Todd Mosby – Self-released
Other than the opening track, Open Waters is the most jazz-influenced release from Imaginary Road Studios. A breezy concoction of tunes that elicits the titular nature of everything from a tropical beach to the open ocean, guitarist Mosby, along with a truly stellar cast of accompanying artists, whisks the listener away to a variety of soundscapes which evok assorted visions, all of them water-related. The evocation throughout is one of smooth sailing, sunny skies, gentle breezes, and an all-encompassing feeling of well-being as the smooth melodies waft away the cares and concerns of the listener.
Michael Huygen’s Neuronium – Domo Records
Keyboardist Michael Huygen has been making electronic music for over 40 years (and has released over 40 albums, both with his group, Neuronium, as well as solo and as collaborations with others). Astute fans of the electronic music genre will detect a myriad of similarities between his music and other icons of the genre who got their start at the same time: Vangelis, Larry Fast (Synergy), the late Michael Garrison, and the artists in the Berlin school of EM. Essentialia presents 14 hand-picked tracks by Huygen spanning his amazing career and featuring his many musical facets, from lush orchestral soundscapes to high energy beats and everything in-between. All tracks are re-mastered for this album as well.
Nancy Rumbel, David Michael & Benjy Wertheimer – Purnima Production
You can’t bring together three artists with the talents of Nancy Rumbel, David Michael, and Benjy Wertheimer (assisted by folks like Michael Mandrell and Steve Gorn, among others) and get anything less than musical brilliance, which is what Confluence is, i.e. brilliantly executed world-influenced fusion music that crisscrosses Influences much like the titular reference to the joining together of bodies of water. At turns vibrant, sensual, and pensive, these artists wend their musical magic together as if weaving a fabric of disparate yet complementary colors into a tapestry that yields a beautiful whole. Confluence is a work of consummate artistry.
Sangeeta KaurSangeeta – Kaur Music
It is said of some actors with great voices that they could read the phone book and transfix the listener. The same is true for Sangeeta Kaur, so amazing are her vocal talents. However, it’s not just her singing (whether mantras, wordless, or English lyrics) that elevates Compassion into the stratosphere of vocal recordings. Kaur is joined by some amazingly talented guest artists and all are beautifully supported by the Hungarian Studio Orchestra and Choir. I literally got chills on the first track “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha” owing to the Kaur’s expressive vocals, the orchestra, and the soaring choir’s voices. Compassion is a richly textured listening experience, with a dizzying amount of musical variety, all tied together by one of the best singing voices I have ever heard.
Paul Avgerinos – Round Sky Music
Paul Avgerinos (guitar, bass, keyboards, drum and percussion programming) invited some of the top chant artists in the world (including Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Wah!, and Donna DeLory) to take the genre and spin it into something fresh, new, and exciting. Devotion is a celebration of chant set against a funky, contemporary, and energizing backdrop of chill out melodies and infectious beats of assorted tempos. That may sound like what some other artists have done in the past, but to my ears, Avgerinos has dialed the chill/beat factor up to “10.” These are toe-tapping, finger-snapping tunes which just happen to also be Sanskrit mantras. In short, this album is a blast!
David Wahler – Self-released
David Wahler explores the many moods of love and romanticism on Two Hearts, displaying not just his artistry across an assortment of moods and tempos, but his skill at layering his wonderfully melodic keyboards and piano, meshing them into his own unique vision of classic new age music. Most of the 11 songs are soothing and warm, perfect for relaxation or quiet times with a loved one. Some tracks feature muted, but perceptible chilled beats (which Whaler has come to excel at), e.g. “Paris Rain,” and “Night Sky of Orion-Remix.” “One Fine Day” sparkles with a slightly faster tempo, while “Love Lost” is appropriately somber. David Wahler just keeps getting better with every release.
Into the Blue
Michael Joseph – Michael Joseph Music
Into the Blue is pianist/keyboardist Michael Joseph’s debut instrumental recording and it’s a solid, and solidly entertaining, album, showcasing his composing and performing skills on the release’s 13 songs. Much of the music combines a flowing melodicism with romantic evocations, with Joseph’s piano buoyed by a variety of keyboard orchestrations and sampled instruments. The music also displays the artist’s affinity for neo-classical motifs. Some pieces move the music into dramatic waters, while others paint a more subdued picture. The future appears bright for Joseph as he seems to have a strong grasp on crafting melodic hooks.