Chill Out Island

From New Age to downtempo electronica to acoustic folk, Chill Out Island surveys the finest in relaxing music.

Archive for Instrumental

David Hansen transcends contemporary classical music on ‘All That I Could Give’

Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: David Hansen

Title: All That I Could Give

Rarely does a contemporary classical or New Age CD arrive in our offices which has vocal parts alongside instrumentals. Of course, that has never been a requirement for quality in the field; it’s just that you don’t see it often. David Hansen is among the exceptions, and what is even more remarkable about his record All That I Could Give is his singing voice. Hansen lays down some tear-jerkingly plaintive vocals on a few tracks on the CD, especially on “Love in Three Days,” wherein he has seemed to find true love, only to see it slip away. It’s the kind of composition that could transcend the classical roots of Hansen’s style and cross over into the adult pop market.

For devotees of jazz fusion and New Age, Hansen has that side of the coin cornered, too, with a couple of striking instrumentals. Percolating synthesizers deliver the goods on “Toleetah” while “Ladder of Being” moves to a steady, irresistible groove. Given Hansen’s eclectic tastes, it’s hard to classify All That I Could Give into a single genre, but then that’s a large part of its appeal, too.

Bryan Rowe’s ‘Songs of the Soul’ paints ‘landscapes of personal memories’

Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Bryan Rowe

Title: Songs of the Soul

This meditative, mood-spanning collection of piano instrumentals from Bryan Rowe opens quietly, but it’s a stillness you won’t forget. If these compositions are supposed to reflect human emotions and personal experiences, then the first cut, “Redeemed,” seems to open with the initial silence of life forming in the womb; it takes a few minutes before the melodies become apparent, as if they are gradually crawling towards the light of existence. When the music increases volume and tempo, it is the equivalent of gazing at the sun as it breaks through the morning haze. Rowe isn’t simply expressing himself with notes here; he is painting landscapes of personal memories.

For the most part, the music elaborates on the song titles; given that none of these pieces have words, that is a pretty remarkable achievement. “Broken Bond” has an overall feeling of sadness and loss; there is almost unbearable melancholy in its tones. “Embraced” is appropriately affectionate while “Dance of Light” seems like an extension of the introductory song, its giddiness suggesting a flower in bloom. “Abandoned” is appropriately stressed, even agitated.

Listening to Songs of the Soul is almost an uncomfortable experience because it is so naked and revealing. It takes courage and talent to produce an album as compellingly honest as this. Treasure it always.

‘Christmas Rose’ is a lovely, unique holiday record


Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Bronn Journey

Title: Christmas Rose

Bronn Journey probably only intended this album to be played during the holidays, but Christmas Rose has something else going for it. It’s a lovely, ear-soothing work, one that can be appreciated at any time of the year. Of course, the notes of “We Three Kings” and “Drummer Boy” are such an indelible part of our lives that we cannot separate them from the season in which they are normally only heard. However, there are performances and unique touches here, such as the Oriental flavors of “Pat-a-Pan” and the world-music undertow of “Drummer Boy,” that’ll make them tasty treats the whole year.

Journey’s rendition of “We Three Kings” is drop-dead gorgeous; sumptuous strings produce layers of silky lushness. Journey doesn’t play as much as weave; there is magic here, a spellbinding network of emotion and atmosphere. “Christmas Time is Here” will probably be best known for its use in the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special. Here, Journey gives it a handsomely fragile and star-sparkling treatment.