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Illumination album review by Michael J. Downey, former guitarist at Femme Fatale

 February 15, 2017

See below for a review of Illumination: Soundtrack for the Satya Yuga by Michael J. Downey. Downey was once the high-volume lead guitarist of Femme Fatale (MCA/Atlantic) and The Sharks (AKA Mick Nichols), and he has made waves around the world with an acoustic/pop/rock solo career. His release, america (2007), reached #6 on the national Adult Contemporary charts. Touring almost exclusively in East Asia from 2004 – 2009, Michael’s mission has been to create a cultural bridge through his music and through his non-profit organization, Hashi.org, which is dedicated to facilitating cultural exchange between America and East Asia. More recently, Michael’s attention has turned inward and found expression in the spiritual music of kirtan and mantras, where the bridge-building continues – with our selves, each other, and Beyond. Click HERE to connect with Michael on Facebook.

Michael writes: “Wow, completely blown away by this new mantra/groove/devotional album by Mike Cohen, “Illumination: Soundtrack for the Satya Yuga” His unique way of blending traditional mantra with modern, Western groove is just infectious. I left a review on CD Baby, but wanted to share it with you here:

Michael H. Cohen comes of age with his new album “Illumination, Soundtrack for the Satya Yuga” and confirms his place as a true leader in this mantra/groove/devotional genre. Mike hails from Boulder, CO, where he founded the Kirtan Leader Institute and has trained hundreds since 2010, and travels nationwide, sharing his blessed musical talent in diverse settings from festivals such as Bhaktifest to yoga classes around the country. The infectious groove and his powerful, yet warm voice makes Illumination an ‘inner experience’ that can’t help but get the mind, body, and spirit moving.

From the deep resonant OMs and spoken word Sanskrit diving in to “Shiva Groove,” the powerful back and forth of his ‘om namah shivaya’ woven with electric guitar and smooth backing vocals creates this beautiful, unique, almost ‘crossover’ of mantra and mainstream. “Hanuman Bolo” is an in-the-pocket groove, again with this unique, cutting edge style melded with timeless call and response vocals. And in “Jay Jay Ma,” his call and response vocals are interwoven in a hypnotic, almost mystical groove. There’ s softness and accessibility to “Maha Lakshmi” that’s lined with unbelievably powerful yet smooth backup/response vocals, and woven with an amazing electric guitar solo by Gawain Matthews. Also easing into the flow, “Hare Om Shivaya” starts with a clean, clocking piano over a trance-like bed of flowing strings. This groove provides the perfect setting for the powerful call and response duet with Mike and a smooth female vocalist. And it builds and builds more vocals, drums, electric guitar, to a thundering, thundering end…

Finally, the piece de resistance, “Om Shanti Om,” the real, anthemic single that’s impossible to not get caught in its soulful groove. The chords start simple. The vocals reach out and grab you and won’t let go. Big, big backup/response vocal and Mike’s powerful voice build to a level that this anthem will leave you breathless!

This is one that’s going to become a trailblazer that is ultimately satisfying for his fans and devotees of devotional/mantra music, and also gather new travelers to this path, illuminating their way…”