Various Artists

Selected New Music, Vol. 2: Visionaries

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Much of the music on this sampler could be classified as "New Age," but let's not hold that against it. What keeps this album afloat is the different approaches each of the artists bring to each composition. Iasos, a Greek-born pianist and flautist, is represented by two works. "The Fountain of Creation" reminds me of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir while "Spring Temple Forest" is simply ambient. Sky Douglas & John Mazzei collaborate on "Dancing Dawn." This piece features flutes flitting in and out of the picture against a gentle background pulse. It was written especially for this album and is to appear on their "Of Utopia" album. Brian Gingrich checks in with an excellent piece titled "Prayer for Rain". The percussive flute part is very catchy. It actually starts to rock towards the middle. Dan Duggan's effort isn't electronic at all. This is an all hammer-dulcimer version of his "Awakening," made especially for this album. It is very engrossing and relaxing. Richard Shulman is an experienced jazz keyboardist (he's sided for Steve Swallow, Thad Jones, etc.) who's gone Windham Hill on us. His "Harmony" is gentle solo piano. Bill Gregg is an eclectic multi-instrumentalist whose piece, "Asilomar," would be typical New Age were it not for the use of some very interesting synth sounds. Tony Wells closes with an excerpt from his 24-minute "Ceremony," reworked especially for this album. Tibetan Singing Bowls, gongs and other oriental sounds drone magnificently throughout this track. Clear Productions, Inc., 1489 Coddington Rd., Brooktondale, NY, 14817