Union: Music For Lovers
2017 / Leela Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Michael Stribling’s tenth release, Union: Music For Lovers, creates a warm and soothing musical atmosphere for physical and/or emotional intimacy or simply some quiet time with your special someone (even if that someone is yourself!). The eleven tracks were compiled from six of Stribling’s previous albums, and although it isn’t officially a “best of” collection, it features some of his most beautiful and expressive work to date.
Stribling is an electronic keyboard artist who has been releasing albums on his own Leela Music label since 2006; I’ve reviewed all but the first one. A multi-instrumentalist from the age of seven, Stribling earned his Bachelors in Music degree with an emphasis on percussion performance in 1974. He played drums touring with Johnny Mathis for a time as well as performing in jazz bands, philharmonic orchestras and doing a lot of studio work in various capacities. In 1981, he left the music field and went to graduate school, eventually becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and working in the mental health field for many years. He returned to music in 2005, and the rest, as they say is history! Stribling formed Leela Music (leela means "divine play") to undertake a very simple mission: to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit.
Union: Music For Lovers begins with “New Day Dawning (Part 1),” a piece that suggests the tranquility of a sunrise and the promise of a new day. (This version was not previously released.) Graceful and very relaxed, it sets the mood for the album. “New Love” is more orchestral (electronic) with an ethereal sound the feels much like the magic and wonder of making a profound connection with someone. “Letting Go/ Afterthought” goes a bit darker and more reflective. Almost ambient at the beginning, the piece becomes a piano solo that seems very simple at first, but expresses a complex mix of emotions; the more ambient orchestral sound returns for the closing moments. “Seven Faces of Home” is one of my favorites. A bit more on the smooth jazz side, the leisurely tempo and gentle melody evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. “Longing” has been a favorite for many years. Throughout the piece, a playful little melody dances in and out of the foreground but is always there. The bass drum sounds like a beating heart as strings and other instrumentation create a poignant and hypnotic mood. The liveliest of the eleven tracks, “Longing” is still my favorite. “Veiled Dancers” is exotic, mysterious and very sensuous. “Union” is fifteen minutes of musical heaven, allowing the listener(s) to float on a cloud of serenity - relaxed and worry-free. “Expansion” and “Afterglow” extend the blissful peacefulness for another twelve minutes - ambient and ethereal. “Quiet Conversation” gently caresses the senses with feelings of the closeness of shared moments - possibly talking about nothing or about everything. “At the End of the Day” brings this lovely album to an ambient and very contented close.
What a treat! Michael Stribling hints that this is the first of his themed compilations, so it will be interesting to see what he does next! Union: Music For Lovers is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
October 22, 2017