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Album Review: Great Blue
Raphael Groten
Cover image of the album Great Blue by Raphael Groten
Great Blue
Raphael Groten
2022 / Raphael Groten
57 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Great Blue is the fifth album by Raphael Groten and his first recording of channeled flute solos. A multi-instrumentalist and composer who continues to take his music in different directions, all of Raphael's music is rooted in healing intention and created with love. From the stunning cover artwork featuring a great blue heron to the peaceful beauty of the music itself, Great Blue is a masterpiece created with twelve different, mostly Native American-style, flutes. Dedicated to the healing of all life, the eleven tracks are hypnotic, soothing and very deeply expressive. What a gift to this broken world!

I think Raphael explains his approach to the music best:

"After grounding, centering and setting my intention to record healing music, I began with the first flute that called to me, continuing throughout the day, as they took turns speaking through me. Each flute brought forward a unique song, while weaving themes and melodies throughout. None of these songs were pre-conceived, and each flute surprised me with what they had to say. The track order reveals the order in which the flutes were played, staying true to the flow of the recording process."

It is interesting to note that Raphael considered adding nature sounds to the flutes: "Yet as I listened to these songs in the woods or by the river, I recognized that nature was bringing her own voice to each moment. I invite you to bring this music into nature with you and allow the sounds of your environment to sing with the flutes."

Great Blue begins with "Raven Heart," a very contemplative, haunting piece with lots of open space between the notes - a perfect intro to the album. At almost nine minutes, the music takes us on a peaceful journey within ourselves. The "Caduceus" is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around an often winged staff. It is often used as a symbol of medicine. This piece is also very slow and meditative, created on a bamboo transverse flute called "The Mystic." "Sanctuary" was created with a walnut double flute with drone and this piece has the sound of a duet. A sanctuary can be part of a church, but it can also be a place that is safe and protected. The music is very calming and relaxed - a place to breathe deeply and without fear. The title track also features a bamboo transverse flute, this one called "The Zen." Great Blue Herons are my favorite birds to watch, and they are often solitary as well as magnificent. This piece feels very solitary, but at peace. "White Bear" has a different sound and was created on a 3-hole polar bear clay whistle, the only non-wooden or bamboo flute used on the album. "Eagle's Tale" is played on a cedar flute, which has a somewhat lighter, brighter sound than some of the others. "Invocation" is played on a bamboo flute that was hand made by Raphael himself and has a velvety-smooth tone. The album closes with "Quiescence," which is defined as "a state of quietness or inactivity." Created on a long transverse bamboo flute, the peaceful nature of the music leaves the listener feeling relaxed and refreshed - and who couldn't use more of that?

Great Blue is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and many streaming sites, including Spotify. Highly recommended for meditation, relaxation and healing as well as for quiet listening pleasure!
October 10, 2022
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