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Joseph Akins | Castle Moon

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New Age: Solo Instrumental Classical: New Age Moods: Featuring Piano
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Castle Moon

by Joseph Akins

"Castle Moon" is the fifth piano album from Joseph Akins since 2007. It is a collection of piano instrumentals with darker-sounding themes than his previous album "A Southern Sun". Beethoven meets David Lanz with a splash of Game of Thrones - made in TN.
Genre: New Age: Solo Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Castle Moon
4:16 $0.99
2. Night Runner
4:24 $0.99
3. Gypsy Dreams
4:07 $0.99
4. Game of Thrones
3:16 $0.99
5. Moon Shadows
4:17 $0.99
6. 1,001 Nights
6:04 $0.99
7. A Nocturnal Waltz
3:41 $0.99
8. Star Dance
4:41 $0.99
9. A Starry Night
4:17 $0.99
10. The Dorian Zone
3:47 $0.99
11. Moonrise Romance
4:20 $0.99
12. Twilight Lullaby
3:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
These piano solos, with the exception of “Game of Thrones,” were written between the summers of 2013 and 2015. Initially I was inspired to write darker-sounding pieces similar to some I’ve written in the past, such as “Dance of my Ancestors” (Spirit Touch), “Night Shadows” (Spirit Touch) and “Winter is Coming” (A Southern Sun). Not only did this inspiration come from fans who mentioned these as favorites, I also wanted to create an album that would be the antithesis of my previous album, A Southern Sun. From this, “Castle Moon,” “The Dorian Zone,” “Moon Shadows” and “Night Runner” materialized. The latter was composed while I imagined a beautiful black horse running across an open field underneath a night sky. Another, “A Starry Night,” came from an improvisation at the piano as I observed artwork depicting nighttime scenery.

Two other pieces, “Gypsy Dreams” and “1,001 Nights,” are based on an exotic scale that I love to improvise and write with. “1,001 Nights” was originally recorded in 2009 with ensemble (percussion, electric bass and strings) and appeared on the album Spirit Touch. Since fans often declare this piece as a favorite during my piano concerts, it appears on this album as a solo performance. Finally, piano pieces such as “Star Dance,” “A Nocturnal Waltz,” “Moonrise Romance” and “Twilight Lullaby” are lyrical, emotive pieces that grew from the roots of my soul.

I present to you, Castle Moon. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it!



to write a review

Steve Sheppard

from One World Music Radio
Castle Moon by Joseph Akins is one of the most reflective solo piano albums I have heard for quite some time, the melody’s flow with a classic magical motif; the compositions are all so very pleasing to the senses.
Listen to the opener and the title track Castle Moon; one can see the musical reflection in the silver energy of the orb. The composition is so empowering and at times emotive, but Akins performance is so confident and self-assured it adds a film score quality to its energy.
Next up we move to a piece called Night Runner, the tempo was simply beautiful and with each hand movement Akins draws a fresh breath of energy from his musical soul, this as a piece, is a carefully constructed track that has some very interesting nuances within it, listen to this one over and over again, and you too will appreciate the very clever performance from the artist.
Gypsy Dreams is our next port of call on our journey with Joseph Akins; again the artist hits the musical spot and draws a great narrative with his piano so well, that one could easily be sitting around a Gypsy camp fire, watching a dance of many dreams before your eyes. Listen to the movement and flow on this arrangement, its superb.
Now this is a television show I have really not had much time to watch but this track called Game of Thrones carries that medieval feel superbly. What it does show is just how good Joseph Akins is as a performer, the presentation here is exceptional and flows like a full river in winter!
There was something so very gentle about Moon Shadows that I loved, Akins style here is very respectful and reflective, and through the music, one could see pictures and images of the past being played out by the shadows of the future, under the silvery light of the moon. This is a deeply moving composition and one that I intend to return to many times.
1001 Nights, now here is a title that evokes many memories for me, mainly of my father introducing me to the work of Rimsky Korsakov and Scheherazade’s A Thousand and One Nights. This is absolutely amazing, we can also be thankful for it being the longest track off the album at over 6 minutes. I would like to applaud Akins for including this gem on the album, his approach to this arrangement is dramatic, powerful and encompasses everything the original story was about, and this is simply brilliant.
As we carefully tread over the border of the midway point of the album we come across a track called A Nocturnal Waltz. Well this arrangement is just that, the waltz time signature is of course there, but through Akins performance, which is soft and careful, one can really depict a nocturnal sense of energy from the tones.
After our Waltz dear reader, it’s time to up the tempo very slightly, so we may have a Star Dance. The delicate pauses here contributed to the flow of the track and listen to the repeating melody that narrates the composition so well. Another clever creation from Akins that also has a childlike wonderment about its quality as well.
A Starry Night has almost the same pace as the preceding track, but the arrangement itself is more expansive and creates a sense of the vastness of the night sky, a site we can all wonder at when we take some time to look up instead of down! Joseph Akins has also built into this track a real sense of movement; it is like we’re travelling with him above in the earth and around the Galaxy.
The Dorian Zone is where we find ourselves next as this galactic journey with Joseph Akins continues, I believe that Akins could have created a suite with the last three pieces, but each also stand perfectly well on their own. The performance here seems to be quite intricate and has many segments where you literally have to go back and play over to really appreciate all those sweet touches.
Our penultimate piece is one of those Sunday morning or evening creations, that you could visualise being the sound track to your day starting, or ending, it’s laid back and chilled and one can literally see the sun or moon filtering in through the curtains as you begin to wake or prepare to rest, the choice is yours, on the track Moonrise Romance. Check out the very slight hint of a smooth jazz vibe here.
Our ending track gifted to us by the musician is called Twilight Lullaby, how appropriate, how soothing and I could imagine that to this music sleep would be only too happy to arrive; it is the flawless end to leave an album with, and perhaps there is even a little hint of Debussy in there as well?
Castle Moon is not only a delightful title, it’s a really lovely album, I like this album for many reasons. Joseph Akins certainly has manifested something so gentle but relevant here, he has followed a nocturnal theme and produced a really beautiful release that has a gorgeous flowing arrangement and energy about it. Castle Moon is going to be adored by the solo piano community, but should also be listened to by a public desperate for good music, a smooth production, combined with a heartfelt performance, this is one not to miss out on.

Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
Sporting one of my favorite album covers that I’ve seen in a while, “Castle Moon,” the new release by pianist and composer Joseph Akins offers an interesting yin/yang contrast with his previous album “A Southern Sun,” which I also had the pleasure of writing about. That album, as the title implies had a sun theme and a brighter ambiance in comparison to the new album’s moon theme and corresponding musical direction. According to Joseph: “This album has a nightly theme. Overall, it has a darker, mysterious sound. This was accomplished by the use of more minor keys and exotic scales.”

So lets explore the nocturnal mysteries waiting for us within the tracks of “Castle Moon.” The album begins with the title track, and a very brief intro that reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Sounds Of Silence.” From there the music has quite a cinematic feel to it, and although there are no words, it seems to tell a grand story through its emotionally evocative melody. A composition called “Gypsy Dreams” is a perfect example of the “minor keys and exotic scales” that Joseph referred to earlier, and which transport the listener to a far away time and place. One of my favorite songs was “A Starry Night.” I particularly liked Joseph’s driving left hand arpeggio’s that provided a propulsive momentum, which his more delicate right hand melodies danced lightly over. Another favorite for me was “Moonlight Romance,” with its slightly jazzy feel that showed another facet of Joseph’s diverse playing.

I genuinely enjoyed every song on “Castle Moon,” and while the album definitely stands on its own as an exceptional musical body of work, I also appreciate it as the contrast it was intended to be with Joseph’s previous release, A Southern Sun. Each aspect of the solar/lunar dichotomy is beautifully expressed in their respective albums. Joseph Akins is a stellar pianist whose imaginative compositions are illuminated by his technical expertise and emotional sensitivity. “Castle Moon” shines a light on the night and reveals a deeply reflective listening experience that will appeal to piano music fans as well as a wider audience.

To read a full-length feature article on this album, as well as others, please visit: www.MichaelDiamondMusic.com

Shoshana Michel

Hauntingly Beautiful!
Castle Moon is a collection of piano solos that are hauntingly beautiful. Although these pieces are on the 'darker side', they are neither somber nor heavy. They are flowing and have a mystical touch to them. It is easy to imagine a majestic castle complete with knights and fair maidens. Joseph's skill as a pianist and composer is remarkable and the close connection that he has to both the piano and his music is apparent. Castle Moon would be perfect to listen to while relaxing, meditating, doing yoga, or unwinding before bed. It is the perfect background music that won't get lost in the background. Although I enjoyed all the tracks, 'Night Runner', 'Moon Shadows' and 'Moonrise Romance' were among my favorites. Add Castle Moon to your musical collection and let it take you to where your imagination and soul want to go.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Castle Moon" is the fifth solo album from pianist/composer Joseph Akins, one of my favorite artists. Darker than most of his previous albums, Akins wanted this one to be the antithesis of his much lighter and more carefree "A Southern Sun" (2013), which was nominated as “Best Piano Album - Solo” by Zone Music Reporter. "Castle Moon" has already been nominated as “Album of the Year” by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio, so it’s being received exceptionally well, as it should be! The twelve tracks include Akins’ arrangement of the theme from “Game of Thrones” and a solo arrangement of his “1001 Nights,” which appeared on his 2009 "Spirit Touch" as an ensemble piece with percussion, electric bass, and strings. Along with being a gifted pianist/composer, Akins is a professor of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University and holds advanced degrees in jazz piano and electronic music as well as a doctorate in education. Over the past several albums, Akins has been exploring the idea of a Southern (US) style of piano music, giving him a very distinctive sound that also contains elements of classical music and jazz. I have loved all of his previous albums and feel the same way about this one! I also need to mention that the cover artwork is stunning! Matt Strieby of Newleaf Design is amazing!

"Castle Moon" begins with the title track, a flowing, dreamy piece that hints at influence from David Lanz’s earlier music - no copying, just some influence. Sometimes buoyant and adventuresome, sometimes softer and more serious, it’s a great beginning! “Night Runner” goes somewhat darker and is something of a fast minor-key waltz after the slow introductory passage and at the end. The middle section is more flowing and features some of Akins’ “southern” touches that are uniquely his own. “Gypsy Dreams” is based on an exotic scale that Akins loves to improvise and write with. Slow, dark and very mysterious, it’s a beauty! “Moon Shadows” also hints at some “Lanzian” influences that are graceful and heartfelt. I really loved the first version of “1001 Nights,” but this new one is a mind-blower. Using the strings of the piano to create an exotic sound that is very un-piano-like, Akins creates a mood of very dark mystery that is intense, sultry, and magical. This is one of my favorites of all of Akins’ pieces! “A Nocturnal Waltz” evokes images of a couple slow dancing, illuminated only by moonlight - very romantic! I love the graceful and very peaceful “Star Dance.” Sweet and playful, I’m really looking forward to the sheet music for this one! “A Starry Night” was born when Akins was improvising while looking at a painting of nighttime scenery. Dark rolling bass chords punctuated by bright twinkling flashes in the treble create a very vivid picture. “Moonlight Romance” is a tender and calming love song - perfect contentment under a moonlit sky. Sigh! “Twilight Lullaby” brings this wonderful album to a delicate close, overflowing with warmth and love, and expressing a perfect peace.

"Castle Moon" is quite different from Joseph Akins’ previous albums, and yet it is definitely “him,” expressing a somewhat different side of his creativity. Very highly recommended!