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Remembering Tony O’Connor

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Tony O’Connor died in 2010, but his music lives on. In this article I’m going to present four of his albums that in different ways show his amazing creative talent. Hopefully you too will fall in love with Tony O’Connor’s music – or perhaps you already are a fan?

tony-o-connor2Tony O’Connor was born in 1961. He debuted as a New Age music artist in 1987 with the album Journey. His music will be of special interest for fans of Medwyn Goodall and Clifford White, which both debuted in the late 1980s – also known as the Golden Age of New Age music. O’Connor’s discography is rich (see below), and it is hard to pick a few key albums. But rest assure, the releases mentioned here are fantastic.

Nature was very important to Tony. He used nature sounds quite heavily in his music, which added both life and context. He even stopped songs in the middle to feature nature sounds. For him birds singing or sounds of waves had a special musical quality. He was highly inspired by his working surroundings; Studio Horizon in the Hinterlands of South East Queensland on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

tony-o-conor-rainforest-magic

Rainforest Magic (1991)
With over 500.000 copies sold, Rainforest Magic is one of those albums that shaped the view on New Age music – both in a good and a bad way. The Steven Halpern inspired Rhodes piano, flute and «tropical paradise» sounds, are all extremely well done. But at first it might seem like cliché massage music, like something Phoebe in Friends would play while massaging her clients. But remember that this is one of the original albums in this genre. When you get past this there are many great melodies here to enjoy. I love the gentle beauty of Memories. It truly is a magnificent song. Next track, Silent Spirit, has just the same heartwarming atmosphere. My favorite though is Mountain Forest.

Rainforest Magic is a fantastic relaxation album with a lovely, early 1990s feel.

Score: 94/100 – See how I rate music here

tony-o-conor-hall-of-beginings

Hall of Beginnings (2001)
Tony O’Connor was just as much a storyteller as a musician. Listening to Hall of Beginnings is like opening a great fantasy novel. It is custom made music for reading – as indicated by the «fantasy collection» on the cover. Everything from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones will become even more exciting with this in the background.

The album starts with the title song. It paints a wonderful picture of a grand hall in a castle. You can sense that within these walls there is enough drama and intrigue for several novels. The synth strings and harp are wonderfully played.

Tony was a master flutist, as heard on Seeker. The gentle flute melody is backed by wonderful layers of synths. It is the perfect song for fantasy adventures, telling stories of magic and mystery.

The next song is the epic A Blessing – The Battle. The orchestral arrangements are first class and it has an interesting build up. Other favorites here are Across the Fourth Sea and Elven Dance.

Hall of Beginnings is simply put an amazing fantasy music album. Tony O’Connor was not just a musician, but also a magician.

Score: 95/100 – See how I rate music here

tony-o-conor-kakadu

Kakadu (1991)
Kakadu is the kind of album Tony O’Connor enjoyed most making. It is from start to finish a tribute to nature and wildlife. He made this album in collaboration with Australian wildlife photographer Steve Parish. Some might say that there is too much focus on sounds of nature. Composers have to use such effects with care. But here they are tastefully «built in», adding life and colors to the songs.

The album starts slowly with harp and strings. Ode to the Bush is a gentle love declaration. Even if you are not that into hiking, camping and the outdoors, you can’t help being touched by this soulful playing.

Floodplain is my favorite track on the album. It is a brilliant piano melody, showing O’Connor’s full potential as an artist. Shapes of Mystery is a more thoughtful song. The two parts are like night and day, with totally different atmospheres. The guitar parts on Billabong are also amazing. The guitar was Tony’s primary instrument.

Kakadu tells the story of an artist who had found his expression. This was his format, and he was able to create great art that will live for years and years.

Score: 94/100 – See how I rate music here

tony-o-conor-mariner

Mariner (1990)
When mentioning Tony O’Connor’s music we must mention Mariner. It is a fantastic sleeping aid, and a must for all wooden ship enthusiasts.

There’s something incredibly relaxing about the sounds of the ship, and Tony’s light playing is mesmerizing. I know that many have a deep love for this album.

Score: 95/100 – See how I rate music here.

In conclusion : Tony O’Connor’s music is highly recommended. Here you’ll find some of the best New Age music ever released. It is not overly complicated or tries to be something that it is not. It is simply beautiful and inspiring music.

What is your favorite Tony O’Connor album?

Albums by Tony O’Connor:

  • Journey (1987)
  • Because We Fly (1988)
  • Childlight (1988)
  • Mirror Moon (1989)
  • In Touch (1989)
  • Mariner (1990)
  • Tales of the Wind (1990)
  • Bushland Dreaming (1990)
  • Hidden Forest (1990)
  • Rainforest Magic (1991)
  • Uluru (1991)
  • Seashore Sunrise (1991 – Discontinued and then re-released in 1995)
  • Rainforest Magic (1991)
  • Kakadu (1991)
  • Wilderness (1992)
  • Australian Bush Garden (1992)
  • Dreams and Discoveries (1994)
  • Lovesong (1995 – Re-released in 2001)
  • Windjana (1996)
  • Summer Rain (1997)
  • Music for Mother and Child (1998)
  • Dreamtime (1998)
  • Live in Concert (1998)
  • Whispering Sea (1999)
  • Awakenings (1999)
  • Zodiac Collection (2000)
  • Under Southern Skies (2000)
  • Hall of Beginnings (2001)
  • Enchanted Christmas (2001)
  • Wind Seeker (2002)
  • Aqua Zone (2003)
  • Private Collection (2004)
  • Memento (2005) – Gold Album Award
  • Complete Calm (2007)
  • Australian Lullaby