2021 / Raphael Groten
Review by Kathy Parsons
From the stunning cover artwork by Ryan Dupont to the fourteen diverse "world medicine groove" tracks, Raphael Groten's Potential is a gently hypnotic musical experience dedicated "to the healing of all life." Performing on a fascinating group of instruments from all over the world as well as singing on several of the tracks, Raphael has created a dreamy respite we can lose ourselves in and emerge refreshed.
Raphael Groten's first two albums, Journey Home (2015) and Star Lullaby (2019) were guitar-based and produced with Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont, Raphael's home state. Potential is Groten's first album where he composed, performed, produced and engineered the entire project himself, even recording some of the music in a forest. Defying genres and categories, Raphael calls this new form of music "world medicine groove" and includes nature sounds as well as flutes, percussion, guitars, sound healing instruments, and stringed instruments from around the world. His musical styles span the globe and range from classical and sacred music to the roots of the Americas and sounds of the East. The variety of musical styles and the originality of the music itself take us on a virtual tour of the artist's heart and soul.
Potential begins with "Wander," a piece that includes bird songs, a gentle brook (actually a bowl of water Raphael "played" with his hands!), minimal guitar and lots of open space to get pleasantly lost in while "wandering" at a relaxed pace and drinking in the beauty all around us. The title track is livelier and more joyful with Asian musical influences blended with pan and bamboo flutes and more - fascinating and very uplifting! "Great Spirit" is a favorite. Taught to Raphael as an invocation, the song includes a variety of hand percussion and plucked stringed instruments that support the layered vocals. Glass slide on an acoustic steel string guitar gives the song a distinctly American sound. "Care" is a beautifully haunting piece for bamboo flutes, hand pan, and light percussion. I really like this one, too! "River's Edge" provides a ten-minute mind massage with quietly soothing music and hypnotic lyrics that paint a picture of a blissful kind of peace that only being in nature can provide. "Aft" combines electric guitar and hand pan to create a sound that suggests vast open spaces - perhaps a desert setting. Love it! "Release" is something of a meditation on letting go of things that drag us down and get in the way of reaching our full potential. Vocals, guitar, flute and light percussion weave a magical spell that is both inspiring and encouraging - my favorite piece on the album. "Twin Eagle" brings the album to a very peaceful close with a Native American-style double flute and a traditional three-stringed instrument from Senegal. Slow, open and soothing, it's a great ending to a great album!
Potential is available for streaming and purchases at Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify. Highly recommended!
August 30, 2021