Saturday, August 7, 2010

CD Review -- Another Day in Paradise, by Michael Stribling

Michael Stribling’s third CD, Another Day in Paradise, cements the New Age keyboardist’s status as one of the most dynamic composers of our time. The collection of 11 instrumental compositions is an exhilarating musical journey that celebrates the vitality of life and pulsates with a positive, energetic vibe that just makes you feel glad to be alive.

The former Johnny Mathis drummer’s pop sensibilities and knack for rhythm manifest themselves in the form of propulsive percussion, hook-laden grooves, and infectious bass lines. The proceedings start with the mystical tones of the previous album’s final track (“A Further Glimpse Beyond”) before segueing into an epic theme (“Procession of the Avatars”) that, with its solemn melody and march-like percussion, could be a perfect opening theme for the Olympics.

On a couple of songs, Stribling introduces an ethnic flavor into the mix (the Far East flute sounds of “Asian Dawn,” the Middle East-like melody of the intimate “Union,” which features a pop cultural musical reference or two for discerning listeners). The CD also features introspective interludes such as “On a Quiet Afternoon” and “Ocean in the Sky,” a symphony of marine animal sounds against the backdrop of lush synthesizer tones that would make an ideal soundtrack for an IMAX nature/science documentary.

A human element is added through the presence of wordless vocals, for example, ancient tribal chants (“Evolution”) and the laughter of children at play (“Forever Young”). Other inspiring tracks include the reverent “Sacred Land,” the high-spirited “Celebration,” and the buoyant synth-pop of the electronica-tinged “When Angels Dance.”

The album closes on a peaceful note with the aptly titled “At the End of the Day,” which revisits the ethereal siren tones of “New Day Dawning” from Stribling’s first CD but creates a beautiful new melody accented with graceful piano chords. It’s a fitting coda to the bliss and joy that have come before and gives us a chance to take it all in.

Stribling makes music that stirs the soul, and it’s clear from this album that Stribling is in the right place spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. Listening to this CD will put you in the same place as well. Stribling’s music surges with the energy and life force of the universe, and the result is another day in paradise.

--Raj Manoharan

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