Mike Howe’s debut release in 2009, Time Stands Still, was such a breath of fresh air that I was very anxious to see and hear if he could maintain that kind of quality a second time. I’m thrilled to answer that burning question with a resounding “YES!” The Welsh composer, guitarist, and ecologist returns with Round River, a collection of fifteen original pieces that are mostly solo acoustic guitar. A few of the tracks include bass, keyboards, and percussion, which are also performed by Howe.
Real Music introduced us to the gorgeous music of the understated Welsh acoustic guitarist Mike Howe via his fantastic debut Time Stands Still. One year later Round River arrives and some things have changed. Instead of 55 minutes of soul stirring music, Howe extends his new creation to nearly 58 minutes. Otherwise his listeners are provided with another soul stirring reflective recording that will allow you to escape to your favorite imaginative getaway. Clearly, Howe was not planning on making many changes considering how beautiful his impressive debut turned out.
Gentle Spirit is the perfect title for this latest release from German composer/pianist Bernward Koch. Silken melodies float on soft languid tones, soothing the mind and easing away the cares of the day. A few of the fifteen tracks have strong but quiet rhythms, while others are more ethereal. Koch appears on piano, keyboards, guitar, bass, glockenspiel, and programming. He is joined by his wife, Christiane Boehm, on flute, and his brother, Christoph, on percussion, making this is an elegant family project.
This is Kenio Fuke’s debut for Real Music, though the Brazilian pianist apparently has several recordings to his name. The musical arrangements reflected on Relaxing Melodies Of Nature are sophisticated, stylish and subtle and it begins with the delicate “Song For Kiara” followed by the flowing “Summer’s Love”. But by the third track we are introduced to the sounds of nature which initially compliment the music but this becomes more distractive than complimentary as the album progresses.
Relaxing Melodies of Nature is Brazilian-born composer Kenio Fuke’s debut on the Real Music label. (He has released several CDs previously on other labels, mostly imports.) A classically-trained pianist, composer, and conductor, Fuke’s music is a perfect fit for Real Music’s high recording standards and legacy of relaxing, soothing, and often nature-based music. Birds, water, and other natural sounds run through the piano-based music, accompanied by strings, keyboards, and an assortment of orchestral instruments.