Michael Stribling
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Michael Stribling

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MICHAEL STRIBLING
Songs of Hope and Healing
Leela Music (2006)

While not the most misleading title I’ve ever seen, Michael Stribling’s Songs of Hope and Healing may elicit some head-scratching from New Age music fans during the first track, “Percocious” which opens this diverse CD with propulsive sampled ethnic percussion and drums amid influences from gamelan, Africa kalimba, and the Far East, setting a fast pace as if one was running on the Serengeti plains or up a mountain path in Tibet. If you come to this recording expecting nothing but serene gentle soundscapes, you’re either going to be pleasantly surprised or alarmed. In fairness to the artist, according to a letter which accompanied the CD, this variety of moods, tempos, and styles is wholly intentional.

Stribling is quite adept at navigating through the various sonic waters he travels, whether it be the flowing ambient-ish washes and tones of “New Day Dawning” (which morphs into a bouncy cheery slice of electronica, a la Davol or Soundician), the dramatic spacy washes of “Big Planets,” a plaintive and sparse solo piano piece (“Trust”), the burbly electronics and syncopated synths on “Where do we go from here?,” or the somber ambient soundscape of “Reminiscence” which may invite comparisons to Patrick O’Hearn at his least percussive.

The album contains twelve tracks, two of which clock in at over nine minutes in length. “Peace at Sea,” one of the lengthy tunes, is a contemplative flowing new age piece with lots of synthesizers and occasional ebbing and flowing string washes which could also be categorized as semi-classical (all of this is buoyed by the sounds of waves underneath it all).

The artist makes a dubious choice for a final track, the rhythmic electro-tribal-world fusion tune “Striding Through Eternity,” but I think he was aiming at ending the CD on an optimistic and energizing note, not going out on a more typical peaceful fade into nothingness. Kudos to him in making that unusual decision.

Michael Stribling took a 25 year break from music and Songs of Hope and Healing is his return to the fold, as it were. Apparently, the absence hasn’t hurt his talent or his skill. This CD is well performed and produced and the originality of some compositions can’t be overlooked either. Everything here is accessible and enjoyable from the get go, provided you have a broad taste in new age music. The more uptempo electronic pieces dominate, so be prepared to tap your toes or snap your fingers (there are some catchy hooks to be heard). If I was pressed for a comparison, I’d be tempted to cite Peter Buffett, or Aetopus, although the former’s music tends to be more cinematic in feel and moodier. Stribling wears his heart on his musical sleeve, which in this case is just fine with me. I hope he doesn’t leave the scene for another 25 years before making more music like this.

Rating: Good+

Bill Binkelman
Reviewer
New Age Reporter
http://www.newagereporter.com - New Age Reporter


Songs of Hope and Healing

I’ve have been listening to Michael P. Stribling's new album for a few weeks now. Yeah, sometimes I listen to the same album for a month before I actually put down words. Songs of Hope and Healing offers a mix of electronic and contemplative tunes that are very palatable, but the title of the works seems a bit off center. Don’t get me wrong. I think that all music has some cathartic properties, especially with our genres of music. Stribling's mix of energetic tunes and emotional themes has that effect. Michael's CD has some long cuts on it; some of them better than eight minutes, but once you get into it, and you will get into it, the time passes without notice.

The opening tune Percocious has an almost industrial electronic sound. It has a driving beat and a snappy score that gets the heart pumping and the feet tapping. There’s a bit of drama to the subject and a taste of the Oriental with the banging of the gongs. Notice the spelling of the title. I like his sense of humor.

The mood changes quickly and positively with the next song, and one of my favorites, New Day Dawning. I thought I could feel the rotation of the planet with this music playing in the background. The song is a metamorphosis of force as the sun warms the earth and, as the song progress, it gains in inertia as well as energy. There is momentum gained and spirit renewed.

With a whisper of angelic voices and a touch of ocean waves Peace at Sea is the absolute best cut on Songs of Hope and Healing. This song is true to the overall theme of the album and I played this one a hundred times; it is that beautiful. It has a pastoral score that more than once crescendos with emotion and excitement. Musically, it is the sun guiding your course to home. It is the climax of seeing the rocky shore after being lost on the dull, green ocean for a lifetime. It is the crimson and gold delight to the eye of the sunset once safely on terra firma. And for this miraculous journey - you never leave your doorstep. Outstanding.

With a nod to composer Jan Hammer and to every Italian TV commercial there ever was comes the spunky tune Striding Through Eternity. This is a funny bouncy song that gets you going. If you have trouble rising each day, just play this one. It generates its own energy and you are powerless not to be affected. A fun tune.

It seems like Michael's music is a good balance of liveliness and feeling after all. I enjoyed listening to the music especially driving down the road after a long, hot afternoon with the day’s work done and with the knowledge that home was not far away.

Rating: Good + - RJ Lannan
- New Age Reporter


Discography

Released in August 2010, "Paradise Lost" solemnly commemorates the displacement of the Native American peoples at the hands of the "white man" as they immigrated to North America. Twelve original compositions are divided into three acts, or movements: paradise, in the "before days"; the coming of the white man, and the resulting conflict and tragedy; and lament, requiem, and resolution.

In 2009, "The Promise" held the #2 spot on the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 List for two months in a row (October 2009, November 2009) and won the Zone Music Award for Best Electronic Album of 2009. The album follows Everyman's Journey from the hustle and bustle of daily living to the anticipation and promise of the great beyond. Fourteen original compositions cover the gamut of yang and yin, and the transition from life to Life.

Released in the summer of 2008, "Love, Light, and Water" ranked in NAR's (now Zone Music Reporter's) top 10 for two consecutive months (June 2008, July 2008). The album celebrates the hope and promise of new love, the energizing beauty of light, and the sustaining power of water. Fifteen original instrumental compositions form three mini-suites, and all songs are calming and meditative.

"Another Day in Paradise", which was released in late 2007, held the #2 spot for two consecutive months (December 2007, January 2008). This CD is an offering of 11 instrumental compositions that celebrate the basic themes of a typical day in paradise: processions and celebration; morning, afternoon, and evening; the land, ocean, and sky; youth; spiritual/physical union; and dance.

"Out of the Darkness, Into the Light" was released in early 2007. It ranked #2 on the Top 100 List in its first month of release (January 2007).

Michael Stribling's debut album, "Songs of Hope and Healing", ranked #1 on the New Age Reporter Top 100 List (July 2006) and won the NAR Lifestyle Music Award for Best Electronic Album of 2006. This CD is a collection of 12 instrumental compositions that reflect a variety of moods and styles, e.g., percussive, meditative, dramatic orchestral, driving rhythmic, introspective, uplifting "heart" music. Michael was also nominated for Best New Artist in the 2006 NAR Lifestyle Music Awards.

"Journey Within" is a meditative piece that's good for, well, meditating, along with massage, yoga, etc. It was released at the same time as "Songs of Hope and Healing."

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Bio

I started piano lessons at age 7, and I also studied violin, clarinet, and guitar for a time. But when the Beatles arrived in America in 1964, I switched to drums and never looked back. I earned a Bachelors in Music (emphasis in percussion performance) in 1974, and then promptly went on the road and played drums for a fella named Johnny Mathis. Before that, though, I was a radio announcer in the early '70s for what would now be referred to as a Classic Rock station (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc.). Along the way, I did lots of studio work as a performer, composer/arranger, producer, engineer, etc., and I also played lots of musical theater productions.

In 1981, I changed careers and went off to graduate school, leaving music behind, and eventually becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in 1992. I worked in the mental health field for over 20 years. One of the most memorable experiences of that part of the journey was studying transpersonal psychology with Stan Grof.

I returned to my first love (music) in 2005 after—what else?—life transitions. After all those years and projects, working for others, I finally decided it was time to produce an album "all by myself".

Some of my musical influences (among many, many others) include The Beatles, Jan Hammer, J. S. Bach, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea, Peter Gabriel (heck, this could get ridiculously long).

While there have been many life/spiritual influences, here are the most significant ones over the past couple of years: David R Hawkins, Lester Levenson, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, Lao-tzu, Eckhart Tolle (again, among others)

That brings me up to now. I 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.

Well, that's a start … I'll probably think of more stuff as soon as I publish this.