various artists,
Inner Balance
(New Earth, 2004)

Who among us could not use some Inner Balance? Life is so hectic trying to keep work, home and a social life in harmony. I know that all too often I get pulled in too many different directions and, in the end, I might do a decent job juggling the obligations I have ... except for one -- the obligation to myself. I give up sleep to get things done. But when do I get to relax? When do I get some down time for myself? How many of you feel the same way at times?

Fortunately, there are methods to help cope with all the hustle and bustle modern society has decided to incorporate into a full life. During my commute to/from work, I can listen to soothing music such as is found on the compilation CD Inner Balance, released by New Earth. As the liner notes state, "Sound acts as a bridge between body, mind, and spirit." In other words, sound in the form of music can "foster a feeling of well-being." As such, the tracks on this CD were specifically "compiled to sooth, energize, and to help dissolve and clear areas of tension."

Inner Balance contains 10 tracks from eight artists and lasts just under 72 minutes. The music ranges from the subtle flute playing of Terry Oldfield -- whose tracks "Earth & Sky" (found on the CD Yoga Harmony) and "Rising Sun" (found on A Time For Peace) straddle the line between background music and making the listener take notice -- to the more percussion and sitar based music of Chinmaya Dunster, represented by the track "Bhattiyali" (from the CD Karma Circles).

There are two tracks to truly take note of. The first is "Lotus Path" from the album of the same name by James Asher. The song starts off with quiet male chant/singing backing a melodic and hypnotic combination of guitar and keyboards. Slowly, the volume increases bringing the music from the background to the forefront. I would recommend resisting the urge to close your eyes and melding with the melody to release your pent-up stress if you are driving in traffic.

As good as the aforementioned tune is, it is eclipsed by the Rasa track "Gauranga Karuna" (found on Shelter). Rasa is composed of singer Kim Waters and instrumentalist Hans Christian. Kim's vocals are so serene as she sings, I believe, in Hindi. There is a slight hint of a light electronica drum beat in the background, but that is overshadowed by the various textures of stringed instruments upon which the vocals float. My only complaint about this track is that it is too short at 8 minutes, 55 seconds. I'm left wanting more (which I accomplish by pushing the back button on my CD player).

If you could use a break from the tensions of every day life, then you should consider Inner Balance. The music on this CD ranges from Celtic to Native American to Indian and beyond. The best part about a compilation is that it exposes you to various artists that you might not have otherwise heard about. If one or two particularly grab your attention then you have a place to start as far as expanding your CD collection with artists you know you enjoy.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 4 December 2004

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