Friday, January 4, 2019

Music Review: Healing Music Volume 2

Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Valerie Romanoff has succeeded in delivering the ultimate two-disk relaxation album. Comprised of seventeen tracks, Healing Music Volume 2 is a two-hour serenade rife with delicate textures and brilliant guitar work. Most clocking in over five minutes each, these songs are designed to keep the listener in a peaceful mindset from beginning to end. The free-flowing nature of this music promotes a sense of openness and clarity and promote an uplifted state of mind.

Having studied music since childhood, Romanoff has always been driven to create atmospheres with her extensive knowledge of different instruments and genres. She categorizes her work into a spectrum that she likes to call “STILL, CHILL, THRILL,” all of which she uses to determine what kind of "life" or vibe each track will take on. She describes “STILL” as music for times of reflection and relaxation, while “CHILL” encourages active thought, and “THRILL” ignites energy during energetic peak times.

Staying within the realms of STILL and CHILL, disk one of Healing Music Volume 2 features eight of Romanoff's full-length compositions. “Pink Skies Over Still Water” showcase Stevin McNamara’s beautiful sitar playing as well as Tom Rossi’s ethereal flute. Paired with Romanoff’s guitar work, this trifecta comes together to create a piece with plenty of space, atmosphere and overflowing joy that continues on into “Pink Skies Over Waves.” Further down the list, “Om Shanti Shalom” has more of a groove than most of the other songs do. It is carried by solid percussion and her guitar playing layered on top of some ambient synthesizer work.

Disk two offers nine tracks which are radio edits of the songs on disk one, providing a compact version of the compositions from the previous disk. Concluding the second part of the collection is the bonus track “Prelude Went Beyond.” A celebration of love, it includes Tom Rossi once again on the kora as well as McNamara on sitar. Loaded with layers of strings and a variety of ornamental flourishes, the listener is left with a warm glow of motivation and positivity.

With this second album -- and a variety of notable singles including one with beloved yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch -- Valerie Romanoff emerges as an exciting new voice to follow in the arena of World and New Age music. Her lively social feeds, especially Instagram, offers a daily dose of positivity and good energy.

For more information on Romanoff and a list of her upcoming talks and live performances, visit Healing Music Volume 2 is now available anywhere music is sold or streamed, as well as on her Bandcamp page.
- Samantha Garcia

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Freeze Frame: Remembrance

Photo by Nic Jackson
(Little Visuals / Hand on Heart)

During the holiday break, I was looking for New Years Eve images for social media posts. A search for copyright free images led me to the work of a young twentysomething named Nic Jackson, who released a loosely topical mix of interesting images each week. His work was clean, spare, striking...and as I wondered for the 100th time if my love of minimalism is embedded in my Nordic DNA, I wondered if some of his landscapes had been taken in Norway or Denmark, and so I followed a link to his full site and found this shocker:



Those of you who look at Little Visuals and any new visitors will be aware there have been no further uploads for over a year now. Sadly the young man who created this site died suddenly in Nov 2013. His name is Nic he is 26 and we are his family. Nic is one of far too many young adults who’s death comes under the heading of S.A.D.S ( Sudden Adult Death Syndrome ). We are now fundraising in the hope to provide a number of schools or sports areas with portable defibrillators in Nic’s memory. With this in mind we would like to ask if any of you that view his site and download the images would consider a small donation towards the Hand on Heart Charity. We hope to update this site in the near future with previously unpublished photos. 
With thanks, Nic’s family
Nic was bright, passionate and generous with his talent for could such a visionary young person be gone? I stared at the screen and the term S.A.D.S.  Sad memories flooded over me and tears welled as I remembered Jamie Hall, my beautiful friend who had also died of S.A.D.S in his sleep during his junior year of high school. Jamie seemed a man among boys back then...handsome, extraordinarily kind and very talented in sports. I've thought about him often over the years, and it is his example that I think of when teaching my son that it's so much cooler to be kind.  I lost touch with his family after moving away, but I was glad to see that his memory is still honored annually at our high school: 
The Jamie Hall Memorial Awards are presented to a junior boy and girl athlete at the (Governor Mifflin Senior High School) All-Sports Banquet. The awards are presented by Jamie’s parents in memory of their son. The awards are given to a junior boy and girl who have earned the highest number of varsity letters in their sophomore and junior years.
S.A.D.S is well named. Both of these young men were beloved by their families and had a zest for life. We are still bewildered by the mysterious killer teens, it really wasn't a diagnosis that helped us to understand why our friend had been taken from us, and as the parent of a teen now, it is terrifying that it remains a possibility today. 
In answer to their loss, Nic's family has established a U.K.-based charity called Hand on Heart, which supplies portable defibrillators to schools and sports establishments in the event that they are needed to save another young person from S.A.D.S (donations welcome).  
Here in the U.S., there is a slightly different acronym for S.A.D.S, which can be found at, a supportive site for families and friends who have lost loved ones, and for the many who have survived thanks to growing awareness and advocacy. 
As we ring in a new year, I'm realizing that while time moves on for all of us, it freezeframes the memories of our beautiful young friends and family who left us too soon. Thank you Nic and Jamie, for making a difference in our lives....and know that I am #grateful for your time among us, and for your gifts, which continue to give. 
I will be showing more of Nic's photography (and his story) in my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout 2019. Whenever you recognize his work, I hope you will leave a 💗 & ✋ in tribute.
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