myndstream Collection, Volume 1
2021 / myndstream
Review by Kathy Parsons
How would you answer the question: "What does mindfulness sound like?"? That's the question that the myndstream record label posed to twelve "of the world's most forward-thinking, creatively conscious, and chart-topping artists"; myndstream Collection, Volume 1 is the result of their personal musical responses. A relatively new label, myndstream is devoted to elevating mental and physical health through meditation, mindfulness, and movement, and their releases so far have been stellar. One might assume that an album of this kind might be a "who's who" of well-known ambient artists, but the twelve musician/composers featured in the Collection come from a variety of backgrounds, from wellness musicians to top film and television composers to rock icons to electronic performers and producers (with most of these artists wearing more than one musical hat!). Despite the diversity of the artists, the album plays very smoothly and cohesively from start to finish and provides a much-needed respite from the stress and confusion of today's world.
The album begins with "Blue Steel" by four-time Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Daniel Lanois. Combining guitar and pedal steel, Lanois has created an unusual atmospheric piece that seems to shimmer as it gracefully floats on air. Mark Isham has composed some of the most memorable movie soundtracks ever in addition to his very impressive list of recordings, and his "Song of the Firefly Harmonium" blends gentle synth chord changes that seem to melt and wrap around each other as a more percussive rhythmic pattern weaves in and out - a beautiful and very effective study in contrasts. "Realize" by Gustavo Santaolalla is peaceful synth ambience at its best - weightless serenity that feels like floating on a puffy white cloud. Lisa Bella Donna's "Parting of the Ways" utilizes analog synthesizers and reminds me a bit of the ambient wonder of Wendy Carlos' 1972 Sonic Seasonings. "Sierra Dreamscape" is a gorgeous piano solo by Kathryn Bostic. Warm, relaxed and open, it's a favorite. Another beautiful piano solo, "Whispers of Hope," comes from Dream Theater's keyboardist, Jordan Rudess. Elegant and soothing with just a touch of magic, I really like this one, too! Rick Wakeman's Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973) still stands as one of my all-time favorite rock albums, and it's always a treat to hear new music from him. His "Sunflower Ghost" blends piano, synths, wordless vocals and chimes to create his atmospheric yet heartfelt contribution to the album - both thumbs for this one! Another stunning piece is Michael Whalen's "Always Returning," a "love sonnet" composed for his wife. Synth and keyboard sounds swirl together slowly, with grace and deep emotion. "Circles" is a hypnotic piano/keyboard piece by Brazilian jazz keyboardist and film/television composer, Marcelo Zarvos. In this track, he explores a series of quiet repeated patterns, allowing them to evolve slowly and organically - very relaxing and beautiful!
myndstream Collection, Volume 1 is available from Amazon, Apple/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Sure to make your world spin a little more slowly, this is an exceptionally soothing and uplifting album!
September 21, 2021