“Forest of a Thousand Songs” by Peter Phippen and Arja Kastinen
Album Review by Dyan Garris,
New Age CD, Zone Music Reporter, and “Spirit Seeker Magazine”
A thousand accolades for this calming, truly healing album. – Dyan Garris
“Forest of a Thousand Songs” is the second album collaboration from Peter Phippen and Arja Kastinen. The album features Peter performing on Shakuhachi bamboo flute and ocarina with Arja on kanteles.
Peter Phippen is a multiple award-nominated performer and recording artist specializing in traditional flutes from around the world. He has a penchant and a great talent for creative and artistic musical improvisation. Peter has been Grammy® Award nominated, as well as being nominated multiple times for the Native American Music Awards, the International Acoustic Music Awards, and the One World Music Awards. Over the last three decades he has researched the history and performance technique of flutes, both ancient and modern. On this album Peter plays the Shakuhachi bamboo flute and the ocarina.
His collaborator on the album is Arja Kastinen. She was the first Finnish folk musician to take the Doctor of Music examination at Sibelius Academy (December 2000). In 2018, she was awarded a 5-year state artist grant (Arts Promotion Centre Finland). Arja specializes in historical kantele instruments and in 19th century Karelian kantele improvisation.
The soundscapes on “Forest of a Thousand Songs” are built from the flute, ocarina, kantele, nature sounds, and the sounds of the ringing stone, Klockarsten, found on the island of Nötö, Finland. (A short video of the ringing stone can be seen on YouTube:
Most of us know what a flute is, but we may never have heard of a kantele. A kantele is a traditional Finnish and Karelian plucked string instrument belonging to the southeast Baltic box-zither family. In lore, it was said that the music from the kantele draws forest creatures to wonder at its beauty. The kantele has a distinctive sound.
Here, on this album, Arja plays several different kanteles, including the 11-string alto kantele made by Jan-Anton Kallioinen on tracks 1-3, the 15-string kantele made by Keijo Säteri (Leppävirta, Finland) on track 5, and also the following kanteles made by Rauno Nieminen: The 10-string kantele with bronze strings on tracks 4 and 7, the 5-string kantele with bronze strings, on track 8, and the 5-string kantele with viscose strings on tracks 6 and 8.
The album title and the track titles are taken from ancient Finnish runosong texts translated into English. The aim of the musicians was to connect the tracks in a way that they would build a story.
Now, all that said, the album is simply and serenely, “Wow.” In my opinion, there is a lot of “healing” music out there these days that isn’t really so. Here, you can literally feel the healing oozing out of every note on this album. Every.
The story begins with the almost 6-minute “Night Born.” Meditative, relaxing, and definitively healing, this is beautiful, with absolutely haunting flute and kantele drawing us ever so deeply into the peace. “The Water’s Mistress” is equally peaceful, with calming water sounds. Masterful, languorous flute and kantele both call us to simply relax. SO beautiful. At 2:26, I wish it was a little longer.
Have you ever been to Aspen, Colorado? Aspen forests are mysterious, magical, and special, as is the song “Aspen Meeting.” Here, we are almost one with the ancient mysteries. Love this.
“Why Do You Weep, Wooden Bark?” is spectacular with nature sounds, 10-string kantele, and again, haunting, otherworldly flute that seems to emanate from a collective soul. Perfect for meditation, we may wonder why we weep at all. Magnificent.
“Sun-Bird” follows. Tranquil perfection, there is a freeness about this piece. We can feel our spirits soar. A 5-string kantele with viscose strings is combined with the awesome sounds of nature and a calming flute melody on “And the Great Oak Sighed.” I found this very serene and healing to the psyche.
Calming water sounds, a 10-string kantele with bronze strings, and ethereal, perfectly incorporated flute, bring immense and almost instant peace to the soul on “Risen From Stone.” At 5-1/2 minutes, I found this a perfect length. Fully and deeply immersed in the peace, we don’t want this album to end. But, “Ten Seeds” is the perfect piece to close it out, if end it must. It’s okay. It’s 6 more minutes of quintessential quiescence.
In this album, we feel as if we are part of the forest, part of the whole, and an integral part of a thousand timeless, eternal songs. A thousand accolades for this album. You will want to get the whole thing.
This album is available digitally only. Get it wherever music is sold/streamed.
Click on the name to be taken to the website:
Recording: Ivar Lunde and Arja Kastinen
Editing and mixing: Arja Kastinen
Mastering: Taito Hoffrén
Graphic design: Petri Lampela
One World Music Radio
I must be honest here, I have now listened to this album 3 times in a row and I’m really having a hard job pulling away from it. Forest of a Thousand Songs by Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen is probably one of the finest examples of flute and string based ambient music I have heard for absolutely years.
Arja performs so soothingly with her instrument of choice the Kanteles, a member of the zither family, while Phippen is his usual masterful genius of flute, in this case Shakuhachi and Ocarina.
From the very opening offering we are drawn into an utterly abundant world of serenity, the track is Night Born and it sets the scene perfectly for the entire release.
I cannot really say I have a favourite here as all 8 tracks would reach that pinnacle, but this next one was marvellously transcendent and called The Waters Mistress; mystical, floaty, and performed from the very depths of the soul.
The special thing about this release is that it is so easy to listen to, and tracks like Aspen Meeting, Why Do You Weep, Wooden Bark? and Sun-Bird, all have such creative narratives and are so serene in their content, it is so very easy to get lost within the tapestry of their intent.
Then we have the pleasure of And the Great Oak Sighed and the charming Risen from Stone, two tracks which are stunningly graphic in composition and performance, but the gentle and carful use of natural sounds is a blessing of layered magic.
The album concludes with the track Ten Seeds, and this flourishing, uplifting finish allows the listener to come back to their own personal dimension, having enjoyed what must be one of the best new age music releases I have heard this year with ease.
Forest of a Thousand Songs by Peter Phippen & Arja Kastinen is an album to float within whilst in dream time, it would be perfect for meditation and utterly sublime to just chill too, it is an album of outstanding natural beauty; it will become one of those releases that will be a favourite go to album for many over the eons ahead. The performances by both artists are bathed in a blissful perfection that you really never want to leave, and as such I really have to urge each and every one of you to add this entire release to your musical collections, your mind, body and soul will love you forever.
World Flute Society, Executive Director - Dr. Kathleen Joyce-Grendahl
It is my opinion that Peter Phippen is the most overlooked flutist in the industry. He is not only a gifted world flutist, but he is a true artist. Each musical note is a color on the palette and each phrase a soulful brush stroke, creating a musical work of art to be cherished and taken into the soul like a warm drink of musical sustenance. Phippen's music comes from his heart, and he has much to say to the world and many gifts to reveal. There are many people in the world who play world flutes, but there are few who are soulful, truly ambient artists like Peter Phippen
Few flutists bring as much warmth and richness to a single tone as Peter Phippen does. His playing is earthy, improvised and impressionistic, offering listeners a beautifully serene atmosphere for meditation and reflection.
Arizona Daily Sun
Phippen has his own style--a style worth noticing.
Volume One, Eau Claire, WI — Sarah Dobbs
After hearing Peter play, no one can doubt his aptitude.
Zone Music Reporter — RJ Lannan
Phippen's tune, Lascaux is a shaman's dream.
New Age Retailer, Music News and Reviews
A rare find for lovers of flute music.
Watertown Daily Times, New York - David P. Demar, Jr.
Words like 'ethereal' and 'superb' work well on his list of critical superlatives.
Victory Acoustic Magazine
Phippen's flute expresses reverence, sorrow, joy and love
with soft haunting clarity.
Belarus Music Reviewer, Minsk Belarus - Serge Kozlovsky
Peter Phippen is a heaven-born flutist. His flutes are so precise in reproducing the finest nuances of human emotions
Amon Olorin Flutes - Ken Light
Peter is not only a fine musician, but has developed a working understanding of the North American flute tradition that in my opinion qualifies him as one of a very few authorities on the subject. Peter's enthusiasm for everything he does complements his high level of skill as a musician as well as his many contributions to the native flute community. Peter is a good friend, colleague, and I am happy to give him my highest recommendation.
All Music, - Steve Huey
Phippen’s flutes are melodic and passionate yet never flashy, and enhance the peaceful moods of the compositions.
Skyline Studio, - Ivar Lunder, Jr.
Mr. Phippen is a consummate artist and gifted performer of the Native American/World flutes, and electric bass guitar. His work is of the highest caliber.