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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. 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 vocaltrack "There," Earthtone Records' latest new age compilation Ascension (ETD-7913, 1999) is "a transformationalexperience, [and] a heavenly carriage to greater self-awarenessand attunement." A&R Director Jeff Payne is responsible forthe 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 soundworks 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 forthcomingrelease by Alkaemy (see our review of 1998 Earthtone albumThe Merlin Mystery), we have been unable to confirm any details about the release.

The album opens with a track by Richard Burmer from 1988 andcontinues with a 1989 recording by Constance Demby taken from her album Set Free. "First Kiss" by Chris Spheerisand Paul Voudouris from their 1991 album Enchantmentfollows. Christopher Franke's "Flower Hill Trail" from his1999 album Epic also released on Earthtone Recordsand 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 EarthtoneRecording artist Mars Laser's "Amy's Lullaby IV" from theiralbum 11:02 precede Cheryl Gunn's "Elysian Fields"from her 1999 Earthtone Album Vanity of Venus. Thebuild up to Miriam's track begins with "The Hiddin Smile ofNaiad" by Back To Earth from their album Rivers Of Life,"Reunion" by Richard Burmer and "The Only Answer" by ColletteBaron-Reid. These tracks and those that follow Miriam'sbracket "There" quite nicely and serve to showcase themost stunning vocal performance of the album.

The album concludes with "Improvisation One" by MichaelRubini from his 1994 album Secret Dream, "Desires ofthe Heart" by Chris Spheeris from his 1994 album Desiresand "In The Cathedral" by Gary Lamb from his 1995 album Angel.

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

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