Acoustic Ocean | Chimes of the Spirit

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Chimes of the Spirit

by Acoustic Ocean

Features Celtic harp and guitar, with cello, flute and other instruments augmenting the arrangements. Tastefully blends the genres of Folk, New Age and Contemporary Instrumental. Music that inspires reflection, touches the heart, and lifts the spirit.
Genre: New Age: Contemporary Instrumental
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1. This Love Is Forever
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2. Farewell Safe Harbor
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3. Into the Mystery Landscape
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4. Rift Rider
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5. Under the Starlit Sky
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6. Midnight Rendezvous
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7. Chimes of the Spirit
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8. The Long Walk Home
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9. Tsunami
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10. If I Had Wings
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11. Only Love Remains
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Chimes of the Spirit, the third and latest CD from Acoustic Ocean, is a beautiful and engaging collection of original instrumental music that arouses reflection, touches the heart, and lifts the spirit.

The music on Chimes of the Spirit tastefully blends the genres of Folk, New Age and Contemporary Instrumental. The eleven compositions feature Peggy Morgan on Celtic harp and Bette Phelan on guitar. On several cuts they are joined by Kay Aldrich on cello and Anne Berliner on flute. Additional supporting instruments, played by Morgan and Phelan include: fretless bass, low whistle, electric guitar, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, voice.


Chimes of the Spirit invites the listener on a musical journey through the process of transition and transformation. The music gives voice to the breadth of feelings experienced during times of change. When life-altering events sweep through our lives, the expression of our feelings through art and music comforts us, lifts us up and brings us back into balance.


Acoustic Ocean Bio
Acoustic Ocean is the collaboration of two veteran musicians and recording artists, Peggy Morgan and Bette Phelan. The music of Acoustic Ocean reflects the musical and healing arts backgrounds of the artists as well as the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, which helped to inspire the music. After a successful touring career that spanned 20-years, Morgan and Phelan relocated to Hawaii to pursue careers in the healing arts.

In 2009 Acoustic Ocean released their debut album, Light Returning. The recording was well received by New Age radio DJs and listeners worldwide. It received widespread airplay and was on the Top 100 Zone Music Charts for 7 months, reaching a top position of #8. It was nominated for five ZMR awards, including Best Album of 2010.

Acoustic Ocean’s second album, Reflections on Still Water, was released in July 2010. It was on ZMR Top 100 chart for 11 months reaching a top position of #3. The album was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental album and was chosen as a Top 10 Pick for 2010 by RJ Lannan, a staff reviewer for ZMR.

Acoustic Ocean’s third album, Chimes of the Spirit, was released in 2013. It entered the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Chart at #3 for February and went to #1 in March. It spent 7 months on the Top 100 chart and was #9 for the year. It is currently up for Best Album 2013 and Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic.

REVIEWS

Acoustic Ocean is made up of the talented musicians and recording artists Peggy Morgan and Bette Phelan. Both artists have backgrounds in music and yoga. The use of music as a healing medium and with their combined talents, have crafted a sound that is also reflective of their love for the Hawaiian Islands. The two have toured together for many years, and have played internationally. Both women are certified in the healing arts and use their musical talents to reduce stress and heal the body and mind. Chimes of the Spirit is their third album. Guest musicians include Kay Aldrich (cello) and Anne Berliner (flute).

“This Love Is Forever” is the first track on the album. It trickles across your senses like a fresh bubbling stream, washing away the cobwebs from your mind. The blend of guitar and harp marries seamlessly and evokes an image of island forefathers and mothers devoted to the islands that inspired this music. Hawaii with its graceful waterfalls, beautiful Polynesian culture and environs that can sooth the soul like no other gets into your soul as Phelan and Morgan weave their cascading spell of music.

“Into the Mystery” is the intricate pattern in the sea shell you find on the beach. The conch, so full of mystery and wonder, you can still hear the magic of the sea echoing in your ear long after it has been plucked from the water. Notes and melodies that sail across oceans of time merge to paint a seascape of dolphins sailing through oceans of blue. Of mermaids gliding through the murky depths, promising the world for a single kiss.

“Tsunami” is an audible tapestry that has to be my favorite piece on the album. This one gave me goose bumps as the passionate guitar and harp merged as one to tell the story of ocean waves building, cresting and moving toward the islands with ferocious intent. The vocals were a light chant, woven together with an anticipatory feeling that something is coming. The forces of nature are about to collide with man. Are we strong enough to survive the wrath of the ocean in all of its power? The patterns and melodies concocted with this piece are monumental and show just what these two artists are capable of creating. Simply beautiful!

“If I Had Wings” is a blend of harp, guitar and vocals that will stir tears to your eyes. The song spirals up and out like the promise of life in a new land. How rich will the future be to look toward the end of the journey and a new life beyond. To find what you are looking for in lands beyond the sea. A lost love? A fate that holds promise? An adventure far beyond comprehending. Look out toward the great ocean beyond and feel the pulse race in your veins.

Chimes of the Spirit is a journey of the senses. This album could not have come across my desk at a better time. The holidays are here, with all the stresses and illnesses that tend to hit you when you least have the time or energy to deal with them. Listening to this music brought me to a place of peace, reflection and an inner stillness that could not have been more needed. A blend of folk, contemporary instrumental and New Age, this album features Peggy Morgan on the Celtic harp and Bette Phelan on the guitar. Their love of the ocean and Hawaii shines through in each track on this album. If you like a bit of folk and are looking for a respite from the world for a while, check out this amazing album.

Rating: 5-Stars

Key Tracks- This Love Is Forever, Into the Mystery Landscape, Tsunami, If I Had Wings

Dana Wright-Muzikreviews.com Sr. Staff
November 21, 2012

©Muzikreviews.com

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RJ Lannan, Zone Music Reporter, Staff Reviewer

It does not surprise me that living on the Big Island of Hawaii is a constant source of inspiration for the double act known as Acoustic Ocean. Harpist Peggy Morgan and guitarist Bette Phelan blend their talents and instruments into a delightful combination of world, New Age and contemporary music that crosses the miles and settles deep down in your spirit no matter where you are. Because of their choice of acoustic instruments the music often takes on a Celtic feel, but that is to be appreciated. On this particular album they are joined by Kay Aldrich on cello and Anne Berliner on flute. Love that acoustic stuff.

This Love Is Forever opens the album with a light, vibrant tune of promises and pledges. Forever in this day and age can be considered a weekend, but to the confirmed romantics that haunt the universe looking for and finding their soul mates, forever is just that. The harp sparkles in this one sending out a call and then of course, the guitar answers every hopeful note.

The gong of a Tibetan bowl and sublime guitar begins Into the Mystery Landscape. I was surprised however, to hear an electric guitar in this, but that is quite forgivable. The song brushes away the curtain of reality and explores the unknown scenery of the Otherworld, for it is a given that landscapes do not exist solely in the physical world.

Midnight Rendezvous had the most prevalent Celtic feel of any of the eleven tracks and I liked it for that. The stoical cello played by Kay Aldrich, the melodic piano and the capricious flute formed a troika of friends that conspired to unite a star-filled sky, warm ocean breezes and the love of the universe. Let us dance!

The title tune, Chimes of the Spirit had a long introduction of harp and accordion (electronically generated I think), but then the melody produced a turbulent sea of notes. Not a really destructive storm, but the kind that pushes one along the ocean in search of calmer waters. Anne Berliner’s flute acts as a guide in this song, pointing our way to our destination.

About a year ago an earthquake in western Canada triggered a series of events that spawned one of the most deadly of Mother Nature’s catastrophes, a tsunami or giant undersea wave. Recent history of tsunamis in Japan and Thailand caused a great deal of alarm in Hawaii. The island’s history of tsunamis in 1946 and 1975 is not without great sorrow. Luckily, the islands were spared and peace remained. Acoustic Ocean’s tune, Tsunami relates the dark and foreboding fear that can accompany the threat of such a disaster. But somewhere, deep in the song, is the beauty and power of the ocean that cannot be ignored.

There is a warm familiarity about the final cut, Only Love Remains. It is an uplifting and carefree ballad. When you think about it you can distill the events of every part of your life from happy events of births, marriages, and successes to deaths, chance meetings and personal sacrifices (the kind that come about after many years of commitment) and what is left? Only love remains. It is a positive feeling that is magically captured in the music.

This is Acoustic Ocean’s third album to my knowledge and they are all on the same level of perfectionist performance and light-hearted melodies. The duo’s respect for the planet, the people and each other are entwined into every recording. For music that will please you year after year and multiple listenings, you cannot go wrong with this talented twosome. Rating: EXCELLENT

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Bill Binkelman, Zone Music Reporter, Staff Reviewer

Peggy Morgan (Celtic harp, rhythm guitar, piano, Tibetan singing bowls, vocals) and Bette Phelan (acoustic and electric guitar, fretless bass, pennywhistle, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, wavedrum, vocals, and keyboards) are Acoustic Ocean and this, their third release, is their best yet. The small issues I had with their first recording, Light Returning, have been addressed and the engineering and production (and especially the mix) are greatly improved. In addition, while their music still focuses on the interplay between Celtic harp and guitar, the compositions (to my ears) have broadened in their influences and styles. While the main draw here for most listeners will likely be the strong Celtic flavor to the music, the pair also incorporates a strong New England seafaring sound, such as on Farewell Safe Harbor.

Chimes of the Spirit features 11 tracks with mostly gentle, relaxed melodies, although rhythms are present at times and a strain of liveliness and good cheer does permeate selected songs. Nothing here is morose or somber, instead evoking nostalgia, beauty, and contentment (the exception being the uptempo track Tsunami because, well, obviously there is no such thing as a "mild" tsunami, is there?).

Also making appearances on a few selections are cellist Kay Aldrich and flutist Anne Berliner, but the CD is more or less Morgan's and Phelan's show, and these two artists' musicianship is in ample evidence throughout the album. While I can’t say for certain whether my next statement is fact or just perception, I sense that Phelan's acoustic guitar plays a larger role on this album than on the two previous ones, although maybe I just notice it more in the mix. Regardless, the interplay between guitar and harp on many songs, such as the opening This Love is Forever, is delightful and engaging. It's obvious that these two have played together a lot because their sense of simpatico is pronounced, and whether trading the lead or sharing it, they do so with grace and ease.

There is a breeziness to many of the songs, a natural, almost organic, flowing sensation, that is mirrored not just by the duo's name, but also the album cover picture of an ocean-going sailing ship as well as several song titles calling to mind seascape images. However, other musical elements surface as well, such as the singing bowl which kicks off Into the Mystery Landscape, a cut on which Phelan's guitar playing (both acoustic and electric on the track) brings to mind Marc Knopfler's soundtrack for the film Local Hero, with its gentle whimsy and sweet melodicism. Rift Rider features a fast-paced, energetic harp lead, and has Morgan playing both harp and rhythm guitar. Changing pace, Under the Starlit Sky is a slow, reflective tune, with harp, mandolin, guitar, and hammered dulcimer as well as a smattering of low whistle for an added dash of Celtic flavor. Midnight Rendezvous strikes a stately rhythm, evoking castles and lords and ladies in waiting during Renaissance or maybe even medieval times, aided by Berliner's delicate flute accompaniment. The title track opens in a gentle mood, as piano and harp slowly circle each other, but slowly unfurls with some moments of drama (wavedrum rolling rhythms) and melancholy (mournful clarinet) before settling into a pleasant English folk-like mood, accented by Berliner's lilting flute in the final third. If I Had Wings is the sole vocal tune on the CD, featuring both women's voices; it's a softly played guitar and harp tune with some cello as accompaniment.

In closing, the lovely music on Chimes of the Spirit brought to mind Sara Teasdale's poem "Barter" which contains the following verses:

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like the curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend some time with Peggy Morgan and Bette Phelan and invest in your own life's loveliness, if only for a moment or two. Rating: VERY GOOD





Reviews


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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Chimes of the Spirit" is the third release from Acoustic Ocean, a duo consisting of Peggy Morgan (Celtic harp) and Bette Phelan (guitar), who have been performing together for more than twenty years. Both artists are active in the healing arts field and incorporate some of that as well as the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands into their music. Intertwining the genres of folk, new age, and contemporary instrumental, the eleven compositions also feature Morgan and Phelan on supporting instruments such as fretless bass, low whistle, electric guitar, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, and vocals. They are joined on several tracks by Kay Aldrich on cello and Anne Berliner on flute. The music itself invites the listener on a musical journey through the process of transition and transformation, encouraging the expression of feelings through art and music to comfort, uplift, and bring us back into balance. Overall, the music is light and optimistic with strong Celtic and folk influences - sure to brighten the gray days of winter and bring some sunshine to the darkest of moods.

"Chimes of the Spirit" opens with “This Love Is Forever,” a lively ballad that celebrates the joy and security of true love. “Farewell Safe Harbor” adds cello to the harp and guitar, grounding them a bit with the lower range of notes - a lovely balance! “Into the Mystery Landscape” sounds like it could go much darker, but this is a very pleasant mystery, not an unsettling one. “Rift Rider” picks up the tempo for a lively duet for guitar and harp - a favorite. “Under the Starlit Sky” is serene and sparkling with mandolin and low whistle adding color, atmosphere, and a little weight. The title track begins slowly and rather mysteriously, gradually gathering energy and becoming quite lively and joyful. “Tsunami” is intense and energetic, but not really ominous. Wordless vocals create a nice counterpoint to the plucked strings. “If I Had Wings,” a traditional folk song, has a peaceful, easy flow and gentle lyrics. The wistful “Only Love Remains” brings our journey to its conclusion, hopeful and ready to move forward.

"Chimes of the Spirit" is music with a purpose, but it also provides a light and soothing background for any number of quiet activities (or work) and is complex enough to enjoy with full listening attention.

Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
On their third album, Acoustic Ocean offer up eleven predominantly instrumental tunes that cement their well-deserved status as one of the preeminent duos recording and performing in the New Age genre today.

Bette Phelan and Peggy Morgan combine their backgrounds as folk singer-songwriters with Celtic influences and the inspiration of their home base of Hawaii, resulting in a unique fusion of world music that could best be described as mystic rustic tropical.

The two are practically a whole self-conducted orchestra unto themselves, with Morgan playing Celtic harp, rhythm guitar, piano, and Tibetan singing bowls and Phelan playing acoustic and electric guitars, fretless bass, pennywhistles, mandolin, wave drum, hammered dulcimer, chimes, and keyboards (synthesizing Uilleann pipes and clarinet). The two also contribute their earnest, heartfelt vocals to some of the songs. They are joined as well by Anne Berliner on flute and Kay Aldrich on cello.

This is another excellent, engaging release by Acoustic Ocean, with a full, rich sound that soothes the soul and puts the mind at ease.

Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
As someone who loves both harp and guitar, the combination of the two is music to my ears as well as my soul. Celtic harpist Peggy Morgan along with long time musical partner Bette Phelan on guitar, who perform and record collectively as Acoustic Ocean, have released their third album of soothing instrumental music, entitled Chimes of the Spirit. In addition to music, Peggy and Bette are both yoga instructors and holistic health practitioners. For them, “The music of Acoustic Ocean reflects the musical and healing arts backgrounds of the artists, as well as the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, which helped inspire the music.”

Both are both talented multi-instrumentalists. And although the Celtic Harp is Peggy’s main instrument on the album, she also performs on rhythm guitar, piano, Tibetan singing bowls, and vocals. Bette’s talents, in addition to acoustic guitar, extend to fretless bass, electric guitar, pennywhistles, mandolin, Wavedrum, hammered dulcimer, chimes, keyboard (Uilleann pipes & clarinet), and vocals. They are also joined on several songs by Kay Aldrich on cello and Anne Berliner on flute.

Listening to the opening track, the first word that comes to mind is “sparkling.” Peggy’s harp has an effervescent quality that conjured an image in my mind of the froth and spray of crashing waves reflecting in the sunlight - an acoustic ocean indeed. The melodic interweaving of Bette’s guitar is magical and bespeaks the bond created by musicians who have been playing together for decades. The album’s title track has a cinematic quality as it unfolds through a variety of musical and emotional spaces. Acoustic Ocean’s music, in general, expresses a spectrum of feelings and moods, from light and lively, to wistful and reflective, and beyond. A pastoral ambiance is evoked on The Long Walk Home. The flute that joins the piece at midsection adds a perfect butterfly-like accent to complete the picture. The album concludes with “Only Love Remains.” With its earthy Celtic-tinged vibe, it resonates the heartstrings and leaves a lingering glow after it fades. I appreciate how much Peggy and Bette infuse their healing influence and intention into the music of Acoustic Ocean. A peaceful, yet uplifting energy pervades, bringing a wave of Aloha spirit to the shores of the listener.
To read a full-length feature article on this CD, as well as others, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com

REVIEWS NEW AGE

Maestros de los acústico!
Regresan Acoustic Ocean, maestros de lo acústico. Este tercer trabajo de Peggy Morgan y Bette Phelan, Chimes of the Spirit, es una oleada de calma y sugerentes sonidos acústicos interpretados por arpas, guitarras, piano, cuencos tibetanos, campanillas, y un gran número de instrumentos acústicos, que unidos, van dando forma a una música cautivadora y plácida. La música que encontramos en este álbum, al igual que en los álbumes anteriores de Acoustic Ocean, se ajustan al género folk/celta, por lo que podemos hacernos una idea de la calidad que podemos encontrar en su estéreo, o mejor aún, en sus composiciones.

La primera pieza marca el carácter global del CD. “This Love Is Forever” es una entrañable pieza interpretada por arpa y guitarras, con un estéreo muy bien conseguido. Los instrumentos van jugando en los canales, llamando la atención al oyente y no sólo por su linda melodía, también la producción es importante en esta composición.

“Farewell Safe Harbor”. Nunca una despedida fue tan dulce. En este tema, la guitarra, el arpa y el chelo del invitado Kay Aldrich, interpretan una de las piezas a destacar en Chimes of the Spirit. Nuevamente la composición es altamente interesante; escuchar los diferentes instrumentos surgir con sus notas en esta hermosa pieza, es ideal, relajante.

Introspectiva y perfecta para la realización de ejercicios mentales o de relajación es “Into The Mystery Landscape”. Con un fluir muy lento de su melodía y acompañado de inspiradores acordes, notas e instrumentos étnicos, la melodía invita a abandonar este mundo, descansar y disfrutar de un momento único. Destacar la interpretación del arpa, es de una belleza sorprendente.

Una de mis preferidas en Chimes of the Spirit, y de las más vivas en cuanto a melodía se refiere es “Rift Rider”. Guitarra y arpa consiguen construir una música muy atractiva, muy celta, una música que es encantadora para nuestros oídos desde que aparece la primera nota. Rápidos arpegios de guitarra y un arpa llamativa; en ocasiones, no son necesarios decenas de pistas para crear una maravilla, con tan sólo dos o tres instrumentos y haciendo hincapié en una buena composición son suficientes para crear algo grandioso.

En este álbum también encontramos piezas que nos permiten conectar con nuestro interior. Al igual que “Into The Mystery Landscape”, esta composición, “Under The Starlit Sky”, es una de esas piezas que maravillan por el sonido de los diferentes instrumentos, pero también por la paz que respiran sus notas. Son minutos de armonía.

Os acordáis de Gwendal?, por un momento creí escucharlos en “Midnight Rendezvous” un tema en el que la flauta de Anne Berliner le ofrece un toque muy llamativo y atractivo a la melodía, muy similar al de la conocida banda francesa. Déjate seducir por el sonido de esta composición, más celta que nunca, y de una perfección asombrosa. Me encanta!.

Aparece el tema que da nombre al álbum, “Chimes of the Spirit”. Para esta pieza, Acoustic Ocean mantiene el arpa como instrumento principal, pero la guitarra es sustituida en algunas ocasiones por otros instrumentos. Seria y reflexiva al comienzo, la pieza va tornándose encantadora y amable hasta su final.

Volviendo a las melodías entrañables, Acoustic Ocean componen “The Long Walk Home”, donde nuevamente hace aparición la flauta de Anne Berliner, deberían plantearle que forme parte del grupo, su flauta añade un sonido impresionante a las composiciones en las que ella interviene. Igualmente, el chello de Kay Aldrich, también presta sus acordes en este tema.

Por primera vez, hace aparición la voz de Bette Phelan en una pieza del álbum, concretamente en “Tsunami”. En esta pieza destacamos el rápido arpegio del arpa y la guitarra, que junto a las voces, mantienen al oyente en un estado de tensión continua.

Juntos, Peggy Morgan y Bette Phelan cantan “If I Had Wings”, una tranquila canción donde las guitarras, el arpa y una sutil percusión dan el fondo musical perfecto para las cálidas voces de los componentes de Acoustic Ocean. Me gusta!.

Para cerrar el CD, Acoustic Ocean apuestan por “Only Love Remains”, una pieza romántica, donde no sólo disfrutamos de guitarra y arpa, la aparición de un instrumento celta entona la melodía principal, un uilleann pipe, un sonido profundo y que hace las delicias de todos los amantes de este género musical. Un final fantástico!!.


Chimes of the Spirit es uno de esos álbumes que debemos añadir a nuestra colección si lo que realmente nos gusta es la música celta. Todo lo que encontramos en este álbum es acústico y de una calidad sonora sorprendente. La música es hermosa y apacible, melodías perfectas para soñar, o simplemente, para disfrutar de una buena lectura. Muy recomendable!.

reviewsnewage.com
30/01/13