As someone who does not know tempo from rhythm from beat and tone from treble from pitch, I feel very honoured to have been invited by Ivan to review a music album which he created with Adrian. As both of them have full-time jobs, making music is only their hobby and this album is their maiden effort.
My involvement in music is strictly limited to being a casual listener and even so, only of certain genres. I listen mostly to pop, especially old 60-80s Chinese and English songs that I grew up with; fusion like those by Shakatak; and contemporary jazz by Quincy Jones, George Benson and the like.
Initially, I could not download the songs from the archive so Ivan emailed me the files. After some fumbling, I finally got my MP3 player loaded with the 9 songs from the album and played them in my car.
First impression is that the music sounded very much like the chill-out or spa music CDs which I bought some time back - very soothing and easy-listening.
However, like most music of this type which I have listened to, some consecutive stanzas of the music sounded so much alike that it is as if they are repeating themselves like a broken record. In addition, some tracks ended rather abruptly. If there was a consistent gradual fade-out of about 10-second duration, the endings would have been smoother.
Perhaps it was to make the recordings sound instrument-like rather than synthesized (using Garageband?) but the guitar "squeaking" (right term?) on Track 3 - Starfish at 1m:15s was overdone. It sounded rather jarring and irritating to me. If not, it would have easily been my favorite track (same as Elaine's choice). I also particularly like Track 7 - Once Upon A Star, a beautiful piano piece. Track 9 - Seabreeze is another very nice track that has an oriental flavour to it. It has instruments that sound to my untrained ears like er hu and cymbals in it.
The background sounds of children's laughter, waves, seagulls and dolphins are all very cleverly well-blended with the music. They are not over-powering and do not distract the listener from the music itself. The listener is immediately "transported" to the seaside, especially when he/she closes his eyes and concentrate on the music.
Overall, the album is worth listening to even if it is not free. It is certainly much, much better than the only CD which my colleague keeps playing in his car - Gregorian Chants. Perhaps it is his strategy to put off people like me from taking free rides in his car. Hmm... maybe I will burn a copy of SeaStars2007 for him. The album is licensed under Creative Commons am I right, Ivan and Adrian?