Various Artists

Journey to the Heart, Vol. 2: Music for Meditation

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Where many new age compilations are good collections of songs with no thematic or structural connection, Journey to the Heart, Vol. 2 is an excellent reminder of how great the genre can be when that sort of thinking is applied. The album starts slow and moody and builds into an excellent crescendo, just to back off and slow things down again. Beginning with exotic numbers from Uma and Kitaro, the first half of the record is a mystical journey where the mood is paced excellently by the sparse compositions featured. The songs build with a well-placed ebb and flow, eventually landing at Mendelssohn's gorgeous "Song Without Words." Creating a slow-burning tension with nothing but a piano and some keyboard accompaniment, it segues perfectly into Luis Perez's guitar-based "Aurora's Dream." As that song begins to chug along with its steady pace and psychedelic melodies, the album's first half begins to make sense, as it all seems to have led to this energetic track. Past that point, offerings from Shinji and Lee Blaske keep the intensity high with their lush electronic flourishes and increased tempos, while slower pieces from Kitaro and Yu-Xiao Guang help the album maintain the meditative peacefulness it shoots for. With just some careful track placement and quality offerings from the participants, Journey to the Heart, Vol. 2 is a beautiful, tender, and peaceful disc that is perfect for reflection and contemplation.

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