Friday, August 10, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW: A TRICK OF THE WIND

            Erik Scott has taken full reigns of his creativity and showcased the extent of his abilities on his latest release A Trick of the Wind. Celebrating ten years of a positively successful career in the New Age music universe, Scott’s latest album resonates with the sounds of a man sure of himself and his creative vision. With his last release In the Company of Clouds winning two ZMR awards, it seems he used that success to fuel his next work and take it to the next level.
            The thing that I most admire about this collection of songs is that they are unpredictable. They keep a similar theme throughout but fearlessly mix things up to keep the listener intrigued. Right off the bat, the opening track, “Wings,” flows in gracefully with the use of delayed fretless bass and soft percussion. As the song progresses, the layers of synthesizers, added percussion, and female vocalizations start to fill in the blanks until a gust of wind welcomes in a sitar and additional male vocalizations. Just like that, the song goes from a jam to a full-on celebration of various sounds. “Ghosts of Storyville” is another piece that takes unexpected turns. Starting off with a simple pulse and some understated vocalizations, the song transforms into something much more jazzy. It’s reminiscent of something that would be in an old noir movie but with Erik’s New Age twist.
            The title track, “A Trick of the Wind” is a song that incorporates a lot of traditionally New Age elements yet still remains entirely unique to Scott’s style. The tinkling synthesizer and his use of delay emanate a feeling of projecting through the astral plane while his masterful work on the bass provides a grounding element. Though it is one of the more straightforward songs on the record, it still succeeds in conveying a strong mood. “The Invisible Wand” focuses on flow and feels more so like a jam between a group of kindred spirits. The breezy structure of the song is reminiscent of gentle waves, accented by a beautiful female voice. Keeping the same spirit, “Born Dreaming” is another beautifully flowy song that progresses into a dramatic crescendo. The album closes with a very playful track titled “A Child Remains.” Erik introduces new sounds such as synthetic wind and string instruments that help to guide the element of lightheartedness into the final track.

            Without a doubt, Erik Scott is a truly creative soul who has managed to produce yet another uniquely-individual contribution to music. With his trademark vision and dedication to the craft, one can only imagine what he will dream up next. For more information on Erik, visit his website at www.erikscottbass.com, and enjoy the video for "Salooka" on YouTube.

Samantha Garcia, Being

Thursday, July 12, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW: MOSAIC



Award-winning composer David Wahler has created a minimalist body of work imbued with peace and tranquility. Having been immersed in music since the age of seven years old, Wahler’s approach to his arrangements displays a true understanding of what music should be: something evocative. He removes all the frills that are displayed in a lot of modern music and simply presents his audience with solid melodies and serene nuances.
Composer David Wahler
            
Nearly a decade ago, David Wahler’s debut album, Antiquus, was released and met with critical acclaim. Now with his latest release of Mosaic, he tactfully melds the two worlds of piano melodies and electronic soundscapes into an album reminiscent of the 80s and 90s. 

The title track of the album showcases that ability perfectly well. What seems like a simple song is so much more when put under the microscope, with every little individual sound coming together as a collective to create something much greater and larger as a whole. Following, “Afterain” comes in with a far more laid-back and relaxing vibe. Birds sing and wind chimes tinker along with some gentle vocalization. This track is less of a song and more so of a mood. It isn’t until “A Promise to Keep” that Wahler comes in with his trademark piano melodies. They aren’t the most complex melodies but they definitely serve their purpose in setting a pleasant atmosphere. Hitting the midway point of the album, “August Cloud” explores more of the same territory utilizing simple piano melodies and subdued electronic nuances to create a sound that transports the listener out of their head and into a different world, high above the clouds.

            
In an unexpected twist, the track “Elysian Dawn” comes in strong with mesmerizing angelic operatic vocals layered on top of a pleasant harp melody. Gentle sounds of the outdoors help to evoke the sensation of being out in a lush garden on a sunny day. “Sakura” is laden with subtle Japanese influences that evoke the memories of a spring bloom. Similar in tone, “Lone Sky Night” and “Fou D’Amour” go heavy on the 80s-influenced synthesizer, giving off a more stylized vibe than some of the other pieces. Ending the album with a question, “Why?” is one of the simplest, most pensive of the tracks. After taking you on a mystical journey, Wahler leaves you pondering.


A true example of modern new age music, Mosaic does a great job at putting the listener at peace. It takes true skill to be able to evoke emotions using a minimalistic approach and David Wahler accomplishes just that. To read more about David, go to his website at www.davidwahler.com and make sure to purchase his latest album, Mosaic, available on most music sites; you'll also want to check out his innovative design-inspired SounDecor playlists on Spotify.

Samantha Garcia

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW: They Were Here

           
Producer-percussionist Byron Metcalf and singer-songwriter-author Jennifer Grais have managed to blend their two passions for music and shamanic healing into one hauntingly beautiful collaborative concept album. The artists' shamanic influences are quite apparent in the vibe of this latest work, They Were Here, exploring the plight of America’s wild horses. The energy of the music is both reverent and mournful as they explore the ongoing mistreatment and loss of these magnificent creatures, one of our most unique national treasures.
            
Jennifer Grais: singer-songwriter and author of "Christa's Luck."

This album is less song-oriented than others, rather, it functions more like one complete, flowing work of art. Native American influences run thick in the veins of They Were Here to create the perfect setting for such a tale. Metcalf provides the majority of the instrumentation including frame drums, rattles, udu, ceremonial drums and synthesizer.  His characteristic style of tribal-trance drumming is the energy that fuels this piece, providing the driving force that echoes the sounds of horse hooves galloping with intense gusto. Ron Oates lends a helping hand on keyboard, synthesizers and orchestral arrangements as well. Jennifer Grais’ heart-wrenchingly beautiful vocals soar like an eagle to perfectly accompany the earthiness of the instrumentals.

Byron Metcalf, award-winning musician & shamanic practitioner.
The title track sets the mood for the album as it opens with the sounds of horses galloping as the earth stirs underneath their hooves. Slowly, the ambient music sets in like a looming mist that rises incrementally. The sound of Dashmesh Khalsa on didgeridoo wavers ominously in the background as Grais’ mournful vocalizations take the forefront. Henceforth, the songs get incrementally more intense as the story lingers on until reaching a crescendo in the fourteen-minute “Run.” Fiercely carried by driving beats and Grais’ intense, almost desperate chants, the track sets the scene of wild horses fleeing their native homes. Wrapping up the album, “Song for Solo” feels like an ending to a melancholic story, one that is very personal to Grais. It emanates a sense of mourning for what has been lost, yet incorporates sounds of nature, providing a reminder that life carries on ever still.

With They Were Here, Byron Metcalf manages to create a concept piece using ambient music. Utilizing his creative ways with music, he manages to create a soundscape that brings awareness to mother earth.  This album is available on Amazon and iTunes. For more information, and to experience the music, visit www.byronmetcalf.com.

-Samantha Garcia, BEING


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

COACHELLA Kicks Off SoCal Music Festivals

By Brooklyn Henderson 



This past weekend kicked off festival season at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. As a six-time attendee of the festival I can say this was one of my favorite weekends thus far. I am proud to say that there were many female performers this year and many were my favorites including Beyoncé, SZA, Cardi B, Hayley Kiyoko, Khali Uchis, and Jorja Smith. Other stand out performances from Eminem, Vince Staples, Børns, and Portugal, the Man also made for an incredible weekend. If you can make it to the second weekend of Coachella, I would not miss any of these artists. If you weren’t able to attend Coachella, there is a whole season of great music coming from now into fall, here they are listed below.


Kicking off the list is the world-famous Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival. Famous for its eclectic mix of performers and huge art installations that double as lounge areas. This Festival is 3 days long and has two weekends.  Lineup includes: The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem, Portugal the Man and so many more.  (coachella.com)


Right after Coachella in the very same location is StageCoach, a country music fan's heaven. This is another three-day camp out festival with the biggest stars in country music. Lineup includes: Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line.  (stagecoachfestival.com)


One of the smaller festivals on the list is Desert Hearts, held in Warner Springs. Even though it isn't as well known it is for the dedicated fans of underground electronic music who have established a great community. Lineup includes: Damian Lazarus, Acid Mondays, Egyptian Lover.  (deserthearts.us)


This four-day event in San Diego is described as a boutique music festival and conference. Not only is there poolside live music but also pop up shops and yoga & dance workshops throughout the weekend. It is also one of the only festivals that is 21+. If you're ready for an adult weekend of dancing, art, and culture this is the place for you. Lineup includes: Hyenah, King Britt, Doc Martin. (westcoastweekender.net)


Shakti is a yoga, sacred music, meditation, and personal growth festival. This nonprofit supports charities from all over the world and accepts donations to put on the festival and then support the less fortunate. Lineup includes: Shantaya & The Radiant Soul Band, Larisa Stow, MC Yogi. Bhaktifest starts September 12th, lineup TBA. (shaktifest.bhaktifest.com)


Following the open and free nature vibe of Joshua Tree this festival is focused on the funk, dance, and world music genres. 
Lineup includes: The Desert Rhythm Project, War & Pierce, Adam Freeland.  (joshuatreemusicfestival.com)


This four-day festival might have the most to offer. To prove that point here is a simple list: music, yoga, talks & discussions, cultural offerings, food and wellness classes, live painting, creative workshops, art installations, performance art, dance classes, meditation, soapbox derby, 5k run, sit-down dinners, kid zone, and teen scene for families attending. Lineup includes: Anderson. Paak, Tokimonsta, Modeselektor,
(lightninginabottle.org)  


Some of the biggest indie and rock acts come together with local LA restaurants to get music and food enthusiasts together in the iconic rose bowl. Lineup includes: Neil Young, Jack White, Kamasi Washington, Kings of Leon, Alanis Morissette. (arroyosecoweekend.com)


Two-day festival in the heart of LA, another one of Goldenvoice’s perfect weekends. Rain or shine, all ages and all genres. Lineup includes: Janet Jackson, Florence + The Machine, The X, St. Vincent, Future. (fyffest.com)


Finishes off the summer with a bang. It is sure to be huge and the lineup isn't even out yet! Lineup includes: TBA.  (hardfest.com)

The Energy Playground at Coachella.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW: KISS THE QUIET

            
            Award-winning composer Michael Whalen has graced his audience with his latest work Kiss The Quiet: Meditations on Life and Love. The ten tracks on this album are each a tiny story that, together, tell a larger tale.  Each song is enshrouded in beautiful layers that work in unison to create a pacifying soundscape. With more work to his name than anyone can count, Whalen sets off to create something very personal and reflective of his own being.

Michael Whalen, composer/producer/performer.
            Kiss the Quiet is definitive of the New Age genre while still completely being its own thing. The use of reverb, damp yet bright notes, and perfectly accentuated atmospheric sounds engulf the listener in sonic energy. The heartfelt opening track “Kiss the Quiet” is a lulling composition that sets the peaceful and inviting tone for the rest of the album to follow. Its slow and lilting, but never loses interest. “Heart So Full of Joy” is poignant, yet emboldened by a cheerful piano melody.  “Full Moon Dance” continues upon the spiritually uplifting path; its gentle melody has an air of lullaby to it, leaving the listener in a reflective mood.

            Showing the darker side of his creative spirit, “The Prayer Box” is a departure into something deeper and thought-provoking.  The ambiance is still transcendent but delves further into the more somber corners of the human psyche.  Probably the most melancholy of the album, “My Obsequious Tear” is a blissful balance of beauty and sadness. “Hush the Night” continues with the lugubrious undertones seemingly completing the sentiment that the previous two songs expressed. Whalen’s use of space and hesitation in this track emit a sense of pensiveness for the matter that drives his songs.  Closing the album, “Ever Closer, Ever Nearer, Ever Sooner” brings the mood back up to hopeful. This composition serves as mediator signifying that the entirety of life is a delicate dance between the dark and the light.


            Michael Whalen’s incredible diversity and adaptability has earned him enormous success in the music world. It is a pleasure to hear something that is more personal to him. This soul-baring album can be enjoyed by anyone who wishes to be entranced by his masterful melodies. 

This Brooklyn-based, Emmy-winning artist presents some of the more interesting events in his genre, including visual music presentations in intimate settings. For more information on Michael Whalen, his music, and future performances, visit his updated website at www.michaelwhalen.com.

-Samantha Garcia, BEING