I don’t much care what anyone else does. For me, I don’t do drugs, not even marijuana. So, I was seriously wondering how challenging it would be to review Steven Halpern’s new album, “Cannabis Dreams.”
Steven is a well-known groundbreaking pioneer in the field of New Age “sound healing music.” He’s a Grammy® nominated, Billboard charting, multi-platinum selling recording artist. (Yes, that Steven Halpern). Cannabis is well-documented for its medicinal properties. So, there you go. Seems like a great fit to me. And even if I can’t directly relate to the cannabis part of this, I already knew before the listen that the music would be just as healing, meditative, and relaxing as all Steven’s music is.
Here, on “Cannabis Dreams,” we have 11 tracks (just over 69 minutes), named after or inspired by different strains of cannabis. The intention is that the spirit and healing properties of each strain seeps through to the listener. Two tracks feature the ethereal, heavenly vocals of Kristin Hoffmann. And two additional tracks were recorded on 11/11/20 (essentially – in numerological terms – “420,” a ritualistic code for smoking marijuana, for those who do not know). Those two were recorded after Steven experienced the meditative effects of the premium strain of cannabis, Mirayo® (translating from the Spanish, I believe, into “look at me”), which was developed by Carlos Santana and Left Coast Ventures. There are several (4) variations of the title track on this album, which were inspired by a brief liaison between Steven and a leading cannabis dispensary. So, it’s all very interesting.
The album opens with “Cannabis Dreams (part 2), which features slow, spacey synth and the otherworldly vocals of Kristin Hoffmann. I thought it was a little unusual to start the album with “part 2,” but when you hear the vocal, you completely understand why. Kristin’s voice seems to come from another place, a heavenly realm, yes, somewhere other than here. This, along with the mellow and yet sparkling synth, immediately puts you into the “zone,” cannabis or not. It’s beautiful, meditative, hypnotic even, and immediately relaxing.
Following is “Mirayo Cannabis Dreams (part 1).” Calming ocean sounds mix with smooth synth and soft ethereal synth voices, to take us on a dreamy journey to utopia. I imagine that utopia is probably even better on cannabis, but I have no way of personally knowing that. If marijuana is your thing, you should perhaps try it this way, because while I think this is the intention, I want to point out that it is not necessary to be high in order to benefit from this music. In any event, this track is equally as blissful as the first piece.
One thing I like about this album – and if you know anything about Steven’s music at all, you will understand – he has kept his distinct musical style, which includes deep alpha brainwave entrainment tones subtly mixed into the music. This I have always found masterful artistry and it remains so.
Now, we come to “Cannabis Dreams (part 3),” which features another incredibly ethereal wordless vocal from Kristin Hoffmann. This is very “Zen.” And just like that, without cannabis, I find myself mesmerized and very close to a deep trance without effort.
“Mirayo Cannabis Dreams” has a part 2, which is also truly gorgeous. Serene ocean sounds and what I would call dolphin or whale voices, mixed with the rest of the softly flowing synth and a light drone sound in the background, all make this quite enjoyable.
Yes, I am still in that trance with no motivation or reason to come out of it. One can really feel the healing effects of this music seeping deep into every layer of the soul.
I cannot address all 11 tracks here, and I think you get the idea of this album, but I have a few other things of note to say about this album: “OG Sonic Chronic” is a wonderful collaboration featuring Paul McCandless on bass clarinet and Michael Manring on fretless electric bass which is very beautiful.
As well, with or without cannabis, I recommend listening to this album with headphones for the full spectrum experience. Steven calls it “a tuning fork for the brain™.” It seems to be so.
AND, most importantly, about halfway through the album, I noticed a distinct uplifting of spirits, a definitive mood shift, and a lightness in general. So, to sum up, you should get the whole beautiful album, because it’s an “experience,” a healing experience. And Steven Halpern has most definitely still got “it.” Brilliant.
Buy/stream “Cannabis Dreams” here:
Official artist website: https://www.stevenhalpernmusic.com
Steven Halpern is available for media interviews about the album, for commentary and contributed content, and for live guest segments.
Beth Hilton, The B Company