Thursday, May 6, 2021

Shunia means "Stillness of Power"

Introducing Shunia: The duo with a global sound!

The pundits say the music of Shunia will transport you, which would certainly fulfill a wish for many in these challenging times. Watching the latest video “Sa Re Sa Sa” shows how right they are!

The duo – Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson – has created two albums of genre-defying new age/global music to date. Their first album, Ascend was produced with the renowned Thomas Barquee. On their new self-titled album, Shunia, they collaborated with Tony Award®-winning producer Jamshied Sharifi, lauded for his work on Snatam Kaur’s GRAMMY®-nominated album, Beloved.

SHUNIA did a soft launch on January 15, but the full album is just now releasing to radio programmers. It features the fusion of classical instruments from different countries, multiple styles of vocals, and the focusing energy of ancient chants, to bring feelings of joy, hope, and awareness to Western culture at a crucial moment in time.

Moroccan artist Hassan Hakmoun joins Shunia on the new album that blends Sanskrit chants, Latin prayer, ancient poertry by Rumi, exquisite vocals (both artists are operatic sensations), and orchestration into a sound that feels both new and timeless.

The duo previewed SHUNIA at last year’s ShaktiFest Reunion November 13-15, which celebrates the devotional paths of yoga, Kirtan (sacred music), and meditation and launched the album on January 15, 2021.  They've since been featured in Eden Magazine, Global Heart, Seek the Joy, LA Yoga, Tones and Drones, and on national radio shows such as Echoes.

Enjoy the uplifting single “Sa Re Sa Sa” featuring Hassan Hakmoun on your favorite platform:

Or, enjoy the high-energy Sa Re Sa Sa video:

About the duo:

Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of “shunia” means stillness, receptivity. Shunia’s members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite. 

Additional videos:



"Breeze at Dawn" 

“Wah Yantee” (from their first album, Ascend)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

MUSIC REVIEW: The Silence of Grace

New Sounds by Music Pioneers Deborah Martin & Jill Haley 

Electronic and acoustic instrumental music of inspirational calm and great beauty. The Silence of Grace combines the electronic music of Deborah Martin with Jill Haley’s oboe and English horn. There’s something very magical about the serenity of nature, and Jill has connected her music with the spirit of the wilderness. Deborah Martin’s passion is to visualize and create music that takes each listener on a journey through time and space. Each track contains the synergy of the woodwinds and electronics, interpreting the peace that can be experienced in natural settings, such as forests, parks and by waterways. 

This flowing and beautiful soundscape is filled with opportunities for adventure. The music I hear on this album represents to me the adoration of the Earth, seeking an  understanding of natural phenomena, and finding commonalities between all living things, things that are best studied as a whole. Seeking to understand how the world and universe around us works. This laboratory is alive. Jill brings the light while Deborah brings the love of mystery, and the combination of these two amazing musicians (stargazers, ambassadors from another time) is magical to behold.

Grace has confidence. Nature sometimes has a way of slowing life down, presenting a complicated system of causes, allowing the inquisitive to discover common patterns. Mother Earth has her own agenda, perhaps seen in the beautiful nighttime and early morning light. "The Silence of Grace" (6:54) is filled with passion, dreams, and magic, recalling spacious skies and mountain majesties, expressing theories of divine natural forms, there is almost nothing to compare to it.

Hues change by time of day and season, wrinkles in the earth’s crust are actually mountains that wear the dawn like "Indian Heaven" (6:52), revealing an immensely intense feeling of a state of love, peace and joy, celestial electronics and deep confident cadences, hand percussion and a quiet reverence for the mysteries of life and death.

Rugged and remote, "Verdant Sanctuary" (5:01) invites the listener to meander further into the wilderness, to discover ancient trees and dramatic cave formations which appear with mirage-like effects. I hear chimes and swirling electronics joined with an oboe to create a tone poem, describing a forest filled with life, a vast roadless wilderness. Hidden seeds contain future forms, which are responsible for the reproduction and growth of succeeding life forms, listen to the tiny DNA ribbons of color. Our sacred earth sometimes begets butterflies!

The wild character of these sound regions is due, in part, to their sheer size. The water continues to flow, solitude is one of the many assets held in the woodlands. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the greenest mountains, and the flora and fauna found in the ground and the water, a gaunt beauty and place of profound quiet. "The Stillness of Forest Bathing" (6:20) is expressed with the sound of cosmic radiation that gives way to the calm glory of solitary interaction with nature, providing the spirits of the land a chance to shine their light directly on you.

Fog lies like a soft white blanket on the indescribable ghostliness, hundreds of miles of pure snow-covered rocks and virgin lakes and high timber. Find yourself in a stunning place, a place buffered from change, and give yourself a reminder that you are a part of this magical world. "Fountains" (6:06) bring tingling droplets of water in motion lifted by complex layers of weaving instruments and air, filled with cascading melodic breezes.

The beauty that surrounds the Earth is both grand and subtle, come to the edge and look outward, explore with your ears a different walking path today, seek out that rugged vista, the river and its tributaries, and the wind calling, feeling as if you have found the very edge of the world, embarking on adventures that no one has before. "Earth Stone Water Sky" (4:06) evokes the beauty of the calm water, the light on the mountains, and mysterious elements containing light, whispers, and time.

The whole valley, as far as the eye can reach, is full of trails of smoke, curling up from its fissured floor. What I hear is a hot pulsing didgeridoo, a primitive dancing engine, joined by hand percussion as the woodwind breezes swirl overhead, electronics flow throughout until they transform into ascending spirits that trickle down as gentle droplets, almost like rain. It seems as if time has dropped away a million years and we are back in a primordial world, in the pouring rain, "From Fire Into Water" (6:36).

Time is a river flowing beyond the reach of the quietus, preserving the wild beauty and deep history that extends over the reach of humans, with perpetual cycles of precipitation, evaporation, run off, and infiltration. Water is like many mobile beings, bodies in motion, rising into the air to peacefully soar on the wind in a frolic. "Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder" (7:32) depicts dark winds gathering power, and then becomes a sparkling celebration of motion, as a delicate harp emerges to join the airborne dance. What I hear gives me an indescribable sense of a mysterious elsewhere, a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and its plume, revealing a cloud-cloaked landscape, hanging pinnacled in midheaven, sometimes you can’t really see it clearly while you are there. The beauty is, in its starkness, something that seems worlds away. Humans and nature have lived together for thousands and thousands of years. Each natural object was carefully placed as if Mother Nature had a specific outcome in mind. A safe place is where someone can feel relaxed and find peace. 

Deborah Martin is known for her mastery of subtlety and the essence of understatement, creating richly textured and highly emotive musical sojourns that always takes the listener on a journey. Some of her recent works include Hemispherica Portalis (a collaboration with Dean De Benedictis); Eye Of The Wizard; Under The Moon; Deep Roots, Hidden Water; Between Worlds (a collaboration with Erik Wøllo); Anno Domini (a collaboration with J. Arif Verner); Tibet (a collaboration with Madhavi Devi); and Ancient Power (a collaboration with Steve Gordon).

Jill Haley is an oboist, English horn player, pianist and composer who visits National Parks in the United States, often as an Artist in Residence, and composes music about the Park while living there. Some of these parks include Montana’s Glacier National Park; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; Badlands National Park, South Dakota; Wrangell/St. Elias National Park, Alaska; Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico; and Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. Her catalog includes The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier, The Winds of Badlands, Zion and Bryce Canyon Soundscapes, Glacier Soundscapes, The Waters of Glacier, Mesa Verde Soundscapes, and National Park Soundscapes

Being outdoors and connecting with Mother Nature is probably as close to heaven as you can possibly get on this Earth. Find the place that you are surrounded by, the place which makes you feel most alive. Treat yourself to a musical nature walk. The views for your ears are spectacular! Experience the surreal musical tranquility of The Silence of Grace. Just sit and take it in with your headphones and observe the beauty.  
1 The Silence of Grace
2 Indian Heaven
3 Verdant Sanctuary
4 The Stillness of Forest Bathing
5 Fountains
6 Earth Stone Water Sky
7 From Fire Into Water
8 Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder



And also on BANDCAMP

Thursday, March 18, 2021

From‌ ‌Bollywood‌ ‌to‌ ‌Hollywood:‌ ‌Beth Hilton's‌ ‌Q&A‌ ‌with‌ ‌Producer, Composer‌ ‌&‌ ‌Engineer ‌Samir‌ ‌Bodhi ‌ ‌ ‌

 ‌(Click to watch the interview on video

Beth: Hi Samir, I know that your new album has been getting a lot of great reviews and many compliments. The subhead is “A musical journey into Awakening” which is really beautiful and the CD is a six panel digipak, which is very nice. It's a very modern design for this kind of music, and I think that is part of what's been resonating with people. 

It has a traditional sound, as well as World Fusion, and incredible musicians, so we’ll get into all of that.  But it also has an ambient warmth as well.  So, it's a very unique mix that you've come up with for your debut as a composer/producer.

Samir:  Thank you, yes.


Beth: Samir Bodhi is your artistic name, you’ve been a resident of Southern California for several decades, and you’re a tenured professor as well. Wow! Your music life includes sharing your talents as a guitarist, composer, producer and recording engineer on a multitude of projects, including and involving legendary Indian musicians such as your wife Madhumita Chatterjee - a renowned Bollywood singer, and of course for your new project Stairway to Nirvana.  So that is quite a vast background.  You go from being a tenured professor to this very creative composer and engineer.

Samir:  Yes,  this has always been a parallel to me. After getting my Ph.D, I became an academic; I love to teach and do my research, and I work with a lot of graduate and doctoral students.  At the same time, I'm married to my wife who is a full-time musician, singer,  performer, teacher, and we do gigs together, we do concerts together.  So I have always been performing on stage, and producing her music. The music has been going along parallel with all my research and my teaching activities.

Beth: So is it a comfortable balance? Does it balance your left brain/right brain in a creative way? And does it bring you relaxation at the same time?

Samir:  Yes, It is a perfect balance for me. And again, my specialization is in computer science. So, ever since music went digital and the two worlds came together, it embraced software, recording, everything is what I'm very comfortable with. The digital music world has been a great change for me. 

Beth: Yes that’s the perfect storm. Everything came together in recent decades?

Samir: Yes, it did.

Beth: You've been in this world for a long time. Did you see it coming and when?  Was it pre-2000?

Samir: The first composition that I had shared on the internet was in 1997.  There used to be a site or a company called   I believe you are familiar? And in the world music category was one of our songs sung by my wife. And on that song was a very famous musician who played the sarod called Aashish Khan.  That song was actually number one in the World Music  category for like 30 days. So that was my first realization that, “ok, things are going digital.”  Of course, I anticipated it, but I didn't expect that the world of CDs would disappear to the extent that it has.  

Beth: Right. I don’t think the mp3 folks did either; one of my friends was an engineer on the team who developed Mp3 tech, and this was not the vision they had for it. They really just wanted a more convenient file sharing system. So, now the digital world is here and you are able to embrace it because of your gifts and knowledge of Computer Sciences, and YET you're also out there playing live, which is so great!

Samir Bodhi in the studio.

Samir:  I love to play live, which hasn't happened for the last nine months as we are all in lockdown mode. I am seeing the growth of digital concerts which is good, but I don't see how it can replace the ambience and feeling of a live concert. 

Beth: Yes, and especially with world percussion, you really feel it. When you're talking about healing music and vibration you can never quite replace that power; there’s no substitute for a live performance.

Samir: Fortunately, all the tracks on Stairway to Nirvana were recorded live in India right before the pandemic happened.  My wife and I were both in India, in both Calcutta and Mumbai, and the musicians came to the studio. So, everything you will hear on that are live instruments. We were very lucky timing wise; I thoroughly anticipated that we would go into lockdown. If we had not finished recording right then, we would have figured out how to use samples and other things. But there are no samples on this, just live recorded tracks. 

Beth:  I guess that's why the word “warm” keeps coming to me to describe the vibe; it’s a very warm sounding album, and yet a little bit edgy. It has a little bit of sexiness for lack of a better word, you know?  It's kind of a little loungy, too sometimes yet very modern.

Samir:  Yes, there are five tracks; some enjoy the lounge music type, some of the tracks are very new age, and some feel quite meditative, especially the ‘Om’ track. We have a variety of different things on this album, I’m happy people are enjoying it right now.

Beth: Is this a message album?

Samir: I think one of the reasons why I did this album, was that in the last several years -- being an immigrant in the US -- I was very disturbed with this rise of anti-immigration and racism. The Black Lives Matter movement is so important, and I kind of felt that this is America, right? America stands for the best, however, we were drifting away and there was no peace or unity.  In the back of my mind I always felt like I wanted to produce and create an album which, when somebody listens to it, they feel inner peace. It can calm people down, it can help them reflect on the goodness of human beings.  So that was my backstory.  

Then when I reached out to some of my fellow musicians in India, actually in a zoom call, this  was in 2019.  I was telling them about all of this.  They were not very aware of the New Age genres. They are very much mainstream commercial musicians in Bollywood, so I was trying to educate them and inform them that this is the type of music that we would start to work on, and I shared some of the famous New Age artists, like Kitaro.  I was kind of bringing them up to date to where the New Age World is right now. And then I said, “that's what they have done, now we have to do our own.”

Friends in the studio, laying down tracks pre-pandemic.

Beth: Very Interesting! And you definitely did your own thing. I like that there are longer tracks on here, too...some that are seven minutes plus.  We have Tranquility, Om, Harmony, Peace, and Nirvana.  So it sounds like -- and I think I've heard you refer to this in other interviews -- this album is about moving through stages of life with the music.  Would you like to expand on that a little bit for us?

Samir:  At the very beginning I had already come up with the names of the tracks. And In my mind I want ‘Tranquility’ to give tranquility and calmness to people.  We need that calmness. And then I went on to ‘Om’ which is a very sacred symbol, a sacred sound which is a chant, and that's when you get into this meditative feeling.  The third track was ‘Harmony’ because I really felt the world needs to come together for harmony. There is so much divisiveness that I was just so bothered by. The fourth track is ‘Peace’ which is a call for unity because we are one humankind under God.  And the last track is ‘Nirvana’ which is basically the enlightenment, confirming that you go through life, through the stages of life and you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And if you look at the album cover, that was the full idea; the stairway through light and the om symbol at the end. That is the idea behind the artwork, done by a friend of mine. 

Beth: I love that.  I would like to point everybody to the fact that the full album is releasing January 15th, 2021. Are you happy with the reviews to date?  They’re quite good!  JW Vibe wrote, “The title and vibe of each track on ‘Stairway to Nirvana’ each reflects one aspect of what Samir and his Ensemble believe the world needs to work through in these troubled times and achieve an enduring sense of nirvana in the here and now.”  I know that other writers like Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews have said things like “this is one of the best albums for this year, and for this time. 

Samir: I’m very grateful for the terrific reception by music writers, yes. I didn’t know what to expect.

Beth: I wanted to ask you a little bit about the phenomenal musicians who are on this album with you, before we say goodbye today. Can you highlight a few performers, and some of their special contributions? 

Samir: Absolutely. First of all, these are all very, very, very close friends. I have either composed and recorded with them in the past, or I have even performed live onstage concerts with them.  So to begin with I’ll mention Sanjoy Das, his nickname Babi, we call him Babi.  He is the arranger and he's just a phenomenal musician in Bollywood. He works with pretty much every music director and composer in Bollywood today. He is the busiest of the busiest musicians, but is like a younger brother and working with Sanjoy has been a delight. I share my concept and vision, and he's up and running, creating different kinds of sounds. So Sanjoy is a guitarist, he played guitar and bass on these tracks.  Rajeeb Chakraborty and I go way back, twenty years. He is a sarod player, he's also an educationist, and a brilliant composer himself.  He and I, and my wife Madhumita Chatterjee did a live concert tour in 2019; we had 20 different concerts in California. I’ve known him for a long time. Suvodeep Mukherjee sang the ‘Om’ song and composed the song with me! He is a fabulous classically-trained singer; he and my wife released an album in 2015, and I have known Suvodeep since then. When he was in the US we also did a live concert with him. 

Samir Bodhi, singer Madhumita Chatterjee and lyricist Rajiv Dutta

Then you have a sarangi player - a very unique Indian instrument - played by Pankaj Mishra. Pankaj and I have perhaps performed together in at least a dozen concerts all over the US. The lyricist is Rajiv Dutta. He wrote lyrics to all the songs that I composed for a Bollywood album for my wife called ”Tum Bin,” with the legend Kumar Sanu, who was the number one Bollywood singer for like 15 years in a row! I have known Rajiv Dutta for a long time, we are quite close.  Subhajyoti Guha, the tabla player, is also a good close friend of mine. He is a very, very brilliant tabla player who is really making waves in India right now. And of course, you know my wife, Madhumita, is the special guest artist. 

Beth: Don’t forget her! 

Samir: Of course, no! She did a brilliant rendition of the ‘Peace” song. Ah, I should also mention that this was the first time that I had an opportunity to work with Biswadeep Chatterjee, who's a mixing engineer in Bollywood. He is probably the biggest name in Bollywood.  He has won 8 International awards, and four times the Oscar's equivalent in India. So he's an absolute gem, and a fantastic sound designer.  

Beth: Wow, you are truly blessed, with all these absolutely amazing people around you.

Samir:  Absolutely. And the mastering was done by John Polito here in LA, so that was another honor,  to work with John.

Beth:  Yes, yes. His studio is just blocks away from where I am right now!

Samir: These are all great, great musicians in their own rights, but it was an absolute pleasure to collaborate with them and work with them on these tracks.

Beth: Well, they delivered. It’s  a very rich, rich album in both sound and in spirit. I'm going to enjoy some downtime just listening to it. I think it's a very good album for immersive meditation.  I don't know if that was your intention, or if it was just for relaxing and enjoying.

Samir: It’s for both, but I definitely would say relaxation and meditation is what I had in mind. I wanted people to feel tranquility and calmness.  Let people relax, and at the same time, they can be very reflective.  Especially with covid and all the things that have happened.  I hope that it gives people a good calming effect.  

Beth: Yes, we have so much time at home, and we need to keep our homes serene and calm  amidst all trials and tribulations of homeschooling and homework. Seeking out the right music is more important than ever. Thank you, too, for your positive intention to bring peace and to get America back on track through your musical contribution. 

Samir:  Thank you. It's a very small contribution on my end. 

Beth: If everyone could do it...we’d be in great shape.  A little something right?  This final question goes directly to that , and I suspect I know the answer, but how would you say music has changed your path?  Can you imagine if you had just stuck to the Computer Sciences and not incorporated your musical interests into your life? 

Samir:  You know that that's a great question and I'll tell you that, in my academic research work and computer science, I actually have written a book on something called the signs of design.  And design, in my case, it is technology design that I do to solve problems of society. There is a certain level of thinking that I have developed over the years on doing design science research.  And, now I can tell you that the same thinking has manifested into my music. Essentially, in my technology world I am dealing with health care problems, or energy problems, and I'm designing information and communication technology solutions to solve those problems.  Now when I come to my music, I am seeing problems around me and I'm still doing the same thinking, such as “How do I design a track? How do I build something that can solve that particular problem?” But there’s a lot of overlap, and as you said, it is the left brain/right brain kind  of coming together. So without music, I don't think I would flourish as an academic scientist, and without my scientific thinking, I don't think I would do full justice to the music. 

Beth: That’s a great point.  I know that you also have some videos that you've already created that are very interesting so can you tell us your YouTube channel please? 

Samir:  Yes, on YouTube, I am under my full legal name Samir Chatterjee.  

Beth: Well,  thank you so much, Samir, I really appreciate this time with you today. Congratulations to you and the entire team on a gorgeous contribution to new age music.

Samir : Absolutely. It has been a pleasure talking to you Beth. Thank you so much.

Beth: You’re most welcome.

Contact Samir:

YouTube Gallery:

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

BrainVoyager Electronic Music

 (Guest author)

My real name is Jos Verboven but artistically I go by Brainvoyager. I’m a Dutch creator of cosmic and ambient electronic music and I live in the Netherlands. Spelled as ‘Brain Voyager’, this name appeared in 1985 as album title of the 7th album of the German electronic musician Robert Schroeder. This name covers exactly what Brainvoyager’s music stands for. It is music that tries to invoke voyages within the listener’s brain, thus turning him or her into a real brain voyager.

Electronic music has been a big musical passion for me for more than 40 years. However, the first 38 years were spent as a listener. My biggest influences come from Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Robert Schroeder & Steve Roach. Finally, I like trance music as well. So, I’m not unfamiliar with the music of the likes of Armin van Buuren either. In addition, I have put some links to their official websites under ‘Links/Other Artists’ in the main menu so that you can check their websites. As a result, my music is best described as a mixture of contemporary rhythms and hypnotic electronic ambiences, inspired by the model of retro Berlin School.

It would be great seeing Electronic Music of Brainvoyager become an interactive meeting place for electronic music enthusiasts. Therefore, this website doesn’t want to limit itself to a certain style or genre. Both the sections ‘News & Blog’ and ‘Reviews’ should be helpful to achieve this goal since there are lots of things to discover there, such as a history of Electronic Music, a concise overview, highlighting the milestones, from the late 19th century to the present time.

In August 2015 the UK based radio station West Star Radio asked me if I would like to do a weekly radio show. I said “Yes” and we agreed upon me doing a weekly radio show dedicated solely to electronic music of various styles. That’s how radio show “Electronic Fusion” of Brainvoyager was born. The very first episode was broadcast on 18 September 2015. Since October 2016 the German radio station Modul303 broadcasts radio show “Electronic Fusion” every week. Since March 2020 the German radio station Radio Dark Tunnel broadcasts radio show “Electronic Fusion” every week. Since October 2019 the US radio station Krypton Radio broadcasts radio show “Electronic Fusion” every week. Every Sunday a new episode will be broadcast. The show will re-run 12 hours later on the same day. For the most current broadcast schedule of radio show “Electronic Fusion” and for the weekly flyers and playlists of the radio show you can find everything on the BrainVoyager website.

The broadcast times of radio show “Electronic Fusion” are well divided over all days of the week. But in case you don’t like the broadcast schedules, or if you have missed an episode, or if you want to re-listen an episode of “Electronic Fusion”, you are lucky too. You can listen to “Electronic Fusion” on Mixcloud whenever you want and as many times you want.

Here is a link to an experimental review of my album Drifting Memories. Robin James wrote the review disguised as a very short science-fiction story, combining the description of the sound on the album Drifting Memories with a tale about leaving the Earth to find a new planet to start again on.

On the BrainVoyager website, in addition to the sonic linkages, blogs, the written histories and biographies, there are links to interesting radio stations,  a video track gallery, an audio track gallery, picture galleries, a slideshow, a discography, a music webstore, links to other artists, links to other websites, and of course, ways to contact BrainVoyager.

Hence, you are kindly invited to discover how great these voyages can be. For listening to my tracks you may check the galleries under ‘Galleries’ in the main menu. You can listen to and watch my tracks on YouTube while listening on SoundCloud provides a better sound quality.

Welcome to the Deepest Part of the Internet!

TAGS #Abstract #Acid #Ambient #Atmospheric #Berlin School #BrainVoyager #Chillout #Cinematic #Classic #Classic EM #Cosmic #DeepListening #Downtempo #Drone #Dubstep #Dutch #Electronic #Garage #Groove #Holland #IDM #Melodic #Minimal #Newwave #Organic Ambient #Pop #ProgressiveRock #Sequencer #Soundscapes #Soundtrack #Space #Synth-pop #TechHouse #Techno# Trance #Tribal

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Moving Through Life


This is a great time for something brighter and lighter, something that brings some ease to the weary listener, who is seeking feelings of harmony and simple respite from our troubled world. The gifted composer, singer, and pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins has just the thing, a new album titled Moving Through Worlds.  I hear an enchanting and amazing exploration of themes such as land, water, fire, climate change and the vanishing of souls into the wind. The 14 tracks feature mostly solo piano, some are duos with violin or cello, some have a more full range of accompanists. The sound has a way of traversing lots of moods, rich with dynamic energy. In places the sound is delicate and slow, in places the feelings build and gain velocity and then gently recede. 

Fiona Joy Hawkins is a mainstream Composer/Pianist/Vocalist with an international following, whom she greets weekly with pandemic-inspired, live-streamed concerts from her rural home in NSW Australia. The event’s growing popularity may be attributable to a combination of her musical talent, a love for her fans, and her disarming Aussie humour.  A prolific composer, she has always been interested in creating music that evokes images, emotions and tells stories. 

“My wish is to open a few more hearts to the power of music. I believe music is a gift from another world, from ancestors of the past communicating to inspire and give us hope,” Hawkins said, reflecting on the world’s current challenges. “Music is a universal language that connects us without prejudice, it speaks to us all equally, yet is received with great variation. Now more than ever we need the connection to our past to find the pathway to our future.”

As per her usual style, Hawkins defies genre by bringing classical, contemporary piano, ethereal vocals, and lush new age instrumentals together to create a sound that is uniquely her own. This mix of solo and instrumental pieces reflects some of the worlds that she has moved through so elegantly while this powerful music gathered in her soul: granddaughter, nurse, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, friend, lover, painter, pianist, composer...cue the many lives of an artistic woman. 

Jonathan Widran, in a review for JWVibe, wrote “While fusing the old and new on these tracks to help her come to terms with the past and “put her ghosts to bed,” Fiona places a dreamy, easy flowing coda on this era of her life with “All That is Left,” blending piano, violin and flugelhorn to create a final confrontation with these issues – and a sense of hope that she is on her way to healing.”  

Fans watching her weekly Fiona Live Living Room Concerts often comment on her balletic piano performance style, which comes from a childhood spent learning classical piano, dance, and painting. In her music, one can hear the inspiration of Felix Mendelssohn and Frédéric Chopin, and yet her music is likened to modern composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Michael Nyman, Liz Story, and George Winston. Hawkins regularly tours China and the USA, and is also a member of the award-winning contemporary instrumental group, FLOW (Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster, Will Ackerman). 

Hawkins began recording and conceptualizing Moving Through Worlds three years ago, yet she describes it as an album over 44-years in the making. One of the classical-crossover pieces is “For the Roses” which a 12-year-old Hawkins wrote and performed for her Grandmother’s funeral.  The song “Calling County Clare” reaches even further back to her family’s Irish roots, called forth with Irish whistle by Paul Jarman, Hawkins on piano/vocals, and Will Ackerman (guitar/hopi), Tom Eaton (accordion), Jeff Haynes (percussion) and Tony Levin (NS bass). 

County Clare Ireland has a strong history of traditional music, with many seasonal music festivals. One of the legends for the origin of the county name Clare, sometimes also called the Banner County, comes from the settlement of Clare (now Clarecastle), whose name Clár, or plank bridge, is a place for crossing over the River Fergus. The first track on Moving Through Worlds, "Calling County Clare" (5:06) is a haunting bit of a quiet easy dance with piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, bass, Irish flute, and vocals floating ethereally. There is a new video that is based on this song: 

She has been very busy recently giving interviews and generously sharing her time with us between tours and recording, here are three articles that have recently been published:

Best Ever You: Meet Fiona Joy Hawkins

Stories of Inspiring Joy: Fiona Joy Hawkins

Australian Pianist and Composer Fiona Joy Hawkins Explores the Now Through Her Music

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Music From the Expansive Sky: John Gregorius on Spotted Peccary Music


The music of John Gregorius blends a love of both acoustic and ambient electric guitars, resulting in a wonderful sound that is easygoing and engaging, a mixture of acoustic and amplified instrumental music that ranges from refreshingly simple finger style guitar to the emotional resonance of layered textural soundscapes. The sounds that result grow out of life’s mysteries, and through this process continues a search for meaning within a highly dynamic environment that is tightly focused on the volatility and transience of listening. For the tracks on his newest album, Full of Life, Gregorius employs New Standard Tuning, which was developed by Robert Fripp. Five consecutive open-notes of new standard tuning are spaced seven semitones apart on the chromatic circle; the highest interval is only three semitones apart, which places some of the guitar strings under greater tension than standard tuning. Standard sets of guitar strings do not work well with the tuning as the lowest strings are too loose and the highest string may snap under the increased tension. The body of the instrument seems to focus a heightened sonic awareness of what falls within the listener's contextual perception, filling the space with a sound that we appreciate and enjoy, thus prompting a rich and satisfying mode of experiencing the music.

His first album is titled Under the Ice, and was released in 2000, from his studio, Sound Art Recording. In his own words, "From this, I discovered my music created a space for people to live, travel, pray or even sleep with. Under the Ice was followed by Heaven and Earth, which was picked up by Spotted Peccary Music, and that was followed by Still Voice, which features electric and acoustic ambient guitar with piano, cello, upright bass, drums, programming and vocals." Yet, with all of these new instrumental layers and dimensions, there remains a sense of minimalism and mystery. "The music I create is part of a larger spiritual quest. I'm learning that being still and listening is important beyond measure and my hope is that my music will facilitate a deeper and more real experience of what it is to be awake and alive. Ultimately, if one sees a glimpse of the source of beauty and love from the music then I am greatly blessed."

Full of Life has an awakening contemplative spiritual sound that invites mystery and joy to flow together, the listener experiences a series of smooth and polished instrumentals, exploring a deep spiritual space with layers, atmospheres and melodies that feel much like being up in the Sonoran Desert mountains with breezes blowing through the trees, discovering spiritual connections in nature and the spirit of love. John Gregorius invites you to watch the evening light change the distant mountain's rocky slopes and high-desert washes as it flows, creating deep channels of shadows and mirages, "painting" the music. The listener can become awake to the divine presence, which is how music can become prayer.

Full of Life was mastered by Howard Givens, and is available for physical purchase in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats. The CD version of Full of Life arrives in a factory sealed 6-panel gatefold package that includes vibrant artwork, liner notes, a 4 page booklet, and exquisite package design by Daniel Pipitone, incorporating photography by Micayla Gregorius.



1 The Expansive Sky 05:45

2 Unfolding Beauty 05:08

3 Full of Life 05:49

4 Path of Renewal 05:22

5 Blanket of Stars 04:51

6 Winds of Change 05:21

7 Wellspring 04:28

8 Early Reflection 05:01

9 Monsoon Clearing 04:49

10 Painted Vistas 03:19

11 Catalina 04:15

12 Rincon Fading Light 04:00



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