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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Ascension CD Cover
Image © 1999 Earthtone Records 

Initially drawn to this release by Miriam Stockley's vocal track "There," Earthtone Records' latest new age compilation Ascension (ETD-7913, 1999) is "a transformational experience, [and] a heavenly carriage to greater self-awareness and attunement." A&R Director Jeff Payne is responsible for the album's concept, sequencing and selections from various Earthtone and other recording artists. Best listened to either with headphones or directly seated between the the speakers to enjoy the intricately producted imaging and stereo phasing, this warm album of primarily synthesizer melodies includes vocal work in several of the tracks. However, unlike many of the albums reviewed on this website, Ascension is first and foremost an instrumental recording and the relatively narrow variety of overall sound works well to deliver a relaxing experience despite the lack of extensive female vocals.

Although the attractively styled liner notes accompanying the album indicate that Miriam's track "There" is from a forthcoming release by Alkaemy (see our review of 1998 Earthtone album The Merlin Mystery), we have been unable to confirm any details about the release.

The album opens with a track by Richard Burmer from 1988 and continues with a 1989 recording by Constance Demby taken from her album Set Free. "First Kiss" by Chris Spheeris and Paul Voudouris from their 1991 album Enchantment follows. Christopher Franke's "Flower Hill Trail" from his 1999 album Epic also released on Earthtone Records and Anael's "One Brief Dream" from their 1997 Light of Refinement album continue to develop the album's relaxing texture.

The 1998 track "Seduced by an Angel" by Ayman and Earthtone Recording artist Mars Laser's "Amy's Lullaby IV" from their album 11:02 precede Cheryl Gunn's "Elysian Fields" from her 1999 Earthtone Album Vanity of Venus. The build up to Miriam's track begins with "The Hiddin Smile of Naiad" by Back To Earth from their album Rivers Of Life, "Reunion" by Richard Burmer and "The Only Answer" by Collette Baron-Reid. These tracks and those that follow Miriam's bracket "There" quite nicely and serve to showcase the most stunning vocal performance of the album.

The album concludes with "Improvisation One" by Michael Rubini from his 1994 album Secret Dream, "Desires of the Heart" by Chris Spheeris from his 1994 album Desires and "In The Cathedral" by Gary Lamb from his 1995 album Angel.

This is a soothing and rich album with a good selection of primarily instrumental tracks by new age artists. The narrow mixture of textures works well to highlight the vocals within the album and the sequencing of the tracks builds effectively to Miriam Stockley's ballad. A good collection, it delivers the goods promised within the title. It is indeed a relaxing listen!

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