Sunday, February 24, 2013

CD Review – Chimes of the Spirit, by Acoustic Ocean

On their third album, Acoustic Ocean offer up eleven predominantly instrumental tunes that cement their well-deserved status as one of the preeminent duos recording and performing in the New Age genre today.
Bette Phelan and Peggy Morgan combine their backgrounds as folk singer-songwriters with Celtic influences and the inspiration of their home base of Hawaii, resulting in a unique fusion of world music that could best be described as mystic rustic tropical.
The two are practically a whole self-conducted orchestra unto themselves, with Morgan playing Celtic harp, rhythm guitar, piano, and Tibetan singing bowls and Phelan playing acoustic and electric guitars, fretless bass, pennywhistles, mandolin, wave drum, hammered dulcimer, chimes, and keyboards (synthesizing Uilleann pipes and clarinet). The two also contribute their earnest, heartfelt vocals to some of the songs. They are joined as well by Anne Berliner on flute and Kay Aldrich on cello.
This is another excellent, engaging release by Acoustic Ocean, with a full, rich sound that soothes the soul and puts the mind at ease.
--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, February 17, 2013

CD Review – Believe: A Spiritual Romance, by 2002

Every time I receive a mailer from 2002, I can’t wait to open the package and hear what marvelous, glorious sonic adventure I’ll be taken on. This is the third such time I’ve had the pleasure, and it’s been a charm every time. Unfortunately, due to extenuating circumstances, it took a long while to get to it, but the wait was well worth it.
The Billboard-charting group, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has unleashed yet another masterpiece of sonic bliss. Randy (guitars, bass, percussion) and Pamela (flutes, harp) Copus, both of whom play keyboards and synthesizers, are joined on vocals by their eight-year-old daughter Sarah, who also helped with the arrangements, including composing the melody for “A Dream Creation.”
The instrumentation is thick, dense, and lush, and the female vocals are angelic, resulting in a truly heavenly sound. Randy’s vocals are more grounded, and when he gets into a higher register, he sounds similar to Peter Cetera, giving the songs more of a pop-rock feel.
The production is flawless in its knife-edge quality, really bringing out the vocals and instrumentation and making the album a delight to listen to from beginning to end.
While each and every song is a treasure for the heart, mind, and soul, my favorite track is the New Age rocker “Yeshua,” a grand, propulsive, and vibrant anthem. This one has all the makings of a hit New Age radio single.
The album is yet another winner from these always reliable chart-toppers. Leave it to 2002 to churn out one consistent classic after another.
--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, February 10, 2013

CD Review – Somewhere in a Hidden Memory, by Trine Opsahl

The Norway-born Denmark-based harpist presents 15 original, self-penned tracks that are relaxing, uplifting, and inspiring.
The compositions have a lyrical beauty that envelops the listener in warmth, resulting in a calming, therapeutic effect. This is no surprise as Opsahl has designed this music with this purpose in mind, performing not only in concert halls but in clinics and hospices as well.
Opsahl’s playing also seems to be a natural extension of herself, flowing effortlessly from her mind and her hands. Her tones are equally exceptional, sounding not only like a traditional harp, but at times even like an acoustic guitar, mandolin, or harpsichord.
This album is perfect for those who enjoy the sound of stringed instruments or just need to hear something soothing.
--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, February 3, 2013

CD Review – Light Body, by Peter Kater

Each track on this new release is named after one of the seven chakras. I don’t know anything about that sort of thing, but I do know this: the music on this CD is excellent.
Seven-time Grammy Award nominee, Billboard-charting recording artist, and film and television composer Peter Kater has used his piano and synthesizers to stunning effect, creating lush musical vistas that transport the listener to a paradise of the mind.
Kater’s vision is brought to fruition by Paul McCandless’s oboe, English horn, pennywhistles, and saxophones, and executive producer Trisha Bowden’s enchanting vocals. Kater, McCandless, and Bowden are not rockers by any means, but they make quite the power trio of a different kind.
This is classic New Age music, and one of the finer, more pure entries in that genre.
--Raj Manoharan