Reviews 10-12-2001

Music Reviews 


Blessed Oblivioin

by Blessed Oblivion

Visit Ventricle Records website

"Blessed Oblivion" is a self-titled CD from a very enigmatic trio of ambient performers.  The trio features Amanda Christina on voice, Dusty Lee on sound collage and mellotron and Dana Deveraux on strings.

This CD is also the latest in a string of surprise e-music releases.  The disc has elements of deep space music, pastoral ambience, atmospheric minimalism and symphonic synthesizer new age music.  Amanda's wordless vocals are an important piece of the instrumentation.  Dusty's sound collage builds a soundscape filled with drones, sequences and cosmic acoustics.  Dana's strings add touches of class and beauty to the project.

These characteristics create depth and a sense of foreboding.  There is a mystery in the offing but this is not dark ambience!  The name says it all.  Listeners are "blessed" on their way to "oblivion."


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts   


Blissful Journey

by Marina Raye

Visit Marina Raye's website

Marina Raye has one of the most beautiful souls that I have ever encountered.  She is the feminine voice of the Native American flute.

"Blissful Journey" is her eighth CD on her own Native Heart Music label.  It is "dedicated to our soul's journey of remembrance."  Marina urges us to take a breather, calm down and savor the moment.  Her gentle flute does the trick!  Jim Oliver's subtle synthesizer is a perfect compliment to Marina's acoustic flute.   Together, they take us on eight legs of the journey. 

Along the way we experience transformation, balance, mystery, wonderment, innocence, compassion, harmony and surrender.  Marina navigates the journey with style, elegance and grace.  Beyond all of that, the CD promotes serenity, courage and wisdom.

That's right!  This CD is completely sympatico with The Serenity Prayer!  I found myself wandering through the 12 steps and relating them to life's journeys.  And I thought about how cool it would be if we all had a 12 step program for guidance.  Or, if all we had was The Serenity Prayer, that would be ok as well. 

It is way cool that Marina continues to share her soul and her visions with us.  This is a top-flight effort from a top flight individual

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Maiden's Prayer

by Lisa Lynne

Visit New Earth Record's website

"Maiden's Prayer" is a strong candidate for 2001's CD of the year.  In genre specific terms, it is, for me, the new age CD of the year.  Lisa Lynne has branched out beyond her magnificent harpistry to add exotic world influences to her repertoire.

The fusion of Middle Eastern instruments, the Celtic harp and the Appalachian dulcimer creates a lush soundscape.  The ebb and flow between original and traditional compositions adds familiarity and originality.

As we expect from Lisa, the virtuosity is unquestioned.  Lisa's harp is exquisite.  George Tortorelli is flawless on winds and percussion.  The Lian Ensemble is absolutely soulful.  Musica Angelica adds beauty and class.

I think that the only flaw on this album is in the credits.  It should be "Maiden's Prayer" by Lisa Lynne and Friends!

(I wrote to Lisa expressing my fondness for this CD.  Her quick response was very gracious and grateful.  The power of the response was overwhelming.  She related to me that three members of The Lian Ensemble, a Persian quintet, had contributed much to this project.  Since the September 11 tragedy, they have had most of their concerts cancelled.  It seems that promoters are not ready to stage performances with Middle Eastern artists. 

Lisa was grateful to receive positive feedback to share with these three women whose only "crime" is being Iranian.  The irony is that they fled their homeland to escape the oppressive regime of the current government.

She also told me that mine was the first feedback that she had received.  I am honored, humbled and flattered that my simple words can help in any way.)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts




Visit Hearts of Space website

RASA is a Sanskrit word that means "the 'taste' or essence of any impression; the aesthetic experience in transcendence; the emotional fulfillment of the soul; the essence of divine love."  RASA is also a duet that performs deep world music.  Hans Christian, cellist and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, and Kim Waters, exotic vocalist, are RASA.  "Union" is their second CD.  It is on The Hearts of Space label.

Recent debates and controversies on the spacemusic list to the contrary, this is an excellent CD.  (There has been a heated debate on that list regarding the merits of that label.  The debate was sparked by the announcement of the sale of the label to a larger entity.)  This heartfelt performance demonstrates the essence of music for "inner space."  There is nothing even remotely sci-fi or outer space about this disc yet it is truly "space music." 

Folks who know me well are aware that I have had a tough time for the past six or seven weeks.  As I write this, I am in a hospital bed with one eye on the Astros-Cardinals baseball game.  (The Cardinals won, making the final game of the season the division-deciding game.)  It is IMPERATIVE that I relax!  It is a matter of &ldots; well, it's important. 

Kim's sultry vocals and Hans' diverse virtuosity are just the trick.  I found myself drifting off to far away places where time has no meaning and stress is a foreign word and a foreign concept.

Thank you Hans!  Thank you Kim!  The only reason that the doctor did not order this is because he does not know about it

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts  


Cello Blue

by David Darling

Visit Hearts of Space website  

David Darling shares the honor of top ambient cellist with the aforementioned Hans Christian.  On "Cello Blue" David pushes the envelope and stretches the boundaries.  Mixing keyboards and electronics with this romantic cello, he presents an expansive atmosphere.  The nature samples are a sharp contrast to the deep, almost dire, cello refrains.

It is a juxtaposition that works.  This minimalism, as David presents it, is not abjectly dark.  It has dark passages and moments.  The gentle keyboards, easy samples and light ambience belie the cello dirge.

This largely acoustic CD has mass cross-genre appeal.  It plays well with e-music, new age, contemporary instrumental and symphonic synthesizer sets.



Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Dweller at the Threshold

Visit Hypnos/Binary's website

"Ouroborus" is almost classic space music from Dweller at the Threshold.    An ouroborus is also an ancient symbol used in alchemy.  The serpent swallowing its tail represents the unending cycle of birth and rebirth.  The ancient alchemists used the symbol to signify purity and infinity.

Paul Ellis, Dave Fulton and John Duval have infused their heavy sequences with massive atmospheres and deep ambience.  Only the great Ron Boots is in this crossover territory with DATT.  Of course, the sequences are of the classic Berlin school variety.  They are the main ingredients in the massive soundscape.  The drifting atmospheres compliment those sequences in very atypical fashion.

DATT's previous CD's have had similar qualities as have the solo CD's by Dave and Paul.  Their promotional set, available at some of their live performances, hinted at this maturation.  It took the return of master synthesist, Paul, to take it to this level (no offense to Dave or John intended).  This is another wonderful CD from the Pacific Northwest.  It is the second release on Hypnos/Binary.  If it is on Hypnos, it is great!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Robert Rich

Visit Relapse/Release Records

Musically, Robert Rich has no limits.  He is able to do anything his imagination envisions.  "Bestiary" is a tour de force of his best experimental sound designs and ambient spacescapes.

That's right!  There are elements of space music among Robert's signature atmospheres and organic glurp.  And those space passages are densely sequenced ala the Berlin school.

There has always been a delicacy and an air of mystery to Robert's music.  On this CD he takes those to the next level.  This disc is loaded with elegance and Robert is taking his listeners with him on a trip to and a tour of the perpendicular universe.

He has not abandoned his tribal and ethnic influences nor has he deserted his minimalist trappings.  They are both still here, intricately woven among the experimental passages and the dense sequences.

This is among Robert's finest efforts.  It is destined to be a classic!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts