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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, 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.

Content
Trippa
Sylvia Tosun
Miriam Stockley
Secret Garden
Synthology
Nolan/Wakeman
Miriam Stockley
Eva Cassidy
Timo Tolkki
Seven Reizh
Taliesin Orchestra
Delerium

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Instrumental Digest
 
Trippa EP Cover
Image © Blue Silver Management 1999

Christina Booth and Rob Reed
Trippa: Rob Reed and Christina Booth
Photo: Dave Daggers
Image © Tigermoth Productions 2007

More Trippa:
Sorry (2007)

 

(13 March 2002) Trippa is an emerging indie rock project fronted by Christina Murphy and Rob Reed. Frequent visitors will recall the duo are two of the principal artists behind Cyan and Magenta (feature) whose album Revolutions was named 2001 Best New Album by Musical Discoveries.

The lineup for Trippa's debut (self-titled) four-track EP (Blue Silver Management (UK) BSMF001, 1999) also includes contributions by Rhiannon Stundon (backing vocals) and Ryan Aston (drums). Best described as 'a contemporary Eurythmics for the new millennium,' Trippa mix their own brand of edgy industrial pop with soaring orchestral arrangements. While the Trippa project led Rob and Christina to form Magenta, listeners may well recognise origins of Trippa's sound in several of Cyan's earlier recordings.

The upbeat rock tune "Where Are You" opens the Trippa EP. Christina's evocatively soaring vocals are supported by lovely harmony layers and rich instrumental arrangements. Lyrics are perfectly complimented by spaceflight-oriented sound effects. In "Falling," vast guitar excursions provide the foundation of the almost-spoken verses and melodic choruses.

Thickly-arranged orchestral-style keyboards are contrasted by a stand-out bass part to compliment Christina's powerful and sensual lead vocal--almost growling at times--in "Drowning." The EP concludes with "Never Gonna Be The Same," a sensitively sung track that combines ballad-style verses with a rocking guitar-laden chorus.

Voted 'Record of the Week' by Virgin Radio when initially released in 1999, the Trippa EP remains generally available from F2 Music (UK). With numerous TV appearances behind them, the band are destined for great things. They have recorded material to fill several albums and are planning their first full-length release for late 2002. Additional photographs and further information on Trippa is available at Rob Reed's rapidly evolving Magenta website.

 
Anthem CD Cover
Image © Sylvia Tosun 2002


Image © Sylvia Tosun 2002
 

(01 April 2002) The latest album from New York's Sylvia Tosun, entitled Anthem (Sylvia Tosun (USA), 2002), is comprised of twelve tracks featuring ten national anthems plus remixes of two featured in a more traditional arrangement. Tosun writes, "We are all different. We are all the same. Countless divisions. One voice. Anthem." A great concept that has been incredibly produced. Sylvia's unique arrangements of these classic pieces are certain to enthrall Musical Discoveries readers. The website makeover includes soundbites, a series of new photos and an updated gig guide.

Sylvia Tosun's critically acclaimed debut album Too Close To The Sun (review and interview) drew broad attention from the music press, female vocalist enthusiasts and October Project / November Project fans. Her latest project features equally stunning vocal work and charts the artist's further development by re-inventing ten of the best-known national anthems. Breaking from traditional arrangements, Anthem's musical and vocal styles range from electronica to world-ethno pop. The countries featured are Great Britain, Canada, Austrailia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, Israel, France and the United States.

On Anthem, Tosun is joined with Hungarian arranger/producer Miklos and New York-producer Harold Stephan and world-class violinist, Allison Cornell. Tosun comments, "The contrast of the folkloric quality of "Hatikvah"'s melody--a 2000 year old piece of music--to the high tech arrangement of the "God Save The Queen" remix suggests that while humanity is as old as the ages it is also as new as its technology and interpretation, allowing limitless possibilities."

Anthem is not merely a collection of national anthems--instead, it is a dramatic production blending contemporary sensibility with some of the world's most well-known themes. Listeners will be delighted with each number from the modern layered vocal, electronic and orchestral violin arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner." Sung in Hebrew and influenced with worldly techno percussion and backing vocals, the Israeli national anthem "Hatikva" explores dramatic excursion's of Sylvia's vocal range. In sharp contrast, a whispy interpretation of "God Save The Queen" with piano accompaniment follows. Crystalline vocal layers add texture in the latter half of the recording.

The upbeat worldly percussive interpretation of the French national anthem is certainly one of the album's standout numbers. We especially enjoyed soaring vocal expression of national loyalty and additional harmony layers in Syliva's delivery. The heavily layered wordless vocalise interpretation of the Russian anthem is perfectly supported by light electronic and string arrangements. The instrumental solo is especially notable.

Sylvia's arrangement of the Canadian national anthem is one of the most traditional on the album with only the percussion and a lovely acoustic guitar solo taking on more of a modern flavour. The arrangement of Germany's national anthem is a swirling dance-oriented electronic mix with the vocals soaring well above. Sylvia's crystalline vocals--in a very Sarah Brightman-like arrangement--dominate the upbeat Italian anthem.

Another certain standout, Australia's anthem is arranged as a gentle ballad with evocative vocal, guitar and piano blending perfectly with additional harmony layers. We especially enjoyed Sylvia's harmonies and the more powerful moments within the vocal performance. Sylvia picks up with the Japanese anthem where she left off with Austrailia's. Arrangements are light and airy perfectly supporting a lovely vocal.

The upbeat and extended dance remixes of the Israel and Great Britain anthems conclude the album in significant contrast but build on a sound introduced earlier in the recording. Clearly this is an imaginative album--whose release has been perfectly timed by sheer coincidence--with memorable melodies and stunning vocal performances by an artist that continues to amaze her listeners. Certain to please a vast range of audiences Anthem is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is a must listen!

 
Second Nature CD Cover
Image © Flavour Of Sound (Japan) 2001

Second Nature USA Image © Narada Records 2003
 

(09 January 2002) I have been following Miriam's career since Adiemus became popular in 1995, and it seems that the wonderful musical experiences will not be ending yet. Miriam's superb voice still warms, relaxes, soothes and gives power on this brand new solo album of her, Second Nature (Flavour Of Sound (Japan) FVCK 80146, 2001).

Already when listening the album for the very first time I was taken by surprise how much Miriam has improved through these years that I have been listening her music. Her new album is very versatile, both compositionally and when taking also other kinds of musical aspects into account.

On Second Nature, there are even more different musical styles that have been mixed together: thanks to her versatility, Miriam can now sing nearly whatever style is wanted. For example, "Ifemeli" has Afro-American (even Latin American) influences, "Butterfly" shows how well Miriam's voice suits jazz singing, while the sweet "A Finnish Summer Night - Finlandia" is a superb ballad-type song and one of my absolute favourites! I think that the African mood is the most recognisable style used, but for a South-African born singer it's a small wonder.

But I think that writing lyrics in many languages instead of using English all the time is nowadays an important thing: by doing this it is one of the most outstanding ways to personalise as a singer-songwriter. Otherwise the singers would be far too similar.

All the pieces are catchy and it's not difficult at all to listen to them. Only the increased usage of electrical instruments and drums may annoy some of the fans who have been used to like the peaceful solo album Miriam. Also, although there are some "Adiemus-like" characteristics in some of the pieces, this doesn't mean that the album is more like Adiemus. Instead, it's 100% Miriam Stockley, mainly Miriam's own style in its purest with only few things in common with Adiemus.

In addition to the new "Finlandia" version--the composer is by the way one of Karl Jenkins's favourites, Mr. Jean Sibelius--there is one song which some of the fans may have heard before, and this is "Massai Rain." Because it was not released in all over the world a while back, I think that it was a good thing to have the track included in Second Nature because there are many fans who haven't had any chances to get the track heard before this.

Now that Miriam has released two recent solo albums, it would be a good time to get her on to stage to perform these wonderful songs throughout the world and therefore make her own music more known, because it deserves to become as world-renowned as her other "project", Adiemus! A music video or two might be a better solution in the meantime, but it's never too late to stop hoping for that there may be some concerts organised in the future. At least we have now two recent first-class albums to be enjoyed: Miriam and this brand new release Second Nature!--Suvi Kaikkonen

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this Miriam Stockley is a must listen!  

Once In A Red Moon CD Cover (USA)
Image © Decca Records 2002 
 

(14 March 2002) The Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden--Fionnuala Sherry and Rolf Lovland--won the annual Eurovision Song Contest with their piece "Nocturne" in 1995. This win provided the foundation of their musical success leading initilally to three studio albums Songs From A Secret Garden, White Stones, and Dawn Of A New Century (review) as well as a recent compilation entitled Dreamcatcher.

The latest studio album is called Once In A Red Moon (Decca Music (USA), 2002). The mood that has been typical for earlier Secret Garden albums has not disappeared nor become less at all, so the new album still provides the fine, soft and melodic music made with both violin and piano solos and orchestral forces. The Irish Anúna choir and the world-renowned Scottish singer Karen Matheson (Capercaillie - Best Of review) have been part of Secret Garden's music lately, and this brand new album makes no exception to that.

However, something new has been added to polish the album: In the very moving track "Duo" a British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber himself is dueting with Fionnuala Sherry, and that, as it is said in the CD cover booklet, makes the particular piece to flourish at its best. This new dimension suits Secret Garden's style very well indeed, so it may have been wonderful to hear Julian play on more than just that track!

Another feature very welcome is the increased amount of vocal pieces, and in this new album there are also some new singers featured. Namely, in some pieces Anúna is joined by a wonderful London Gospel Choir, and, in a piece called "You Raise Me Up", Brian Kennedy and Tracey Campbell-Nation provide a wonderful duet.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Click on the album cover to visit the official Secret Garden website where you'll find photographs, journal entries and additional soundbites. Rolf Lovland has succeeded to weave such a wonderful musical canvas, that it is impossible to pick out any of the tracks as favourites. Therefore, if you like melodic and peaceful "crossover" Celtic-edged music, this album is highly recommended!--Suvi Kaikkonen

 
The Fairest Of Moments CD Cover
Image © Fossil Records 2002 
 

(01 April 2002) The second album by the Canadian progressive ensemble Synthology is entitled The Fairest Of Moments. A studio project of brothers John Alarcon (keyboards, composer) and James Alarcon (Guitars), lead vocals are provided by John's wife Marysa Mardini. Churchill Downes plays bass on the album. The Fairest Of Moments and the band's debut album Between Day And Night (review under construction) are both available from their American label Fossil Records. The band have announced a further album entitled A Requiem for Twilight that will be released in early 2003.

John Alarcon's classical training is evident in the opening sequence of the epic length track "The Falling Sky" through the effective blending of piano and synthesizer keyboard parts. James' guitar riffs add texture as the pace of the symphonic piece picks up and Marysa's vocals join the mix. Likened by some to Tracy Hitchings on the group's former album, Marysa's voice is textured differently with a purity similar to Annie Haslam's but in a lower range; her vocals are also somewhat less theatrical. Backing vocals from the men adds substance in the more powerful moments.

The album's instrumentals ("The Bridge" and "Lost In The Cathedral") blend lush symphonic arrangements, including woodwind and string sounds, swirling keyboard passages and guitar. One will be reminded of the classic 70s progressive rock textures of of Yes, ELP, Renaissance and other bands like Rebekka and Esthetic Pale. Listeners will certainly be reminded of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson in John's keyboard work, especially during the introduction to the progressive masterwork "Through The Doors Of Time."

Marysa's vocals are mixed way up in "Seven Wonders," a ballad-style track with classically progressive overtones especially in the keyboard- and guitar-centred bridge. The upbeat track "Edge Of The World" perfectly balances layers of keyboards and guitars with Marysa's voice. A choral style keyboard in the bridge perfectly compliments a dynamic guitar solo.

The title track is a three part epic that runs more than eighteen minutes with big themes that recur as the piece develops. Sweetly sung vocals are mixed way up in several of the passages, way above the swirling keyboard and guitar arrangements. Instrumental and stylistic similarities to Magenta (Musical Discoveries Best New Album 2001) are evident during several of the passages. The final portion of the track begins with a tremendous guitar solo supported by lush keyboard and percussion arrangements as vocals join the mix and the number brings the album to a tremendous conclusion.

Synthology's latest album will appeal to a broad range of progressive rock audiences. Soundbites and further reviews are available at the band's website and mp3.com webspace. Click on the album cover to pay them a visit now. With the perfect blend of classical allusions, lovely female vocals and enduring instrumental arrangements, The Fairest Of Moments like their debut album is naturally a must listen!

 
Hound Of The Baskervilles CD Cover
Image © Verglas Music 2002 
  (02 April 2002) The follow-up album to Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman's Jabberwocky (review) featuring many of the same artists is entitled The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Verglas (UK) VGCD022, 2002). Based on a Sherlock Holmes story, the album has the same general feel as Jabberwocky and indeed several themes--especially the fast-based keyboard romps--from the former album recur in this latest release.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles perfectly balances progressive instrumentals with theatrically sung parts by both male and female vocalists. Solos by featured artists Tracy Hitchings and Michelle Young are two of the album's standout tracks. One will have to listen carefully to the album to understand the various twists and turns of the story.

Notable instrumental additions in The Hound Of The Baskervilles are provided by Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon [reviews 1, 2 and 3], Ambeon [review]). His guitar work is immediately evident in "Shadows Of Fate" sung by Bob Catley. Paul Allison sings "At Home In The Mire" and is reminscent of parts played by the Jabberwocky in the ensemble's earlier project.

Tracy Hitchings provides a very theatrical delivery of the ballad "Run For Your Life" playing Beryl within the story. Familiar listeners will hear the full range of Tracy's voice and emotions explored in the track. Keyboard- and guitar-based instruments provide an ample foundation for Tracy's work. A gentle ballad entitled "Picture Of A Lady" is sung by Paul Allison accompanied by piano and Ewa Albering's standout flute part.

Jo Greenland's violin introduces and underscores "The Argument," a theatrical piece sung by Bob Catley, Tracy Hitchings and and Paul Allison and reminiscent of other vocal combination pieces written by Clive Nolan. This is contrasted by the rocking number "Seldon"--with its lush keyboard and Lucassen's vast guitar excursions--sung by Ian Moon Gould.

Following a more extensive narration accompanied by a romping instrumental sequence, Michelle Young's character--Laura Lyons--is introduced. A gentle two-verse ballad accompanied by piano and supporting arrangements, Michelle sings the soaring lead and the harmony backing vocals in "By Your Side." Like the number by fellow singer Tracy Hitchings, it is a lovely number.

The track "Waiting" is masterfully performed with Bob Catley, Tracy Hitchings, Ashley Holt and Paul Allision working together to present the lyrical message. Arrangements again perfectly evoke the mood of this part of the story. A final vast keyboard-laced instrumental with stunning percussion entitled "Chasing The Hound" dramatically concludes the story and closes the case.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles is an album that Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman enthusiasts have been waiting to hear for a long time. It has certainly been worth the wait. . Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order The House Of The Baskervilles from amazon.co.uk here. This progressive masterpiece is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is cleary a must listen!

 
Second Nature CD Cover
Image © Flavour Of Sound (Japan) 2001

Second Nature USA Image © Narada Records 2003
 

(updated 29 March 2002) Longtime fans know that with each new release Miriam Stockley tries to give them something special, something they have never heard before. Whether as a solo singer or as a contributor to Adiemus or other projects, Miriam Stockley’s projects are never repetitive or predictable. The new album Second Nature (Flavour Of Sound (Japan) FVCK 80146, 2001) is no exception.

This time Miriam Stockley presents what amounts to a Greatest Hits album, but with all new songs (with one song excepted, but more about that later). This contradiction in terms is explained by the idea that each song on this album reminds the listener of the highlights of Miriam’s earlier work, thus creating a collage of sounds and a great showcase for her talent.

This album is also truly a gift to the fans in another way: many of the songs feature the ethnic style vocals that Miriam can perform like no other and which so many fans favor her for. Consequently, this album has a lighter and more rhythmic feel than it’s predecessor, the album Miriam.

The album starts out with great promise with the song "Umaya." Reminiscent of the song "Amitaya" from the Shabala album, this upbeat song showcases the layers of ethnic vocals so typical of much of Miriam’s work. This is a great dance song and a perfect introduction to this album which has more of an ethnic flavor than Miriam’s previous solo album.

The light-as-a-feather staccato vocals of "Rainsong" remind the listener of "Cantus Inaequalis" from the Adiemus—Songs of Sanctuary album, albeit with a much more complex arrangement. On a gentle rhythm, the vocals drip-drop down like rain drops. The result is an amazingly subtle song, showcasing both great songwriting and pitch-perfect vocals.

The beautiful ballad "A Finnish Summer Night—Finlandia," starts with a sweet harmonized intro before moving into the main song. The lead vocal is out front on this song, and its dream-like quality resembles that of longtime fan favorite "Perfect Day."

The song "One Dream" features Miriam in full diva mode, and the style is reminiscent of "Forever My Heart" from the Miriam album. The millennial message of peace in the song’s lyric perfectly matches the dramatic melody and delivery. This is a song other singers should pick up on.

The ethnic sounds return lightly on "Spring" which starts gently but builds up volume as it proceeds. Reminding the listener of the jazzy style of "Traces" from Rolf Schimmermann’s album Suru, this song is quite subtle in its execution.

A full return to Miriam’s African roots is found on "Sabancaya." Starting with a great ethnic rhythm and vocals, this song contains several surprises along the way in its vocal arrangement. Many of these surprises—the chants, the whispers, and the song’s mix of modern and traditional instrumentation—build on the sounds created for the Praise album, especially in such songs as "Chinatown" and "Brand New Day." The great rhythm of this song makes it perfectly suitable for a dance remix.

"Butterfly" is a simple and happy jazz tune which features Miriam vocalizing lightly and in perfect pitch. This song reminds the listener of Miriam’s many years of being a session singer and adapting her voice fluidly to the demands of the songs she supported.

"Massai Rain" is the track fans are already familiar with, as an earlier version of this song was included on the Elevation compilation. The song has been changed somewhat, with additional percussion and an extension of the trumpet solo, but its basic sound and driving rhythms remain. This now hard to find song was—according to the liner notes for the ElevationCD—intended for Miriam’s first solo album, but its full-on ethnic sound fits much better here.

"Ifemeli" is another successful experiment of ethnic vocals and percussion, using both the shrill ethnic side of Miriam’s voice and its warm soothing side. The drum sounds are quite similar to the ones used by Paul Simon on his Rhythm of the Saints album, but Miriam’s vocals are reminiscent of her work on "Take Me Home" from Rolf Schimmermann’s Jenesaisquoi album.

The closing track "Tula" is a sweet lullaby with a lush vocal performance. The song’s treatment and atmosphere are similar to that of the song "Secret" from the soundtrack of The Clandestine Marriage.

Overall Second Nature is easily Miriam Stockley’s best album yet. It has enough variety to keep the listener interested, it is filled with Miriam’s trademark ethnic style which will please many fans, and Miriam’s voice has never sounded better. This CD deserves a worldwide release.--Paul Van Vliet

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this Miriam Stockley is a must listen!

 
Songbird CD Cover
Image © Blix Street Records 2000 
 

(08 January 2002) Songbird is the portrait of the late Eva Cassidy. It is the language of dreams ... it is the voice of song. Songbird is a testament of this language ... it is a living witness of vocal purity. Each and every song that Cassidy sings is reborn; it is rewritten into the embodiment of Cassidy’s voice. It is her dreams that we hear and it is her voice that writes, it writes into poetry/song-what words cannot say.

As a songwriter I enjoyed a brief glimpse into the beauty of Eva Cassidy’s voice--I was stunned--and it wasn’t until years later (after her death) that I realized, that it was not I, but her voice that wrote the song. Listen to Cassidy’s embrace of "Autumn Leaves" it is a duet with the listener. It is personal passion personified. It is your song that she sings.

Her rendition of "Wade in the Water" is not a rendition but a recreation of Cassidy’s very soul. Again you are part of her--baptized and purified by the cleansing of her voice. It is a powerful song, sung by a powerful woman of grace. Cassidy continues her vocal virtuosity skillfully weaving a new tapestry for each song. Closing with "Over The Rainbow," her final interpretation of dreams.

Eva Cassidy died in 1996. More information on the life and music of the late Eva Cassidy can be found at this website. --Steven Digman

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here.

 
Hymn To Life CD Cover
Image © Nuclear Blast 2002 
 

(01 April 2002) The second album by Timo Tolkki, entitled Hymn To Life (Nuclear Blast (Germany/USA) NB0614, 2002) is comprised of twelve tracks of varying styles grounded on a metal edge. For those that don't know him, Timo Tolkki is the mainman, main songwriter and guitar player of one of the most successful heavy metal bands today. He formed Stratovarius back in 1982 and led them through some real hard years until they became what they are now. In the last couple of years, he wrote a lot of very personal songs, which didn’t fit into the musical and lyrical concept of Stratovarius.

After the band decided to take a break until 2003--they did NOT split up--Timo had the chance to record his personal material as his second solo album. His first album, Classical Variations and Other Themes (1996), was more like the typical "guitar hero" thing where Timo played a lot of melodies from some classical compositions on his guitar together with some of his own instrumentals.

Here’s what Timo says about his new output: "It was recorded in a place called Hästholmen, not a studio, but a house by the sea near Helsinki where I brought my recording gear. I also wrote the songs there. I was there basically from February to June 2001, and then from August to September and then mixed the album at Finnvox studios.

"Anssi Nykänen, a top Finnish session drummer played the drums, Mika Ervaskari (original Stratovarius keyboarder from 85-87) played the keys, Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) sang "Key to the Universe," Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation [feature]) sang "Are You the One?" I sang the rest, played bass, guitar, some keys, recorded, produced and mixed the album."

"Are You The One" is a sensitive ballad perfectly suited to Sharon Den Adel's sweet--yet powerful--voice. Accompanied primarily by keyboard, a guitar solo rounds out the sound in the bridge and adds texture during the chorus to add a characteristic metal sound to the track.

"This album is a trip into my childhood and into my life in general and also into life how I see it. I am writing about painful childhood experiences, about love, about life, about the world, about the universe, about god, religion, wars etc. The songs and lyrics are by far the most personal I have ever written. It was a perfect chance for me to forget all the frames of what a metal band many times tend to have. I didn’t set myself any limits musically or lyrically, and I think I succeeded pretty well. Many times it is very hard to categorize what style of song is playing."

If you want to be part of Timo’s life so far, you now have the chance to. Hymn to Life is, as mentioned above, a very personal and honest album about a man who’s had his experiences in life. If you’re only interested in good music, well, then this album is perfect, as well. It is, without a doubt, an album that can’t be categorized. It’s for people who are very opened minded in a traditional way.

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. This is a very good and thematic album but Sharon Den Adel's stunning vocals on "Are You The One" make for an incredible standout track. Certainly worth a journey, this one is a very nice listen.

 
Strinkadenn CD Cover
Image © Musea Records 2001 
 

(05 May 2002) The debut album from French progressive ensemble Seven Reizh is a ten track (track 10 is the intro track 11) masterpiece entitled Strinkadenn (Musea (France) FGBG 4408.AR, 2001). Composed by Claude Mignon and written by Gérard Le Dortz, the album tells a story, the quest of Enora, a young girl looking for herself through celtic legends and mysteries.

A bevy of guest artists contribute to the project including the Mevel brothers (Kad, Tri-yann), Farid Aït-Siameur and Olivier Carole (Tayfa), le bagad pehars, and the stunning female vocalist, Bleunwenn (Glaz, Tri-yann), whose voice is similar to Annie Haslam. Characterised as somewhere between Pink Floyd--for atmospheres, keyboards, dounds--and Dan ar Bras or Tri-yann, with sometimes a progressive touch a la Marillion, the album is a masterpiece of modern music, wonderfully composed, played and produced. A splendid full colour booklet accompanies the compact disc.

While the label has characterised the album one way, the careful listener will also pull out equal doses of modern Clannad, Capercaillie and Yes with a touch of Iona as well. The pipes blend perfectly with modern electric guitar and keyboards while choirs add lovely texture to the more orchestral pieces. Even utterings of heavy metal can be heard within the tracks. Lyrics are entirely in French but it matters not, as the material could equally be Gaellic.

Bleunwenn's crystalline vocals soar above the instrumentals as she plays Enora, comparible in range to Maire Brennan, Karen Matheson and Annie Haslam in the various parts of the album. Harmony vocal layers add texture in the more instrumentally rich passages. The blend of progressive rock and Celtic-edged material works quite well throughout.

In addition to the standout epic-length opening track "Selaou," listeners will be drawn to the highly memorable keyboard and pipe melodies, lovely vocals and orchestral arrangements within the epic "Hybry'ys." Progressive textures and crisp percussion accent the Celtic traditional melody on the pipes in "Kan Ker'ys."

The upbeat "Tad Ha Mamm" includes a lovely Karen Matheson-style vocal part and blends powerful electric guitar, flute and keyboards with pipes--especially in the powerful closing solo--to be the most memorable number on the album.

The flavour is further developed in "Enora Ha Mael," a gentle Celtic-style ballad that echoes Bleunwenn's lovely vocal part with harmony layers, pipes and keyboards. A final dramatic, atmospheric and orchestral epic entitled "Mall Eo Monet Da Ys"--blending Celtic sounds with progressive rock textures--concludes the album.

Electric and acoustic guitar licks are perfectly punctuated by crisp modern and traditional percussion. The progressive metal edges of "Naer Ar Galloud" include powerful rhythm and lead electric guitar, driving bass and a growling male vocal part that drifts in and out around Bleunwenn's sweetly contrasting lead and an equally lovely acoustic guitar melody.

This album will draw the listener into it from the first play, but repeated experiences are necessary to reveal the innermost beauty of the masterpiece. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order this stunning album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Seven Reizh's Strinkadenn is a must listen!

 
Thread Of Time CD Cover
Image © Compendia Music Group 2002 
 

(05 May 2002) The latest album in the string of Enya covers by The Taliesin Orchestra is entitled Thread Of Time (Compendia Music Group (USA) 3775, 2002) and is appropriately subtitled The Best Of The Music Of Enya. The album is comprised of eleven new age-oriented tracks from across Enya's repertoire that have been effectively re-arranged by Trammell Starks of Dalton, Georgia. Interestingly Starks' early influences included British progressive superstars Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Starks' trademark is creating a diverse fusion of musical elements; he is the founder of the Taliesin Orchestra.

Aside from standard instrumentation like bass, guitar and drums, The Taliesin Orchestra uses a wide range of instruments to round out the orchestra, often featuring up to as many as 18 violins, nine cellists and three contrabassists who play alongside a host of other classical, folk and Celtic instruments.

Vocals are provided by Felicia Sorenson whose accomplishments are far reaching and of unusual depth. She has performed as a soloist and back up singer in a broad spectrum of singing environments. She is known as a very polished, efficient vocalist who's sensitive interpretation and precise, disciplined skills have earned her the position of first call vocalist for many studios and producers in the United States. Her unique interpretation of these Enya classics perfectly compliments the lush instrumental arrangements.

To build on The Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, the album opens swith "The Council of Elrond with Aniron" includes "May It Be" but it goes on to include some of the most well-known numbers from Enya's albums including, "Orinoco Flow," an extremely rich and upbeat arrangement "Only If" and then the pair "Before The Storm" and a unique arrangement of "Storms In Africa," each with a richly arranged vocal treatment. The tribal vocal arrangements and violin solo are outstanding.

The back half of the album includes Felicia's tasty vocal treatments of "Anywhere Is" and a dance-beat oriented version of "Only Time." Subdued numbers include an instrumental arrangement of "The Memory Of Trees" and light vocalise interpretations of "Athair Ar Neamh" and "Evacuee" complete the album.

Thread Of Time builds on The Taliesin Orchestra's earlier and highly successful albums Orinoco Flow and Maiden of Mysteries. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Thread Of Time is a must listen!

 
Odyssey CD Cover
Image © 2002 Nettwerk Productions

More Kristy Thirsk
Interview and Photos
Dead and Gone to Heaven
Shiver
Happily Ever After
Semantic Spaces
Karma
Odyssey
BootLegs
Balligomingo
 

(10 May 2002) The latest release by Delerium, Odyssey (Nettwerk (USA) 0 6700 30240 2 0, 2001), is a two-CD collection of remixes from all three previous albums with eight of them previously unreleased or unavailable in any format. Note that several of the tracks have previously been out of print until being reincarnated here. The two CDs include fifteen tracks in total, yet four have two versions and two of them ("Silence" and "Innocente") have three. Only one remix of the tracks "Euphoria (Firefly)" and "Incantation" is provided.

The remixes are primarily dance oriented and will likely appeal most to lovers of that genre or die-hard Delerium enthusiasts. Those that most enjoy the group's more ambient and ethnic/tribal influences most may not appreciate the difference. Delerium's prior Nettwerk releases include Semantic Spaces (1995), Karma (1997) and Poem (2000) (review).

The first CD has seven extended remixes. The "Silence" remix, which opens the album, features vocal work by Sarah McLachlan. The "Underwater" remix follows with vocals by Rami sounding like the version on Poem. The Key South remix of "Heaven's Earth" which follows includes vocals by the stunning Kristy Thirsk.

Leigh Nash's sensitive vocals grace the Deep Dish remix of "Innocente." Single Gun Theory's Jacqui Hunt sings on the remix of "Euophoria (Firefly)" while Camille Henderson's vocals again appear on the Bleak Desolation mix of "Duende." The first CD concludes with "Flowers Become Screens" again sung by Kristy Thrisk. This first CD is very dance beat oriented and will most appeal to those that enjoy this type of music most.

The second CD has eight tracks and while extended like those on the first, perhaps some are lighter, more orchestral and less thumpy remixes. Kristy Thirsk opens the CD vocally soaring in the Matt Darey remix of "Heaven's Earth." A more subdued mix of "Silence" with vocals provided by Sarah McLachlan comes next and is followed by another Camille Henderson version of "Duende." The 12" mix (edit) version of "Incantation," again with vocals by Kristy Thirsk follows.

We especially enjoyed the MaUVe's Dark Vocal mix of "Underwater" with vocals by Rani and Mr Sam's The Space Between Us remix of "Innocente" and the Michael Woods remix of "Silence" again with Sarah McLachlan. Kristy Thirsk concludes with the Frequency Modulation mix of "Flowers Become Screens" that concludes the second CD. Somewhat ligher than the first CD, the second will most likely have a broader audience appeal.

Odyssey is a value-packed double release certain to appeal to people that like a stronger beat to their music and adore Kristy Thirsk and Sarah McLachlan's vocal work. It may not however phase the others in Delerium's audience. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a journey, the latest release by Delerium, especially in the run up to the Balligomingo album Beneath The Surface, is an especially nice listen!

 
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