[Enlightened Practice Magazine, April/May 2004]
Lake Melva Meditation" is the first CD in the Water Trilogy. This CD, featuring bamboo flutes from around the world and using no percussion, is especially useful for relaxation or a gentle meditative Yoga practice. During the first cut titled "Rainforest Cave" (30 minutes in length), the Dizi, a Chinese Bamboo flute, plays long held out phrases over even longer bass tones from the Australian Didgeridoo. Dripping water creates the effect of being in a cave during this meditative piece. Other instruments include small Indian Brass Bells, the Australian Rainstick, and chimes. The combination of instruments takes you on a peaceful and serene journey into a safe, spacious cave looking out onto a beautiful Rainforest landscape.
"Deserts Oasis" (12 minutes in length) is the second cut on "Lake Melva Meditation" and features Richard on the Bansuri, an Indian bamboo flute. Soaring melodies over a single note drone draws the listener deeper and deeper into an oasis of relaxation.
The title cut "Lake Melva" (30 minutes in length) is the final cut on this CD and proves to be the most exotic, using a Mid-eastern influence from an Egyptian bamboo flute, and a live recording of the natural sounds at Lake Melva in Florida: a chorus of frogs, crickets, and the wind in the palm trees. It must have truly been a serene and peaceful evening on the lake. You can hear the "conversation" of the frogs moving from near right to across the lake and far away on the left if you are listening to this piece on headphones or a nicely separated stereo field.
Lake Melva Meditation" is a special CD in the Meditation/Relaxation genre and is high on my recommended listening list. Do yourself a favor and go to Richard's website www.yellowbellmusic.com and listen to samples from his other CDs. You can also order his CDs from the site.
Yellow Bell is the name local South Florida recording artist Richard Brookens chose for his World Fusion/Jazz and Meditation/Relaxation recording projects and infrequent concerts. You might see him playing the Tablas with Bhagavan Das, Russill Paul, or David Newman at Kirtans held at South Florida Yoga studios or on woodwinds at other local venues.
[ Bill Binkelman, Wind & Wire Magazine, New Instrumental Music and Interviews.]
Richard Brookens, recording as Yellow Bell, has released a superb meditation/relaxation recording, Lake Melva Meditation. This CD contains three of the most serene pieces of music in my collection, yet the music (which is primarily flute) is also haunting and mystical. As a result, even though this could be ideal for meditation, ambient music lovers might find themselves enjoying these patient and introspective musical journeys as well.
The first and third cuts are each thirty minutes long, with the middle cut being twelve minutes in length. The first song, "Rainforest Cave" features Richard playing a dizi (Chinese bamboo flute), Indian brass bells, rainstick and chimes. He is accompanied on the song by Russel Feingold on didgeridoo. However, the didge on this piece is very subdued compared to many other didge recordings I've heard. It's almost totally used as an acoustic drone, more or less. Because of the presence of bells and chimes, there is a faint Far Eastern texture to the song, although it's muted."
None of the songs on Lake Melva Meditation have any rhythm whatsoever. Instead the music is like smoke from burning incense - it wafts shapelessly in the air, slowly dispersing its notes in the same way that the fragrance from incense slowly fills a room.
On the middle song, "Desert Oasis", Richard plays bansuri (East Indian bamboo flute) and dizi. This piece is restful yet also sublimely beautiful. The sound quality of the entire CD is wonderful - never shrill or harsh yet also clear and pristine.
The album closes with "Lake Melva" which is the best thing on the album, although that's relative because the entire recording is a delight. This song is what prompted me to use the word "haunting" earlier in my review. Playing a heavily echoed Egyptian bamboo flute, the song also features various nature sounds which Richard recorded at Lake Melva: crickets, frogs, and the wind in the trees. The flute on this song has to be heard to be appreciated. It is extremely beautiful without being at all cloying or sweet. The music is introspective and even somber, as the flute's notes and tones ebb and flow amongst the subtle nocturnal nature sounds (the sounds are so perfectly suited for the music that even if you normally dislike nature sounds with music, this is still worth your attention).
An obvious comparison might be to the duo Coyote Oldman, but honestly, while it's hard for me to pinpoint why, Richard's music is not similar to their's. Instead, the closest likeness I can come up with are the groundbreaking releases from flutist Paul Horn, such as his landmark Inside the Great Pyramid. But, the addition of the other elements here (didgeridoo, nature sounds, chimes) adds a depth to this recording that makes it something ultra-special. Lake Melva Meditation is a rich listening experience and a superlative album. Highly recommended for open-minded ambient fans and those seeking transcendental meditative music. Had I heard this release earlier, it would have landed on my "Best of 1999" list with ease. Outstanding!
Richard Brookens (recording here as Yellow Bell) has taken the transcendental meditative experience, and expressed it beautifully with his 1999 release Lake Melva Meditation. Featuring three lengthy pieces, this recording consists mainly of flute, supported by Indian brass bells, rainstick, water chimes and didjeridu. The effect of this album is one of deep relaxation, and fans of ambient as well as those seeking a simple and serene experience will find the music presented here to be deeply satisfying.
The opening piece, entitled "Rainforest Cave" is a 30 minute sojourn into the deep jungle, lazily drifting down a long and winding river. The flute performance is absolutely mesmerizing, and the constant sound of water and rainstick along with didjeridu makes for a very pleasant journey. I like the way this piece seems to be carrying us somewhere, and not just trying to put us to sleep (although I could very easily doze off to this!).
Moving forward to "Desert Oasis", we find the Bansuri (Indian flute) along with the Dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute that produces a unique sound, and is used here as drone under the sound of the Bansuri. This piece is a striking contrast to "Rainforest Cave" as you can almost feel the dampness drying off as you step into a warm and dry desertscape. The sound is extremely clear on this piece, as indeed it is throughout the entire album. To me, this is important when presenting a sparser set of instrumentation...it truly allows for a significantly more intimate experience with the music and instruments.
Closing the album is the title track "Lake Melva". Featuring various natural sounds such as wind through trees and crickets, this is the most demure piece on Lake Melva Meditation. Though I wouldn't use the word "dark" to describe this piece, it definitely has a more laid-back presentation. What I particularly like about this piece (that I thought surely must have been recorded in a studio) is that it was recorded live at Florida's Lake Melva in 1999.
Richard Brookens is clearly doing some exciting things in the realm of meditative music. Reading some of the excerpts from his website, I was impressed by how many Yoga practitioners were supporting his music. And from what I've seen, the other reviews of this album have been extremely positive. If you're looking for something a little different than the usual ambient offerings that are out there, take some time to get to know the work of Yellow Bell. Lake Melva Meditation is an excellent place to start.