Good music writers, curators and broadcasters are becoming a rarity, which is too bad for us, as their insights often encourage us to listen to a new album, or think about an artist in a new way. Those continuing the good fight often face imposing stacks of CD submissions, the challenge of funding and maintaining their own blog or podcast, and general burnout in the face of the temperamental artistes and technical challenges that come with the territory.
Hence, our new periodic effort "We Salute." Launched with these unsung heroes in mind, we will pay tribute and just generally "love on" music writers and podcasters who provide an incredible service to their audience with consistently excellent content.
We begin with the hybrid writer/podcaster John Shanahan, founder of Hypnagogue. He describes himself as a writer and long-time ambient/electronic music lover living as quietly as possible in a small town south of Boston, Massachusetts. We find John particularly worthy of salute thanks to his May "Ladies Night" broadcast built around the premiere New Age and Ambient artists such as Fiona Joy, Ann Licater and Michele de Wilton. Listen to the Hypnogogue podcast here while you read on!
Below, is a sampling of John's honest and in-depth style of reviewing music:
ANN LICATER: Invitation from Within
"Meditative healing music with strong Native American overtones await on the soothing new release from flutist Ann Licater. Her gentle arsenal for this outing includes Native American, alto, silver and Peruvian clay flutes, along with “many sound healing instruments.” She’s joined by several musicians, including Jeff Oster on trumpet, Peter Phippen on bass, and Ivar Lunde on piano, and together they craft a lush New Age ride." Read the full review of Invitation from Within.
RICKY KEJ: Shanti Orchestra
"You want happy? Ricky Kej has happy. On his feel-good New Age offering, Shanti Orchestra, the Bollywood composer and creator of the Kamasutra Lounge series meshes native Indian music with laid-back club beats and far-reaching world-music influences. The intent is to massage your soul into a state of bliss–which, if your tastes run to very light New Age, it probably will." Read the full review of Shanti Orchestra.
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: 600 Years in a Moment
In presenting an “exploration into time and history” to her listeners, Fiona Joy Hawkins employs a broad, global array of instruments and an all-star roster of contemporary instrumental talent. Will Ackerman (who also produced the disc), Philip Aaberg, Eugue Friesen, Todd Boston, Tony Levin, Charlie Bisharat and others accompany Hawkins, who steers the voyage from behind a handcrafted Australian piano. Celtic influences weave through most of the work, but all the world flavors come through clearly, courtesy of flutes, whistles, strings, didgeridoo, a shaman’s dream’s worth of percussion, woodwinds, and guitars from just about every point on the planet. These 12 tracks are washed through with equal parts melancholy and romance; they are vivid, heartfelt songs full of imagery and emotion." Read the full review of 600 Years in a Moment.
If you're hoping to discover new music, then put Hypnagogue.net on your radar. John's reviews cover a broad spectrum of music, from drifting ambient and quiet electro-acoustic to sound experiments and beat-driven grooves, as he says, "Because music is music."