Reviews 10-01-2005

Music Reviews 



Fairy World II

by Various Artists

Visit Prikosnovenile Records website

Fairy World II – Various Artists from the Prikosnovenie Label 

Prikosnovenile is a French import label, which means “soft touch” in Russian.  This label has collected some very interesting music from all over the world and this is their second compilation.  The “fairy” is a cute little graphic which is their logo done by Sabine Adelaide.  The fairy is actually more than just a logo, it is a visual depiction of the work compiled by this label; very artsy, very colorful and very eclectic. 

There are seventeen tracks on this CD, presented in a booklet form with the CD attached on the last page.  The booklet covers a brief history of the label, artists, their releases and some really interesting information about their CDs, their work and their style.  The booklet is very beautifully illustrated with pictures of the fairy in various compositions, all done by Sabine.  I got the feeling of “Cirque du Soleit”  from the booklet, very colorful, very “avent guard”, delightful yet intriguing.  The booklet I received is in French and English, as is their website. 

The music collected on this CD moves from what might be considered “pop” to ambient to world, to very artistically developed compositions.  There is piano pieces, orchestrated works and some good band pieces.  There are some impassioned vocals, delightful harmonies and a good sampling of what kind of music is developing in the European market. 

The countries represented here areEngland,France, Ukraine,Slovenia,Australia, Greece,Czech Republic, Australia,Bulgaria,Russia andJapan.  This is world tour of music in about 70 minutes.  And it is as interesting as it is different.  Note that some of this music is listed as “unreleased tracks” which means it may not be available anywhere else, but it is a good sampling of each of the artists and their work and this is not an unknow practice in the music world. 

I choose to review the artists and their style, rather than each track.  I felt it was much easier to get the feeling of the CD across to you better, as this is really all about the artists. 

pinknruby open the CD with a track called Broceliande.  The duet is all about classical acoustic guitar and the play of the enchanting vocals of Mihaela against the harmonies of Paul Bradbury.  Very light and airy, lovely and just on the edge of sensuous.  In the same vein is Deleyaman, a mixed Armenian/French duo of Aret Madilian and Beatrice Valantin.  The music is almost medieval in flavor, dark, mysterious with some very captivating harmonies. 

Anassane has a slight tribal or African influence in her music.  Cecile Rabhi’s vocals play well against percussion and electronica backfill provided by Fred Chaplain (Lys).  Lys is also featured on two other tracks.  On one he provides strong male vocals accompanied by Louisa John Krol and Francesco Banchini.  The other is a guitar work with vocals.  These are very ethnic feeling compositions, bordering on ambient. 

Fleur is pop, from theUkraine, with the female vocals of Olga and Elena against piano, guitar, cello and violin.  A rather delightful addition to this collection.  

Zmiya – I would like to describe their piece Solmamdenlo as electronica with a Middle Eastern/reggie beat.  They are a group of six musicians who introduce ethnic music to electronica.  Another French group that presents an interesting mixture that works very well. 

Misstrip is “trip-hop” and pop fromFrance.  Appealing vocals that run from light and lilting to deep and demanding mixed with borderline industrial or goth.  Another group presented that falls into this “goth” type of feel is Collection D’Arnell Andrea.  This is a female lead vocalist with an electronic goth backup.   A mix of the light side meeting the dark. 

Ghost Fish is Louisa John Krol, Daemonia Nymphe and Nikodemos Triaridis.  Ambient electronica, ethereal vocals, heavy drums and a slight twist of the harmonies make this another artistic original.  Daemonia Nymphe also appears on another track giving us a composition very Greek in feeling with delicate vocals. 

TheCzech Republic presents us with an ambient piece, New Age in feeling, of lovely violin work.  Ivo Sedlacek displays “Hindu” violin in a very beautifully composed and presented work.  Strong violin work here, with a subtle guitar backfill. 

Irfan is Bulgarian and their music reflects their traditions.  Again, a medieval feel to the music and female vocal harmonies, accompanied by traditional instruments.   

Moon Far Away is a Russian group, very ambient in flavor, with hints of traditional folk music.  Caprice is also a Russian group, ambient as well, composed of 11 musicians, and they entwine their work with female vocals to present a very mystical feel. 

And fromJapan we have Jack or Jive, very traditional ambient music, focusing on piano and electronic backfill woven with some very enticing female vocals.  

If you love world music, this CD is going to give you the latest and greatest these musicians have to offer.  It is a mix of pop and ambient, all of it is well produced and added to the collection so it opens a door to new sounds.  While my tastes are most definitely ambient, the pop pieces gave me something new to appreciate.  They were not out of character with the rest of the CD.  And I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful trip through the Prikosnovenie catalogue.  There are a lot of talented musicians here and I hope to hear more of their music imported to the American market. Visit their website at      

Reviewed by MA Foster


Spirit Romance

by David Lanz
and Gary Stroutsos


“Spirit Romance” is David Lanz’s first album of new material on Narada since 1998. Since then, he has recorded several albums on Decca and one independently, the most recent of which was a smooth jazz album that confused the heck out of a lot of his longtime fans. Anyone who has seen Lanz in concert knows that he can play just about any style of music, but many fans didn’t want him to deviate from the beautiful, romantic music he is so well-known for. Lanz has been one of the most influential artists in the “new age piano” genre, and “Spirit Romance,” takes him back to those roots while still moving in a slightly different direction. This new music isn’t as structured or melodic as some of his earlier work, but this is my favorite Lanz album in quite some time. However, “Spirit Romance” isn’t just David Lanz, but a collaboration between himself and flutist Gary Stroutsos. They improvised most of this music in Lanz’s new old house, with David’s brother, Gary Lanz, at the helm as engineer and producer. Some of the tracks feature Jonn Serrie working his ambient space magic in the background; the title track features Swil Kanim on violin; and a few tracks feature Keith Lowe on acoustic bass and Glen Velez on acoustic percussion, but it’s mostly just flute and piano. What a magical sound! The freedom of improvisation creates a sense of deep intimacy and spiritual connection. Stroutsos played several different flutes on this recording, but used the Xiao flute, which is rarely heard outside of China, most often. Older than the Japanese bamboo flute, this instrument has a haunting, deeply spiritual quality that is perfect for this kind of music. What kind of music is it? There are a lot of recognizable Lanz touches, but this music is quite different from his other recordings. Lanz has occasionally been criticized for being too pop-oriented, but I don’t think there was any thought of commercialization in the making of “Spirit Romance.” The exotic flutes and percussion instruments bring a strong Eastern flavor to the music, while the piano and string bass merge with a more Western sensibility, creating a universality of spirit that is intriguing, soothing, and very satisfying. In short, I LOVE this album! It is available at, and at online and retail outlets everywhere Narada’s albums are sold. Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions.


Visions and Dreams

by Catherine Duc

Visit Catherine Duc's website

Visions and Dreams ~ Catherine Duc

Catherine Duc describes her style of music as ambient, Celtic, electronica and world.  Listening to her CD, it is somewhere in that realm, but to be honest, she has an original style to her music that her description falls short.  She does herself a disservice by trying to categorize her work as being similar to someone elses.  Her style and compositions are very much her own.

It is ambient, without a doubt.  It does have a world feeling, sometimes on the Celtic side, but it is much more original than that.  The compositions are all put together on electronic keyboard. It is definitely electronica, but it could stand to be orchestrated.  There are ten tracks to this CD, but times are not listed.  The CD runs about an hour.

The compositions are mostly above average in development of the melodies and she shows in this CD why she has received awards for her music.  The melodies flow well and are mostly memorable.

The electronic keyboard is a blessing and a curse.  While allowing the artist to control the compositions, some of these compositions would benefit from having some real instrumentation backing up the delightful keyboard.  Her synthesized instruments sounds synthesized.  Some of these compositions deserve some orchestration, and that is a down side to this CD.  There are some compositions that could stand some additional power.  Some of the melodies jump at the opportunity to be bolder, yet they appear to have been held back.  Again, it could have been the fault of the keyboards or production issues.

The compositions are well worth listening to, regardless of the presentation.  From the opening notes to the end of the CD, Ms. Duc presents us with some fine ambient selections.

Dancing in the Mist is a very upbeat and well developed composition.  Synth harp, a nice back beat, and a very memorable melody that recalls a Celtic flavor highlight this composition.  “Evocation” is reminiscent of something between “Delerium” and “Deep Forest” with a subtle female vocalization but it is totally a Catherine Duc creation.  Very sultry, very delightful.

One Autumn Day has a David Lanz piano feel to it, but it is more electronic.  Good electronic piano work, and again, a memorable melody making this another good example of her work.  I think it would have benefited from a real piano here, mixed with guitar and then having electronica back fill the work.  I could hear where she was going with this, and it has much promise.

Secret Sanctuary is a softer piece, and again good composition, lovely melody and the right choice for keyboard and electronica.   This is one of her lighter pieces that dances in the background of your memory.  Nicely done.  “Rivulet” is another softer piece, almost oriental in flavor that again sits lightly on the edge of your senses.

Heart of Andalucia is a piece with a Spanish feel on keyboard.  This composition is well developed and could have gone with more instrumentation to bring out its strengths.  I feel a guitar doing the keyboard rifts would have lent more to the Spanish flavor of this piece.  It gave me a “Monica Ramos” feel but without the power and it could have withstood some additional energy to make it the authoritative piece it seems it wanted to be.

The track Incense is another work that has a world feel, Middle Eastern in flavor, and would have benefited from instrumentation backup.  A good, strong composition but production needed to be punched up a bit to bring out it's strength.

The material here is good.  Ms. Duc does well with what she has at her disposal.  But some of her compositions could be dressed up a bit with some better production values. She has some compositions that are softer ambient pieces that she does well, but there are compositions here that are strong and should be allowed to impact the listener.  Ms. Duc can write a strong melody, and she should allow them to come throughl.  Her softer pieces are soothing and very lovely and she did very well with those.

A good first CD from Ms. Duc.  I loved her melodies, and hopefully we will hear more from her.

Track Listings

  1. Essence of Dreams
  2. Dancing in The Mist
  3. Evocation
  4. One Autumn Day
  5. Secret Sanctuary
  6. Heart of Andalucia
  7. Midsummer Twilight
  8. Incense
  9. Rivulet
  10. In The Light of Day

Reviewed by MA Foster


Autumn's Apple

by Darshan Ambient

Visit Darshan Ambient's website

With the release of "Autumn's Apple" on the Lotuspike label, Darshan Ambient have created an engaging collection of tunes well suited for cool lounges and mornings after the night before. It's a fine example of chilled elegance and it's fast become one of my favourite releases of the year. 

From start to finish, "Autumn's Apple" is a delight both sonically and emotionally. One can't help but be drawn into it's charms. From the gradual build of pads and tones that blend together to create a slow melody underscored by cool beatz in opener "Azure Day", through the elegant grooves of "Rain Parade" where revolving chimes interplay with minimal piano, to the closing track "Man in the Window" which employs wooden percussion and vocals offset by a descending progression. Tones ebb and flow throughout the soundfield, musical phrases loop in and around themselves to create a latticework of woven beauty, and melodies both simple and complex play throughout the disc in a delicate yet groovy way while oblique motion plays underneath it all. Everything is all so carefully planned, so intricately crafted, so intimately related. It's all truly blissful. 

I love an album that fits in nicely with the slow sort of waking that comes on Sunday mornings, the kind of waking where you drift in and out of reality, one foot each in the dream- and material-worlds. "Autumn's Apple" is a perfect disc for that kind of duality, a perfect disc to straddle that kind of consciousness.

Reviewed by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions


Terre De Sacha

by Laliya

Visit Laliya's website

Terre De Sacha – Laliya

Laliya is an Australian duo, very tribal in feel and I had the pleasure of listening to their newest release Terre De Sacha. Laliya is an aboriginal word meaning “The Dreaming”.  This group is composed of Melissa McCarthy (Australia) on drums and James Maguire (Ireland) on strings (including dulcimer) and didjeridoo.  On this CD Arshi accompanies with flute.  There is a hint of Irish/Celtic in their work, but it feels “World” and very “Down Under”.

The CD has a total of eight tracks.  Total play time is not noted on this pre-release copy I have, nor is the time noted on the individual tracks. This is an upbeat CD.  Get out of your chair and dance across the floor material.  Good beat with the drums, the strings are expertly played, and the music is mostly light, bouncing and happy.  There are a couple of more sedate tracks andt they never get oppressive, but rather contemplative.

The first track Terre De Sacha (Part 1) is a waltz.  Storm sounds and birds open the track and set the stage for a dance around your living room or on your balcony as you watch the passing storm.  A very memorable melody and a nice introduction piece to the groups work and feel.

Baba Ghanoush is more upbeat, tribal in feel, opens with drums and didjeridoo and gives your feet something more to work with.   Lovely string work here; the composition has a definite Irish feel to it.  This piece has more power in it and is nicely executed.

Asgard returns to the melodic style of work, but still maintains the beat and presence.  Again, nice string work.

Laliya opens with lapping water and is a slower piece, very melodic flute with string accompaniment.  A charming, light and contemplative piece, it is more ambient than tribal, and works well here.

The pace picks up again with Sankura with more drumming, didjeridoo and some light and airy string work.  The didjeridoo is more pronounced here and is right at home in this composition.  Again, an Irish dance feeling to the piece. 

Terre De Sacha (Part 2) is the waltz reprised, without the storm.  It appears to be variations on the theme, but is still very recognizable.  Flutes, strings and a nice rhythm beckon your feet to the dance.

Shakia again features didjeridoo and strings, with a stronger beat.  More of a tribal feel comes across in this piece, but it still retains an Irish flair.

The closing track is called Cathars.  This piece broods a bit, didjeridoo backfilling the solo string work.  This is contemplative, breaking into a composition piece.  It Borders on dark, but never quite crossing that line as the string work still retains it’s lightness.  I’m sure there is a story here and it comes across in this closing piece.

This is a nice presentation by the duo.  Excellent strings, the drumming enhances this work and it has some good energy as well as original composition.  I can see why this band is very popular in Australia and Europe right now.  I enjoyed this introduction to the band and have their first CD here for future review.  Visit their website at for more information and their CDs.

Reviewed by MA Foster


Reiki Whale Dreaming

by Kamal

Visit Kamal's website

Reiki Whale Dreaming ~ Kamal

Kamal explored a variety of musical styles before settling into the “New Age” genre.   His work is done on synthesizers and he composes some lovely meditative music blending synth with instrumentation and it shows his classical background in both style and composition.

This CD gives us a combination of Kamal’s beautiful compositions accompanied by some guest performances of well known musicians and whale songs.  All of this is blended to create music to play while working Reiki.   This is a follow-up to his Award Winning CD Reiki Whale Song from 2001.

There are eight tracks on this CD with a total play time of 60:51.  The cover art features whale designs and has the list play and some liner notes.

The opening track Northern Lights sets the pace for this CD and gives us a beautiful composition combining the whale song, soulful flute, light piano and some electronica backfill that creates a soft, gentle and very soothing piece.

The Yearning features Cleis Pierce on violin.   This is a very inspiring and relaxing composition and Ms. Pierce lends her expert violin skills to Kamals keyboards and guitar. 

Initiation features the didjeridoo of Dr. Didj playing to the song of the whale.  I was impressed with the contrast of instrument to the whale song.  Throughout this collection we hear the woodwind work of Ariel Kalma, and here I believe we hear her also echoing the song of the whale.

Raga for a Whale features Harry Manx on mohan veena.  A stringed instrument looking like a guitar with twenty strings, it was created by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.  This raga is slow, accompanied by whale song enhanced by the expert work by Harry Manx.  A short piece, it is very lovely as the mohan veena harmonizes with the whale song.

The Whale Who Dreamt the Sea is a spacey piece with chimes, electronica backfill, sounds of bowls and dijeridoo and it is the longest piece on the CD at over eleven minutes.  It is one of the most Reiki oriented pieces on the CD.  The whale song does not appear in this piece till after about 7 minutes, so the whales never overpower the piece, and this creates a gentle flow;  peaceful and beautiful. 

A Whispering Dream also has a spacey feel, opening with wind and whale song and continuing into electronica backfill.  It has more of a flow, but still maintains the “spacey” feel.  Again, a good Reiki piece, and again, a very lovely and serene piece. 

The Healing Waters has more of a melody with a spacey feel, combining woodwind, keyboard and whale song.  There is a bit of a “bubble” sound peppered throughout the piece to give the feel of water.  It drifts as it flows, very nice for a Reiki session.

Coming Home features female vocals, whales, a bit more of a beat and melody.  Chimes, some electronica and keyboard backfill this piece, never distracting from the vocals.  There is a break filled by the lovely viola of Cleis Pierce.  But the vocals is the focus, and it a exquisite ending piece to this work.

This work by Kamal is a lovely blending of whale song and relaxing, beautifully composed music to use as a backdrop to Reiki work.  I found the whale additions to be subtle but never overpowering, and the music is very conducive to the original purpose of this CD; Reiki.  A good choice for the Reiki worker or a nice selection for relaxing, contemplative music for your home or office.

Reviewed by MA Foster