Music Reviews 

About | Articles | CD Focus | Q& A | Charts and Playlists| Contact |  Interviews | Letters | Links | Music Streams | News | New Releases


Reviews 02-06-2005 



by Green Isac

Visit Green Isac's website

Green Isac is a Norwegian-based duo.   The flavor here is electronica, featuring keyboard, guitars and flute of Morten Lund and the very Aramaic/African influenced percussions of Andreas Eriksen.  This is the second CD from this group, their first being "Groundrush". 

The form of this electronica is to influence the listener with the rhythms while overlaying a minimal amount of fill and melody.  Added to this base are some vocals and sounds to further emphasize and suggest “traditional” African and Arabic flavors.  This is all expertly executed on this CD, providing the listener with a very energizing and enjoyable production. 


There are thirteen tracks on this CD, ranging from 45 seconds to over six minutes.  This is a Spotted Peccary Music release, and is up to the usual high standards we have come to expect from this music company.


Outstanding tracks on this CD include "Siamese Drum", a very Asian feeling piece, pulsating, rhythmic and almost hypnotizing, an excellent example of the style of this group and how they have mastered their sound.  Also "Dr. Talk’s Bagpipe" which is more Aramaic in feel but again, presents the listener with the same pulsating and rhythmic beats and traditional feel.


Giving more of the “electronic” angle to the CD are tracks like "Black Hands, White Skin" and "Subman", and the excellent track "Tubesontoo" all feature drumming but also highlight the excellent ability of Morten Lund to execute superb electronic surfaces for the drumming to glide upon.


Tracks like "Adm. Bulctow" and "Ambino" have a funk and groove electronic feel to them, and present us with yet another variation in style that is generously peppered with the percussion style of Andreas Eriksen.  Again, well performed and outstanding in my mind.


Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the work of Green Isac, and to the abilities of Both Morten Lund and Andreas Eriksen.  A must have in your world music collection.

Reviewed by Margaret Foster



by Renee' Michele

Renee' Michele's CD baby website website

“Bridges” is Renee’ Michele’s second collection of original piano solos, and what a beauty it is! The music was inspired by meditation, “reflecting the healing energy from the heart to the soul.” The music is warm, thoughtful, and very soothing, giving the listener something of an emotional massage. Far from falling into the category of ear-candy, Renee’ Michele’s music can stay comfortably in the background, but is beautiful and substantial enough to invite deep and focused listening. Both classical and contemporary in style, this is wonderful piano music on several different levels.

The CD opens with “That look ... that smile,” a gentle and yet passionate love song. A simple and sincere melody is accompanied with a rolling left hand that gives it grace and elegance. “Bridges (always)” continues in an introspective mood coupled with a feeling of longing and nostalgia - very beautiful! “The Journey” is my favorite track. A bit more mysterious and a little dark, this is also a deeply emotional piece. There is a sense of searching and looking inward, but also of reaching out. “Safe Harbor” follows, bringing us back to a feeling of peace and contentment. “Far Away” is another favorite - kind of sad and wistful. “Waiting” has a the feeling of a late-night soliloquy at the piano - musical musings while dealing with emotions. “Forever” closes the set as it opened, with a sweet love song.

“Bridges” is a very calming and satisfying musical experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It is available from Recommended!

Kathy Parsons
Mainly Piano


Colors of a New Dawn

by Gandalf

Gandalf's website

Real Music's website

Gandalf is an Austrian composer of ambient and electronic music.  He calls himself a “painter of musical landscapes” and draws his inspirations from the nature as he has experienced it in his travels throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia.  Previous to this release, Gandalf has another CD entitled "Between Earth and Sky" also with the Real Music label. 

This CD is comprised of works on keyboard, electronic and piano, and guitar.  This is a mostly soft, pleasant and complex collection of compositions.  You can hear elements of music he has encountered in his travels influence his compositions.  Some Spanish rifts dominate the work, nature elements are overlaid, and the CD is punctuated by excellent guitar work and mellow piano, all combining to present the artists rendering of “musical landscapes”.


This is ambient music as it should be, not pressing against our minds, but rather setting a soft pace and creating an environment for us to relax and enjoy our lives.   Gandalf combines many styles of Ambient, from electronic to Space to New Age in this CD and presents us with his talents and abilities at their finest.


This CD contains 10 tracks ranging in time from about three minutes to just over seven minutes, giving about an hours worth of music. Outstanding tracks on this work include "Rhythm of the Tides", a Spanish influenced guitar work that includes soft percussions and lightly dances in the background.  This is a marvelous piece of work.


Also included in outstanding tracks is "In the Presence of Angels", featuring guitar and piano, with a “heartbeat” rhythm and electronic fill to give the impression of an orchestra.  There are also the occasional vocals, provided by Julia Martins, repeating the title of the track, giving an almost “angelic” feel to the work.  This track is very well done, and is reprised on the CD. 


An unusual track, "From Distant Shores", combines chanting with the excellent skills of the artist at the piano.   This is an unusual blend which is well done and interesting. "Hearts in a Celestial Union" is a very spacey guitar and electronic piece that is as uplifting as it is inspirational.  It’s another excellent blend of elements and shows off the artists’ skill at composition.   In the same vein is "Brighter than a Star" also giving a very spacey and inspirational feel. 


The title track "Colors of a New Dawn” is a piano piece with nature overlays, and is a very classic composition, incorporating all the elements of the true New Age style of music. 


Overall, this is a very good introduction CD to Gandalf and his style of works.  A good addition to your collection of Ambient music.

Reviewed by Margaret Foster



Holding the Space:
Fever Dreams II

by Steve Roach
featuring Byron Metcalf

Steve Roach's website
Byron Metcalf's website

 Steve Roach has now released part 2 of the projected 3 part trilogy of Fever Dreams. The CD is aptly named Holding the Space: Fever Dreams II and was composed, arranged, mixed and mastered by Steve Roach at his studio The Timeroom in Tucson, AZ. Steve is joined by fellow tribal travelers Byron Metcalf, Mark Seelig and the voice of Jennifer Grais who adds an ethereal atmosphere to the tracks where her voice graces the music. This CD constructs a brooding atmosphere that allows the listener to become emotionally involved with the music as an introspective environment permeates the project.  

The Wounded Healer begins our journey into the tribal grooves world of Steve Roach and this track is all Steve. The guitar on this selection becomes almost voice like as it drifts along toward the end of this song. Energy Well sees Mark, Steve and Byron joining together to create a rhythmic piece that draws you into the soundworld that these three musicians have created. It seems that they are very comfortable with one another and their musical styles meld to such a degree that it is difficult to pinpoint where one begins and the other leaves off. Even though the music was composed by Steve, the trio moves through the compositions as if it were their own.  Mark Seeligs’s flute drifts into and out of the soundscape dominated by frame drums played by Byron and Steve’s hybrid grooves.  The listener is drawn deeper into the music and is repaid for their exploratory efforts with an immersive experience that grabs hold of the listener and plunges them into this tribal space that this capable trio has created in this music.  

Opening the Space is dominated by Jennifer’s voice and Steve’s agave didgeridoo while Byron sits this one out. She does not sing words but her voice is used as an instrument to guide the listener ever deeper into the mysterious soundworlds that have been created here.  Jennifer’s passionate voice cries out into the void and seeks to open the space that will be used for the remainder of this CD. Depending on your point of view the space referred to here is simply an altered state of mind that allows the listener to move with the musicians for a short period of time along this meditative path experiencing some of what the musicians probably go through as they recorded the music.  

With Steve’s didgeridoo providing a canvas of droning bass sounds Jennifer’s voice is given ample room to breathe as it focuses the listener’s attention on where the rest of the CD will lead them.  I am finding that the more I listen to Steve’s music the more I find that the compositions form a cohesive whole and is the equivalent to an individual journey regardless of whether or not the CD is also the second part of a larger journey that covers all three CD’s of the Fever Dreams quest.   

Hearts Core is the next step along the path and again Jennifer’s voice is in fine form. Byron joins Jennifer and Steve to create a driving beat that gives equal focus to all three members of this highly talented trio. Byron’s frame drum has been very clearly defined on this track and is a pleasure to listen to. Steve is the anchor to all of these songs as his grooves, synth soundworlds and his guitar give a foundation for Byron and Jennifer to let their talents flow freely overtop of the rich sound environment that has been provided. While not improvisational per se I can almost imagine that Jennifer is letting the environment guide her voice as it soars in and around the beats that make up the vast majority of the terrain of this song. As the soundworlds fade into the background Jennifer’s voice is left as the guidepost that marks where the piece is headed and beckons the listener to keep on following and keep on going deeper.  

Fire Burning slows the pace down with a steady beat while echoes of Steve on guitar float above the landscape and Jennifer’s voice adds some punch to the music at key moments during the song. This piece fades into nothingness as you can still hear the floating guitar fading away at the end of the song.  

Most of the songs seem to have an intense opening that eventually leads to a calming ending filled with gentle atmospheric textures that slowly drift away into the darkness of the listener’s mind. It gives the listener a moment to reflect before the next piece begins.  

For the final two songs, Metamorphic and Holding the Space it comes down to Steve and Byron going into creative overdrive. You can tell that the two of them have grown closer in understanding of the music that they create and how that sound should be expressed when it comes time to record it. It is also evident when Steve is the guest on Byron’s CD’s that they have come to a point where their music speaks with one voice for the compositions that they choose to apply their talents to.  

The longest track on the CD is the final cut entitled Holding the Space and it clocks in at 21:23. This final cut starts off moving the listener ahead at an introspective pace allowing Steve’s guitar and synths to float into and out of the soundscape. With 21 minutes to work with the song is in no hurry to move quickly and has no need to try and force the development to move any faster.  Holding the Space can be seen as an anchor for this entire CD with its dense and textured sounds held together with the constant beat provided by Byron’s frame drum and Toms along with Steve’s holding hybrid grooves. The music doesn’t actually end again so much as it fades away and leaves the listener drifting for a few moments afterwards in the otherworldly environment that has been created for the last 21 minutes. It leaves you waiting for more and the silence that comes out of your speakers when every thing is gone seems like an interlude is not an ending but holding point. Kudos to both Steve and Byron on a job well done.  

While most of the songs can be looked at individually they are also very recognizable as part of the entire journey. You can pull out any track on this CD and play it completely apart from the whole that is Fever Dreams but when combined they offer you wonderful textures and lush landscapes of sound that would be missed if you took them out of context.  I found Holding the Space: Fever Dreams II to be a very listenable CD and one that I could do repeat listenings to without tiring of the music. It is also something that commands your attention when you focus on it and something that will also allow it to be in the background just out of conscious reach. I found the overall effect of adding Jennifer’s vocals to the project to be very pleasing and more than that they were essential for the journey to be as good as it was. Steve Roach and company have completed the 2nd part of a 3 part journey and I must say that the quality here is excellent. Steve Roach’s tribal fans will find this CD to be very much what they are hoping to hear. Fever Dreams II is a must have disc for those fans who intend to buy the entire trilogy but it will also appeal to those who just want to buy it as a stand alone disc and don’t intend to purchase all three discs. Fever Dreams II gets high ratings in my book and definitely earns a highly recommended nod from this reviewer.

Reviewed by Michael Foster


Return Home