Reviews 11-01-2005 


Music Reviews 




by Richard Bone

Visit Richard Bone's  website


Richard Bone’s background is in a variety of musical genre which includes jazz, but he is all about electronica.  And his discography is impressive, with some wonderful works of electronica soundscapes and impressionistic moods.  His approach is one not unlike the beat poets of the 60s, following his own drummer, coming up with some very imaginative and substantial works. 

This is the final installment in the three part work started with Disorient and continued with The Reality Temples.  Like the previous works that connect with Oriental Mysteries and Western Philosophies, the name of this work Saiyuji and it is taken from a Buddhist temple in Singapore.   

This CD contains nine tracks, for a total play time of about an hour.  This disk also includes two videos of the tracks included.  The individual compositions are built on actual analog synthesizers.  He then creates “old technology meets new technology” in the works and overlays each composition with contemporary beats and world rhythms and instrumentation contrasting the analog synthesizer beats. 

By Any Other Name is a delightful opening to this CD, with the wonderful keyboard work Richard is so well known for.  Melodic, mysterious, and mystifying, the work is soothing.  There is a beat; a gentle swaying rhythm to this piece. 

Saiyuji (dawn) opens with an analog synthesizer beat in the familiar zero/one or on/off pattern.  It almost has a very Eastern feel to it, tinkling with symbols and develops an electronic beat.  The addition of what could be Bali Bells adds another dimension to this construct which again features his well designed keyboard augmentation. 

Vagabond Messiah starts out as celestial space music, picks up on a very well defined tribal beat, and flows very gracefully into a composition that beacons you to get up and move your body to its sultry melody.  

Oblique Heaven starts with an electronic beat, simple in nature.  It surrounds itself with some electronic backfill that builds with keyboard chords and finds its way into a charming melody.  This piece is exemplary of the build and blend structure that this CD is all about.   

My Indelicate Star starts with the old, familiar analog synthesizer we remember from early synthesizer works; the structured rhythm of zero and one that we became familiar with from older master works.  Added to this is the familiar sound of analog synthesizer “strings” playing wistfully against the beat.  This is over layered with Richard Bone’s spacey keyboard structures to create a very obvious blend of the older technology in harmony with the new.  A very lovely work masterly crafted.

The Road to Ahamkara is a much bolder piece, starting out strong and well defined in its beat, demanding attention as the mood shifts. The rhythms are almost jazzy, overlaid with keyboard melody that marches along in time with the beat.  A nice composition with a flavor all its own. 

Aquaville starts off with keyboard chords that build staggered steps into a very Latin rhythm; soft, sexy, very daring.  This piece is like silk as it flows very gently through your mind, with keyboard backfill that allows the piano to define the melody. 

Improbable Earth starts out with the now familiar bass zero-one synthesizer beat and moves into the piano melody.  This piece is more defined by the zero-one beat than any other rhythm, as it floats on the border of space music, being defined rather than allowed to drift freely.  A nice contrast is offered and it is very original in design. 

Saiyuji (dusk) is sort of reprised at the closing of the CD, with the same beat as (dawn) picked up a bit more at the opening of the work.  The overlaid melody is a variation on the (dawn) work but much more daring.  It takes off on its own, still reminiscent of the (dawn) piece but it becomes its own composition.  The rhythms pick up in the piece as it very boldly brings this CD to a close, again in contrast to the opening work which was wistful and soothing.  Again, this is a piece that beacons you to move your body in time with the rhythms and it is a good, strong finish to this CD. 

The videos that are included “are from a continuing series of ambient visualization by Richard Bone”.  The one for By Any Other Name is a series of slow motion/stop action images of roses in bloom.   The other included video is for the track called Improbable Earth.  The website has a third video for Aquaville. 

I always find Richard Bone’s works to be original, very well structured and enjoyable to listen to.  This CD does not fail in any of these categories.  This is ambient at its most innovative.  It can be played to be appreciated, yet it still maintains the ability to blend with the background creating a peaceful soundscape for your environment.  It is always a pleasure to hear new creations from Richard Bone.   mafoster

Reviewed by Margaret Foster for Ambient Visions




Comfort and Joy

by Philip Wesley

Visit Philip Wesley's website

“Comfort and Joy” is a soothing and graceful collection of twelve traditional and three original Christmas songs arranged for solo piano by St. Louis pianist/composer Philip Wesley. Wesley idolizes David Lanz, and his influence is strongly felt on many of the tracks. A professional musical therapist in a hospital setting, Wesley knows firsthand the healing power of music and taps into that power to great effect on this CD. More reflective than celebratory, “Comfort and Joy” conveys more of a quiet peacefulness than a party spirit, similar to David Lanz’s “Christmas Eve” (1994). Wesley is faithful to the melodies, but adds personal interpretations and improvisations that make the music fresh and interesting (not an easy thing to do for the ears of a full-time piano teacher and reviewer who listens to a LOT of Christmas music every year!).

The CD opens with a sweet medley of “Brahms’ Lullaby” and “Away in a Manger.” The melodies of both songs are interwoven with original passages, making this an unusual arrangement that works beautifully. “Joy to the World” opens with a passage from David Lanz’s arrangement from his “Christmas Eve” album and alternates with a more flowing, dreamy improvisation. Lanz’s theme has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so the combination is very interesting. “Silent Night” has a gentle peacefulness that is both graceful and delicate - I love this arrangement! I also really like “We Three Kings,” which is a piece that can adapt to a wide variety of treatments. This one has a flowing rubato feeling - the melody is there, but the rhythm is a little different, making the song feel new. “O Christmas Tree” has one of the simplest melodies of the traditional Christmas songs, but Wesley has fleshed it out a bit and added some new touches that give it a gentle flow that is both reflective and reverent. “Carol of the Bells” is probably my favorite Christmas song, and it can also handle a wide variety of musical styles. This one is a bit different in that it is very quiet and pensive with lots of open spaces. It does pick up the pace somewhat in places, but maintains a graceful dignity throughout - a beautiful arrangement! “Greensleeves/What Child Is This?” first appeared on Wesley’s album “In a Lifetime,” but this is a new recording of the piece. On the earlier album, I didn’t like that the piece turned into an energetic gallop with a big glissando. The gallop and glissando are still there on this recording, but are a bit more restrained and in keeping with the original song itself. I like this version much better. Two of the original pieces, the title track and “In the Eyes of a Child” were also on “In a Lifetime,” and are beautiful to hear again. “Wishing For Home” was composed for this album, and is a nostalgic, bittersweet piece that is deeply personal and emotional, as well a poignant reminder that the holidays aren’t the happiest of times for a lot of people.

“Comfort and Joy” is a wonderful Christmas album that will be welcomed year after year. It is available from and . Recommended!

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


Uncertain Futures
and Fading Pasts

by Angelmark

Visit Angelmark's website


I like beautiful things, things that make me stop and appreciate the world around me, things that give me pause to think and wonder. "Uncertain Futures and Fading Pasts" is the second disc by Michael Turner's solo project Angelmark and it is undoubtedly a beautiful collection of music that inspires the stop, appreciate, pause, think and wonder response in me. 

"Equipoise" opens the disc with a repeated melody slowly gaining strength and volume, drifting into a more pronounced lead line that dances and floats around the same melodic ideal. A steady rhythm guitar plays underneath as lines blend and blur with eachother leading into a gradual disolve of sounds. It's a stunning opening, something wonderful. 

"Mam Tor" vibrates and oscilates with a beautiful intensity. A background drone provides accompanyment and a sense of movement that suggests displacement, relocation. It's a very evocative piece, surprisingly effective given it's minimalist nature. 

The third track "Fleeting Moment..." has a strong cinematic quality to it, suggesting rebirth and reawakening. I like this one, it has a serenity and grace that appeals to the optimist in me. 

Track four "Wintermute" is a stunningly beautiful piece, a delicate guitar melody that weaves in and out through a cascade of chiming bells and enveloping rhythm work. It's a truly wonderful piece that spirals and dances through the ether, and it's only fault is that it ends too soon. 

"Others Distant" follows a similar form, a minimal bass line anchoring a droning wall of guitar, a sense of oblique motion, drifting amongst stars. I wonder if this and "Wintermute" are flipsides of the same coin? They certainly complement eachother well... 

"Unseen" has a sense of tension and displacement to it, nothing so harsh as to be unsettling, but definately an anxious feeling about it. Guitar notes throughout the track feel choked and forced and background drones try to gain shape and form, but never quite succeed. It has a sense of claustrophobia to it, something uncomfortable. And yet despite all of that, it still has a feeling of beauty and charm about it. Lovely work. 

"Twilight World" offers some relief from the claustrophobia of "Unseen", soft shapes and forms growing underneath swirling backdrops and soothing lead lines. It's something beautiful and shoegazerish, something that a Slowdive or Cocteaus fan would adore, something that would be right at home in a film with Rose McGowan and Johnathan Schaech driving through the desert.  Powerful. 

"Flowers Washed Down By the Rain" closes the disc, a minimal piece employing solemn piano and sweeping guitar playing overtop the steady sound of rain. A very nice environment is created in this one, something very lush and full, while maintaining a delicate quality, a sense of fragility. Very nice. 

Over the course of these nine songs, Turner creates a beautiful and magical environment for the listener to discover. His sense of space and production is impecable and his ability to develop and expand on melody is outstanding.

Certainly "Uncertain Futures and Fading Pasts" is a release by an artist at the top of his game, and certainly deserves repeated listening and further exploration.

Reviewed by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions


From the Sky

by Ryan Farish

Visit Ryan Farish's website


You may have heard snippets of Ryan Farish’s music if you have ever watched The Weather Channel.  His music has been featured on the Weather on the 8’s as well as Storm Stories.  But his credits are not limited to TV snippets; his music also graces a documentary, and has found its way into the NPR radio stations and featured on CBN’s 700 Club. 

It was, however, that made this artist.  He originally released his music on, rapidly becoming one of the most downloaded artists on the site.  His New Age music is inspiring, providing compositions that explore his melodies fully with a very upbeat and positive inclination.   

This CD contains twelve tracks, with no times listed, and it runs about an hour.  This is very professionally produced, with string arrangements by John Majkut.  The Promise is reminiscent of Deep Forest, with drums, lovely piano composition, tribal voices and choir.  This piece has a lovely upbeat rhythm and a delightful piano melody.  A very good opening introduction to this CD. 

Living Water combines piano, guitar and flute with a lovely moving backbeat.  Again, beautiful composition, smooth piano and well defined yet not overbearing beats making this a strong composition. 

Joy again combines beat, choir and an excellent piano to give us another lovely, blissful track.  It bubbles in spots, and carries the listener along on a bright, smooth melody. 

The mood changes for Pacific Wind, and we are confronted with a piece that starts a little more “stormy” but never hits depressing.  The piano work is more deliberate, the melody purposeful and the strings that accompany the piano are ethereal in nature as is the female vocals overlaid in the chorus.  The piano and strings take center stage here, picking up the tone of the piece a bit, resting a little, picking up again and coming to a light finish.  Very complex in composition and extremely enchanting.   

Home Again has a stand out beat,   Again, bright, melodic and almost inspirational.   Walk With You takes an almost Eastern turn, adding flute to accompany the piano with the return of the choir and tribal beat.  A nice blending of rhythms and style. 

Legacy is a bit more sedate but still retains the steady beat and good strong piano melody.   Again, very even piano work, nice choir vocals emphasizing the high spots, and good arrangement make this another lovely piece. 

We come to another mood change, with a heavier Eastern beat and flute work in Cry No More. This transforms into a Western rhythm, with lovely piano work accompanied by a very strong female vocal.  Another lovely arrangement and indicative of the strength of composition Mr. Farish has.   

Miles Away is a brighter piece, lighter melody and beat, with an accent of choir voices very ethereal in flavor. Shine is another bright and bubbly composition, well defined drums, lovely piano melody and again, the ethereal voices accenting the piece throughout.  Very upbeat, clear and very nicely arranged with complex piano composition. 

The title track From The Sky is deliberate, pensive, and explores the piano melody to it’s fullest.  Rejoice! is the closing track, very tribal in feel, with native voices singing very gaily and the entire piece bouncing in a very African construct.  Again this piece is reminiscent of Deep Forest, but much lighter, brighter and delightful.  A resounding finish to this CD.  

It’s easy to see why this CD is #3 on New Age Billboard Chart.  The music is always upbeat, even when it takes a time out to contemplate.  It is inspirational in feel, and the compositions are worth taking the time to appreciate.  As in all New Age music, this CD can be a focal point, or a soundscape for your personal space.  A must have for your New Age collection. mafoster

Reviewed by Margaret Foster for Ambient Visions


Ping Ambience III:
String Things

by Various Artists

Visit Ambient Ping's website


The AMBiENT PiNG has gained a lot of attention over the last six years, a reputation as a nurturing and supportive environment where like-minded artists can interact and develop their craft. And while it originally started as a local community, it's quickly grown into a larger entity, with support and interaction from a variety of North American cities and around the world. Truly it's become a significant global presence in the ambient/electronic music scene. And now with the release of "PiNG AMBiENCE

III: STRiNG THiNGS", the AMBiENT PiNG is poised to make an even greater impact. The third compilation issued by the PiNG, PA3 features a fantastic collection of guitar based work from some of the leading artists in today's ambient scene. 

The disc begins with Phil Ogison's track "Aftaglidder", a lovely looping work where themes and phrases spiral around each other, floating. It's a wonderful way to start the disc, setting the mood for what's to come. 

Michael Diamond follows with a piece called "Stellar Drift". I'm not familiar with Diamond's work, but I'm certainly interested in hearing more based on this track. A slow orbiting space-y tune, "Steller Drift" features sustained notes which ebb and flow, slowly evolving over time, weaving in and through each other in lovely ways. Very impressive! 

dreamSTATE offers "Clearing", a dark ambient work punctuated by beautiful arpeggio work and effected guitar. What can I say about dreamSTATE that I haven't already said before?  They make wonderful music that is both inspired and inspiring, and certainly this track stands with the best of their impressive catalogue. 

PiNG favourites Sylken submit "Mother Sun", a collaborative piece with guitar from Eric Hopper and synth by Joe G. I've long been a fan of Eric's guitar work, and "Mother Sun" reminds me of why I hold his music in such high regard. 

Anomalous Disturbances contribute "Languorous Liasons", a soft and sparse dark ambient track that brings to mind cold nights alone in space with the stars your only companion. Notes blend together, rising and falling throughout the piece, coming to the fore and then drifting away again. A lovely example of the power of minimalism. 

Diatonis submits the track "Currents", a beautiful drifting work with subtle melodies and notes that hang and bend and flow like lava. There's a shimmering elegance to this track, a lovely quality that makes it one of my favourites on the disc. 

"Sailing Into Calm Remembrances" by Mark Mahoney returns us to space with a very nice track where steady drone tones weave and flow around each other creating elegant spirals and turns. Very nice work. 

Matthew Poulakakis of Automatic Fats fame puts forth "Guitar Cloud 3", a drone based piece that swells and builds throughout its length. It shimmers in places, amorphous sounds that take shape as the piece progresses. Very impressive work. 

"Burned Down" by Matt Borghi employs looping guitar throughout, playing phrases against each other to create an inspired latticework of sound. A truly stunning piece. 

Cybertarist Paul E. Royes' track "The Universe Within" is a tension filled piece, a track where tones bubble and percolate over a repeated bass form. The sense of movement, displacement, and travel in this piece is almost palpable, a feeling that edges up the spine sending shivers throughout. A fantastic listening experience! 

"Desolation" by Styrohead is filled with overdriven guitar and oscillating drones, the sound of a thousand suns pulsating in time at the heart of the universe. It's a rare treat to see a track by Styrohead on the comp, a live favourite at the PiNG who has released very little recorded output to date. 

"Talking Taking" by Ambient-TV offers an inner space track with beautifully crisp and clean guitar playing overtop a steadily building drone. It's an impressive track, one that brings to mind some of David Gilmour's work from early Pink Floyd. 

Aidan Baker closes the disc with "Pressure Change", a slight and subtle track that captures Aidan's mastery of the improvisational medium and his magical control of the guitar. I could go on for hours about the delicate beauty of this piece, but really I couldn't do it justice. Listen for yourself, you'll know what I mean. 

Undoubtedly PiNG AMBiENCE III offers some of the best artists in today's ambient music scene. With thirteen tracks of guitar-based work that showcase a number of artists who regularly play the PiNG along with assorted PiNG supporters from farther afield, PA3 is truly a testimony to the talent associated with the AMBiENT PiNG.

Reviewed by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions


Hear the Water Dreaming

by Oophoi and
Louisa John-Krol

Visit Prikosnovenie Record's website

Visit Louisa John-Krol's website


Ooohoi is an Italian artist, who has been creating “space music” since 1995.  He has many credits to his name and over 20 CDs.  Celestial Geometries is considered one of the five best space music CDs.  His music creates abstract and surrealist soundscapes that take the listener beyond any known borders. 

Louisa John-Krol is Australian, and her previous works include songs about mystical animals.  Her voice can be soft and celestial, or very dark and goth-like.   

The two team up on this CD to present the listener with worlds never visited before and soundscapes that challenge the imagination.  This is not for casual listening, but rather for the love of listening to music that is beyond conventional and very artistic in nature.  This CD takes the music to new heights and dares the listener to come along for the ride. 

There are seven tracks on this CD, times are not included.  I believe this runs a little over an hour.  Instrumentation is noted on the CD cover and includes bamboo flutes, singing bowls, crystals, rain sticks, mandolin, keyboards programmed percussion and more.  The lyrics, when sung, are in English. 

The first track The Narni Owl is almost celestial in feeling.  It starts with a spacey sensation.  Added to this mix is the vocals of Louisa Joh-Krol.  At first, it is abstract vocalizations, but they take shape, as the music does, finding a rhythm, finding words and becomes a story.

Conversations between a Wolf and a Firefly could be considered Monet’s Le Parlement if you were looking for something visual to compare it to.   It is haunting electronica space music, over dubbed by the vocals of Louisa John-Krol – sometimes in distorted conversation – sometimes in echoed song.  There is distortion later in the composition to create a very unearthly feel to the piece, with further sound effects to complete the image. 

The Hour of Fauns broods, like the furrowed brow of a hero contemplating the universe.  The lyrics added by Ms. John-Krol create a darker, almost gothic feeling of this piece.  The further it goes, the more disjointed it becomes, like a Picasso work in progress.  Mostly electronica, there are elements of horns that fill in for the voice once the lyrics are completed. 

Let The Nightsky Envelope Us again has that very spacey feeling to it.  With additional sound effects it, it is surrealistic in feeling, like a landscape from a Dali painting.   

Cavern of Dreaming Shells continues with the spacey feel, a bit more brooding, and the vocals of Ms. John-Krol return.  This piece is broken into several movements.  Again, we encounter the abstract joining of sound and vocals, sometimes the sounds are almost dark contrasting the light, wispy vocalizations. 

The Whispering Valley opens with Ms. John-Krol singing some very interesting lyrics.  Her voice takes command of this piece, while Oophoi backfills with another dark and bleak soundscape.  The contrast is incredible, like a very brightly colored Paul Klee painting, very complex in composition and very colorful.  

The final track A Vessel for Michael completes this CD as it began, very celestial in nature, with Ms. John-Krol’s heavenly vocals.  The piece is not as dark as some of the other tracks, again including the softer sounds to create a kinder, more gentle soundscape than some of the previous pieces. 

This is not New Age, but more Electronica, very Nuevo in feel.  It is meant to be listened to and focused on, so the music can take you someplace you have never been before.  I enjoyed the ride and a look at another person’s creation of worlds apart from the masses.  This is a lovely addition to your collection of space music.  mafoster

Reviewed by Margaret Foster for Ambient Visions

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