MUSIC REVIEWS by Michael D. Riversong


Music is a powerful tool for healing and environmental enhancement. However, a lot of good things get lost in today's shuffle of hype and overpromotion. Many music reviewers seem dedicated to trying to be funny by viciously slamming as much music as possible. As a practicing musician, performer, and recording artist, I know what goes into the process, and have always felt someone with this knowledge ought to be letting people know what's going on in the music world. Here you will find music of timeless value for your collection. These music reviews are provided for informational and entertainment purposes. Although health conditions may be mentioned, any recommendation along those lines must be confirmed by a legally constituted health professional.

CLICK HERE to read selections from the first series of reviews, from 1988 to 1999.

Please contact the addresses listed with the reviews to order the selections. If you find that something listed here is no longer available, please let me know right away. Also, if you have any other comments, feel free to email me at:

Most of the albums reviewed here fit into the category called "Extended Classical". Some music industry people had created a label called "New Age" for this music, but it never has fit well. A big part of the problem is that people creating Extended Classical music all over the world come from a variety of religious backgrounds. The term "New Age" has been associated with a certain spiritual movement, which is somewhat incompatible with the doctrines of many specific groups. To apply a label to music which was intended for a particular spiritual movement has done a disservice to the artists involved. That's why this new label has come up, since people must have labels for their music.

You won't find negative reviews in this series. If I don't like something, it simply isn't reviewed. If an album is nice, but doesn't seem to particularly do anything for people, it will usually be skipped. You will find things here by both well-known and unknown artists. It is my hope that you will find the albums reviewed here useful additions to your environment.

Highest Praise
This group was found by accident while cruising the site. It was truly amazing to find such a variety of material in one place. Highest Praise has a large catalog of CDs, enough to fit almost any need. Yes, it is all gospel music. Whether or not you are a Christian, explore this site. Some of the music has the old-timey Southern feel that so many associate with the term "Gospel". Then there are vocal albums which could be described as "easy listening". A few instrumental albums are solidly in the Extended Classical style, and give great comfort to any listener. And a few of the albums on this site are unique in the world. They are live worship services where these Georgia-based musicians spontanesously create a whole new form of music, which is some of the most energetic, hopeful, and inspiring stuff you will ever hear. 01/01

The Raga Guide -- a Survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas
Various Artists
Nimbus Records with Rotterdam Conservatory of Music
P.O. Box 7746
Charlottesville, Virginia, 22906
Most visitors to my site will eventually run across the "7 Keys to Health" material. In it, I mention that in India, a full system of over 80,000 possibilities was developed over about 4,000 years. Now, you can research this for yourself, in what I consider an essential volume for every music student. This is a package of a book and 4 CDs. There really are 74 different ragas presented, each one unique, and each one presented in a standardized format which includes printed information and a sample performance. Musical selections are done in a variety of styles, each one ideally suited to the raga being demonstrated. This includes vocals, flute, and other lesser-known instruments from India. Each sample is between 3 and 5 minutes long, which is of course much shorter than a usual performance -- but a fully functional demonstration and pleasant listening as well. Obviously, years of research went into this. If you want to find out what is possible with music in many different modes and formats, each one set up for a special purpose, get this set.
The only small objection I had to this, was that they put the ragas in alphabetical order. I personally would have liked to have had them grouped by time of day and season. But then, that's what tapes and MP3s are for. And in the process of extracting the ragas you want for a particular purpose, you will learn a lot. All of my Advanced Music students in the future are going to be required to obtain this set! 01/01

Deuter and Annette Cantor
Garden of the Gods
New Earth Records
P.O. Box 2368
Boulder, Colorado 80306
Deuter is already one of the most respected Extended Classical musicians on Earth. He was behind a lot of the great "Rajneesh Music" of the mid-80's. While all of his material is good, with this album he has created a truly timeless masterpiece. The vocals by Annette Cantor soar over the basic accompaniment, giving "Garden of the Gods" a unique flavor. After using this album in many situations, it has become evident that it is especially good, as is a lot of Deuter's music, for reducing anger. It also can be used as a background for relaxed work, like what is described in "The Zone". This is truly an album that would be a great benefit to any household.

Marcel Peelen
GEARlust Studios
Marcel calls his material, "Music for the Future". This is an apt description. When you hear his music, you will be transported to a future that few have even attempted to imagine. I'm more familiar with Marcel as a live performer than as a recording artist. But what recordings I have heard from his vast collection, very much reflect the astonishing variety and character of what he does when allowed to cut loose in person. He has an MP3 Station where you can hear his most recent material. 01/01

Shao Rong
Pacific Moon
Blending Chinese and American music is a difficult task. This is due in large part to technical challenges, since Chinese music uses different scales and harmonies which basically don't integrate well with anything from the Euro-American system. Pacific Moon is a record label which has been diligently releasing many works which blend these principles flawlessly. Of all their releases, "Orchid" is one of the most exciting ever in this field. Shao Rong plays an ancient Chinese instrument called Pipa which was, oddly enough, the original basis for the banjo over 150 years ago. On this album, you will find melodies and harmonies that seem familiar, but with an overlay of Chinese characteristics that will make it extremely interesting all the way through. But what is especially noteworthy about this album, is the way that Shao Rong adds an individualism and an intensity that you rarely hear from anyone these days. This is something one would not expect from a Chinese artist, since political considerations tend to go against individualism these days. But when you listen to her music, you will find her personality communicated through everything. The feeling of this work is reminiscent of Ayn Rand's descriptions of her ideal music in "Atlas Shrugged". That's ultimately what Shao Rong communicates -- an idealism based on individual personality and creativity that transcends all politics and musical labels.

Eri Sugai
Pacific Moon
Eri Sugai has attained great success in Japan as a commercial singer. But this album shows she stands far above anyone else in the field, and has amply earned recognition as one of this world's great composers. We listen to this a lot. Influences from all over the world are present, from American synthesizer riffs to Javanese traditional choruses. The wide range of influences makes this an excellent musical education in itself. Even the album notes are delightfully informative.

Golana' AWO
Feather on the Wind
Oginali Productions
4924 Balboa Blvd PMB # 298
Encino, California 91316
When producing gentle music, a balancing act between being melodic and just plain relaxing always takes place. Melodies that are too strong can detract from the gentleness of the music. But when melodies are not strong enough, everything sounds the same -- a problem that is plaguing many Easy Listening and Extended Classical albums released in the past year. Golana has managed to create a perfect melodic balance. This is an album that should be welcome in any home or office. Nothing about the music is distracting, and yet it feels unique as you listen. Another noteworthy achievement in this album, is the perfect blending of Native American flute and orchestral/synthesizer sounds. This is technically difficult, and Golana has managed to work it out beautifully.

For a special article on using music as an anesthetic, click here.

Material in these reviews is copyright by Michael D. Riversong. You may quote from these reviews provided that you always include the author's name and email address with any quotes.

If you have music commercially available that you would like reviewed, feel free to send it to:
Michael Riversong
P.O. Box 1891
Ft. Collins, Colorado 80522

CLICK HERE to read selections from the first series of reviews, from 1988 to 1999.

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