Mel Powell. While at Yale, he also met clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; together, they developed a touring and recording collaboration, with Douglas accompanying Stoltzman on piano and bassoon in classical and jazz styles. Along with playing with jazz artists like Eddie Gomez and Gary Burton, Douglas also played bassoon with the Toronto Symphony. Douglas explored his teaching and compositional skills during a seven-year stay at the California Academy of Arts, and then settled in Boulder, CO, where he teaches music history and technique classes at the Naropa Institute. Douglas also developed "Rock Etudes" -- a rhythm study program for music classes -- used by music teachers worldwide. During the summers, Douglas focuses on his compositions, which blend his diverse experiences and interests into a cohesive and lyrical whole. Albums like Jewel Lake, Cantilena, Deep Peace, Earth Prayer, and 2000's Eternity's Sunrise reflect his multifaceted abilities.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Benise - Spanish Nights (2001)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Flamenco, World Music, Guitar virtuoso
Original Release Date: 2001
Label: Rosanegra Music


Roni Benise (best known as Benise), is an American self-taught and self-described “Nouveau Spanish Flamenco Guitarist”. Benise left his family to move 1500 miles away to Los Angeles with a dream of pursuing a rock-type stardom. Then one day, when he was at a crossroads of his life, he had an epiphany after hearing flamenco on the radio. He tossed aside his electric guitar in favor of a classical nylon stringer.

With a lack of viable venues, he and a group of friends took the music literally to the streets as a busker, playing everything from neighborhood theaters to flea markets where he quickly established a following. Together, they came up with an act that married Latin rhythms to a near-Cirque du Soleil atmosphere. He takes world music (specifically, strongly Latin-flavored pieces such as flamenco, salsa, tango, and samba underscored by African tribal rhythms) and fuses it with rock, creating an entirely new sound that appeals widely to mainstream music fans and aficionados of world music.

The mixture caught the attention of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and led to his 2006-2007 Nights of Fire! production that has aired on many PBS-affiliated stations, for which he won an Emmy Award. The show is a blend of theater and music drawing from the Spanish flamenco, Argentinean tango, and Brazilian samba traditions.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Kitaro - Dream 1992

Format: ape + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Release Date: 1992
Label: Geffen

Joey Brown

Summary: Kitaro goes on a journey through time and space with Mozart and Jon Anderson.

It is a story forever written in the sands of time:

In the mid-80s, Kitaro, the world's leading New Age musician at the time, ran into Jon Anderson, former Yes-man and renowned cheese enthusiast, at a shady Beijing "business hotel." While staying at the hotel, the two promised to one day write an album together, one that would bring all peoples of the planet Earth together in unity, and in 1992 that dream finally came to fruition; it was appropriately titled Dream.

Now, there is a reason Dream has left such a long-lasting influence on modern New Age and classical music, other than, of course, its musical splendor. With Dream, Kitaro's songs finally had lyrics set to them, and thus his beautiful melodies were given meaning beyond a wordless emotion that only the deepest depths of the human mind can perceive. I'll put it bluntly; Dream is basically an album about Kitaro's "lady of dreams," a nymph-like, Mozart adoring lady who will eternally lie naked beside him in the afterlife. Dream is his symphony to that majestic, mythical lady, and Jon Anderson his vehicle to convey his feelings to the lady, because Kitaro was born a mute and can only communicate his thoughts through a Stephen Hawkings-esque voice machine.

With Dream, Kitaro mostly abandoned his beloved synthesizers for a new set of loose women; an orchestra. With woodwinds, a string section, and a brass section, Kitaro was able to convey his moods to greater heights than his cold, lifeless synths ever could, with his lyrics being theatrically sung by Anderson on three tracks, "Lady of Dreams," "Agreement," and closer "Island of Life." The first two songs are absolutely brilliant, with "Lady" being the cheesiest kind of late 80s/early 90s ballad you can come by, and "Agreement" being an intimidating, flute and sitar driven grooved out piece, these are the best of the best in Kitaro's catalog, as most everything on this album is. "Island of Life," however, reprises the melody from "Lady of Dreams" and takes the lyrics to an even cheesier level, thus overstating the point. With lyrics like "She sees me/She understands/She helps/With all of my fears/When we stand together for life/Who will hold a child/In her arms," you get the feeling that maybe Anderson should have written the lyrics. But alas, if Kitaro had allowed him to wrestle the lyrics from him, he would not have ended up with his lady of dreams, Nikita, who he now lives with in a remote forest on an island in the Caspian Sea.

Despite pushing it so close to the edge with "Island of Life," Dream remains one of Kitaro's greatest musical achievements, one that future generations shall undoubtedly continue to adore for years to come. As long as someone on Earth has a lady of dreams, the message of Dream will continue to live on in our collective hearts. God bless that business hotel.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Craig Chaqico - Once In A Blue Universe 1997

Format: ape + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Release Date: 1997
Label: Higher Octave

Craig Chaquico - Guitar

Peter White - Spanish Guitar

Ozzie Ahlers, William Aura - Keyboards

Richard Elliot, John Klemmer, Dave Koz, Kevin Paladini - Saxophone

Lenny Castro, Alain Eskinasi, Carlos Vega, G.G. Gonaway, Wade Olson, Douglas Spotted Eagle - Drums & Percussion

Larry Kimpel, Jim Reitzel - Bass

Gregg Karukas - Piano

Former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico is one of the most successful and reliable of the crop of rock musicians who have recently switched genres into contemporary jazz. His fourth CD, Once in a Blue Universe continues to broaden his jazz horizons while providing some very satisfying and distinctive music. Fans of Craig's first two albums ( Acoustic Planet and Acoustic Highway ) will find the same improvisational and eclectic guitar style prevalent on those albums. Those who welcomed Craig's turn toward more complex compositions and arrangements on A Thousand Pictures will enjoy the additional moods and extended saxophone presence.

The first few notes of the first song ("Midnight Swim") set the beat with a funky bass line and readily identifies the artist with Craig's signature style on acoustic guitar. Dave Koz assists with a strong and funky sax line for an all-around finger-snapping tune.

Craig's companion on the Guitars, Saxophones and More Tour, Richard Elliot, makes a strong guest appearance with his distinctive tenor saxophone on "Dreamcatcher," one of the first cuts to receive radio play. Another GS&M tour member, Peter White makes an appearance on "Lights Out San Francisco"; the guitar interplay between Craig and Peter makes this mellow track a winner.

Other notable cuts include the romantic soft-tempo title song, subtitled "Kimberly's Eyes" featuring John Klemmer and Third Force, "Oceans Apart" and a mellow cover of pop tune "Holding Back the Years," one of the only non-original compositions on the disc. Those who saw Craig and Douglas Spotted Eagle together at the Catalina Island Jazz Festival in 1996 will recognize the diverse percussion and arrangement from Spotted Eagle on the end-cut "Indian Spring. "

Produced by long-time keyboardist and producer Ozzie Ahlers, Once in a Blue Universe is a solid addition to any contemporary jazz or guitar collection, filled with tunes you will be humming days later. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Oliver Shanti & Friends - Seven Times Seven 1998

Format: APE + cue + log
Genre: Ambient/New Age
Release Date: 1998
Label: Sattva Ag

Music for soul and leisure from: North America, Middle East & North Africa, Far East...

According to Sattva Music "Relaxing and exciting at once! A journey on the trail of the East - from Africa to India - evoking inexplicable yearning. Powerful feelings varied and tender. 40 musicians from twelve different countries: Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and America are traveling with you through the musical cultures of their own countries. A strong bridge between different cultures."

This exciting journey across the world to many different cultures music is what makes this CD one of my favorite CDs. - InfoNexus

"This prolific German composer, whose real name is Oliver Serano-Alve has produced numerous fantastic albums. He also created his own record company Sattva Records which initially was to release his own music, but has gone on to publish many other artists and showcase the talents of many traditional performers. The albums by Shanti that will be of most interest to Enigmatic fans are his more recent ones, all of which are amazing journeys. His albums are actually to be found under the artist heading Oliver Shanti and Friends which gives credit to all the many artists who perform on his albums. "Well Balanced", published in 1995 (and republished in 1998), is a superb Native American Cross-over album for you to enjoy. Beautifully ambient, upbeat and emotional the songs mix the organic vocals and Native American vocals with synthesisers and drumloops. The best song on this album is difficult to choose, but Id end up going for the epic 6 minute "Fight Without Fear" with its spoken vocals, traditional war drumming, plaintive flutes and an ever-increasing feeling of tension before the song explodes into a female-voiced choir. The only song not composed by Shanti on the album is You Can Hear Them Dancing which was written and performed by Joanne Shenandoah and arranged by Shanti -- it is a moving ballad with a very catchy chorus. "Water - Four Circles of Life" was the first single off the album and was made into a very impressive music video which is one of the best examples of Native American Cross-over music.

His follow-up album "Seven Times Seven" published in 1998, leaves behind the Native American style and embraces the music of the Middle East. This may be my favourite album of his to date, as it mixes traditional Indian and Middle Eastern singing with beautiful synths and instrumentation. More joyous than most of his other albums, Shanti has assembled for this album a group of distinctive voices. Songs like Onon Mweng featuring the velvety voice of Diana Isaac and an uplifting flute part. The title song is a rhythmic song with infectious melodies. The best song for me on this album though would have to be Al Atfaal with the gorgeous voice of Amal Morkus. The whole album is overall more electronic and features some truly beautiful themes. Yet Shantis greatest power is his ability to multi-layer so many influences and chants into just one song, myriad of traditional and classical instruments, not to mention synthesisers and electronic basslines.

His latest Native American inspired album is the 14 tracks of "Medicine Power" which features more guitar but is just as moving and impressive as his other albums. The album has an impressive packaging, including a 40 page booklet describing Native American astrology. Favourite song on the album would be Shamboo Wokantonka with its down-tempo ambience and sad flute. In December 2001, Shanti released his long-anticipated new album Alhambra. It sees him featuring the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the usual eclectic mixture of vocalists and traditional instrumentalists. Mixing Spanish, Middle Eastern and Oriental influences, it is another breathtaking album. For an even more relaxing and meditative work, take a listen to "Tai Chi" (published in 1992) and "Tai Chi Too" which is the more enjoyable one, published in 1996. Shanti also conceived and produced a trilogy of albums called "Buddha & Bonsai" which features many guest artists from the Orient and continues his exploration of these mystical lands. The first two albums are primarily reinterpretations of traditional songs with light synthesiser influences and a myriad of guest performers, however the third album displays the greatest involvement of Shanti and is the most enjoyable of the three. Oliver Shanti is an exceptionally creative individual, responsible also for all his albums art direction not to mention working as executive producer on various other albums that his company publishes. "

(source: Earth - Rhythms)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Jesse Cook - Vertigo (1998)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Release Date: 1998
Label: Narada

Review by Jonathan Widran, AMG 4 Stars

Mixing pop hooks, rock edges, and exotic Middle Eastern flavors with his zesty acoustic flamenco guitar, Jesse Cook has no such trouble discovering his own sense of adventure on his third album Vertigo. Cook indeed inspires a happy dizziness daring his listener to keep up with his global jaunts and unique, Tabasco-hot texturing of Art Avalos' percussion toys (what are djembes and guiro?) over solid rhythm guitar foundations, along with a keen ability to pluck out catchy melodies and improvisations. He hits the Cajun trail by punching out machine gun patterns over a shuffling groove and Buckwheat Dural's accordion harmony; then Cook kicks up some sand, drawing a hypnotic picture of gypsy excitement as counterpoint to the swaying violin harmony by George Koller. As odd as it may sound, allegretto is the flamenco-styled equivalent to a John Cougar Mellencamp song, a vigorous folk-rock clapalong reminiscent of the singer's recent cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night." The guitarist even plays underwater, "Breathing Below Surface," with the help of a subtle trip-hop groove and underwater synth effects.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Govi - Cuchama 1993

Genre: NewAge / Flamenco
Label: Real Music
Original Release Date: May 6, 1993
Format: FLAC + cue + log

A sprinkling of rainbow hues from Hawaii, South America, India and the Caribbean. Backed by keyboards, hand drums and instruments from around the world, Govi's jubilant compositions and engaging guitar create the enchanting magic that is Cuchama.

Govi is a spirited guitarist with a recognizable style that incorporates elements from flamenco, Caribbean and jazz influences to create his musical statements. With no shortage of passion or virtuosity, Govi has a memorable sound that ranges from airy, tropical tempos to slower pieces to lively south-of-the-border rhythms. Other musicians such as Anugama, Karunesh and tabla player Daniel Paul make solid contributions to this fine effort from a superb instrumentalist with an obvious flair for the guitar.

....This is one of my favorite Govi CDs. His masterful guitar instrumentals, and exquisite compositional style, combine to provide a lively, yet relaxing, aura that's uplifting and inspiring. I also use this particular CD in our art galleries. We have many customers in the galleries who simply love Govi's work.'s.
Govi is a master of guitar and flamenco type music. A must for music lovers all over the world.
This album of Govi's is a real show case of the crafts of a master guitar player.
Govi gives the listener a wide and colorful range of exceptional music to just listen to and enjoy.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Nova Menco - Gypsy Fusion 1997

Genre: New Age, Flamenco
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 1997
Baja / TSR

1. Mediterranean Breeze
2. Tigris Palace
3. Spring In Toledo
4. Gypsy Wedding
5. Sahara
6. Alba
7. Lorca
8. Gypsy Fusion
9. El Rio
10. Emotions
11. Journey Intro
12. Journey

Nova Menco - a quintet of brothers Hanna, performing songs in the style of flamenco. In 1987 the brothers began gostrolirovat Europe and immediately gained the attention of listeners.
In 1995 the quintet moved from Spain to the U.S. (San Diego) and concluding with kotrakt TSR Records album recorded in 1997, Gypsy Fusion, and a year later, Flight to Paradise. In 2001, releasing an album Fortune Teller.
With successful tours with concerts in many countries of the world.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Oliver Shanti (aka Oliver Serano - Alve) - Vida Para Vida 1992

Genre: New Age, Ethnic
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 1992
Label: Sattva

01. Dancer Of My Mind
02. A Miracle On Saxophone
03. Tocar Para Sarakal
04. East European Liberty
05. Alexander's Journey To The East
06. Touch Higher Musical Consciousness
07. Vivekananda's Journey To The West
08. Macao Kyoto
09. Brother Go On
10. Oliver's Higher Love
11. Ling Dolma Shih-Tzu
12. Vida Para Vida

Again, an amazing album, which has musical influences from around the world.
Flamenco guitar, North African percussion, Eastern European gypsy rhythms, Balkan folk, Asian music and jazz impressions, all that is involved in a captivating musical fairy touching the mind and heart.

The disc, recorded by Master in 1992, completes the initial period of creativity and is the latest, released under the name Oliver Serano-Alva.
The core community of musicians who participated in the record to remain the master himself, Margot Vogl, who bear the main vocals, in addition to guitars, violins and flutes, and Whyte Wayman - keyboardist and drummer. Greatly expanded range of attracted to the recording of ethnic instruments. Here and in the Chinese erhu fiddle, the Portuguese fado guitar, gu-Zeng, charango, Brazilian kavahino, darbuka drums and many others, whose participation in sounding music define only professional ear, but it is the existence of these tools creates a truly magical warm and lively atmosphere and a unique polyphony of the album.
The whole album is written and produced by the maestro that immediately feels well-versed in New Age listener. Tall and handsome specimen of the style, absolute classics of the genre.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Johannes Linstead - Zabuca (2003)

Genre: World Music, New Age, Flamenco, Acoustic guitar
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2003
Label: Real Music

01. La Cabanita en la Playa
02. Cielo Azul
03. Guayabera
04. Eleni
05. La Rumbita
06. Echoes of the Forest I
07. Echoes of the Forest II
08. Heat in Torremolinos
09. The Bells of San Miguel
10. Zabuca (Shake Up)

While his name is nowhere near as popular as that of Ottmar Liebert, or even Jesse Cook, Johannes Linstead keeps the flamenco tradition very much a force in modern world and new age music by combining traditional fingerstyling with fanciful modern groove ideas. And of course, a sense of melodic seduction that grabs on and can't be shaken. He's pictured on the CD cover holding an acoustic guitar, but his sense of sonic architecture extends to a multitude of instruments (piano, keys, mandolin, wood flute) and arrangement and production. To achieve his overall vision, he thus draws from a wide palette of textures. The title of the recording means "shakeup," which begins with the jubilant and brassy "La Cabanita en la Playa" -- a tune blending precise, speedy fingerstyling with rhythm guitar accompaniment, and jumpy piano chords topped with the mariachi trumpet fire of Alexis Baro. Before you start dancing too quickly, however, Linstead simmers down for the seductive sway of "Cielo Azul." The sensual, horn-drenched "Guayabera" perfectly captures his desire to blend traditional and modern styles; the tune blends classic picking and brass licks with a Santana-esque rock foundation. The gentle "Eleni" reflects the genuine romantic in Linstead's soul, while the two-part "Echoes of the Forest" mixes meditational atmospheres with a little of the Liebert influence. Beautifully written, and excitingly performed and played, this disc summarizes all there is to love about modern flamenco.
Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide