One World, One People, One Voice: the message is in the music of ….and Love Rages On! With their new album, released today, AO Music have created a collection of global grooves that manage to be both soothing and propulsive. The music’s cinematic sweep and an impressive dynamic range combines booming, percussive cadences from all over the world with melodic vocal and instrumental interludes – recorded in real time by real musicians — and the sounds of children’s choirs from the United States, South Africa, China and the Republic of Georgia.
In his review of the new album, veteran music reviewer Michael Diamond wrote, “This album is majestic in its vision and magnificent in its presence, promoting a message of urgent relevance for our times.”
AO is an ancient Polynesian word that can mean either “pure light” or “all colors.” It’s a world that fits perfectly with the mission of the group’s four principals — singer/string instrumentalist/composer Richard Gannaway, keyboard, synth player/composer Jay Oliver, singer/composer Miriam Stockley and co-producer Sandeep Chowta – who collaborate with the goal of creating universally hybrid sounds that span continents and cultures.
Miriam Stockley’s contributions on this nine-song collection stand out brilliantly as one who has now been a member of the group for seven years. Her signature vocal sound is beautifully compatible with the universal soundscapes created by Gannaway and Oliver, and her performances are stellar. Co-founder Richard Gannaway said, “Miriam’s following from her days with Adiemus will be beyond pleased with this new collaboration, and new listeners will fall in love with her world-class voice and style.”
The album opens with “Gaiya Lo Mane,” a tune that slowly moves from a gentle beginning to a big, dramatic climax. Miriam’s Celtic flavored vocals blend with the ardent openhearted sounds of the Florida based children’s choir, The Chorus of Light. The wordless singing taps into the tradition of vocable music, “meaningless” phonetics that are chosen to allow humans to express the inexpressible. “In Lake’ch (I Am Another You)” takes its title from a Mayan phrase and opens with oud, bouzouki and hand percussion supporting the close unison of Stockley and Gannaway. The Martve Boy’s Choir of Tibilisi, Georgia adds ambient polyphonic vocals to the track’s subtle, spellbinding groove. Percussion lines that suggest Ireland, Cuba, India and West Africa open “Shen Deni;” Ashwin Srinivasan’s flute and deep, flowing synthesizer textures add to the music’s mystic feeling. For fans of chill music, “Sheyu” is among the most ambient tracks on the album, with Gannaway and Stockley’s vocals poignantly calling for beauty, joy and hope.
Michael Cooney’s pennywhistle set off the vocals of Johannesburg’s Bishop Bavin St. George’s Children’s Choir on “Ena Na Lena” for a perfect Afro-Celtic fusion. The title is the song’s only lyric, but the choir’s melodic improvisations make the phrase irresistibly catchy. The CRC Children’s Choir of Beijing supply the lead vocals on “One Kaleo,” over a funky rock ‘n’ roll beat. The opening verse, in Chinese, references “Little Red Riding Hood,” while the chorus voices the album’s theme, “One world, one people, one kaleo (voice/spirit/song).” “Ubuntu” has a lively, interlocking percussion track, but the song still creates a soothing, meditative aura to bring the album to a tranquil close.
Gannaway and Oliver have been refining the sound of AO Music for more than a decade and composed theme music for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. One of those tracks, “On Jai Ya” provides the music “bed” for the Project Peace on Earth video promoting the urgency of the world peace concert slated for 11-11-11 in Manger Square, Bethlehem; the video is also narrated by Stockley. AO Music enlisted Stockley after hearing her voice in Karl Jenkins’ double-platinum selling Adiemus project. She also helped compose the music on ….and Love Rages On! Sandeep Chowta, a producer and composer with deep roots in Indian music, recruited and recorded the Indian musicians that contribute to the album’s international ambience. ….and Love Rages On! expands and enriches the ambitious vision Gannaway and Oliver introduced on Twirl and Grow Wild. They continue to move toward a musical expression that incorporates the sounds of rock, folk, world and new age music.
Clearly, the use of children’s choirs is an important part of AO Music’s sound, and last week, AO Music and HavServe.org announced an alliance to benefit children’s music programs in Haiti. In the first stage of the alliance, AO Music will direct their fans to HavServe’s secure fundraising location on FirstGiving.org, in an effort to raise $5000 to launch a pilot program for which Gannaway will travel to Haiti to work with the children and to capture the uniquely joyous sound of Haitian music. Ultimately, HavServe’s goal is to repeat the music program in villages throughout Haiti on an ongoing basis to focus and uplift the tens of thousands of children displaced by the earthquake in 2010. Within five years, the partners resolved to create a “best of the best” Haitian children’s choir to perform with other choirs throughout the world on future AO Music albums. The organizations are using a customized AO Music page and widgets from the secure fundraising site Firstgiving.org to safely collect and track donations. Visit the site at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/AOMusic4Haiti/HavServe-volunteer-service-network
If you like music that defies genres — in the vein of Afro Celt Sound System, Deep Forest, Sacred Spirit, B-Tribe, Peter Gabriel, Enigma, Scala, Transglobal Underground or Yanni’s later work — then you’ll appreciate the sound of AO Music’s new release …And Love Rages On!
AOMUSIC — “music for a new eon” — includes musicians Richard Gannaway, Jay Oliver and Miriam Stockley, who collectively have worked with Sheryl Crow, The Eagles, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Chaka Khan, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, Bonnie Raitt, Chick Corea, Dave Weckl & many more. Key contributing artists include Sandeep Chowta, Andy Georges, George Bernardo, Doug Lunn, and various children’s choirs throughout the world. Their latest album “…and Love Rages On!” is released in February 2011; all three of their albums are available from the group’s website (http://aomusic.com/ao/frameset.asp), Burnside Distribution Corporation in the U.S.(http://www.bdcdistribution.com), and Silenzio Music in Europe (www.SILENZIO.de). Their music is also available worldwide on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.