2009 / Leela Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Michael Stribling’s latest release, The Promise, is a musical exploration of life’s transitions and changes using the medium of electronic instrumentation and a combination of melodic and ambient music. Stribling’s previous releases have been award-winning chart-toppers, and I would expect the same for The Promise. Stribling founded his label, Leela Music, with the mission of helping others “in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit”; he has more than succeeded in his mission. Stribling is an artist who has had a wide range of musical experiences, ranging from being Johnny Mathis’ percussionist to being a disc jockey to composing and recording his own music to creating a new internet radio station (free-new-age-music-and-more.com). Those experiences (and many others) enrich his music and give him a unique and distinctive musical voice.
The Promise begins with “Bright New Day,” a piece that exudes hope and optimism. Rhythmic and upbeat, it’s an inviting start. “Daily Living” sparkles with joy, yet there is a sense of tension and urgency underlying the fun. “When Love Comes Near” becomes much more ambient and “spacey” than the first three tracks. Gentle guitar and floating electronic sounds create a dreamy atmosphere that is relaxed and soothing. The melody in “Late At Night” is slow and peaceful, and the use of only a few instruments gives it a sense of solitude. “Forgotten Dreams” is one of my favorites. More ambient than melodic, it has an ethereal, otherworldly feeling created by oboe, strings, and atmospheric sounds - very serene. “Ascending Through Clouds” becomes the centerpiece of the album at almost 10 1/2 minutes. Before the soul can cross over to the other side, it rises to higher levels as though “Ascending Through Clouds.” Mysterious without being frightening, with feelings of darkness in vast open space, you can almost feel yourself being effortlessly pulled up as you float on a peaceful cloud of sound. The title track is very cinematic and makes me think of a sunrise - quiet, intense, and optimistic. Returning to a more melodic approach, this is another favorite track. I love the simple but expressive melody and the gentle rhythm that brings it to life. My favorite is the closing track, “All In Good Time.” Playful and buoyant, it reminds me just a little of Ray Lynch’s classic “Celestial Soda Pop” - more in spirit than sound. It is quite a contrast to the more ambient pieces, but fits perfectly, ending the journey with a big grin.
The Promise will be a delight to Michael Stribling’s many fans and is a great place to start for those who are not yet familiar with his music. It is available from cdbaby.com and digstation.com. Recommended!
October 7, 2009