Beth Ann Hilton / The B Company
September 20, 2019
Finding Global Peace with ONE WORLD: A New Album by Leela Music Artist Michael Stribling celebrates Unity and Diversity
Michael Stribling's internationally-flavored New Age Electronic Prayer described as "an absolute masterpiece of eclectic world new age music."
FRESNO, CA, USA, September 20, 2019 -- Michael Stribling has taken his love of world music, and seasoned it with his experience as a family therapist and teacher to make his profoundly musical healing art. His new album, One World, features mystical melodies, soulful electronics and soothing percussion. "If the music is inspiring and uplifting, then I've done my job," he reflects. One World will be released on September 20, 2019, a day before the International Day of Peace. The album is available now at Leela Music's website and music streaming sites worldwide.
In the liner notes, Stribling expresses this prayerful thought: "In times of challenge and struggle, there is also an opportunity for positive change, for healing and unity. May we focus on what we want for our world and not what we fear may happen."
One World encompasses an astonishing variety in 15 songs; the album is a pristine sonic spin around the globe, mastered by Tom Eaton of Will Ackerman's legendary Imaginary Road Studios. Opening with sparkling drones and tinkling chime zephyrs, a quiet mood is established before eventually breaking into a more energetic romp. "Aboriginal Campfire" has a gruff chant accompanied by a didgeridoo growl that is juxtaposed within a melodic woodwind theme. "Buddhist Nursery" visits a mystical dan and marimba garden, with a giggling baby hidden in the flowers.
"I just love to play around with sound and music," chuckles Stribling. He continues, "There's a very wide range of music that can be called electronic -- from electronic dance music to rap and hip hop which uses lots of samples and loops -- to, well, the stuff I compose."
Michael Stribling is an American New Age musician with a foundation in percussion, a multi-instrumentalist and composer best-known for creating relaxing electronic-based music blending his deep sense of peace and harmony with an array of sumptuous piquancy from around the world. Stribling's second album, Songs of Hope and Healing, was named Best Electronic Album of 2006 by New Age Reporter. Almost all of the albums that Stribling has released have ranked in the Top 5 of the Zone Music Reporter's Top 100 Global Airplay Chart, and two -- Songs of Hope and Healing and The Promise -- have won awards for Best Electronic Album.
He formed Leela Music to undertake a very simple mission: to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit. Leela is a Sanskrit word that means "divine play," a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute.
In an early review of One World, written by Keith Hannaleck and published in New Age Music Reviews, the album is described as "an absolute masterpiece of eclectic world new age music," and on the website Contemporary Fusion, Dick Metcalf opines that this music is "by turns energizing and powerful, mysterious and haunting, or vibrant and sensual... a stunning example of how creativity can enhance our lives and help unify our spirits, even at times when we are facing challenges. The cultural blending Michael weaves in, around and through his music are just what you need to overcome negative energies."
Stribling's previous album releases all support this philosophy of hope and positive thinking: Journey Within (2005), Songs of Hope and Healing (2006), Out of the Darkness, Into the Light (2007), Another Day in Paradise (2007), Love, Light, and Water (2008), The Promise (2009), Paradise Lost (2010), Safely in the Arms of Love (2011), A Better Place (2015) and Union - Music for Lovers (2017).
The artist's music lessons began at age 7, studying piano, violin, clarinet, and guitar, but when the Beatles arrived in 1964 he "switched to drums and never looked back." He worked as a performer, composer, engineer, and was a radio announcer for a classic rock station in the 1970s. On the road from June 1974 to July 1975, he toured the U.S., Europe, and Canada with Johnny Mathis.
Apart from his music career, Stribling became a licensed marriage and family therapist in April 1992 and has worked in many areas of the mental health field, including outpatient mental health clinics, substance addiction treatment, foster care, and group homes. This experience has given him a unique spiritual grace and depth to his musical gift.
Stribling shared thoughts on how his creative and professional worlds dovetail in a recent interview with Kathy Parsons (for Mainly Piano). "We create our life experiences by what we think, feel, and do. If we put out positive energy, we can expect positive things in our lives; if we express negativity, we can expect more negative things to appear in our lives. If this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we'd better start thinking and acting that way. Think about what you want, not what you don't want. Sometimes it's a real challenge, but practice makes perfect."
One World releases September 20, 2019 to all quality music sales and streaming sites; physical music store distribution is available from CPI Distribution.
One World 5:14
A Gathering of the Elders 5:43
Shaolin Garden 3:36
Aboriginal Campfire 3:22
Buddhist Nursery 2:49
Barcelona Nights 4:12
Persian Night Caravan 2:24
African Marketplace 3:49
Asian Dawn Maneuvers 3:11
Marching through Manhattan 3:29
Across the Moor 4:48
Black Forest Cuckoo Shop 3:40
Gaia Weeps 3:12
One Planet, One People 4:32
Benediction (Prayer for World Peace) 2:24
Media inquiries and press requests are welcome; please contact Beth Ann Hilton, The B Company, bethhilton(at)thebcompany(dot)com, or 310-560-8390.
Contact Ed and Stacey Bonk for Radio and Broadcast promotions at lazzpromotions(at)lazzpromotions(dot)com.
Watch for the new album, One World, at these official Michael Stribling artist links:
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/michael-stribling/159820194
September 17, 2019
New Age Instrumental Review: Michael Stribling - One World
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Label: Leela Music
Michael Stribling sent me his last album almost two years ago. I was fortunate to have the pleasure of covering Union - Music For Lovers.
Now with the arrival of One World, I get another opportunity to explore his diversity and explorations of world and new age music.
I was a bit in awe of the talent this man has at his command. I was looking for this long list of credits and what I saw was all tunes, tracks, and tinkering by Michael Stribling. I certainly did not expect to see that when I heard the first and title track as it filled the room and enter my consciousness.
Tom Eaton did the final master of this recording and as with so many others, he did an excellent job. And so, it is, as many that have traveled that road before him, Michael made the right choices. Because of that series of events and choices he has created an absolute masterpiece of eclectic world new age music.
The lead-off track "One World" is one such track that is the perfect introduction and pacesetter for what will follow. There is something mystical and alluring with the wind chimes these artists use in their music, and that was one of the finishing touches for that track.
The one thing you can count on with One World is an amazing cross-section of music utilizing traditional world music instruments and the new technology for the finishing touches, so everything comes through crystal clear and the kind of gentle and impactive persuasion that you would expect from a recording like this.
The lighthearted "African Marketplace" puts you right there walking down the street and visiting with all the vendors. I imagine it is quite different than what you would witness in the U.S. I would expect the goods being offered would be interesting as well. I have a feeling Michael is speaking from his own special experience. If not, he sure knows how to paint a picture with his music. It gave me a sense of being there. That is what any recording artist would want his or her audience to experience while listening to music. So, from my perspective, it was mission accomplished!
Michael takes you to a "Shaolin Garden" then to an "Aboriginal Campfire" and then back to the rat race with "Marching Through Manhattan" (although that term may be out of context when it comes to this music). The point is that you become an instant world traveler through the music and colors brought forth on every track of One World.
The whole point is that we are One World, one community, one people, and that is not only obvious with the track titles, but the music also speaks for itself. This is all done very with a very impressive recording with a panoramic view of the world that is conveyed through one man's music.
Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
September 12, 2019
View the website review here.
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL STRIBLING - AUGUST 2019
I have been reviewing Michael Stribling's music since he released his third album, Out of the Darkness, Into the Light in 2007. He has been one of my favorite electronic composer/musicians since that time, quite possibly because he started out as a pianist at the age of 7. He switched to drums in the mid-1960's and earned a Bachelors in Music before hitting the road playing drums for Johnny Mathis in 1974. Since then, he has worked in a dizzying number of different music genres and in a multitude of musical roles. He left music in 1981 to become a licensed marriage and family therapist and then returned to music in 2005. Since then he has released ten solo albums (the eleventh will be released 9/20/2019), all but one of which have been ranked in the Top 5 of the Zone Music Reporter international airplay charts, and two of which have won Best Electronic Album awards. We did an interview back in 2008, much of which goes into the earlier years of Michael's career(s). You can find that interview here. This interview will bring us more up-to-date!
KP: Hi Michael! How are things in Central California today?
MS: As usual for this time of year, it's hot. It ranges from 95 to 105 degrees (that's 35 to 45 degrees Celsius) right now. I'm very grateful for air conditioning!
KP: I don't miss the hot weather in the Bay Area at all!
You are getting ready to release your eleventh album, One World, on September 20, 2019. Tell us about it.
MS: Let's see. Where can I start? This album has been percolating for some time, I guess. For example, "Asian Dawn Maneuvers" is really the original version of "Asian Dawn,” which was the stripped down version that was released on Another Day in Paradise, in 2007. "Shaolin Garden" goes back to 2011, "Buddhist Nursery" was born in 2013, etc. So, some of these tunes have been around, in one form or another, for some time.
Basically, I took a look at the "inventory" of tunes that I had lying around and thought, "gee, this has the makings of a world album, I think." Like so many other things in life, it was just a happy coincidence (although I don't believe in coincidences) that all these compositions seem to assemble nicely into a complete project. Given the nature of things on our planet these days, it seemed like a good time to release something that focused on unity rather than division, and positivity instead of negativity.
KP: I agree completely and think your timing for One World is perfect.
I remember your saying in our last interview that up-tempo, energetic new age music doesn't get much radio airplay and you were looking at a more homogenized format for your albums. I have always enjoyed the surprise of the "bigger" music on your recordings and was happy to discover that One World is an exciting mix of quiet and contemplative music and much more rhythmic, driving tunes. Was that something you did intentionally or is that just the way the music flowed?
MS: It was a bit of both actually. Rather than set out to write a particular kind of tune, I tend to start with a sound, or a fragment of a motif, or some rhythm that gets me tapping my foot; then, rather than imposing my ideas on it, I just try to follow the leadings of the Muse, or the needs of the composition. It's a bit like tending a new sapling; I provide the water and nutrients, then it just grows on its own; as long as I don't get in the way, it will develop into its own creation. As for the more rowdy tunes, remember, I'm a drummer at heart, so there's got to be some energizing rhythm in there somewhere!
KP: That makes perfect sense!
The fifteen tracks on the album are a fascinating blending of music styles and traditions from around the world. Did you do a lot of studying to find the unique qualities of those traditions and to figure out what makes them distinctive and identifiable?
MS: I don't recall studying anything in particular, but I'm sure I drew upon all the music I've been exposed to over the years. Some of the instruments, or musical motifs are nearly archetypes for me; stereotypical things that I've heard before. And frankly, it's an amalgam of different motifs, all mashed together in some ways. As an example, "African Marketplace" includes an Er Hu, which is a Chinese stringed instrument; it just seemed to work, and it reflects the idea of unity within diversity.
KP: Interesting! There are a lot of different percussion instruments featured on One World. Did you play those actual instruments or are they digital?
MS: Again, it's a bit of both. Some of the tracks are loops, some I played, via MIDI, into some lovely samples.
KP: Is all of the instrumentation digital?
MS: As far as I can recall, I didn't use a microphone on this album. It was all created "under the hood" as they say, all in the digital domain.
KP: Your quote in the liner notes of the CD really resonated with me: "in times of challenge and struggle, there is also opportunity for positive change, for healing and unity. May we focus on what we want for our world and not what we fear may happen." It's so easy to get caught up in the constant barrage of ugly news and the "us and them" attitude that seems so prevalent, so thank you for those words. It's not easy to put into practice, but it's a great place to start!
MS: It's all about the good old Law of Attraction, I suppose. We create our life experiences by what we think, feel, and do. If we put out positive energy, we can expect positive things in our lives; if we express negativity, we can expect more negative things to appear in our lives. If this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we'd better start thinking and acting that way. Think about what you want, not what you don't want. Sometimes it's a real challenge, but practice makes perfect.
KP: Very wise words!
Ultimately, what is the one thing you would like listeners to gain from your music?
MS: I'll fall back on the Leela Music mission statement: The mission of Leela Music is to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit. If the music is inspiring and uplifting, then I've done my job.
KP: I'm sure some readers will go and read our earlier interview, but let's cover just a few basics. Why did you call your record label "Leela Music"?
MS: Leela is a Sanskrit word (as I understand it) that means "divine play." There are two meanings here: one is the kind of playing, like kids on the playground, that the gods enjoy; the other refers to that divine stage play, as described by Shakespeare: "…a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage…" I prefer the first meaning; I just love to play around with sound and music.
KP: You were a professional musician early in your adult years and then started working in the mental health field. Tell us a bit about that.
MS: The short version is that my life crashed around me in 1976, and I went into therapy for the first time. As a result of that experience, I felt moved to pass on to others the healing and growth that I experienced. I've been a licensed marriage and family therapist for over 27 years now, and I still enjoy helping others find their own path into healing and wholeness.
KP: Do you use your music (or music at all) in your therapy practice or do you keep the two separate?
MS: To this point, I don't commingle the two. Given my current mental health role, music therapy is not really an option.
KP: With all of the changes in the music industry, how do you see electronic music evolving?
MS: First of all, I certainly don't claim to be any kind of expert when it comes to electronic music. There's a very wide range of music that can be called "electronic"—from electronic dance music, to rap and hip hop, which use lots of samples and loops, to, well, the stuff I compose. I like to think that the music I produce is quite musical, even though it is almost entirely created in the digital / electronic domain. I imagine some purists lament this; "where is the live performance?" But I know that purists also complained about the advent of electronic / electric guitars back in the day, and look how that has evolved.
KP: Are you still teaching at the university level?
MS: No. I left the university four years ago and went to work in a jail that houses around 3,000 inmates. These days, I work with inmates who have problems with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. It has been quite a blessing. Among other things, my compassion for others has increased, along with my gratitude for the many blessings I enjoy on a daily basis.
KP: Since our last interview, you also got married. Tell us a little bit about your wife, Alana.
MS: Can you see me blushing and giggling? My sweetheart, Alana, is the love of my life. She is very creative (you know, graphic design, crafts, etc.) and has a passion for working with special needs individuals, especially children. She is pursuing certification as an interpreter of American Sign Language. And she's picked up a camera lately and is exploring the world of photography (note the artist photo on the One World album cover). She loves to travel, and we're getting ready to take another trip to Europe in October. I don't think I would have traveled much if it weren't for her enthusiasm. Pardon me for a moment while I smile . . .
KP: That's great! Do you have plans yet for your next musical project?
MS: There's always something in the oven, so to speak. But for now, we have a new CD to promote, and that takes a good deal of time and energy. On the other hand, I know I need to get back to playing around with sound in the very near future. It's my bliss.
KP: Is there anything else you'd like to "talk" about?
MS: The first thing that comes to mind is the work we've been doing with Dr. Joe Dispenza, of What the Bleep Do We Know fame, released in 2004. He conducts advanced week-long meditation workshops, all around the world, that incorporate the latest in neuroscience research, among other things. Those words really don't begin to describe the wonderful work he's doing. Interested parties can just go to YouTube and type in his name. There are lots and lots of videos there, and we are re-reading his four books on a regular basis. That work has really changed our lives, and I can't promote him enough. I encourage everyone to check him out.
One more thing. Thank you so much, Kathy, for the opportunity to chat with you again. Let's not wait another 10 years for the next one!
KP: You're very welcome, Michael! I was really surprised to see that it had been so long between interviews! Very best wishes on the release of One World! I think it's your best album so far.
For more information about Michael Stribling and his music, be sure to visit his website and his Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com.
You can see the interview on Katy's website by clicking here.
August 02, 2019
2019 / Leela Music
I've been reviewing Michael Stribling's music for many years and he always has something deep and profound to say with his music. With One World, he takes us on a global tour of musical cultures and traditions while emphasizing what we have in common rather than what makes us different. Whether it is strongly rhythmic or gently ethereal, all people can reach a mutual understanding through music - a lesson the entire world needs to adhere to as soon as possible. Spread the word! The fifteen original pieces on the album cover a wide range of styles and instrumentation and could be Stribling's best album yet.
In his own life, Michael Stribling has taken some seemingly unrelated paths, which only adds to the richness of his music. He started piano lessons at the age of seven, picking up several other musical instruments along the way. He earned a Bachelors in Music (emphasis on percussion performance) and then went on the road playing drums for Johnny Mathis. He also performed in jazz bands, philharmonic orchestras, played in many musical theater productions, and did lots of studio work as a performer, composer, arranger, producer, engineer, etc. Several years later, he went to graduate school and became a licensed marriage and family therapist, working in the mental health field for many years. He eventually decided to return to music, but this time doing his own music rather than working for other musicians. One World is Stribling's eleventh album. Several of his earlier releases have reached the Top 5 of Zone Music Reporter's Top 100, and two have won awards for Best Electronic Album. I'm sure One World will do just as well, if not even better.
The album begins with the title track, an expansive piece that combines distinctive characteristics of several musical traditions and blends them into one beautiful, unified entity. Earthy, upbeat and vibrantly alive, you'll be drawn in very quickly! "A Gathering Of The Elders" features Native American chants over an ambient electronic background and driving drums - big, bold and very exciting! "Shaolin Garden" is much more exotic and peaceful. "Aboriginal Campfire" has a crackling fire in the background as didgeridoo and drums carry on a playful musical dialog with additional instrumental accompaniment. "Barcelona Nights" is gently rhythmic, pleasantly energetic and slightly mysterious - I really like this one! "Persian Night Caravan" is drums and percussion over an ambient background. "African Marketplace" is another favorite. Joyful and carefree with a strong beat and exotic instrumentation, this one almost dances out of the music player! "Marching Through Manhattan" is lively and playful with a strong jazz influence. The rhythm in "Black Forest Cuckoo Shop" sounds like the workings of a ticking clock. It isn't obvious at first, but listen closely - it's there. Flutes and various keyboard sounds come together to make this playful little piece an absolute joy! "Gaia Weeps" brings us around to a reality check. (Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life and the primal Mother Earth goddess.) A simple piano pattern and quiet electronic sounds offer a compelling wake-up call. "One Planet, One People" is a gentle call for unity, compassion and understanding. "Benediction (Prayer For World Peace)" brings this excellent album to a solemn and very beautiful close.
Michael Stribling's albums are always about positivity, love and taking care of our planet. I always welcome new albums from him and the messages they bring. One World will be released on September 20, 2019, and is available for pre-release sales on Amazon. Samples are available on http://leela-music.com/.
You can read the review here.
July 23, 2019
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Overview: One World by Michael Stribling
Michael Stribling is a multi-instrumentalist and composer best-known for creating relaxing synthesizer-based music. Although having originally released an album titled Journey Within in 1989, he's been predominantly active as a recording artist since 2006. In what is arguably Stribling's most ambitious work to date, One World draws its inspiration from various cultural themes and traditions spanning around the globe. Although painting from his familiar sound palette, Stribling brushes in his compositions with many hues of world music; the overall outcome being enjoyably reminiscent of what one might hear at a theme park. Showcasing song titles like "A Gathering of the Elders", "Buddhist Nursery" and "Persian Night Caravan", many earthly destinations are visited throughout, with soundscapes ranging from dynamic and tribal-esque to pacifying and Zen-like. Beautifully concluding with a contemplative offering, "Benediction (Prayer for World Peace)" brings us back to the point of origin by riding in on a peaceful cloud of aerial tones and lulling piano chords! ~Candice Michelle
For more information please visit the artist's website.
Read the website review here.
Contemporary Fusion Reviews
July 08, 2019
Superbly crafted musical diversity Michael Stribling – One World
By Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews
July 8, 2019
Superbly crafted musical diversity Michael Stribling – ONE WORLD: It's been a while since I last reviewed Michael's superbly crafted musical diversity on his Union album; Michael's music has always been welcome here, and his new release, "One World", is a stunning example of how creativity can enhance our lives and help unify our spirits, even at times when we are facing challenges. The cultural blending Michael weaves in, around and through his music are just what you need to overcome negative energies! Michael's new album releases in August, 2019, so there aren't new videos yet, but you can find many exciting videos from his earlier releases by SUBSCRIBING to his YouTube channel – I did.
I will come back and add samples when they're available, but for now, you'll just have to "trust my ear"… what's most notable on this new album is that Michael has captured the sound and feel of different cultures 'round the globe… tunes like "African Marketplace" have wonderful percussion and convey that sense of the joy of living that we all need in today's often-troubled world… I believe this song will be getting MAJOR airplay on all different kinds of stations as soon as it's officially released!
The opener, "A Gathering of the Elders", will help to calm any inner turmoil you may be experiencing as the old ones summon helpful spirits forth from the fire… there is a LOT of movement on this one, and I wouldn't be surprised to see you chanting and dancing right along with these shamans.
The haunting orchestral weave on "Across the Moor" will hold you spellbound, and when the flute sounds kick in, you will find yourself soaring above the fray; realizing that life was meant to be LIVED… again, Michael's mastery at weaving different sonic pieces together will astound you… I believe this song will be nominated for (and WIN) awards… a truly wonderful listening experience!
Of the fifteen aural adventures Michael has offered up, I found the title track, "One World", to be my personal favorite… you will find yourself hitting the replay button on this tune over and over again… the guitar work is exquisite.
I give Michael a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.99 for this most memorable musical wonder! Get more information on the new album as it becomes available at Michael's Leela Music site. Rotcod Zzaj
You can see the website review here.
New Age Music Reviews
Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
October 24, 2017
Artist: Michael Stribling
Title: Union - Music For Lovers
Genre: New Age Instrumental
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Label: Leela Music
It has been a few years since I had the chance to enjoy and provide some coverage of Michael Stribling’s music.
Union - Music For Lovers came out this month. Michael went down the path of providing listeners seeking peace with an option to attain that. He does accomplish his goal within his capabilities and artistry.
Although the title may suggest something else dependent on your outlook, it remains relevant. These are atmospheric and ambient sounds for people to find a zone of comfort. And this can be accomplished in union or by yourself; that is my belief, not necessarily anyone else’s. The union you achieve could be with yourself and a higher power or existing on another plane of attainment for some time. It truly depends on what you seek in the moment you start listening to these 11 tracks.
Michael uses a combination of keyboards and other computer-generated sounds and beats to create something that sounds like a flowing tapestry of beauty. It is a slice of electronic heaven if you will. I know that may not sound very warm and inviting; however, this music really is. He is a master at molding and shaping these sounds into a magical wonderland of vibrations, colors, and moods.
Union - Music For Lovers has many different shades of light and an ever changing pace. You will hear ethnic influences in his music as well, the kind that transport you. Those elements are the things that make this such an eclectic and enjoyable journey.
What Michael Stribling accomplishes is quite difficult, considering how he gets it all done and without help or support from anyone else. Union - Music For Lovers is a marvelous achievement of ambient and electronic new age instrumental music.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 24, 2017
October 23, 2017
Union: Music for Lovers is a collection of works dating from 2006 to 2011 by electronic keyboardist Michael Stribling. Featuring eleven compositions spanning seventy-two minutes of soothing romantic bliss, the album is intended to create an environment of sacred intimacy and closeness with that special someone. While a lot of music of varying styles often gets tagged as "new age" (such as is the case with many contemporary instrumental or solo piano recordings), I would regard Michael's music as epitomizing the truest essence of the new age musical genre, such as it relates to a specific brand of relaxing and instrumental synthesizer-based music that rose to its highest prominence in the 80's and 90's. Among some notable recording artists in the field to whom I'd compare Michael's style are Llewellyn, Merlin's Magic, Midori and Raphael.
One of my favorite pieces on the album is the opening, "New Day Dawning (Part 1)" – a meditative soundscape of silky smoothness. Guided by a light, sparse melody comprised of aquatic notes, subtle tabla drums provide a gentle rhythm with a touch of Eastern mystique. Another personal favorite is "Seven Faces of Home", which opens like a gentle breeze seemingly sweeping the listener up into the sky. Further introducing a subtle piano melody set to an airy mist of chords, sparse bass tones lend an additional layer of depth, as the collective musical elements effectively convey a notion of soaring through billowing white clouds illuminated by the sun's rays. "Longing" is another favorite – a somewhat magical, fantasy-like piece that seemingly bears a touch of the Far East. Here, a high-pitched flute is set upon the composition's main repeating metallic notes, which are soon accompanied by a light tapping rhythm that eventually leads up to a mesmerizing swirl of harp strings and glistening chimes. Curiously, this concluding part of the song makes me think of a mythical Chinese dragon taking flight overhead. Another particularly lovely piece is the 15-minute title track, "Union", which features a dreamy melody of synthesized reed and wind instruments throughout. Continuously drifting along, the composition's movement seemingly mimics the gently rocking motion of a boat, as the listener might perhaps imagine themselves sailing out at sea beneath a starry sky.
Perfect for baths, bedtime, massage or any other number of therapeutic past-times and practices, Union: Music for Lovers is a wonderfully selected and arranged compilation by an artist who seeks to heal and inspire through sound. Despite the thematic concept and intention of this collection, the music herein is tasteful, wholesome and won't leave anyone blushing, therefore making it appropriate for any type of environment. Nevertheless, this album would make an especially suitable Valentine's Day gift or listening selection for couple's massages! ~Candice Michelle
October 22, 2017
Union: Music For Lovers
2017 / Leela Music
Michael Stribling's tenth release, Union: Music for Lovers, creates a warm and soothing musical atmosphere for physical and/or emotional intimacy or simply some quiet time with your special someone (even if that someone is yourself!). The eleven tracks were compiled from six of Stribling's previous albums, and although it isn't officially a "best of" collection, it features some of his most beautiful and expressive work to date.
Stribling is an electronic keyboard artist who has been releasing albums on his own Leela Music label since 2006; I've reviewed all but the first one. A multi-instrumentalist from the age of seven, Stribling earned his Bachelors in Music degree with an emphasis on percussion performance in 1974. He played drums touring with Johnny Mathis for a time as well as performing in jazz bands, philharmonic orchestras, and doing a lot of studio work in various capacities. In 1981, he left the music field and went to graduate school, eventually becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and working in the mental health field for many years. He returned to music in 2005, and the rest, as they say, is history! Stribling formed Leela Music (leela means "divine play") to undertake a very simple mission: to help others in their journey toward wholeness through the gift of music, by creating works that inspire and uplift the human spirit.
Union: Music For Lovers begins with "New Day Dawning (Part 1)," a piece that suggests the tranquility of a sunrise and the promise of a new day. (This version was not previously released.) Graceful and very relaxed, it sets the mood for the album. "New Love" is more orchestral (electronic) with an ethereal sound that feels much like the magic and wonder of making a profound connection with someone. "Letting Go/ Afterthought" goes a bit darker and more reflective. Almost ambient at the beginning, the piece becomes a piano solo that seems very simple at first, but expresses a complex mix of emotions; the more ambient orchestral sound returns for the closing moments. "Seven Faces of Home" is one of my favorites. A bit more on the smooth jazz side, the leisurely tempo and gentle melody evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. "Longing" has been a favorite for many years. Throughout the piece, a playful little melody dances in and out of the foreground but is always there. The bass drum sounds like a beating heart as strings and other instrumentation create a poignant and hypnotic mood. The liveliest of the eleven tracks, "Longing" is still my favorite. "Veiled Dancers" is exotic, mysterious, and very sensuous. "Union" is fifteen minutes of musical heaven, allowing the listener(s) to float on a cloud of serenity - relaxed and worry-free. "Expansion" and "Afterglow" extend the blissful peacefulness for another twelve minutes - ambient and ethereal. "Quiet Conversation" gently caresses the senses with feelings of the closeness of shared moments - possibly talking about nothing or about everything. "At the End of the Day" brings this lovely album to an ambient and very contented close.
What a treat! Michael Stribling hints that this is the first of his themed compilations, so it will be interesting to see what he does next! Union: Music For Lovers is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
View the website review here.
Contemporary Fusion Reviews
Dick Metcalf aka Rotcod Zzaj
September 19, 2017
Michael Stribling intimate sacred energies
Michael Stribling – UNION/MUSIC FOR LOVERS: You get well over an hour's worth of Michael's soothing and inspiring music on this grand excursion into the energy fields that lovers need to inhabit. The opener alone, "New Day Dawning", makes it clear that Michael knows how to help those in love find the vibrations they will need to keep the fire going eternally. Of course, since I've reviewed his skillful work so often (most recently in issue # 161 [A Better Place], I know just how careful he is in crafting his soundworks.
The absolute beauty on "Seven Faces of Home" will inspire and move your spirit just as deeply as it did mine. Michael's pacing is pure perfection, especially in the context of his wish (on the liner notes) that "all your explorations be blessed and delightful." I can tell you (right now) that the creative spirit was at work when he put this music together; it literally "speaks to your soul."
The masterful combination of strings and horns on "Expansion" will take your ears to new heights; I've come to expect nothing less than total immersion when it comes to Michael's music, and that's exactly what you get here.
Of the eleven compositions Michael has assembled for this October 2017 release, it is, without a doubt, the marvelous "Quiet Conversation" that gets my vote for personal favorite. The interaction of keyboards with string sounds is stellar, and certainly provides that "musical environment" that Michael wanted to give lovers 'round the globe – I absolutely love this tune.
I give Michael a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this excellent sonic adventure. Get more information about this most intriguing player and his enchanting music at Michael's Leela Music site. - Rotcod Zzaj 9/19/17
Zone Music Reporter
R J Lannan
September 28, 2015
A Better Place
Maybe Where You Are
Generally, a better place refers to the hereafter, a heaven perhaps or even the achievement of enlightenment. But not always. What about a better place in the here and now? On earth, where you live. Musically, instrumentalist Michael Stribling offers his new album, A Better Place, as proof that some sense of peace and contentment can be found in your everyday life. Using synthesizer, keyboards and nature sounds, he does a remarkable job in presenting a tableau of fourteen soothing tracks of atmospheric music that puts your troubled heart at ease and comforts your fatigued body. Let us learn about the music.
I saw the sun rise this morning, a soft, flavescent beacon to my day, and although I could not feel its warmth, like oxygen, I knew it was there. The ascension of the morning star reminds me that every day is new and full of promise. Michael’s song, "First Light" started out unhurried, but like the day, light turned into energy and it breathed animation into the planet. Such is the music.
The knell of distant horns introduced the tune "Winter Encounter". They are desolate omens to the bleak cold, blustery harshness, and snow that is to blanket the earth. All the while, we witness the winds howl and the snow fall, mounting drifts against the solid objects of our lives, but then we realize. Under that covering of frozen flakes, life goes on. Somewhere there are roaring fires, steaming soups, books to be read a plenty and warm, fluffy blankets to drive away the cold.
Dreamy piano and waves of warm sound suffuse the tune "Just A Moment". The tempo is deliberate, the melody welcoming. It is a harmonious hand held up to ask you to wait for the next thing to happen. We could be witness to a rare flower bloom or maybe a shooting star. Just wait for it.
Using a sincere piano melody and like something out of a movie soundtrack Michael plays "Dust Yourself Off". I liked this song for its values of encouragement. Being in a better place can certainly offer hope when you find yourself at the nadir of everyday life. The music whispers, "fortitude my friend, fortitude." The music is sparkling and quietly effervescent.
The song "Reassurance" has an inorganic voice in the theme that is beautiful and haunting. After peace and hope, most of us are always on the quest for reassurance. Our jobs, out loves, our dreams all require that fleeting touch of optimism. Michael’s refrain is reassurance in musical form, hope between the cordial notes and expectation in the modest silences.
Michael Stribling reminds us that we should always keep looking for that better place, whether it is on a big, flat rock in the middle of the forest or deep in our own hearts. We cannot always take two weeks to refresh our lives, but every day we might just sit in the park, walk to work, tell a secret to a friend or remind ourselves that life is worth living. Sometimes a better place might be found in our dreams, but at other times, it is waking up to a fresh, new day.
Rating: Very Good