Sign of Us is the debut album from Brazilian-based electronic music composer Dlaivison Ribarmares Silva. Introduced to the world of music at a young age, Dlaivison took piano lessons as a child while acquiring a refined taste for classical, new age, progressive rock and electro-pop over the years. Inspired by a theme of “signatures” or “signs” which are said to be universally present among everything, each song title includes a glyph-like symbol next to them, while the album’s liner notes detail brief explanations for each composition and the universal concepts for their inspiration. Comprised of ten tracks spanning just under an hour, Sign of Us was recorded on an array of electronic music equipment and features guest drummer, Arthur Rezende, on one composition. Throughout the album, I’m frequently and pleasantly reminded of both Jean-Michel Jarre and the early 1990’s German “ambient-techno” artist Cosmic Baby, while additionally, the music’s often whimsically classical nuances recall a bit of Danny Elfman.

From the Darker Seasons continues in the signature ethereal-ambient, electric guitar style of music that Jeff Pearce triumphantly re-embraced in 2014 with his album With Evening Above, which was subsequently followed up by his 2016 album Follow the River the Home. The last album in this style that Jeff recorded before taking a hiatus for over a decade was his landmark 2002 release, Bleed, which preceded some lovely albums recorded on Chapman Stick followed by one piano album. As the album’s title and captivating artwork suggest, the eight compositions spanning nearly an hour that make up From the Darker Seasons was inspired by autumn and winter, which Jeff states are his favorite times of the year (and mine too!). As with his previous two ambient guitar recordings, as well as those of his from the 1990’s and early 2000’s (of which this album was similarly created in the image), From the Darker Seasons mostly exudes a nocturnal essence comprised of drifting ambient melodies and enveloping atmospheres, which possess melancholic underpinnings.

Deep Space Blue is the latest album from Jim Ottaway, an electronic music composer based in Gold Coast, Australia. Having released several albums in the ambient, space and electronica genres, Deep Space Blue is a classic ambient-space recording much in the style of Jim’s early 2016 album, Southern Cross, with the two albums being separated by a late 2016 release of dynamic electronic music called Timeless e-Motion. By the time that album was released, I sensed that Jim was well on his way to achieving much greater recognition among the electronic-space music scene and my instincts were proven right; he has since received notable airplay in the U.S. on terrestrial radio programs such as Star’s End, Echoes and Hearts of Space. On Deep Space Blue (which is comprised of six compositions spanning an hour in total), Jim crafts and shapes his illustrious cosmic soundscapes using a plethora of top-notch electronic musical equipment to achieve a highly dimensional and realistic-seeming sonic experience.

Over this past summer, I’d been highly anticipating my first attendance at The Gatherings, a long-running concert series that takes place in Philadelphia, PA. The enchanting event has regularly featured performances by some of the top-notch recording artists in the ambient, electronic and space music scene ever since it debuted in 1992. Graciously hosted at St. Mary’s Hamilton Village (a gorgeous Episcopal Cathedral) on Saturday, October 7th, I was especially looking forward to experiencing the combined visual-audio aesthetics of two of the things which I love most: cathedrals and ambient music!

Coinciding with the 25th year anniversary of the first Gatherings event would be a mesmerizing concert performance by ambient-guitarist Jeff Pearce, which also followed the release of his brand-new album called From the Darker Seasons. Set to take the stage at 9 p.m., another fantastic musician named Greg Moorcroft who records under the pseudonym Eyes Cast Down (and likewise just released a new album called The White Island) opened the evening at 8 p.m. with a spacey set of his own.

Under A Second Moon is the sixth album by multi-instrumentalist Holland Phillips and follow-up to his 2016 album, Circles of Eight. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning forty-six minutes, Holland’s latest album follows the new age / contemporary musical style of his previous releases, drawing heavily upon a distinguishable and well-worn 1980’s synthesized sound. In fact, notable comparisons could be drawn to some of the earliest works by both Yanni and David Arkenstone, as well as to a lesser degree that of Bill Douglas and Richard Souther. Throughout the album Holland plays piano, synthesizer and guitar while Paul Christensen lends saxophone to a couple of pieces. Additionally, subtle programmed beats underscore many of the arrangements.

Playlists for October 2017

Arash Behzadi is a Iranian-Canadian Iranian pianist and composer currently based in Toronto. His many public performances include Panamania at Toronto’s Distillery District, along with having played at venues and festivals in Bali, Dubai and Geneva, New York, he presently experiments with combining live piano and yoga in unique settings that are conducive to a therapeutic environment. On this latest release, titled With Closed Eyes, Arash transitions away from the style of his more Persian folk music, injecting a more contemporary New Age sound into the album’s twelve solo piano compositions.

Seventh Wave is the latest album from guitarist and composer Michelle Qureshi and follow-up to her excellent 2016 release, Scattering Stars. Known for creating uniquely characteristic soundscapes that incorporate an eclectic blend of contemporary and global instrumentation, Michelle further perfects her sound and style on what is arguably her most accomplished work to date. Comprised of thirteen compositions which span a little over sixty-seven minutes, Seventh Wave relies on the sounds of stringed instruments (both plucked and bowed), flutes, didgeridoos, idiophones, membranophones, occasional vocals and synthesized textures. Difficult to pigeon-hole, the album’s overall style could be equally classified as ambient, minimalist or avant-garde.

Metamorphosis is the debut album from Arizona-based duo Nouveau Papillon (French for “new butterfly”). Comprised of eleven tracks spanning sixty-three minutes, the album features Mark Bensette Aux Bois on acoustic guitars, harp and keyboards and Hildi Thelen on Native American-style flutes and percussion. Together, the duo creates a harmonious fusion of new age, ethnic fusion and contemporary instrumental arrangements.

Peter Kater is a remarkably talented and versatile pianist-composer who has released over sixty albums, earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and recorded with other notable musicians such as Native American flutist, R. Carlos Nakai. Coming off the heels of his impeccably gorgeous piano soundscape album, Resonance, Kater’s latest offering, titled Dancing on Water, showcases ten solo piano compositions dedicated to the water element, which are expressively melodic yet fluidly freeform.

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