It takes a lot these days to stand out and do something new. But some artists are creative and bold enough to do something different. One such artist is Michael Kollwitz. He plays the Chapman Stick, which gives his music a wonderful and unique sound. Kollwitz is now ready with the third installment in his highly successful Serenity series. It is the best in the series so far, and a landmark release in recent New Age music.
Michael Kollwitz has played The Chapman Stick for over forty years. He has recorded in such diverse genres as Jazz, Classic Rock, Latin, Hawaiian, Americana, and even Christmas music. Michael’s 21st album, “Serenity- Peaceful Music on The Chapman Stick” (2017) marked a change in course for his music. His goal was to create a sonically healing experience to evoke soothing simplicity and peaceful relaxation for his listeners. “Serenity II” (2018) made it to the Billboard Top Ten New Age chart, and “Serenity III” debuted this week as no. 3 on the same chart!
Cloud Number Eleven
First track is called “Cloud Number Eleven”. It takes Kollwitz less than 5 seconds to transport us way up into the clouds. The song has a carefree vibe and the sound of the Chapman Stick is rich and warm. Perfection is the word that comes to mind. You just have to close your eyes to drift off. It is amazing. On “Soft Forest” we are back on Earth again, but just barely. It is a slow and bright tune, custom-made for relaxation and thinking. “Tell Me Why” adds nice contrasts and colors. The song is like a short story; we don’t really get an answer to the “Tell Me Why”, but a feeling that the question had to be asked. Wonderful!
If you already own Serenity I and II, you’ll notice that Serenity III is a bit happier. An artist of Kollwitz’ format can do any style, obviously, but the happy atmosphere gives the album a nice easy listening quality. Check out “Wherever It Leads” and you’ll understand what I mean.
Gift Of Peace
Another thing I like about Kollwitz’ music is that it makes you think. “Gift Of Peace” is such a song. Peace is not something that can be taken for granted. Many have struggled and died for the peace you and I enjoy. They gave the biggest gift of all, and Kollwitz’ song communicates this emotion beautifully. With “Smooth Sailing”, “Contemplation” and “Winding Down” we really get to enjoy the gift of peace. A big dose of gratitude to those who sacrificed everything is in its place.
At this stage on the album Kollwitz is inviting us into the “Crystal Caverns”. You can almost see, even touch, the glittering crystal and feel the enormity of the caverns. The song is beautiful beyond words. As I wrote above, “Serenity III” is a true feel-good album. The song “Playful Curiosity” brings a smile to my face. The same goes for the lovely “Have A Good One”.
There’s a gentle poetry here as well; “Forgive And Forget” has a nice touch of melancholy. I guess that is a part of the “forgive, forget and move on” process. My favorite song on the album is “On The Lake”. Kollwitz’ tableau of life on the lake is magnificent! It is pretty as a painting. It feels (or should I say sounds) like being on a picknick and lazily enjoying the scenery.
Near the end “Secret Cargo” has an exciting story to tell. It is not a scary story. This secret cargo is positive, warm and bright. It is like discovering that you are much stronger than you think, and that this “secret cargo” was inside you the whole time. “Good Night Sleep Tight” is a worthy conclusion, and a heartfelt good-bye. This is peaceful music, and falling asleep is just a statement of how beautiful the music is.
In conclusion: I’ll end where I started; the music of Michael Kollwitz is different and highly creative. It is not just about the Chapman Stick; It is about the material and artistic expression. “Serenity III” is a fantastic addition to the series. It is perfect both for active listening and relaxation, filled with happy feelings and love. If that is not serenity, I don’t know what is.
Score: 96/100 – See how I rate music here.
Make sure to visit Michael Kollwitz’ homepage, where you can sample and purchase the album.
The latest episode of Dream Mixtape on New Age Stars Radio is dedicated to Serenity III: