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the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended
or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information.
Click on the title to view the article.
Speed Limit 35
Rain Fell Within
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Image © 2000
Virgin Records Ltd
(22 January 2001) The second album by Isobel "Izzy" Cooper
is entitled Ascolta (Virgin Records (UK) CDVE 951, 2000). The
artist's debut album Libera Me soared to the top of the classical
charts in early 2000 (review). Izzy's
success led to a label change from Decca to Virgin Venture who are paying
a lot closer attention to the artist. Stylistically similar to Emma
Shapplin, Sarah Brightman, Filippa Giordano and Charlotte Church, the new
album continues to explore the reaches of classical-contemporary crossover
musical territories. The artist's official
website is full of useful
information, an insightful interview, additional photos and
Now 25, Izzy began her love affair with music at
the age of four. It was then that she picked up her first musical
instrument, the recorder, and five years later she had worked through the
entire recorder family and also began learning the piano, clarinet and
flute. But it was her school choirmaster who spotted her vocal potential
at the age of nine, which was to prove a turning point in her musical
career. Under his nurturing hand,Izzy went on to gain a place at a
specialist Arts Educational School, where she studied music, drama and
dance but it was as a singer that she
began to emerge.
Whilst still a student, Izzy was spotted and signed by
Decca Records and found herself recording with the London Symphony
Orchestra and leading producer Craig Leon, who had a track record of
working with both classical and pop artists. Libera Me was
recorded at Abbey Road Studios—a world away from Izzy's day job at
the Virgin Megastore—and was a carefully crafted mixture of classical
compositions and co-written original pieces setting the tone of her
distinct style of rich tones and finels woven harmonies. It reached
the No 1 spot in the classical charts within weeks of release and launched
Izzy into the spotlight. Izzy was nominated at Best Female Artist in
the inaugural Classical BRIT Awards and chosen to present Bryn Terfel
with the Best Male Artist Award.
Again teamed with Craig Leon, the team began working on
Izzy's second album at Abbey Road Studios after pouring over hundreds
of different songs and arrangements before finalising the selection
for Ascolta. The album contains unique renditions of classical arias
by Doizetti, Borodin, Puccini, Dvorak, Bizet, Delibes, Monteverdi
and Sibelius. In addition to the stunning title track, "Signore Ascolta,"
Izzy incorporated her own versions of the Celtic "The Lost Lady Found,"
"Down By The Sally Garden," "Lumi Miei Cari" and "Going Home". We
especially enjoyed Izzy's multi-layered performance of the "Be Still
My Soul" hymn and "Song of our Homeland" sung to the famous Borodin
theme. Ascolta is certainly more richly produced than Libera
Me yet it is mixed with Izzy's vocals way up, the way Musical
Discoveries' readers prefer! Many of the tracks are recorded with
English lyrics as well.
"Recording the second album was a fantastic
experience, Izzy commented. "Not only did I have the support of a vibrant,
less traditional record company in Virgin Venture, but I also had the
confidence in working with Craig to record what I wanted to, regardless
of whether it was conventional or not. It is invigorating to take a song
or aria and be able to interpret it in completely your own way."
Izzy's albums are released in Europe however they remain
imports to the United States. You can find further reviews and order
Ascolta from amazon.co.uk
here. Artwork accompanying the new
compact disc incorporates stunning
photography hich can be sampled at
the artist's website.
Worthy of significant exploration and a trans-Atlantic journey, we
certainly think it is a must listen!
Image © 2000
(13 January 2001) While Musical Discoveries normally
features music with female
vocalists, ELP's Brain Salad Surgery is probably one of the
greatest progressive rock albums ever made. The new DVD Audio
version (Rhino Records (USA) R9 75980, 2000) of the album is nothing
short of spectacular and must not be overlooked.
Three versions of the album exist on the DVD. The first is a
brand new 5.1 surround remix that will play on any DVD player.
The second contains advanced resolution multichannel surround
mixes while the third version is the original stereo mix
presented in 24 bit 96 MHz advanced audio resolution. Since
a DVD Audio player is needed for the latter two versions
we have reviewed the 5.1 surround mix since it is compatible
with all DVD players. The remix was produced by John Kellogg;
it was engineered and mixed by Paul Klingberg using the
original master tapes.
The DVD opens with "Jerusalem" a beautiful reworking of the
traditional hymn in the grand epic style that ELP is known for.
"Toccata," an adaptation of the 4th Movement of Ginastera's
Piano Concerto, features an impressive percussion movement
from Carl Palmer and a stunning arrangement by Keith Emerson.
Alberto Ginastera once said, "Keith Emerson has beautifully
caught the mood of my piece". On this DVD Audio the sound is
so clear that the piano parts actually sound like you're in
the studio with the band. The Next track, "Still ... You Turn Me
On," is a gorgeous Greg Lake ballad that sounds much warmer
and fuller on this release. Lake's vocals and acoustic guitar
are brought up much more in the mix and the results make the
standard CD version pale by comparison. "Benny the Bouncer" is
a cute vaudevillian number and features some fine honkey tonk
piano by Keith.
"Karn Evil 9" is a three-part suite that features lyrical
contributions by Peter Sinfield (of King Crimson heritage).
"1st Impression—Part 1" features some of the best progressive
keyboard work ever recorded. Emerson's use of the Hammond
organ and Moog synthesizer along with Carl's syncopated
drum work and Greg Lake's superb bass, lead guitar and
vocals create such an excitement one can listen to it
again and again and never tire of its sheer musical
"1st Impression—Part 2" is probably the most popular
track by ELP with the classic line "Welcome back my
friends to the show that never ends." This track f
eatures the classic fat Moog synth sound that Keith
Emerson pioneered along with one of the best Hammond
organ solo's ever recorded. This is ELP at their
absolute finest. "2nd Impression" showcases Keith and
Carl in a jazz setting. Excellent brushwork by Carl
along with pristine piano parts by Keith highlight
this section. The piece concludes with "3rd Impression,"
another Sinfield lyrical contribution, which brings the
epic full circle. It paints a vivid picture of battle
with aggressive solos and great synth effects.
"Lucky Man" from the band's self-titled debut album
is included as a bonus track.
player owners will also find four short video tracks
This album is a true masterpiece of Progressive
rock and has something for everyone on it. The lovely 20-page
booklet that accompanies the DVD includes photos and
insightful notes on the "making of" by Jerry McCulley.
You can order Brain Salad Surgery on DVD Audio
The DVD audio remix brings unrivaled clarity to the sound and
you won't believe this album was originally recorded almost 30
years ago. Kudos to the folks at Rhino for going through the
painstaking process of remixing this entire DVD from
the original multi track master tapes. The astonishing
results are certainly worth a transatlantic journey—a must
listen! —Scott Bassin and Russ Elliot
Image © 2000
Photo Pam Springsteen
Image © 2000
(14 January 2001) The first solo EP to emerge from Marina
Belica since the breakup of October Project is entitled Decembergirl
(Decembergirl Records (USA) DCE011, 2000). The first 1000 copies are
individually numbered and inscribed by the artist and include 3D glasses
to get the full effect of the cover artwork. It is a wonderful EP and
raises great interest in a full length album. Of the five tracks,
two are penned by Belica alone, one is cowritten with Dana Pomfret,
one is an October Project cover and the final track is traditional.
Read our full length feature on Marina Belica incorporating an
exclusive Musical Discoveries interview
Marina Belica is perhaps the unsung hero of October Project.
Her keyboard and backing vocals added significant texture to the band's
sound as evidenced in video footage released by the band during their
heyday considered by fans as the holy grail. October Project's albums
are still generally available and regularly receive acclaim worldwide
to this very day. A comprehensive artist biography is available at
Marina's official website.
Marina provides lead and backing vocals as well as some
keyboard and piano parts on the EP and is joined by a variety of guest
artists: Joy Askew (guitar and backing vocals), Bill Debron (drums),
Matt Garrison (bass), Cheryl Ann Futton (harp), Michelle Kinney (cello),
Francois Mouttin (bass) John Peckman (drums) Randy Brecker (trumpet),
Dave Richards (bass), Jim Thomo (tympani) and Chris Cunningham (guitar,
keyboard, computers), Yuri Matveyev (guitar) and Artjon Yakushenko
(violin). Backing vocalists also include Dana Pomfred, Deobra Kewallo.
Emil Adler (keyboards, harmonium), Jim Chapdelaine
(electric guitar), David Sabitano (guitar), Urbano Sanchez
(percussion) and Julie Flanders (backing vocals) guest on a
stunning cover of October Project's "Return To Me". Naturally the
return of several of the band's orignal members contributes to the
faithful reproduction of the song albeit with Marina's sweeter and
more crystalline lead vocal.
Decembergirl opens with an original track entitled
"When You Go" written very much in the October Project style. We were
reminded instantly of "Where You Are" when hearing the song's arrangements
and drum part. Marina's voice is delicate yet powerful and it is wonderful
to hear her singing lead. "The Wheel" is an upbeat coffeehouse-style
track. Layers of harmony vocals contribute add density in the chorus.
Instrumentals are richly arranged but achieve a live sound in the
The bluesy ballad "Come With Me" illustrates the evocative
sensuality of Marina's voice. The trumpet part is especially notable and
carries the instrumental arrangement poised against the cello. A unique
arrangement of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is the final track on the EP.
It is dominated by vocal layers with only a hint of instrumentation until
the bridge where it echoes the theme established by the vocals
building to a dramatic climax. Sensitive vocals, violin and guitar
conclude the piece.
Marina's Decembergirl EP provides a wonderful
introduction to plans for a full length album.
Read our full length feature on Marina Belica incorporating an
exclusive Musical Discoveries interview
The EP is destined to achieve widespread critical acclaim and
worth a cross-country journey, we certainly think it is a must
Image © 2000
(14 January 2001) The latest album by Delerium entitled
Poem (Nettwerk (Canada) 0 67000 30165 2 0) is comprised of eleven
world beat-oriented tracks with vocals contributed by various artists,
including Leigh Nash, the Mediaeval Baebes, Jennifer McLaren, Rami Kamal,
Joanna Stevens, Kirsty Hawkshaw and Matthew Sweet. It is a stunning
collection of widly varying styles with something to suit fans of pop,
alternative, world and new age genres.
Musical Discoveries correspondent K. Don Baer wrote, "Upon
listening to Delerium's new album Poem, I was thrown into a quandary
while trying to identify my reactions to this incredible music. With each
new song, when I was just about ready to settle on a reaction, the music
would take some totally unexpected and unusual twist. I found myself
constantly adjusting my emotional response, to keep up with the music.
Don't misunderstand me, these remarks are not intended to be taken
negatively. On the contrary, I find this album to be truly remarkable
for these very reasons."
Like Don, Musical Discoveries editors were intrigued by the
band's new album. In fact it rarely left our CD player for the first
few weeks of its arrival at our headquarters. "Innocence" featuring
vocals by Leigh Nash, the upbeat "Aria" with the Medieval Babes and
the highly accessible Phil Collins-style "Daylight" with lead vocals
by Matthew Sweet were quickly identified as the album's standout
tracks, each with a unique and mesmerising texture. Production quality
of the entire album, right down to the stunning booklet that accompanies
the compact disc is superb.
Don continued, "I was reminded of a vast and exotic Asian
feast. Having spent nearly six years in the Orient, I was afforded
the opportunity to sample many different delectable dishes, at
numerous feasts. Each serving would be unique and unexpected.
But more than that, each bite would discover some new and unusual
taste, or a hot and tangy spice. The meals were unpredictable, but
when considered on the whole, were more than delicious; they were an
experience unto themselves."
"My reaction to Poem is quite similar in many respects.
The music is unpredictable, with many individual songs changing with
unexpected drama. But the overall organization, the album as a whole,
is indeed a most pleasing, emotional experience. The numerous and
varied artists who contributed to the album provide that savory musical
spice that livens each song. Then Bill Leeb (composer and producer of
the album) somehow manages to weave the entire project together."
"If I had to pick a favorite on this album, it would have to
be "A Poem for Byzantium", co-written and sung by Joanna Stevens.
It is perhaps not the most representative song on the album,
but to my ear, is certainly the most desirable. I obtained the
Limited Edition, which includes a highly recommended bonus
disk as well. It includes four delightful songs, the most exciting
of which features a fantastic remix of "Silence", from Delerium's
previous album, Karma, sung and co-written by Sarah McLachlan."
Don and our editorial staff agreed that all-in-all, Poem
is one of the most unusual and thoroughly enjoyable albums that we have heard recently.
You can read further reviews and order the album from amazon.com
This album should certainly be explored in detail, especially as a recommended introduction to those who have not heard Delerium before, it is worth a long distance journey—a must listen!—K. Donald Baer and Russ Elliot
Image © 2000
Image © 2000
More Mary Fahl
Lenses Of Contact
Gods & Generals [Soundtrack]
The Guys [Soundtrack]
The Other Side Of Time
(14 January 2001) The first "official" solo release by
Mary Fahl since the demise of October Project is a four-track EP entitled
Selections from Lenses of Contact (Roughmix (USA) 6 34457 13502,
2000). Mary fronted October Project for their two albums on Epic
but went her own way when the band was dropped after the initial tour
supporting the band's second album. A live video released by the
band during their heyday-the holy grail amongst October Project
fans-illustrates the singer's unsurpassed stage presence and
ability to capture an audience. October Project's two albums
are still available and continue to attract worldwide acclaim.
Produced by Jeffrey Lesser, the EP was recorded in New York
at RPM Studio. Additional artists include Scott Healy (music direction,
piano), Shawn Pelton (drums), Tony Garnier (bass), Glenn Alexander (guitars),
Glenn Patscha (keyboards, backing vocals), Larry Saltzman (electric guitars).
Lyrics and music are by Mary Fahl in various combinations with others.
While the arrangements are somewhat less lush than October
Project, it is hard not to hear the band's sound with Mary's voice leading
the way. Mary's soaring voice opens the album with "Raging Child" wringing
of emotion. Instrumentals are richly arranged perfectly supporting the
power and range of Mary's vocal part. A slow-moving ballad primarily
accompanied by piano entitled "Paolo" follows. Although the EP is
classified as being a collection of rough mixes, this, like the others
is quite good with vocals mixed way up, right where our editors like them;
and Mary is in fine form.
"Meant to Say" moves along more quickly while light guitar,
keyboard and crisp percussion underscore the lead vocal part. Soaring
vocalise is extremely reminscent of Mary's earlier work and it is easy
to understand why her voice has been compared to a full body red wine
in the delivery. Emotion and sensuality come through with every note
The slow moving and evocative ballad "Redemption" closes
the EP. Like "Raging Child" and "Paolo" this track was performed in her
early solo performances, including The Fez on September 29, 1999. The
arrangements are more polished here and clearly this EP has whet our
appetite further for the full length album.
You'll be able to read further reviews and order the
EP from amazon.com
here. Downloads are available at the Roughmix
Clearly a recording for Mary's fans from prior days and one that will
attract a broader audience, this EP is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and
is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Speed Limit 35
Judilynn Niedercorn (vocals)
(25 January 2001) The first album from Speed Limit 35 is
entitled The Speed of Sound. Available from mp3.com exclusively
as a Digital Audio Music (DAM) CD, the album contains ten tracks that
vary between guitar-laced instrumental onlys and light progressive
numbers with Judilynn Niedercorn's stunning vocal work. Steve Rabeler is
responsible for guitars, bass and drum programming while Mitch Gorman
provides keyboards, guitars, bass, drum programming, synth programming,
The Speed Of Sound is a lovely album of average to
short length tracks that collectively form a progressive rock-oriented
project. Several of the themes could easily be drawn together into a
cohesive epic. We were naturally drawn to the vocal tracks however
the two-person instrumentals present the lushness of a "full band."
Several numbers are extremely reminscent of Renaissance in their
construction especially when amplified by the sweet texture of Judilynn's
voice; excellent examples are "Siren Song" and "Memoria" which like many
of the tracks from the album can be downloaded for free from the band's
website. Instrumentals span from the light acoustic sound of "Binky"
to the driving guitar rock sound of "Throb" and "Phuzz" and experimental
nature of "GuiTarPits." The album concludes with a tremendous progressive
instrumental entitled "HTML."
Hailing from Mt. Laurel, NJ, Speed Limit 35 was formed during
the summer of 1997. Mitch and Steve met at work, and discovered they both
owned and loved Saab automobiles. Steve had not been jamming with anyone
for some time, and out of boredom frequently found himself sitting
in front of his TV, accompanying the music of programs and commercials.
Mitch had decided he needed a new hobby to occupy his time besides Star
Wars computer games. Discussions of cars turned to discussions of
guitars, Steve bought a new four-track mini-disc recorder, Mitch
picked up a new acoustic guitar and a synthesizer, singer-songwriter
Judilynn joined up, and they've been making music history ever since!
Judilynn told us, "I sent a copy of the Persephone's Dream
CD Evening Mirage to Mitch, who I had worked with back in the
early 1990s. Mitch shared it with Steve and we agreed to work together
on some music that Steve had in his pocket and some music that they
had been developing together." She continued, "Steve sent me a tape,
and I began to work crafting lyrics and vocal melodies. I was initially
insecure in my lyric work, having never had free reign to do what
I wanted before. Most bands I worked with in the past were far more
controlling than Steve and Mitch are. I was somewhat hesitant with
my work for the Speed of Sound."
"Our musical influences are very diverse and far
ranging," says Judilynn. "Mitch and Steve both have lots of talent and
excellent musicianship. Our creativity plays off each other well, so
much so that we get so inspired to keep going that its sometimes hard to
finalize a piece. We have begun work on the second CD and I am very
excited by the direction it is taking. It is difficult for us to
work together being in three different states, but we are working on
making the creative process more efficient." We're certainly quite
keen to hear their next album.
Judilynn's voice is truly stunning and her professional
training is evident in the gently soaring textures she produces against
the instrumental backdrop. We were especially impressed with the care
taken in mixing and production to ensure her work is properly featured.
The album opens introducing the full lineup with the "August," a light
rock ballad where Judilynn's vocals have been multi-tracked. Her
soaring vocals shine above the lightest arrangements in "Siren Song"
and the symphonic theme of "Memoria," one of the album's standout tracks.
The rocking 'Americana' textures in "Lean A Little Closer" are completely
different and demonstrate the trio's virtuosity.
The Speed of Sound is a tremendous debut album
from Speed Limit 35. While we would have preferred to have more
tracks with Judilynn's vocal work, it's clear, based on the origins
of the tracks included, why this album did not. Fortunately a followup
is in the works and it's just a matter of time before further tracks
with her contributions will be heard. As illustrated in the richly
produced "HTML," the band are equally impressive instrumentally.
Those visitors interested in Judilynn's vocal work should seek out
the now-deleted Evening Mirage by the Pittsburgh-based
progressive band Persephone's Dream. Speed Limit 35's work can be
sampled at their mp3.com
website. The Speed Of Sound is certainly worth a journey and
is a must listen!
Image © 1999
Narada Productions, Inc.
(14 January 2001)
The third album from Vas is entitled In the Garden of Souls
(Narada (USA) 72438-49188-2-8, 2000). It presents a stark but divine collection
of songs sure to please fans of Lisa Gerrard, Rasa, and Loreena McKennitt. Vas
is comprised of vocalist/musician Azam Ali and multi-instrumentalist, Greg Ellis.
According to the biography at the Vas official
website, Azam met Greg in Los Angeles in the mid-1980's after a concert.
The two felt an instant connection and began working in the studio together.
The Middle-eastern and Asian influences in Azam's eerie, primal vocalizations
are unsurprising given the fact that she was born in Iran and lived for some
time in India before moving to Los Angeles in 1985. As with Adiemus and Lisa
Gerrard, Azam sings in a self-created language that allows her to avoid the
restraints imposed by written language and to fully express the emotions she
wishes to convey. Azam also plays the hammered dulcimer and contributes
to the percussive elements of the album.
Greg Ellis is a trained percussionist who plays a wide variety of
rhythmic instruments (drums, gongs, and bells) as well as keyboards, and
dulcimer. After meeting Azam, Greg realized that his days working as a
session player for various established bands were over. While understanding
that their collaboration would likely produce a sound quite apart from
standard popular music, Greg nevertheless decided to form Vas with Azam.
Typically, Azam creates the melodic vocal line, and Greg builds the
instrumentation around the vocals. Together, Greg and Azam have
developed a sound that is both ancient and refreshingly contemporary.
In the Garden of Souls follows very much in the line of
the band's two previous albums Sunyata and Offerings. The
inclusion of Cameron Stone's cello-playing in many of the songs is a fine
addition. The songs on In the Garden of Souls range from the
adventurous and exotic, such as the opening title track with its
Arabic-styled melody to the fiercely tribal piece "Ceremony of Passage"
to the meditative and chilling sound of "Beyond Despair."
Particularly outstanding are the tracks "Unbecome," which sounds
like a timeless Persian lament accompanied by a grieving cello, and "The
Inward Coil" which crafts an image of urgent travel over endless dunes
You can read further reviews, hear soundbites and order the album
In the Garden of Souls is a perfect example of what can happen
when truly skilled artists pool
musical styles gleaned from their respective indigenous cultures to create a
hybrid sound that is novel and exciting. —Justin Elswick
Image © 2000
(27 January 2000) The debut album from Rain Fell Within is
entitled Believe (Dark Symphonies (USA) Dark 7, 2000) is a five
track collection of atmospheric metal with operatic vocals. Certain to
appeal to fans of Nightwish and Third and The Mortal, their music
encompasses a broad range of stylistic influences including: My Dying
Bride, Paradise Lost and The Gathering. The band's stated influences
also include Theatre of Tragedy, Tiamat, Dead Can Dance and Amorphis.
Musical Discoveries' editors were drawn to the music by the stated
similarity to Nightwish and this is evidenced by lead vocalist Dawn
Smith's operatic vocal contributions. Rain Fell Within, like Nightwish
has effectively integrated stunning operatic vocals with metal-edged
Rain Fell Within is based in Northern Virginia (USA) and
formed in October 1996. After spending 1997 writing material, Rain
Fell Within recorded a 5-song demo which was not released to the public.
Developing upon their symphonic style, in 1998 they released a professional
demo titled "Solemn Days." The demo received excellent responses worldwide.
In late 1998, the beand began writing new, more mature material than
"Solemn Days" and began playing live shows. The lineup finally stabilised
in mid-1999. Today the band includes Dawn Smith (vocals and keys), Charles
Gore (bass), Owen Davis (guitars), Tim Miller (percussion) and Kevin
The Believe album is comprised of four epic length,
progressively influenced, tracks exceeding eight minutes whilst the closing
track runs just under four minutes. The opening number, "A False Reality,"
serves as an excellent introduction to the band and Dawn's soaring operatic
vocal prowess, multitracked extensively throughout to provide supporting
backing vocal textures. The double-bass drum and metal edged guitars
dominate the intrumental arrangements. The intriguing track "Alone"
blends evocative operatic—yet melancholy—vocals with harder-edged
metal instrumentals and lush keyboards. We especially enjoyed the
fast paced instrumental bridge and accompanying vocal in the last
third of the song. Dawn's incredibly powerful voice rings throughout
the track and complimenting both singers, she can be favourably compared
to Tarja Turunen of Nightwish.
While comparisons to Nightwish and The Third and the Mortal
can not be avoided, the title track is clearly the closest allusion to
Nightwish in instrumental performance, hard driving style and Dawn's
stunning lead vocal part. Instrumentals are as lush as they are heavy
while vocals are clearly beautiful and the contrast works quite well for
Rain Fell Within as it does for Nightwish. Dawn's additional backing
vocals add substantial to the overall texture of the track. "Sorrow
Becomes Me" is a slower and somewhat lighter atmostpheric track with
a vast range of lovely vocal excursions. The album concludes with the
vocally lush "The Sun in my Wound" opening with a heavily layered
a capella introduction. This stunning operatic ballad is a lovely
tribute to Dawn Smith's soaring vocal work with the lightest
instrumental arrangement in support.
Although the album's running time is relatively short by
today's standards, the quality of the tracks included on Believe
is outstanding. Rain Fell Within are indeed a very powerful atmospheric
metal band that demonstrate progressive influences in their work. We
found Dawn Smith's vocals stunning in every respect and think that this
album should be explored to listen to her sing if for no other reason.
Interested readers should listen to the tracks at Rain Fell Within's
website. Worth a long distance journey and extensive investigation,
Believe is certainly a must listen!
Image © 2000
(20 January 2001) The self-titled debut album from Mira
(Projekt (USA) 96, 2000) is comprised of 10-vocally rich guitar-based
tracks that can be favourably compared to the sounds of Love Spirals
Downwards, This Ascension and State of Grace. Lead vocalist Regina
Sosinski is backed by Tom Parker (guitar), Alan Donaldson (drums)
and Max Fresen (bass). The band are based in Tallahasse, Florida.
Click on the album cover to visit the band's official website.
Mira's appearance on last year's Projekt compilation,
A Cat-Shaped Hole In My Heart, garnered the most press and fan
attention of any track on the album. That song, "Cayman," also appears
on this debut album. Regina's vocals soar above driving guitars and
light percussion and the band's sound departs somewhat from the goth
orientation that the label is often known for.
Mira's sound typifies the heavenly vocals genre and is
carried by Regina's soaring lead vocals while guitars drift in and out
of moody alternative rock style melodies. While some vocalists with
such sweetness would require multi-tracking to produce power, the
clarity and confidence evidenced in Regina's voice carries melodies
without doing so. The album's ballads are balanced with gently rocking
numbers. The album opens with "Alone," a tender ballad perfectly
constructed to introduce the band's sound and the clarity of Regina's
voice to the eager listener. The band's intensity spans an equally
evocative range with "Real" being one of the album's harder pieces.
"Blister" is one of the album's standout tracks.
Sung primarily as a ballad, the track's chorus moves right along
uptempo with a lovely hook. "Even Now" is similar in its construction
with heavier instrumentation but equally stunning crystalline vocals.
The effective blend of guitar-based instrumentals and voice clearly
explain why the band are garnering such critical attention. The goth
sounding "Something Ventured" is more traditionally Projekt but vocally
more stunning. Regina's vocals are most stunning, soaring and mixed
way up and over the instrumentals, in the album's closing masterwork
"In The End."
The debut album by Mira is a wonderful blend of stunning
heavenly vocal work with richly produced instrumentals. While most of
the tracks are soothing in their construction, the album's contrasting
rock textures contribute to its overall interest and will expand the
label's audience outside those that prefer only the melancholy.
Listen to soundbites, read further reviews and order the album from amazon.com
we were most impressed
with lead vocalist Regina Sosinski's performances
the instrumental work is superb. A stunning debut album certainly worth a journey, it
is a must listen!
Image © 2000
Red Harp Records
(22 January 2000) The latest album from American singer
songwriter and painter Laura Powers is entitled Beyond The Pale -
Legends of the Goddess II (Red Harp Records (USA) 6 87474 01672,
2000). It is the followup to the artist's stunning debut Legends
of the Goddess (Punch Records (USA) PEG 008, 1997). The debut
includes the original version of "Samhain Madrigal" which was covered
by The Vards as the title track of their album A Time Of Change
(review). Powers shares writing
credits on the new album once again with Chris Pelcer as well as
others including John Tirro, Dwight Liles, David Lloyd, Sharon
Cort, Bob Halligan and Dennis Bryon. Further information and
soundbites are available at the artist's
It is easy to understand why Laura Powers is regularly
compared to prominent New Age artists such as Loreena McKennitt and Enya.
Powers' vocals are sweeter and more evocative than either. Celtic
themes are at the heart of Laura Powers' music yet she incorporates
pop, new age and alternative styles within it. Celtic and Irish
instrumentation such as fiddle, mandolin, Irish flute and Uilleann
pipes can be heard throughout both of her albums. The theme of her
current project revolves aroung the Celtic mythology of The Goddess.
The trilogy begins in her first two albums. Here Celtic themes
and mythology are seamlessly woven into the style and grace of Laura
Powers' songwriting and vocal technique. Those that listen to Aeone's
(review) music will find distinct and
purely coincidental stylistic resemblences.
Beyond The Pale is comprised of eleven tracks evocatively
sung over lush Celtic orchestration. Laura Powers voice gently soars
well above the music evoking an overall gentle feeling. Ballads
dominate the album and Powers' vocals are mixed way up, well above
the instrumentation where you can hear every word of the well-enunciated
lyrics. Vocalise adds texture to the instrumentals which effectively
combine modern sounds with the traditional. The title track is certainly
very accessible with its lovely and highly memorable chorus. An album
for female vocal enthusiasts it is full of vocal harmonies and
"This has been a work in progress for some time," says
Powers, who adds that, when she conceived the project, "I was thinking
partially in terms of the kind of music that I'd like to paint to, because
when I paint I'm on a different level of awareness, and I wanted
songs that would help take me—and the listener—to that level."
Tracks are sung in English with the exception of the
lovely "Heart In Winter" which alternates with French lyrics while
blending themes from Pachelbel's Canon. "Goddess of the Sea Mist,"
"Sisters of the Wind" and "In the Arms of the Mily Way" reintroduce
the mythical goddess and allo us to soar alongside them in their
The evocative "Pipes of Inishmore" and "Sailing Home"
conclude the album. The blend of natural sounds, traditional Celtic
instrumentals and Laura's stunning lead vocals works extremely well and
typifies the artist's work. The concluding instrumental passages
of the final track are full of lovely vocalise and themes from the
tracks preceding are effectively joined to produce a musical summary.
She said, "People phave told me that this music
takes them to a special place and creates a mood that is uplifting and
peaceful. Since my intention was to take the listener on a musical
journey to another time and place, it's very satisfying to get that
positive feedback." We completely agree. The album is accompanied
by original artwork and complete lyrics. Laura Powers' Beyond the
Pale—like the debut of the trilogy—is stunning. Worth a journey,
we believe that it is a must listen!
Image © 2000
(13 December 2000)
The second album by Finland's ZetaBoo is entitled MediZine
(Aito Records Ltd (Finland) AICD002, 2000). The group of four musicians was founded in
1994, and their debut album ZetaBoo was released three years later.
However, this follow-up album took four more years to be released, as all
the ZetaBoo members had other projects to be involved in.
The bass player Pekka Lehti and the drummer Marko Timonen have
both been touring and recording with a famous Finnish folk group Värttinä.
One of the group's singers, Riikka Väyrynen, is also known as one of the
Finnish Adiemus Singers that performed in the project's third album
Dances Of Time. Singer-songwriter Anna-Mari Kähärä took part with
Riikka in the world-famous Adiemus project by singing in their concerts
and also on Dances Of Time.
Like the debut album ZetaBoo, the new MediZine
album features a great deal of different musical elements and influences
such as pop, jazz, ethno, even new age. This makes the album very difficult
to categorize. For example,if you listen to piece "$,$,$...", you may feel
instantly jazzy and can hear Brian Setzer-type rock-a-billy mood in the
piece,or you may feel like Elvin Jones would be a drummer in Stray Cats.
As, on the other hand, a piece called "Tonto" has a very smooth mandolin
accompaniment with catchy and thematic dialogue between Anna-Mari's
accordion playing and Mr. Lehti's guitar, polished with deep but
spacious jungle groove by bass and drums.
Some of those who like Adiemus-type music might be surprised
to know that MediZine and its precedessor ZetaBoo both
feature some Adiemus elements! Namely, almost all pieces have been sung
by using meaningless textures, and the group does use all kinds of (more
or less weird) percussion instruments like Adiemus. Who on earth could
believe that even normal kettle lids or brushes could be used on a record
or even live performances like ZetaBoo has done.
I am unable to pick out any particular favourites
from this album. The pieces seem to work excellently both when listening
them from the album and when being in a concert. ZetaBoo arranged
a tour of Finland just some months ago to celebrate the new album release,
and I obtained this album straight after their concert here in Oulu
(Sep 30, 2000). The whole evening was totally enjoyable and I had a
wonderful chat with Anna-Mari and other band members afterwards!
Both the tour and new album feature a saxophonist David
Wilczewski, and he really has impressed me with his high virtuosity on both
live and on record! This wonderful US resident musician has been involved
in various projects of Marvin Gaye, Lisa Nilsson, Roland Vazquez, Herbie
Hancock, Don Cherry and Kenny Wheeler, to name but just a few! Although
Mr. Wilczewski appears only in one of the album's pieces, the whole album
contains very enjoyable music. "Hiisi/Dickens" was born when Mr. Saari
took the drum beat from Mr.Timonen who felt first that the whole piece
was a catastrophe because the drummer's part and it's time signature
were totally different than what other players have.
It is very reasonable to hope that all ZetaBoo albums will
be released worldwide and that the group could span their touring schedules
outside Finland as well, and maybe gain such the huge success that Värttinä
has enjoyed! --Suvi Kaikkonnen