Although Rainstick is being sold as a Tomoko release -- Tomoko featuring Nikkos, to be exact -- this is really Nikkos' session. Italian-born flutist Nikkos Bifaro Vincenzo (who only uses his first name professionally) composed, produced, and arranged all of the selections, and he released the album on his on his own label, Nikkos Music. Further, Tomoko's flute is really the focal point; Japanese rainstick player Tomoko (who is his wife) provides rhythmic support for Tomoko's solos. Although Tomoko plays the type of Peruvian rainstick that has often been used in traditional Andean music, most of this instrumental new age/world music CD isn't very South American-sounding -- not until the ninth and final track, "Full Story," does one really hear a strong Andean/South American influence. Before that, Rainstick is more Asian-minded than anything; the first eight selections bring to mind the traditional spiritual music that Buddhist monks play in what used to be called the Orient. Because most of Rainstick has a very calm, tranquil quality, the CD should have no problem appealing to new age audiences -- Rainstick provides the sort of peaceful ambience that new age enthusiasts crave. But if Rainstick is relaxation music, it isn't relaxation music in the way that Yanni, Kitaro, and Suzanne Ciani are relaxation music. One doesn't have to be a hardcore new age fanatic to appreciate the interesting new age/world fusion that Nikkos and Tomoko provide on this release -- in fact, some new age purists might question whether or not Rainstick is really new age (at least if '80s new age is their point of reference). Nonetheless, anyone who appreciates the albums that Tomoko has released under his own name should have no problem getting into Rainstick.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson