by Mark Maxwell Abushady, NYC
Darwin Never Knew
PBS has released on DVD its two hour special which reviews and updates Darwin's historic 'The Origin of Species.' After a comprehensive overview of the salient moments in Darwin's life which led him to his historic writings, the film settles in to its main purpose - a search for corroboration in the genetic sciences of Darwin's description of evolution by natural selection. 'What Darwin Never Knew' proves the man even more admirable in that he could reason such conclusions before the discovery of DNA.
There are some very interesting revelations here. For example, through the Human Genome Project, it was discovered that humans have the same number of genes as a chicken, and far fewer than an ear of corn. What makes a major difference is in what genes are turned on, at what time, in what sequence, to what degree of 'intensity,' and what genes are not turned on. Darwin observed that nature is a battlefield and that everything is in competition in this brutal battle, but that this 'war of nature' is actually a creative process. 'Creative process' and 'brutal battle' are two interesting terms to tie together both physically and metaphysically. Certainly this is a film that engenders thought on all levels.
That said, the approach in this film is strictly scientific, with a few described lab animal tests (drosophila, field mice and bird embryos), and a number of sections on gene sequencing. Fossil records are also explored. The final section of the film explores the possible genetic changes that would allow for the development of the human brain.
A great 'refresher course' for those interested in the biological and genetic sciences, with some interesting updated revelations to what has been often been called 'the best idea anyone ever had.'
Offerings is a surprisingly enjoyable album. Out of so many submissions to Creations of meditative music, this one really stood out as a thoughtfully composed series of works. There seems a distinctive blending of Eastern and Western sensibilities in these offerings; familiar, yet exotic, simple, yet profound. And yes, there is a meditative quality to this recording, but it is active music as well. An impressive album and highly recommended. Classical guitar, strings, bells, synthesizer and nature sounds form the warm ensemble of musical sounds. It is clearly music composed and performed with love.
Wow. I came to this music in a 'frazzled' state of mind, and I could not be more impressed with the calming and gentle nature of this offering from the prolific Dean Evenson and his magical flute. On this album he is accompanied by Tom Barabas on keyboards - piano and well-utilized synthesizer - and Natalie Twigg, who compliments Mr. Evenson's flute beautifully on Oboe and English Horn. Here is music which embraces the listener in warmth and light. Healing, meditative and spiritual are words which come to mind listening to this beautiful album.
Modal and medieval at times, epic and storytelling, Sora's songs feature her voice, which is clear and bell like. Utilizing it as effectively as a solo violin, she sings her extremely poetic lyrics, which speak of woods and fairies, children and the seasons, but mostly of romantic love, with a particular emphasis on its angst. In one song she likens its dissolution to continental drift, complete with reference to tectonic plates. The musical settings are very lyrical and beautifully performed by a capable ensemble, though Sora herself, beyond singer, is composer pianist, and violinist. Undoubtedly the star of this offering is her voice and its artful setting.
Mr. Mayorga has produced a fine album of original piano compositions in a gentle, melodic and romantic style, accompanied variously by strings, percussion, and synthesizer. Classical, World, and New Age influences are evident, and the pieces vary in mood, but are cohesive in their cleanly melodic style and superb execution. Debut albums can have an element of excitement, and Cascades has just that. A fine offering.