Lloyd's Picks Update October 21, 2006

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All of the titles featured here in addition to 100's of others are readily available at the Backroads Music site.  Click the logo above to visit Backroads Music.

The Silent Awakening
by Tina Malia

The Silent Awakening -- Tina Malia is a stunning performer whose lead and backup vocals are the audio equivalent of pure sunshine. So far she had only recorded two CDs: the already classic "Shores of Avalon" and the chant-filled "Jaya Bhagavan (w/Shimshai)". On "The Silent Awakening" follows in the footsteps of "Shores of Avalon" with multi-faceted world instrumentation yet features a deeper rhythmic flavor with African drums, marimbas, Indian clay drums and more. Malia's organic, peaceful messages come through loud and clear on "Heal This Land", "Heaven", and "Beholden", all of which would work well as themes dedicated to world peace, conservation, etc. The pristine production of any of these recordings is remarkable and paves the way for her material to be heard far and wide. Her cast of musicians includes some of the finest players in the fertile west coast music scene: Darol Anger, Greg Ellis, Robert Powell, Sasha Butterfly, MF Greenmountain (from Hamsa Lika), as well as Shimshai, Lakshmi Devi, Kim Atkinson, Manose, and co-producer John Alevizakis. So far, this CD looks to be a top candidate for "Best of 2006", and lends itself beautifully to repeated and wholly gratifying listening.

Nuages du Monde
by Delerium

Nuages du Monde -- With their 2003 album “Chimera”, Delerium producers Bill Leeb & Rhys Fulber presented their most pop-oriented album to date, combining dreamy melodies with a set of songs that were heavy on lyrics and female vocals. Nuages du Monde is in some ways similar - the songs all possess the same sort of dreamy vibe and several of the cuts have a very pop-oriented structure. On the other hand, the album is also deeper and moodier (a throwback to their “Karma” years). Nuages du Monde's bookend tracks, "Angelicus" and "Apparition," are the group's most ethereal to date, with the floaty soprano vocals (including those of Isabel Bayradarian, known for work on the "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack) bathed in lush orchestral synths and melancholy-tinged melodies. Katharine Blake and the Mediaeval Baebes bring their velvety polyphonic vocals to two tracks, including the sublime "Extollere." Rounding out the guest list is Indian vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, frequent Delerium collaborators Kirty Thirsk and Kirsty Hawkshaw, Jael & Zoe Johnston. Filled with rich atmospheres and myriad moods, ranging from shadowed to bright, Nuages du Monde embraces a surprising variety of musical styles that shimmer and shift with great suppleness throughout the set. This is vintage Delerium; fans will certainly enjoy it.

by Klangwelt

XOIO -- After the successful and surprisingly popular releases “Weltweit” and “The Age Of Numbers”‚ Klangwelt is now presenting us with his also surprising third album: Filled with modern electronics, full of atmosphere and grandiose transitions, this CD is a veritable treasure chest of great tracks, each with its own delivery, and totalling what will likely prove to be a top pick for 2007. On “XOIO‚” he combines the popular Klangwelt features, such as pearling arpeggios, brilliant sounds and dreamy harmonies, with exciting new elements. Klangwelt fans will love this CD, as will fans of Frank Van Bogaert, David Wright, and Ian Boddy... just to name a few!

Enchanted Wind
by Suzanne Teng

Enchanted Wind -- Suzanne was once part of the Angels of Venice, a trio of women who began in the world of classical music and gradually expanded into the realm of world music. Over the course of her three solo CDs, Suzanne has found a similar journey, always flute-centered, which spanned the globe for influences, cultural reference points, and rhythmic elements that carried the songs to their spirited realization. Prior releases, like her debut "Mystic Journey," with Hans Christian, Dave Stringer and others on hand, might be more suitable for flow yoga, while her recent "Miles Beyond" is more of a rhythmic exploration from various faraway lands on which Gilbert Levy plays all manner of hand percussion. "Enchanted Wind" is the newest release, subtitled "Flute Meditations for the Heart & Soul", and it completes the circle back to music that finds simplicity at its core by offering music for peace, love and healing. These beautiful meditations are played on alto flute, bass flute, bamboo flutes and the rare contrabass flute with delicate arrangements on harp, dulcimer, harmonium and zithers. Bobbie Jo Curley plays Celtic harp, Suzanne's partner and co-producer Gilbert Levy plays harmonium, tambura, bamboo wind chimes, kartals, and keyboards, and she plays all the rest. The expression of this CD comes from a deep place, yet speaks musically in reverence to all people who become aware of the "breath of God". 'Above the Clouds," a track with Suzanne's alto flute and Bobbie's heavenly harp playing, attracts accompaniment from a sweet little bird who lends his song to the track as well! This is quiet music for quiet times.

Dream Wide Awake
by Omnimotion

Dream Wide Awake -- After four years of recording, producing and composing new music in his Ambium Studio based in Stockholm, Sweden, Omnimotion is finally back with a second album. Utilizing inspirations and knowledge he picked up along his very diverse musical path, Stefan has created “Dream Wide Awake.” The album contains the best musical gems that were carefully chosen from the music that accumulated in this four year period. It is a beautifully mellow yet optimistic album, with a strong acoustic presence. Now on the Aleph Zero label (Shulman, Bluetech...), “Dream Wide Awake” is an incredibly diverse album. It features eight different vocalists - from a rapper to an opera singer- and many guest musicians with an array of instruments including the violin, accordion, guitar, drums, harp & flute. The outcome hovers between the electronic and the acoustic, the hypnotic and the melodic, between abstract ambient and mellow songs, between dubby songs and IDM glitches. Omnimotion weaves and paints here an emotional musical journey that must not be missed and will leave you dreaming wide awake.

Already Shining
by John Astin

Already Shining -- Originally recorded live at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in November of 2005, Astin's new CD features 8 new compositions by John along with live renderings of two previously released songs, the classic "Love, Serve, and Remember," and "True Emptiness." John creates a musical vehicle of awesome beauty and pure spiritual intention that delivers the listener straight to the heart. He is a gift in the truest sense of the word- one of those rare souls with the ability to reconnect us to the Divine Source. In 1982 he released his first of eight recordings of original spiritual and contemplative music. His signature song, "Love, Serve, and Remember," has been recorded by a number of artists and is used (along with much of his other music) in workshops, spiritual retreats, and healing seminars around the world. Along with his musical work, John holds a PhD in psychology. He is currently a research scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco where he conducts cutting edge research in the field of mind-body medicine. "Already Shining" points the listener back to the simple light of awareness that is taking in this moment right now. This is a light like no other, a light that is self-luminous, self-sustaining, and effortlessly present. It is the light of knowing that makes everything visible and yet itself can never be seen. There is no practice we can engage in that will keep the lamp of awareness lit, no technique we can employ to keep this light from going out, for there is no existence, no mind, or self apart from it. The self and awareness&emdash;they are one and the same thing. There is nothing that needs to be done to make awareness shine. It is already shining. This is your nature. It is what you have always been…

by Snatam Kaur

Anand - On her latest release, “Anand,” layers of keyboard, harmonium, tabla, violin, sarod, guitar, bass and the dancing flute of Manose create an incredible landscape behind Snatam's ethereal vocals. Snatam Kaur provides a selection of Sanskrit and English language songs, similar to her usual style of East-meets-West music, that promote peaceful living and inner harmony. Deeply beautiful and inspiring, this album carries a mesage of profound bliss and joy. "Anand is the state of bliss that comes when every word that you speak and action you take supports the light and journey of your soul. " - Snatam Kaur

Trans Ukraine

Trans Ukraine -- This project was conceived and birthed in Ukraine in September, 2004, when Bodhi (aka Kevin Setchko) met Dmitriy Ilyashenko, a producer living in Kiev. With his wife, Natalia, translating (he spoke only Russian) they recorded tracks for 2 of the pieces, "Kiev" and "Odessa". Through an unusual series of events he was then led to another producer, Igor Gromadskiy, with whom he recorded the 3rd piece, "Crimea". Over the next 2 years the vision was brilliantly realized and completed through the masterful production skills of Alex Newman, an English producer living in California while he was producing a CD with the world dance electronica band, "Medicine Drum". Finally, the CD cover graphics were done by Brigitte Behr, a German graphic artist, living in Paris, France. This CD is truly the fruit of an international collaborative effort. Musically, this is a surprisingly brilliant recording that similarly bridges several worlds, from the chill out mastery of Newman (also part of Alcyone w/Suzanne Sterling), the flute weavings of Bodhi (who released the classic "Cloud Etchings" years ago…) and the collaborative efforts, which were truly inspired, from all of the musicians and artists involved. Those who have enjoyed Jeff Oster's "Released" will flock to this one, as will world music aficionados, and the entire "Chill" family!

Autumn Continent
By Between Interval

Autumn Continent -- A timeless new release, Autumn Continent is a superbly crafted blend of Space Ambient and Electronic Downtempo. As the follow-up to his awesome debut, “Secret Observatory,” this 2nd effort may well end up again in the number one spot for spacemusic release of the year for 2007. Provocative subterranean explorations are balanced with a sense of light from an otherworldly perspective. Between Interval has created an atmosphere that is organic, accessible, and thought filled without the clichés of most electronic music today. His brilliant use of rhythmic passages add another dimension to his already impressive style, leaving him once again a cut above the rest, and offering hours of satisfying listening in a far off and deep yet earthy space.

by Jeffrey Koepper

Momentium -- On his second CD, Jeffrey Koepper comes up with a disc full of surprises. "Etherea" was one of our favorite debuts a couple years ago, notable for its ability to continually take the listener right up to the threshold, and then to seemingly back off in ways that were extremely effective. With "Momentium," there are still subtleties in the music, but the tempos and rhythms are not part of that aspect, Much more sequencer-driven, dramatic and completely plugged into the electrical current at the source of current electronic music. His cache of late model gear including museum-grade synthesizers and sequencers operates at the mechanical level today's virtual modeling synthesizers attempt to recapture. Certainly Koepper's diagnostic familiarity with this equipment underscores the tracks on Momentium, which presents eight pieces ranging from fluttering thought tones, to echoing synth pulses, to cerebral powered beatbox. Koepper is ever reverential to both the artists and engineers who pioneered the genre he now navigates. His fascination with the sequencer, a device meant to provide a steady run of predetermined notes, is what dominates this disc. The interlacing patterns become an animated force carrying reverb laden harmonic figures into the foreground. In his music, Koepper is seeking a sense of voyaging, and the ever-building momentum serves this well. Yet, as in all quality spacemusic endeavors, we do not travel so far as to leave the listening area. "Momentium" is a stationary, and momentary adventure which is aimed at and meant for the contemplative audience that enjoys ambient space music, albeit with more beats than the norm, yet held in a container that does not stretch beyond its own self-imposed definition..

The Call
by Caryn Lin

The Call -- Electric Violinist Caryn Lin uses 5 string electric violin, singing, sound effects, and other technology to transcend that "solo" sound by doing what is called "looping," creating sound loops live that she adds to and embellishes. Caryn began playing the violin at age 9 and studied privately until age 18. While Caryn Lin started out as a classical violinist, after hearing her instrument through an electronic echo, she became wired. She plays a space age-looking instrument with a guitarist's array of stomp boxes. She can whip it out like Hendrix, or rev it up like Ponty, but tends towards a more pastoral, chamber orchestra sound, except the only person in the orchestra is Caryn Lin, multiplied though her loops and effects.

High Rising
by Sounds from the Ground

High Rising -- With over a decade of sonic seasoning under their belts, SFTG serves up more fresh sounding and widely acclaimed ambient, dub, trip hop and chilled electronic musical styles. We're proud to present their fourth title in the growing Waveform catalog, “High Rising” - a reflective and mesmerizing future classic and yet another elevated effort - this time more laid back, with welcomed guest contributions from long time supporter Taz as well as fellow UK recording arttst, Gaudi. After their solid return to form on "Luminal" with its spinning and bouncy, dubby beats, and spacy noises, their heady, good time vibes of “High Rising” reveals some exceptional tracks, including, 'Rotorblade,' 'Slate Grey,' 'Viper Style' and 'Beautiful Feeling' featuring smooth, sensuous vocals from Taz.

Rock Paper Scissors
by Michael Brook

RockPaperScissors -- Musicians' musician and sound innovator Michael Brook has his highly anticipated third solo disc "RockPaperScissors" now released on bigHelium/Canadian Rational. Recorded in Los Angeles, England, Scotland and Bulgaria, the disc features contributions from renowned artists Richard Evans (Peter Gabriel), Paul Buchanan (Blue Nile), Claude Chalhoub, Ben Christophers and Lisa Germano, as well as an exquisite posthumous collaboration with the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. With several arrangements for full orchestra, and the celebrated Bulgarian Women's Cosmic Voices choir, the album is the culmination of three years' work -- which Brook has described as "excavating your muse!" The sound is unique: beautifully arranged, atmospheric and ambient elements create the space for his self-described "deconstructed rock" to flourish. Collaboration has been at the heart of Brook's career, working with a diversity of international artists such as Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Youssou N'Dour, Djivan Gasparyan, Hukwe Zawose, Bryan Ferry, and The Pogues, to scratch the surface. He invented the infinite guitar, as played by U2's Edge. He has also contributed scores or individual pieces to movies such as "Heat," "Albino Alligator," and "Affliction". With his latest collection of songs, Brook worked with co-producer Richard Evans and an eclectic cast of talent. Lisa Germano's personal lyrics and haunting vocal set the tone for "Want," while singer/ songwriter Shira Myrow's lyrical contribution to the infectious title track was interpreted by beloved Blue Nile vocalist Paul Buchanan. Brook feels that "RockPaperScissors" is for him, relatively mainstream: "It is accessible music, more accessible than what I've done in the past." He adds, "the record is a kind of travelogue… so I hope people find it evocative and that it takes them somewhere intriguing." Brook debuted in 1985 with the critically acclaimed Hybrid on EG Records. His 1992 follow-up Cobalt Blue was released on 4AD along with the 1993 recording Live at the Aquarium . Recent projects include production for Jorane (Six Degrees), the music for the much lauded "Ashes and Snow" exhibition, currently in L.A., and the score for Paramount Classics' global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." (great CD -- now in stock!)

by Rudy Adrian

Moonwater -- If Lotuspike is the "new Hypnos,{ then we can all be glad they have released the "new" Rudy Adrian. While he hinted at this ambient style on past releases, he had not brought it all together until "Moonwater". Gone are the endless sequencers, as this is a far cryt from his "sequencer sketches" series. This is expansive, deep listening music, with sparse overdubs adding a dimensional feeling to the basic tracks. The story behind this album is that it began somewhat by accident. Due to computer failure, Rudy found himself with the same set-up that he had been using 15 years ago when creating his first album. Originally, he set out to provide some backing tracks for pianist Ruben Garcia, but they evolved into into completed tracks with the use of multi-tap delays and reverberation. The two closing tracks come from a different time, space and era, called 'Three views of a Japanese garden" (parts 2 and 3, live). It is a statement to Rudy's artistry how well the whole recording and each of its parts holds together so well, offering rewarding listening from start to finish. I predict that pleasure will continue on for years to come.

Pure Ganesh
by Guru Ganesha Singh

 Pure Ganesh -- Journeying from intimate to expansive, "Pure Ganesh" showcases GuruGanesha Singh's signature guitar work and rich chant vocals. It also features the soaring vocal improvisations of Snatam Kaur. Both an expression of his devotion to God and a reflection of the inspiration he has derived from his performances with Snatam Kaur in their "Celebrate Peace" tour, GuruGanesha Singh's "Pure Ganesh" is an album that was made with love in mind. The album retains GuruGanesha's characteristic style of blending Sikh spiritual chants with mild Western-influenced instrumentation like guitar, violin and a mixture of Asian and American-style percussion. Each of the chants has a gentle, peaceful quality to it, as well as a sense of joy that is echoed in the performances. Recording the new album, Pure Ganesh, has exposed GuruGanesha to new levels of musical and spiritual development. "A part of me is expressed through this album that has been dormant since 1972 when I essentially started focusing on backing up chanting with rhythm guitar instead of continuing to grow as a lead guitarist. My creativity as a guitarist has really come alive since I started playing with Snatam Kaur and has particularly come alive during the creation of this album. It's very exciting to realize that at age 55 my best years as a guitarist and musician are still ahead of me. I am now determined to realize my full potential before I leave this physical body and I feel like the sky is the limit." GuruGanesha is joined on this release by the sweet singing of Snatam, alongside Thomas Barquee, Wynne Paris, Krishan and Noah Gabriel.

by Marconi Union

Distance -- Marconi Union is a reclusive electronic duo from Manchester, England. Their sound has been described as "a post rock cinematic orchestra." "Distance", their first U.S. release, is unique, individual and timeless, fusing acoustic sounds, strings and pianos with electronica, post-rock guitars and even occasional nods towards jazz and dub. Described by the band as "a soundtrack to a film that has not yet been made," listening to "Distance" evokes the feeling of being driven silently around an unknown city at night, observing the activity and life of the urban sprawl in safety and isolation. This is a CD that travels in cinematic melancholy and textural malaise. Their songs build slowly, emerging out of a flattened landscape of static and stillness to attain a quietly triumphal beauty. Percussion is almost subliminal in journeys that pulse more than groove. They generate a quiet awe, like the slow build of "Sleepless."

Chakra Celebration
by Patrick Bernard

Chakra Celebration - Patrick's exquisite new release employs various Mantras, some names of great gods and goddess, specific tones, rhythms, spiritual sound vibrations and Holy Vocalizations to interact with the activities of our body-mind-spirit. The music is beyond heavenly, and this CD reunites Patrick with his original producer, Robert Lafond. Each chant is in direct relation with each chakra, and while many are familiar mantras, they are imbued with new life. Each tone and mantra is connected to a definite function of the physical body through the endocrine glands and the spinal system. The chants are used to harmonize, balance and stimulate the flow of subtle energies of the chakras system, clearing negative thoughts and emotions which weaken the electro-magnetic emanations of the body, thus eliminating blockages. This recording uses the capacity of a sound vibration to reach out through vibrational waves to set off a similar vibration in another body. As a result, the focused use of the sound principle of sacred resonance serves as the foundation for all healing and enlightenment.

From the Cave
by Frank Harris

From the Cave - On his new CD "Music from the Cave," Frank Harris offers a masterful blend of world music, jazz elements, mantras, chanting and lush vocals that transcend traditional forms of chant music, giving the engaging mantras a rich and layered musical foundation. In blending many musical genres, Harris takes the listener on an ecstatic journey into the cave. Soaring vocals, ethno-pop, and terrestrial electronics blend and meld into a brew with intoxicatingly pleasurable effects. Whether your interest lies in the fast-growing chant idiom, relaxation or meditation styles, inspired world music or simply letting your heart open in joyous abandon, this CD will lead you into a wondrous world within. Intelligent, sophisticated and full of heart, passionate Sanskrit chants are interlaced with long instrumentals combining many musical elements, along with traditional sounds from South America, Africa, and especially India. Harris is a musician best known for film scores, documentaries, and critically acclaimed recordings that marry the jazz and world music genres. His compositions know no national boundaries, though they serve as a bridge between a variety of cultures. As one of the world's earliest experts in digital synthesizer programming, he has also connected the richness of ancient musical traditions with modern computer technology sounds and techniques. The tracks are arranged to work perfectly in an energetic yoga class; the CD begins with a centering OM, followed by chants to Govinda, Shiva, Rama, and others. Each piece features lush, passionate vocals imbedded in a masterful musical foundation; long instrumental interludes act as bridges between the chants. The last three songs are gentle and dreamy, allowing your body to relax and fall into a quiet stillness.

Yoga Groove
by Soulfood

Yoga Groove -- Whether it's a Yoga groove, a Yogurt salad, an Orange grove or some kickin' global tribal smorgasbord, this CD cooks up a sumptuous and sizzlin' mix of organics, electronica and soulful drum beats for one of the most exciting and surprisingly cross-cultural border-poppin' releases so far this year. Soulfood maestro Gordy Schaeffer aka DJ Free is joined by drummer extraordinaire Brent Lewis, plus Richard Hardy, Peter Schimke, Jayson Fann and Andra Suchy in sculpting the sound. It adds up to a rhythmic and melodic movement experience filled with Eastern influences, ambient grooves and downtempo beats which are all supported and enhanced by Lewis' tribal percussion. And that ain't all, either! This is a superb and excellent CD!!

Magic Sense
by Chilled C'Quence

Magic Sense -- 3rd release in the UK's Amboworld catalogue is the long awaited debut album from Chilled C'Quence, a bright new Portuguese ambient / downtempo band. Two artists are behind the project: Pedro Matias (DJ Fluxö) and Fernando Rodrigues (Psyjar), being both connected to different aspects of music and technology. "Magic Sense" is the debut chapter of the Chilled C'Quence chill-out incursion. evolving voices & space melodies, texturized with crystal sounds, to take the listener on an emotional journey into ambient electronica. If you like Pitch Black, Tara Putra, Phuture Primitive and the like, , this is your next destination, so take the trip and check out this beautiful piece of sonic work.

Chicano Zen
by Charanga Cakewalk

IChicano Zen -- The lead singer of Charanga Cakewalk used to be part of the Milwaukee rock band The BoDeans - now there's an interesting little bit of trivia. Now he immerses himself in contemporary, beat driven Latin fusion music that blends styles like salsa, cumbia and tango with trip-hop. A collage of neo-Latin sounds - spicy tangos, amped up ethnic layers, trip-hop and even a scant lilt of bolero, come together to form the musical stew that is Charanga Cakewalk. Front-man Michael Ramos is no stranger to performing - his resume includes a six year stint with the BoDeans and support work for Paul Simon, John Mellencamp and Patty Griffin. For his second outing on Triloka Records, Ramos and company provide another celebratory selection of Latin-edged lounge tunes that will give you the urge to move. Lila Downs lends her exquisite voice to the opening tracks, while Griffin, Ruben Ramos and Martha Gonzalez provide vocal assistance on a few of the other cuts. If you're looking for a fun album of Latin music, this is it!

by Saul Stokes

Vast -- The music of Saul Stokes seems to have two centers. The first accommodates the current ideas of tonal and rhythmic organization while the other freely seeks original timbres outside conventional sonant hierarchies. On his previous several releases, Stokes has navigated the paradox of using technology to express a wide range of human feelings quite well. "Vast" is Stokes' most accessible work so far, and strongly forges ahead on paths parallel to both mainstream and experimental music. The seven tracks are intermittently lazy, loose and open yet elsewhere demonstrate a knowing affectivity in their tight arrangement and harmonic contrast. Stokes ushers the concept of musical indeterminacy down to the circuitry level. His hand-built, self-designed tone generators often produce sonically unexpected but esthetically welcomed results. The drifting oscillators, distorting filters and general irregularity inherent in his homemade devices produce a range of chaotic characteristics honed out of commercially manufactured keyboard synthesizers. As high-concept as this may seem, Stokes manages to infuse a sense of wonder into his compositions. Be it in dreamy melodic figures, expanding harmonic progressions or basal body beats, the music of Saul Stokes speaks the electronic infinite word. His work is an exemplary fusion of experimentalism and electronica.

by Various Artists

[ Oxycanta ] --This new compilation from the Ultimae label will see the light of day in Spring, embodying the works of French, Swedish and Japanese artists on the theme of electro atmospheric glides amidst emotional gardens. The artists who contribute (all exclusive) tracks include Solar Fields, Between Interval, Aes Dana, Cell, Asura, Sync24, Omnimotion and a couple others. This deep floating compilation embodys the works of pioneers in the exploration of a new wave of electro ambient music. [ Oxycanta ] is an expression of spatial density with the constant presence of our natural environment at times in its organic recorded form, others transduced into atmospheric textures by advanced technologies. Its title derives from Crataegus Oxyacantha, commonly known as the Hawthorn, a tree whose leaves and berries are legendary for their heart-healing properties. Compiled and mixed by Mahiane, aka Sunbeam, co-manager of Ultimae, label artist and deejay, [ Oxycanta ] presents various compositions gliding into each other with intangible obbligato. Mastered by Huby Sea at Ginger Cross Hill studio.

Asana 4: Ohm Shanti
by Bill Laswell/Various

Asana 4: Ohm Shanti -- The "Asana" series from Meta Records is back with another incarnation after a three year break. Like past entries, this edition features mainly artists that create Indian-style music mixed with electronica and techno, like Karsh Kale and Zakir Hussain. This is a nice album for those who like their yoga music with a contemporary spin. Bassist and producer Bill Laswell's 30-year musical journey has taken him through the wilds of rock, hip-hop, funk, electronica, ethnic fusion, and hellacious noise, but in recent years it seems like he keeps gravitating back to the ethno realm. There's always been a thick vein of dark mysticism winding like a black rope through his various musical projects. The degree to which he buys into the reality of any of the transcendence he peddles is an open question, but one thing is certain: no one writes a prettier bassline, or delivers it with more elephantine authority, or brings together more beautifully matched singers and players. His latest under the group moniker Asana (the core of which is a duo consisting of Laswell and percussionist Karsh Kale, joined by a variety of South Asian collaborators) finds him exploring Indian classical and devotional themes as expressed by singers Kiran Ahluwalia, Ustad Sultan Khan, Asha Puthli, and others. The pattern is set early on: Kale builds a tasteful but generally restrained rhythmic bed on which Laswell lays down a bassline of dark, rich suppleness, and then someone starts singing. When that someone is Ahluwalia, the resulting sound is joyful and soaring; when it's Khan, the sound is grittier and more earthbound. And when it's Vidya Shah, it's a sharp, keening wail offset brilliantly by Laswell's meaty bass and a juddering jungle breakbeat. Every track is brilliant, each one in a different way. Highly recommended.

Electric Ladder
by Robert Rich

Electric Ladder -- On his new CD, "Electric Ladder", Robert Rich finds a new voice for the vibrant interlocking melodies that characterized his works such as "Numena," "Geometry" and "Gaudi." With its seamless blend of analog modular synthesis and acoustic tonalities, "Electric Ladder" weaves a hypnotic spell - lush, ecstatic and seductive. Its shimmering geometric lines grow more sharply etched with the clarity of just intonation tunings and the intelligence that typically pervades Rich's compositional vocabulary. Contributors include reed player Paul Hanson and guitarist Haroun Serang. The response to this CD so far places it up there with the very best releases Robert has done over his long and accomplished career.

Beneath the Surface
by Various Artists

Beneath the Surface -- From the Native State label (that released “Left Coast Liquid, vol. 1”) comes this cool collection that explores a mystical chill space full of rhythms, new dimensions, and a captivating sound that flows effortlessly from track to track. Less rhythmic than the norm, yet rhythmically intact and compelling, this is a journey conceived by Bluetech and Naasko, and it delivers full-force the elements of stillness found below the surface where life is comprised of grounded energy and music in motion. Artists included are Sympath, Desert Dwellers, Bluetech, Shulman, String Theories, Marconi Union, David Last and other less familiar names who are nonetheless essential to the mix.

Each of Us
by Ya Elah

This exquisite CD is like an invitation to a lush musical realm beyond time and beyond species. JaEach of Us -- Ya Elah's music combines the sacred texts of many traditions with choral music and instruments (Middle Eastern, medieval, and others) to illuminate the beauty, mystery, and power of the world's diverse spiritual paths. After 14 years directing the acclaimed vocal ensemble, Kitka, Artistic Director Bon Singer felt a calling in her heart to combine her musical talent with her spiritual path. Her vision to create a group that would blend the beautiful prayers of many traditions with the Balkan and Middle Eastern musical styles she loved was the seed that blossomed into Ya Elah. As each member joined Ya Elah adding their unique voice or instrument, a garden of song grew and blossomed. They offer you this musical bouquet in celebration of hope and vision for our planet. Produced by Grammy-nominated guitarist Alex de Grassi (who also plays on track 7), this is the group's debut CD.

Mystic Moods
by Michele Ippolito

Mystic Moods -- Michele Ippolito's "Mystic Moods" CD is a can't miss for those who enjoy the music of Liquid Mind. It's not a blatant carbon copy or imitation, but the overall tone and motif is similar enough that if you enjoy Liquid Mind's music, you can't help but like "Mystic Moods". And there is a unique quality in this concise yet expansive 30 minute CD (that is what the repeat button is made for!) that is so attractive in its gently inviting tones and engaging feel. If you like lush flowing electronic music and are seeking music for meditation, this music compels you to listen attentively to your feelings, to sense your innermost wishes and stay in that alone space with yourself. Discover what may have been hiding somewhere deep in your consciousness, and befriend your true self, without far-fetched conventionalities and false masks? This music expresses an access to everyday emotions and the depth of human consciousness. Fresh and transparent, Michele's music washes you with its warm waves. Her music sends you back to the source, and with great care she is guiding you through emotions like glimpsing pictures of a personal movie. This is angelic music and "Mystic Moods" is a guide from the divine to the world of humans.

Down Temple Dub: Waves
by Desert Dwellers

Down Temple Dub: Waves -- Here is a breakthrough release from a group that has been heard on some very cool compilations recently. On their first full album release, Desert Dwellers meld elements of downtempo and psy-chill with sinewy basslines, otherworldly guitar and an exotic mix of organic instruments into an Indo-ambient mystical fusion. Desert Dwellers endeavors to push the bounds of yoga music on "DownTemple Dub: Waves" into a new realm of musical fusion called "Yoga Dub": electronic devotional music blending the boundaries of rhythmic ambience while incorporating such traditional instruments as subahar, tabla, udu, erhu, cello and voice. The emphasis is always on the space between the music, allowing for a non-intrusive soundscape to support rather than distract from the listener's activity. While there are chill out beats galore, and long, cohesive passages that flow one into the next, this CD comprises an amazing audio journey to revisit over and over. Group leader Amani joins forces with Rara Avis and Craig Kohland of Shaman's Dream music ensemble, who also serves as producer, in creating nourishing soundscapes to accompany your meditations in movement. Pulsing with lush rhythms and serene harmonies, "DownTemple Dub: Waves" is a sonic odyssey into the soul of the global heartbeat. And coming right behind will be the next in a series: "Down Temple Dub: Flames"

by Kevin Kendle

Winter -- This long-awaited CD sees a return to Kevin's distinctive landscape-inspired music such as on the albums "Autumn," "Eventide" and "Spring." "Winter" is a celebration of the season, featuring haunting sound paintings reminiscent of the stillness and icy chill of a winter dawn. At times tinged with melancholy, at times joyous, the music on this album will move your emotions and touch your soul. In production since 2003, Kevin has been gradually crafting the soundscapes on this album until they shine like the icy scenes they depict. Contrasting the frosty chill of being outdoors against the warmth and comfort of being indoors on a cold winter's day has been a difficult balance to achieve, but Kevin has now realized the music to perfectly reflect this. Featuring the stunning musicianship of collaborators Nigel Shaw, Chris Conway, James Asher, Brian Abbott and Sam Kendle, "Winter" is a musical experience not to be missed, and one of the warmest winters we can remember! All of Kevin's titles are now available, including his earlier titles as well as the recent "Deep Skies" duo.

Quiet Glow
by Chad Hoefler

Quiet Glow -- Chad Hoefler sprung upon the ambient music scene last year with his surprising and acclaimed debut, "Twilight in the Offing", on Hypnos records. This year, Chad will be releasing his 2nd effort with Lotuspike. “Quiet Glow” is baroque sonic alchemy with icy overtones. Refined & robust, the music on "Quiet Glow" challenges and engages the listener. This sophisticated body of work is definitely not to be missed by fans of exploratory electronic music. “Quiet Glow” was mixed and mastered by electronic music veteran, Robert Rich. Robert, who also mastered Chad's debut title.

Leap of Grace
by David Newman

Leap of Grace -- We have been very pleased to offer the CDs by devotional singer and songwriter David Newman. Recently he has teamed up on the first audio CD from Pranamaya Music. "Leap of Grace" is a gorgeous rendering of the sacred Hanuman Chalisa, one of the truly revered prayers of the spiritual tradition of India. Newman, also known as Durga Das, joined with producer Frank Wolf to create an ambient soundscape nestling the Hanuman Chalisa in a radiant atmosphere of soothing voices and delicate musical textures. On "Leap of Grace", the Hanuman Chalisa is recited eleven times, an auspicious number that is traditional for bestowing Hanuman's blessings on sacred occasions. It becomes a modern day CD prayer wheel&emdash;manifesting it's message as it spins in your player&emdash;that both maintains the beauty of its ancient heritage and speaks elegantly to the sonic sensibilities of our time. It can be used for chanting, meditation, yoga or to bathe in the sounds of sacred healing vibrations, and the exquisite packaging really does justice to the intention of the project. Simply put, Leap of Grace is a lullaby for the Soul!


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