Album: Beyond Dreams
Artist: Hennie Bekker
In a departure from the more worldly music that has characterized some of Hennie Bekker’s recordings in recent years, his latest album, “Beyond Dreams” reflects a more otherworldly sonic dimension. Subtitled, “Pathways To Deep Relaxation, the music is based on the latest scientific research in brainwaves and body response and features dreamy synthesizers, piano, soft rhythmic pulses, and ambient atmospheres to gently entrain the listener into a profoundly peaceful state.
Hennie Bekker has had an incredibly long and diverse career in music over the past 6 decades. His music has ranged from the rhythmic African influences that reflect his upbringing in Zambia, 10 miles north of the Congo border, to his many meditative albums, including composing, arranging, and performing the music on the first fourteen Solitudes – Exploring Nature With Music® albums, many of which have since sold gold, platinum, double and triple platinum volumes. I wrote about the widespread nature of Hennie’s music in a feature article I did for his 2011 release, Spectrum, which is a well-chosen compilation from his many albums over the years and illuminates the yin and yang aspects of his creativity. Readers interested in Hennie’s musical background can find additional info at that link.
Hennie’s new release, Beyond Dreams, is painted from the decidedly more mellow side of his sonic palate, and adds a high tech dimension as well. As he shared: “With this album, I wanted to combine rhythmic entrainment with melodies that listeners could enjoy while preparing for sleep, meditating, or practicing yoga or general self-exploration. The result is Beyond Dreams, sixty minutes of continuous music that is designed to help the listener achieve a deep state of relaxation.”
To explain the science behind this album, I’ll refer to the words of Dr. Lee Bartel from the University of Toronto, who is a leading researcher in the relationship between music and health: “Beyond Dreams is beautiful music that has effects beyond music – it features precisely crafted sonic effects based on scientific research to enhance your body and brain response. The body is rhythmic – from foundational rhythms like the 11-second feedback loop between brainstem and heart, to the heartbeat, to brainwaves – we pulse with rhythmic energy. As music is rhythmic, it can subtly synchronize and regulate body rhythms. In this album, carefully designed sound supports the regularity of the brain-heart connection, serves to slow the heart rate to transcend stress, and nudges brainwaves into a state of deep relaxation, meditation, or even sleep. In this album, musical elements of melodic motion entrain brainwave response at theta and delta frequencies to allow a deep relaxed state. This album features strong pulsations in the 30 – 40Hz range to support those key brain functions.”
In my interview with Hennie, he shared a personal perspective on this topic: “My musical vision is to create music that is of consequence to myself and to those that hear it. I was truly inspired by the power of music to heal after working on previous brain entrainment projects and hearing feedback from fans, and from some of the professionals that had used those albums in their practices and in clinical trials. With this album, I really hoped that it would promote deeper states of relaxation for those that have trouble finding solace.” An interesting feature of this recording, that adds to its ability to achieve this desired effect is that it is basically all one continuous flow of music. Although there are 6 tracks listed, ranging from approximately 9 minutes to 13 minutes in length, there are no spaces between them, and the music continues uninterrupted for an hour from start to finish as one piece segues smoothly into the next.
As the album opens on a track entitled “Self Connect,” sustained chords of soft synthesizer pads create a peaceful ambiance to begin our inward journey. I found that listening with headphones enhanced the experience, particularly in feeling the very deep bass drones that add an earthiness to the more ethereal sounds drifting above them. After a few minutes, a soft pulsing pattern starts to emerge. Unlike a lot of electronic music that features rhythmic sequences, which are predominant in the mix, here they are incorporated quite subtly, just loud enough to be barely heard. It’s a lovely combination that eases us into the first level of deep relaxation.
The first track flows gently into the next one, “Floating to Forever.” While some of the same or similar sounds carry over, at about 3 minutes in, a new element of sparse piano melody is heard. Overall though, the emphasis is more on atmosphere than melody. However, on track 3, “Letting Go,” the piano is a bit more present. I particularly liked the airy synth flute and breathy sounds that come in about half way into the piece. Of special interest on track 4, “The Calm,” are the bell-like tones which reminded me of Indonesian gamelan music. The blend of these sounds with the dreamy synthesizer atmospheres was particularly soothing.
One thing I found of interest on track 5, “Quiesence,” as well as other places in the album is that while there are rhythmic sequences that are bouncy or bubbly and provide a sense of forward motion, the overall effect of the music is quite calming. I also really liked the little electronic blips and bleeps that drop in and out of the music and create a bit of a futuristic sci-fi feel. The album concludes with the title track that takes the listener deep into the celestial realms. It is an expansive cosmic journey that would be right at home on a Hearts of Space radio program.
Given the incredible diversity of music Hennie has produced over the years including upbeat African influenced rhythms and even dance music, I was curious about this side of his musical spectrum and how it related to Beyond Dreams. In our interview he shared: “I find that I get ‘steered’ in a certain direction depending on what I’m thinking or what is going on in my life at a particular time. There is a musical side to me that leans towards peace and tranquility. That has been evident in much of my work, dating back to some of the material I composed and recorded in the 80s. But even with the more intense music I did in the 70s, there was a transcendental aspect to it that lent itself to developing into more introspective material. But as a recording artist, I really found my ‘direction’ after having the opportunity to work with nature sound recordist and cinematographer Dan Gibson, during which time I composed the music for the first fourteen Solitudes – Exploring Nature with Music® albums. That naturally led to the composition and recording of other albums in the New Age, World and ambient genres, including those in my Kaleidoscopes, Hennie Bekker’s Tranquility®, and African Tapestries series, as well as others.”
But whatever style of music Hennie focuses his considerable talent and vision on, the result is sure to be something that uplifts the listener in body, mind, and spirit. And this new album is certainly no exception. As a sound-healing tool, Beyond Dreams creates the perfect ambiance for a rejuvenating inner journey. I greatly appreciate having this album as a resource and it’s a journey I know I will take often.
Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album: