Saturday, November 12, 2005

within, MANDALA

There's a music explosion going on. You won't read about in the news or even hear about it on TV. There'll be nothing, then one day, you'll ask yourself, where did all this great talent come from.., and without hestitation, your inner spirit will tell you, "The U.K." ...and MySpace.

I spent a little time online back in the day with the wave of indie music that became when very few knew or understood this whole digital world of music uploading, let alone, downloading. Today, it feels like we've always had this method of distribution. It's made it far easier to discover new talent. Talent that might never get to travel to half the places they are streamed with today's technology. MySpace has become the new 'hub' on the web for musicians. Think of it as a hip corner cafe with the coolest musicians and people, on the same corner in every city and town, at the same time and you'll get an idea just how important it is to be one of those artists in the nightly line up. At the top of my set list is MANDALA, an eclectic ensemble lead my vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Neil Marsh and Francis Booth of London who have been the driving force behind Mandala since its formation in 1997. Neil, who luxuriates in the recordings of David Sylvian and Jeff Buckley, handles the songwriting, guitars and vocals, while Francis, who’s iPod is as home to obscure Bjork recordings as it is the bittersweet tones of Nick Drake, handles the bass and electronics.

You have mulitple choices: link through the title, above, to go to the official home and hear snippets of their dual release, "BEFORE MEMORY" and "THE TEARS OF A THOUSAND ANGELS" of which I strongly encourage you to purchase so that you can get the full tunes in their magnificent glory, or you can also visit them on MySpace at and four full tunes there as well. There's also a label site: where you can hear additional songs and artists from elypsoidMediae, a collective of like-minded artists and individuals... with a common goal, and single-mindedness, to work towards an ideal without compromise. ~~BD

More blogs about mandala.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I've got a lot of talented friends on MySpace and although it's difficult being supportive of all them, at the same time, it's my joy and I know that I'm in their lives for a reason. So, I'm going to write these reviews about their work, bi-weekly, in hopes that I can introduce them to others who pass through my pages and also so that you can become 'friends' of their gifts, as well. All the artists reviewed are linked through the subject line through my home on MySpace. I send you there so that you can experience their music (and many others), before you, I pray, purchase their music so that they can continue to be 'artists' of the highest caliber. However, you will also be able link directly to the artist in the reviews to post your comments to them on MySpace. Enjoy. ~~BD

IVAN COLON: Room Enough
There's really no such thing as undiscovered talent. Unrecognized? Yes. Unappreciated? Certainly. Undiscovered? No. Case in point, Ivan Colon. He's certainly discovered himself, his faith and his voice in a sea of influences and opportunities to have success by any means necessary, along comes a genuinely 'nice' man, with a humble spirit who is writing songs about love and faith that are just plain refreshing. The whole listen through to this release "Room Enough", I just keep feeling a sense of 'Light'. There really is no darkness, here. You will feel better for just listening to his stylings and reading his lyrics (included) as he's singing. He's a painter of images and he's really good at it. Think James Taylor at the beginning of his career, then imagine the tonality of Michael Franks and Kenny Rankin and you'll understand a little of what you're about to experience, listening to Ivan. The difference, however, is how unabashedly he sings about his faith. This isn't one of those contemporary Christian CD's that seem to serve up the least of their skills as homage to the Most High. This is songwriting at it's best with lyrics that are witty, full of promise and hope, and purposeful. My stand out favorites are Holy Father, With You and I Soon Shall See. This is not to imply the others aren't good in their own right. Everyone will speak to you at various times, I'm sure, but these three, for me, really are a cut above. Perhaps it's just this reviewer's bias, but get the CD and pick your favorite three and let's see if we agree!! ~~BD

CRAIG LYONS: Equilibrium Theory - vols. I & II
Here's my opening confession: I suspect Craig Lyons might need a review the least. He's got it all, by the standards that most judge success. He's placed tunes on MTV's Real World and he's in the studio, now, working on a new project that's possibly going to take him from his humble place on MySpace and other music sites, to the hollowed halls of promotion akin to the machinery that's behind artists like John Mayer and Ben Folds. So, with that said, you should really get over to MySpace, listen to him, and get this soon to be collector's CD from his indie label, Here's the genius that's Craig: on this release with the exception of a baritone guitar on one tune, everything (and I mean everything) else is Craig! Yes, he plays bass, drums, guitar, piano and sings all the vocals. ALL Craig!! Many might think, what a control freak! But, the truth be told, it allows him to fully flesh out his musical ideas. Something most artists never get to fully experience and even fewer can really appreciate. His songwriting is on par with an artist about to break through and become quotable from his radio friendly tunes that are a throw back to that west coast vibe associated with Kenny Loggins or Dan Fogelberg. Like the latter comparison, Craig is also from the mid-west 'tho it's obvious his musical expertise and roots have caused him to sound like a seasoned veteran while still officially being a twenty-something artist. You'll fall in love with Easy and Tranquility and be amazed at the musicianship of Dreaming World and Psychopath, but for this reviewer, he saved the best for last. Closing this musical collage is an intense tune called The Wild that really allows you to hear the gift that just keeps on giving. His guitar work, rhythm and vocal harmonies, makes you forget he's a one man band. You can't help but look up and check the liner notes to be sure he's not fronting an established band. In short, this is an incredible sophomore release from a young artist that wasn't discovered 'till after this recording. Don't be guilty of waiting 'till his major release to know what you can know now: Craig Lyons is the real deal and deserves every good fortune that's about to come his way. ~~BD


Bergen, Norway had a secret that's no longer. His name is Even Johansen and he's known professionally as MAGNET, an eclectic folk-electronica artist that sings melancholic, ethereal tunes that one often associates with female artists like Bjork or Imogene Heap. He's got such a unique grasp of the subliminal that you'll find yourselves lost on more than one occasion in his soundscapes and haunting lyrics. He's really got his own unique way of phrasing and structuring his tunes that are all written and produced by him, with the exception of one cover, Bob Dylan's, Lay Lady Lay. That tune has been Magnetized into something beyond it's original in the hands of Even and it's a delight to hear new life from such an established tune. The layers upon layers painstakingly produced to flawless perfection seem to be a hallmark of Magnet. This debut release under this moniker allows Even to really let go and discover what truly must have taken him years to uncover. You can learn more about him on MySpace and be directed from there to his official home, where you'll soon discover what the rest of the free world already knows. This is one uniquely gifted artist and we're the lucky ones who get to hear him, once we've found him, on a regular basis. The title cut, On Your Side, is a good place to start, but the Last Days of Summer will really make you happy. Then there's the tune that sounds like it came out of an old Hollywood musical, The Day We Left Town, with the most wicked background vocals I've heard since I first discovered Bjork. This is not a comparison that should go unchecked, he's that good and certainly is warrants that comparison. And, then some. But, Even finds his own persona in tunes likes Nothing Hurts Now and Overjoyed. Both showcase his incredible lyric writing and sensitive vocal delivery that just pulls you into his very soul. Quick, go experience Magnet and become an instant fan. ~~BD

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Haven't you felt like you've been jarred awake out of a deep slumber with these natural (man-made?) disasters and mind altering, awe inspiring events of late? Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote about these present and future events several years back in her book "The Call".

Here's one of my favorite passages:

Walking Asleep
Walking asleep, moving in the world disconnected from our essential core, can be dangerous; it means our choices are based not on an accurate picture of what is, but on what we want or fear is true. At best, actions based on an inaccurate picture of what is are unlikely to succeed in creating the change we desire.
At worst, they will create greater suffering.
There are a thousand ways to go to sleep, to walk through our lives unaware of and unable to be with what is and so unconscious of what and who we are. Beyond the obvious choices to move away from what is by using a variety of substances --food, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, caffeine--the culturally preferred way of making sure we don't wake up is to keep ourselves perpetually exhausted with constant activity, endless work, and the consumption of overwhelming amounts of information: to do continually. And even when some of us reject the quest for more material wealth or social status, we do not necessarily break the pattern but turn instead to the pursuit of spiritual development. Either way, we are in constant motion internally or externally. We are rarely still.
We seldom find silence. We do not rest. And tired people do not want to wake up, don't have the energy to wake up, can't even fathom it as a possibility.
We will never be deeply happy or tuly able to live and love fully until we find our way of living from an awareness of the deep stillness at the center of what we are. It is not so much that what we are at the deepest level wants to wake up, to be aware, to love, to create peace and truth and beauty, but that our essential nature is wakefulness, awareness, love, peace, truth and beauty. To hear The Call we only need to listen. But sometimes we can listen only when our illusions of control and safety have been shattered, when we are lying on the ground --figuratively or literally in the wildnerness-- weeping and ready to say, as RUMI wrote:

I didn't come here of my own accord.
Whoever brought me here will have to come and take me home.
excerpt from THE CALL by Oriah Mountain Dreamer