Reviews 07-01-2006 

Music Reviews 




by Frank Klare

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Moods, by Frank Klare, is a different kind of CD from the good folks at Groove. It is totally electronic and loaded with sequences and atmospheres. It is also totally ambient!

Frank's sound design incorporates frequencies and tones that the listeners' biosonic feedback devices translate to relaxation and alternate realities. In short, the music is psychoactive but does not use ”Brain Sync Research” frequencies. Thus, it stops just short of being narcotic.

There are three compositions on this CD - ”Alpha Moods,” “Beta Moods” and ”Theta Moods”. Frank designed them for "relaxation and meditation,” “stimulation and animation” and ”deep meditation, trance and dreams” respectively. These pieces  do all of that and more. Frank becomes the tour guide on a journey to the deepest parts of the inner self.

That is all very cool and a truly essential aspect of the new age healing arts. This CD is also excellent space music in the truest fashion of electronic ambience. It is appropriate for exploration of the far reaches of the universe as well.

This is an awesome CD! It is always good to see Groove expanding their fan base

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



Synthetic Horizons

by Andreas Akwara

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Andreas Akwara is a brilliant electronic musician. He has created some outstanding CD's that combine sequencer e-music and ambient atmospheres. The best of that style – by far – is Synthetic Horizon.

the tracks have no titles. They are ”Parts I – X”. Thus, there are no preconceived notions or expectations. The listers are free to allow the music to dictate the experience. Andreas' soundscapes contain deep atmospheres, dramatic crescendos, heavy sequences, nature samples, symphonic synths and some glitchy dissonance. It is quite a melting pot of sounds and Andreas' sound design skills make it work – seamlessly as a continuous work of art.

It usually comes back to style and the need to categorize music. This is not pure ambience. It is not pure sequencer e-music. It is equal parts of both, combined excellently and deftly. It is an awesome and essential CD!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



When Darkness Falls
Upon the Earth

by Gert Emmens

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Gert Emmens is an electronician of diverse dimensions. While his work is of the European sequencer variety, he embellishes it with vast ambient atmospheres. Indeed, on When Darkness Falls Upon the Earth, he opens each track with deep atmospheres, even the purely analog track (number five - ”The Morning After”).

This is, however, a sequencer CD in the finest sense of the style. Gert's sense of timing is right on target and his sound design is meticulous. He leaves nothing to chance and he allows listeners to embrace his soundworlds. The ambient timbres, however, always come back to draw listeners deeper into the fold. The metallic textures give the disc an icy space music appeal.

This is a great CD! The good folks at Groove continue to achieve excellence in electronica.

(The disc does end on a sad note. ”Requiem Pour Sam is for Luc and Connie in memory of their little boy who passed away entirely too young.)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



A Piano Saga

by Kenny Jaworski

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Kenny Jaworski’s debut album, “A Piano Saga,” was recorded live in concert in April 2005 on a 9’ Steinway concert grand, and that’s about the only thing about this album that isn’t mind-blowing. The twenty-seven-year-old St. Louis pianist is not only opening new doors in piano music - he’s blasting them open! As he told me in an introductory email, his music “isn’t new age, but it’s new.” It is impossible to classify this music because it’s so different, but Jaworski seems to be getting the most notice from the classical camps, at least initially. There are abstract, free-form jazz elements as well, but Jaworski tells me that very little of this music is improvised. Passionate, intense, and sometimes kind of wild, I certainly haven’t heard any other pianists performing this kind of music. It can take some getting used to, but I hear something new each time, and I’ve probably listened to this CD at least a dozen times. Jaworski is mostly self-taught, and I’d say he is quite an amazing teacher! His flying fingers are jaw-dropping, and Jaworksi’s musical message is unique. I’m very excited about getting to know this artist at an early point in his career!

The first three tracks are among my favorites. The opening track, “The First One,” is rhythmic and intense, and gives a strong indication of what’s to come. At just over a minute, this is a prelude of sorts. “It Begins Again” continues the intensity, but is more developed. Jaworski’s hands fly all over the piano keyboard with sometimes dancing notes and sometimes crashing octaves; I really like the main theme of this piece. “The Mystique Factor” is my favorite piece on the CD. Rhythmic and energetic, it also seems to contain an element of humor. I love the mysterious passages in the deep bass and the way the piece just sort of drifts off at the end. “Dimensions” is bright and sparkling, and has several themes that develop over the course of the piece - some very fast and crisp and others a little quieter. “Ballerina’s Blues” is about a dancer who has to quit because of an injury. Some of this piece has a grace about it, and you get a sense of a ballerina on her toes, dancing across the stage, but there is also the anger and frustration with the injury. It’s a fascinating piece! “Games People Play” is one of the more subdued pieces, but it is also very intense. Beginning in a more relaxed style, Jaworski just sort of wanders around the piano keyboard, setting the tone. The pace quickens, but the piece remains light and dancing. As the piece develops, it becomes more agitated and powerful to a peak, and then softens a bit to a gentle and compelling resolve. As the title implies, “Grace” is a bit quieter and more reflective. “House of Doubt” is another favorite. Very dark and brooding, Jaworski seems to be working through his demons here, giving us some insight into a very personal realm that most of us can identify with - a very impressive piece!

As you can probably tell, “A Piano Saga” is not music intended for massage or meditation. It is, however, cutting edge and dramatically original. If you are looking for an adventure in new piano music, Kenny Jaworski is your man! The CD also comes with a DVD of Jaworski’s performance of four of the pieces at the concert where the recording was made. This addition gives fascinating insight into the music and the artist

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions



One Out of Five, the Best of Frank Van Bogaert

by Frank Van Bogaert

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One Out of Five, the Best of Frank Van Bogaert refers to , Frank Van Bogaert culling his five CD's into one super package. That is the correct term for this disc that features some of the most melodic electronica of this – or that – millennium.

That has been Frank's forte for years. He has demonstrated an uncanny sense of the acoustic and melodic and their interrelationships with sequenced electronica. These 14 compositions have defined structures, consistent rhythms and elegant airs. Each stands on its own merits as it sown soundscape.

The disc has more than that, too! The timeless nature of Frank's compositional style allows these pieces to fit together seamlessly. Each of the original CD's has its own thematic integrity. The elegance of these pieces give this disc its own integrity as well. It is, indeed, Frank's sixth soundworld.

Given the right timing and an open-minded market, this CD could be a solid new age/electronica crossover. The contemporary timbres are smooth and easy. Unfortunately, the market is often mindless so open-minded is not an option. Thus, it remains for fans of this genre to appreciate the beauty of Frank's music.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



Monumental Dreams

by Frank Klare with Ron Boots

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Sometimes it seems like the good folks at Groove have an unlimited stable of performers from which they draw their amazing library of work. There is just no end to the wonderful music and great artists on that label!

After 21 yers of recording and releasing his music in other venues – primarily on Syngate, Frank Klare has created  Monumental Dreams (with input and assistance from Ron Boots) for Groove. This is a perfect fit for their catalog. This is pure Berlin school electronica – heavy sequences, persistent rhythms and precise melodies. Frank's technical expertise is uncontested (another aspect of that school). He does add some flair and kick to the style for his own stamp. The soundscapes are infused with lots of positive energy.

This is a win-win-win situation for everybody! Groove adds an accomplished veteran to their lineup. Frank gets the increased exposure of Groove. Listeners get more great music!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



Yeti Society

by Harald Grosskopf

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Harald Grosskopf is a veteran of more than 30 years in the e-music community. His original claim to fame was as the drummer for Ashra. like another famous drummer/percussionist (Klaus Schulze), Harald has become a talented multi-instrumentalist.

Yeti Society is a very cool set of explatory space music. It is high energy with intense rhythms, deep atmospheres and cool experimental sounds. In other words – it has everything that space exploartion music must have. (Explatory space music is exactly what it says – music for exploring deep space, it is similar to Ferde Grofe's On the Trail in that it evokes imagery of movement through the environment.) The elements of Harald's sound design swirl around and through each other offering many avenues of adventure. Listeners are free to choose their destinations and destinies. Harald is merely a guide.

This is more great music from the good folks at Groove. It also adds to Harald's legend.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions




by Giorgio Costantini

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“Pianopianoforte” is a gorgeous collection of piano-based pieces by Italian composer/arranger/pianist Giorgio Costantini. Costantini has toured extensively with Italian and international artists, worked on Italian television, produced an Italian rock band, and also works as a trainer at The Michel Hardy University of Psychology where he creates music for health, meditation, and relaxation. A native of Venice, Costantini has been based in Rome for close to twenty years. He has been researching the depth of emotions in the human soul and looking for a piano language that could be a “trait-d’union” between classical and pop music - “easy listening but very evocative.” Costantini sites Michael Nyman, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Erik Satie, Debussy, and Ludovico Einaudi as influences - a heady blend! I also hear a bit of early Yanni here and there, but that could be the Mediterranean influence. Most of the tracks are well-orchestrated using keyboards, but this is primarily a piano album.

Lyrical and melodic, several of the fourteen pieces have the dramatic sweep of a soundtrack. The opening track, “Tutto l’amor perduto,” is one of those pieces. Using a catchy rhythm and a soprano voice, this piece is both hauntingly beautiful and uplifting with guitar, strings, and piano. A great beginning! “Elegia” is an elegant piano solo with a mood of sadness and longing. “Adagio” is more symphonic, with a simple melody line on piano and lots of strings. It feels very classical, but the background rhythm brings it into the present - a very effective approach! Satie’s influence is clear in the simple grace of “Desert,” a piano solo for about half of the piece and then a full orchestration. “Nero” is one of the “big” pieces that sounds a bit like Yanni. Piano, voices, strings, and a crisp rhythm make this piece a standout. “Rain” is another favorite. Kind of a duet for piano and guitar, background strings add a wash of color. The piece begins and ends with a melancholy melody, and has a gently flowing interlude in the middle - a great piece! “La Tempesta” begins with a strong sense of turbulence, becomes calmer, rebuilds, quiets, and just ends - I really like this one, too! “Arcobaleno” is a graceful, introspective piano solo that truly comes from the heart.

Strong and evocative from start to finish, there isn’t a weak track on “Pianopianoforte.” I’m thrilled to be introduced to the music of Giorgio Costantini, and this CD is sure to be on my “favorites” list for 2006! Sheet music is also available from Giorgio’s website as a download. Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions