Sydney, Australia – September 8, 2017 – With over two dozen albums to her name, Manjia Luo has continued to prove why she is a force within the New Age community with her latest, Wish Pond featuring her lead single “Joy Fluctuation of Wave.” Eight tracks deep, Wish Pond plays along with her previous releases nicely. Fitting into the consistency of what has made Luo a prominent mainstay in Australia over the years. New Age with hints of jazz, Asian melody, and an instrumental flare is what Luo is best at and known for. Her compositions are overflowing with passion, played on piano and violin.
Australia should be up higher on the musical map if Manjia is any indication of what the music scene in Sydney has-to offer. New Age music has made some crossover strides in recent years as it is, and why her music isn’t topping the charts is as healthy of a thing to guess as any. And she’s Asian on top of that, so it makes from some interesting and enjoyable sounding stuff that anyone can dig. There are no restrictions to New Age stigmas or anything about it, but perhaps other releases by her show that side. Either way, Wish Pond is a great introduction. I’ve seen far from New Age music making it into that genre for whatever reasons, and the music she makes is by no means restricted to that community of consumers. This is beyond categorization in places and perfectly fitting to New Age in others. That must be a New Age thing because it’s always been a mixed bag of style that define it. Jean Michael Jarre is just as much jazz as he is New Age, and this leans heavily in jazz and symphonically arranged music. One need listen no further than the opening track “Autumn Spectacle” for that. The revisited track which opens the disc.
But it gets right down to New Age business on “Water & Life, No. 2 (Violin)” with mixed results for me. While the track is fantastic it’s kind of all over the place and doesn’t really bode so well beyond the fabulous playing. As a track, it doesn’t stand up to its own performance. And that is ironic because it makes mince-meat out of average songs at the same time. “Joy Fluctuation of Wave” doesn’t have the same effect because it actually-defines New Age more than most of the album. It’s perfectly selected and properly placed in the track list order. But New Age loses to the other elements altogether for me.
“Angeni’s Love” stays the course between jazz piano and New Age, and shows the struggle between them for the spotlight. It’s not a high point but not a low point either. But one thing that can be said about the album is that it’s well produced with nothing suspect about the sound mix. I’m thinking that’s called for in New Age though. “Tom & Jerry Rocked the 13th Floor” is a more interesting title than the song delivers, but it helps gather attention. The title cut “Wish Pond” is the where most of the brilliance lies, and you’ll just have to check it out and see what I mean, because words can’t describe how terrific it is.