Reviews 06-05-2008

Music Reviews 



Muses of Aqua

by The Luminous
World Orchestra
conducted by Steven Chesne

Visit The Luminous World Orchestra's  website


We receive many pieces of music here at Ambient Visions both known and unknown artists so it is always with a sense of exploration that I pop each CD into my player and begin that first run through of the content for those CD's that I have not heard of to this point.. Muses of Aqua falls into the unknown category and I usually play the disc first and then if it grabs my attention I pull out the information that came with the CD to find out more about the artist that created the CD. Just as a point of reference not everything that I listen to appeals to me so some CD's don't get listened to a second time and some don't even make it through the first listen depending on how far off base it is from the tastes of myself and those who read Ambient Visions.

I am happy to report that Muses of Aqua not only made it through the first listen but has made several encore appearances in my CD player since that time. I think that the primary thing that pulled me into the music that gently floated out of my speakers was the peaceful and serene quality to the music that has been recorded on this CD. The music has a very organic feel to it and as you listen you notice that it has been recorded using non synthetic instruments from around the world. According to the website some of this instrumentation includes the Chinese Erhu, Indian Sarangi, Balinese Gamelan Gongs, Native American Flute, Japanese Shakuhachi, Celtic Harp, Pennywhistle and many others. I think that it is this acoustic nature to all of the instrumentation that allows it to create atmospheres that lull the listener into a state of relaxation while still giving them enough to focus on to keep them from falling into a blissful sleep. Don’t get me wrong this is one of those CD’s that I would not mind putting on just before bed and letting it guide me into a deep sleep but it can be a sonic adventure at the same time. The variety of instruments that Steven Chesne (conductor of this orchestra) weaves together on this CD gives you the feeling of wandering through a perpetually changing landscape of familiar and exotic places all without leaving the comfort of your sofa, chair or bed.

Steven Chesne has scored over 300 episodes of prime-time television and 17 theatrical films during his career and all of this experience is on display front and center on this release. He deftly blends orchestral arrangements with the varied instrumentation mentioned above and creates an impressive palette upon which he paints his sonic pictures for the listener to enjoy and become immersed in. The music never drifts off into simply orchestral pieces but is always drawing upon the individual instruments to offer the listener shimmering landscapes filled with lush and delicate sounds that allow for reflective moments as well as inspiration for the day that lies ahead.

All in all I have nothing but good things to say about this CD and considering that I had not heard of Steven Chesne or TLWO before they arrived at the Ambient Visions mailbox that is high praise indeed. Not every story of unknown music arriving in the AV mailbox has this happy of an ending but The Luminous World Orchestra is one of those CD’s that will probably become a part of my regular listening routine for quite some time to come. If you are looking for 66 minutes of tranquility in an otherwise stress filled life then I highly recommend you go out and pick up a copy of this CD and start relaxing right away.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions


Love, Light and Water

by Michael Stribling

Visit Michael's  website


“Love, Light, and Water” is Michael Stribling’s fifth CD to date, and I think it’s his best work yet. Leela (“divine play”) Music’s mission is “to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit.” Stribling is not unique in this musical quest to soothe and heal, but one of the things that sets him apart from many of the other composers in this genre is that his music is not all sunshine and puffy clouds - he allows some of the darker and more pensive aspects of life into his music, which is a more realistic picture of the human experience. The music on this album is divided into three suites that “celebrate the hope and promise of new love, the energizing beauty of light, and the sustaining power of water.” Although the music is often quite orchestrated, Stribling creates all of his music himself on keyboards. Some of it is quite melodic, and other pieces are more ambient and atmospheric - all of it is very beautiful. 

The first of the three suites is “Love.” The five tracks are dreamy, warm, and ethereal, and convey feelings of joy and contentment. “Dream Frontiers” feels like floating in deep space, completely relaxed and absorbing the light of the twinkling stars. “Pleasant Journeys” has an Asian flavor in some of its themes and expresses joy and fun. “Light” is the second suite, and begins with the dawning of a new day. “Sunrise” is a perfect portrait of the slowly spreading light of dawn and the awe-inspiring colors of the morning sky. “Bright Silence, Quiet Light” is cinematic in the fullness of its sound and yet is so very peaceful and calm. Horns can be jarring, but here they are tranquil and restful. “Behind Every Cloud” is my favorite track. Guitar plays a gentle rhythm that gives the piece movement while the other instrumentation is more abstract, floating, and freeform. Love it! “Water” has four movements. The quiet guitar rhythm on “Prairie Rain” describes rain while keyboards create an ambient, serene atmosphere with just a touch of mystery. “River Canyon” is more majestic. “Dancing On the Water” sparkles and shimmers on the surface, but has a darker flow behind that - again very ambient and peaceful. The last two pieces on the CD are not part of the suites, but are in no way out of place. “Quiet Conversation” has piano in the lead with keyboard washes for additional color and depth. The piece itself feels like a very intimate and personal conversation with someone special. At about the halfway point in the piece, the “speaker” shifts to keyboard, and then the “speakers” alternate - a true dialog and another favorite. “At the Gates” ends the album with an ambient piece that is full of hope and warmth. 

“Love, Light, and Water” is music to really listen to and savor. If you use it for background music, expect to stop what you’re doing from time to time to focus on what Michael Stribling is saying with his music. Inspiring! The CD is available from,,, iTunes, and Recommended! If the CD isn’t yet available at your chosen retailer, please keep trying - it’s on its way!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


Of This I Dream

by David Findlay

Visit David's  website


David Findlay is a brilliant “new” artist who has been working in the music industry for thirty or so years. “Of This I Dream” is Findlay’s second album, following last year’s “Delightful Voyages,” which was nominated for four New Age Reporter Awards. I wouldn’t expect any less for this new release. A composer of film and television music for many years, Findlay melds a variety of musical styles and instruments into original music that is bold, innovative, intelligent, emotionally powerful, and accessible. A classically-trained pianist, Findlay is also proficient on brass, percussion, electronics, and guitar, all of which he plays on this recording in addition to being composer, arranger, producer, and recording engineer. On one track each, Findlay is joined by Christian Findlay on trumpet, Sue Breit’s beautiful vocals, and Stephanie Hospedales’ wordless vocals. Otherwise, this is truly a solo album - impressive! 

The CD opens with “The Dreamcatcher,” a mysterious piece that sparkles at the beginning, but still conveys a feeling of dread - what’s next? More ambient than melodic, the piano comes to the front in a dreamy and freeform style that is much lighter than the dark background sounds - a fascinating piece! “Slipping Away” is a guitar ballad, melancholy and introspective. Various electronic background sounds add color and atmosphere, but this is a rather minimalistic piece. “The End of the Dance” is very visual and would be the perfect closing theme for a moody movie. Piano and trumpet play a dark and rather mournful duet that packs an emotional wallop. “Ripples in Dark Water” is much lighter in mood, suggesting rapid movement that sometimes flows and sometimes swirls. “Things In the Closet “ has a Latin-jazz feel to it - kind of mysterious and very energetic. Fun! “Song For the Boy” is mostly solo piano that is deeply emotional and reflective - a beauty. “You Are My Song” is a tender love song composed in 1990. Trumpet, voice, guitar, and light orchestration make this likely the most radio-friendly piece on the album - really nice! “Returning” clocks in at almost 8 1/2 minutes, allowing Findlay to explore and develop his themes at a leisurely pace. The first section is slow, reflective, and rather dark, with piano, guitar, and brass in the spotlight. The intensity builds and the piece goes even darker and deeper. Heavy drum beats heighten the feeling of desperation and then wind down a bit before the intensity returns and gradually subsides to the end - an amazing and very powerful piece! “Absent Friends” is a wonderful closing. Written in 1993 in honor of his father’s death, the song has had an evolution of its own, culminating in this arrangement with the marvelous vocals of Sue Breit. Sad and very poignant without becoming maudlin, it’s a heartfelt tribute and an outstanding song. 

“Of This I Dream” is a great album for those who like music that is complex yet accessible and CDs that have a variety of styles and instrumentation all in one place. I highly recommend it! It is available from,, and iTunes.

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


The Weight of Time

by Timothy Davey

Visit Timothy Davey's  website


“The Weight of Time” is Timothy Davey’s third solo piano album, and I think it’s his best work yet. Encompassing a wide variety of musical moods and playing styles, each of the fourteen tracks is a keeper - no filler at all! Often a bit more complex than most “new age” pianists, Davey’s music has always been in a category of its own. There are some extraordinarily beautiful ballads on this CD, but there is also some “down and dirty” blues, jazz, and just great original solo piano music. The strong influence of bluegrass guitar gives Davey’s music a different flavor, as does his Australian heritage, but his music is neither American nor Australian, proving once again the universality of music. The accompanying 32-page booklet contains an assortment of Davey’s thoughts on the music and life itself, as well as photographs to go with the music. It’s an outstanding package and a work of art. 

The inspiration for “The Weight of Time” came from a pocket watch Davey inherited from his father. The watch is heavy and has a strong ticking (like a heart) which became part of the recording. Reminding of the passage of time, the watch serves as a link to the past, present, and future. The opening of the title track is on the quiet and pensive side, later almost exploding with exuberance, and returning to the original theme - very effective! “Only The Lover Sings” is a beautiful ballad whose strong melody expresses several different moods, never afraid to show tenderness or passion. The CD contains four “Windmill Interludes,” improvisations conceived as a single piece played in one-minute segments and placed in different parts of the album, depending on colors and styles of each segment - marvelous vignettes! “Over the Back Fence” is a nostalgic look at childhood adventure and innocence. I’m always fascinated by how well the piano describes rain, and “Dreams of Rain” is another fine example. Percussive yet flowing, and gentle then chaotic - a great piece! The middle section of the CD is very upbeat and bluesy, and shows Davey’s range as a pianist. “Cranky Britches” is a playful romp and one of my favorites. I woke up to it several times and got out of bed with a big smile on my face! “Achille’s Blues” continues in the blues style, but is much slinkier - I love this one, too! “I Have a Notion” is my other favorite. The exquisite melody is simple, played with emotion that comes straight from the heart - destined to become a classic! “Not So Long Ago (When Things Were Better)” is a theme song for the current state of the world, telling a story and offering hope. “Rhythmicus” is loud and boisterous, letting off some steam. “Idyll” closes the CD on a peaceful note - freely flowing yet strong and passionate. 

“The Weight of Time” is a great album and should bring Timothy Davey well-deserved recognition. It is available from Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


Return Home