Album Review of
Psychedelic Therapy Music: Insight, Resilience And Inner Peace

Written by Robert Silverstein
April 30, 2024 - 6:05pm EDT
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One of the legendary New Age recording artists since the mid-1970s, Steven Halpern remains an advocate for healing, meditative instrumental music. In 2021, Halpern released his critically-acclaimed Cannabis Dreams and in 2023 he released what some are calling his finest album yet, Psychedelic Therapy Music: Insight, Resilience And Inner Peace.

Considering its bold album title, Psychedelic Therapy Music is actually a lot more than therapy music. It is an elevated sequence of instrumental recordings spotlighting Steven performing with world-class, Grammy-winning musicians such as David Darling on cello, Paul McCandless on oboe, Jorge Alfano on Indian ‘Bansuri’ bamboo flute and Michael Manring on fretless bass.

In addition to composing and arranging Psychedelic Therapy Music, Halpern is also the album’s producer, bringing out the best in each of these artists and summoning up arguably some of the most lyrical and sensitive themes they’ve ever played. Speaking about his role as the producer on Psychedelic Therapy Music, Halpern explains, Throughout my career, I’ve usually been in the studio one on one with each musician. In many cases, I have pre-produced specific tracks that I want them to add their artistic magical to. This way, I am able to totally focus my energies on them”.

In the liner notes of the colorfully packaged CD booklet, Halpern says that while most music encourages the listener to focus on the external sounds and sights coming into their ears, in his own music he encourages us to go deeper. Guiding the listener to deeply connected states of consciousness has always been a central focus of Halpern’s music and that’s decidedly true on Psychedelic Therapy Music, where getting in touch with one’s feeling and innate wisdom is of utmost importance in a therapeutic setting.

The 10-track, 68-minute album starts with a dreamy track called “The Answer Lies Within”, featuring Halpern’s sparkling Rhodes keyboard and digitally sampled choir. This track is the perfect invitation to enter Halpern’s sonic space as you get comfortable with the unfolding Psychedelic Therapy Music experience.

The track progresses to “At Home In The Heart”, featuring Steven recording with the late cello master David Darling. The combination of David Darling’s evocative melodies soaring over Halpern’s lush, instrumental arrangement is a sublime listening experience.

The celestial listening experience is carried further with “Honoring The Journey”, featuring Michael Manring’s fretless bass and the oboe of Paul McCandless. Speaking about this collaboration on Psychedelic Therapy Music, Steven explains, “On Honoring The Journey, I invited Paul McCandless to tune in to my unreleased duet with virtuoso bassist Michael Manring. The way Paul weaves his melody in and around Michael’s lines is absolutely perfect. I don’t think they had ever played with each before, but it felt like a timeless reunion. Credit some of that vibe to my role as producer in choosing the right musicians for each track.”

“Tuning Into Inner Wisdom” features a blend of multiple keyboards, while the track is enhanced with gentle ocean waves.

While experiencing “Insight And Integration” you quickly realize that Steven Halpern has created one of his true masterworks with Psychedelic Therapy Music. As far as creating a therapeutic psychedelic instrumental track, this is it. Swirling sitar-like sounds blend with synth keyboards creating a colorful psychedelic backdrop making the track high among the many standouts on this album.

Another definitive track on Psychedelic Therapy Music, “Cannabis Dreams” is a truly magical moment and sounds in-sync with the album’s overall mind-expanding themes. Best of all, no additional psychotropic vegetables are needed to get the uplifting effect.

“Resonate And Elevate” offers a transcendent listening experience spotlighting Halpern’s Rhodes keyboard. At over 8-minutes, it’s yet another engaging track here that moves into the 7-minute “Remember Your Spirit”, an uplifting, spiritual track that pairs Halpern’s keyboards with the bansuri bamboo flute of Argentinian sound healer Jorge Alfano.

At nearly 13-minutes, “Harmonizing The Chakras” is the perfect showcase for Halpern’s performance on the Rhodes electric piano that more than demonstrates why this is his signature instrument. He is the only sound healer to feature this amazing instrument. As the ‘OG’ sound healer, Steven Halpern’s debut release in 1975 introduced the concept of resonating and balancing the chakras as a key to optimal health and healing. On a major therapeutic soundtrack, he felt it was essential to include this track.

Speaking about the science underlying this track, Halpern explains “Harmonizing The Chakras” is based on the groundbreaking research of legendary scientist and inventor Itzhak Bentov, author of “Stalking The Wild Pendulum” and a key member of my 1973 biofeedback research team and personal mentor. He proved the importance of balancing the chakras as a cornerstone of ‘tuning the human instrument’ and of ‘sound health.’ That was the focus of half of my very first album back in 1975, now available as Chakra Suite. For individuals in a therapeutic context, especially psychedelic-assisted therapy, as well as the general public - I mean, who couldn’t use a little more balance and harmony in their life?, it was a necessary addition to the album.”

The album closer, “In Tune With The Infinite” ends the Psychedelic Therapy Music experience on a low key, yet positive note and to that Steven explains, In Tune With The Universe is a subtle track that enhances communication and insights from the listener’s innate wisdom. The audio ambience makes it easy to keep one’s focus on inner as well as infinite realities.”

Bringing listeners to states of sonic bliss and serenity for over half a century, Steven Halpern brings a depth of experience to Psychedelic Therapy Music, enhancing his stellar performance on his signature Rhodes electric piano, digitally-sampled celestial choir and a range of ambient keyboards. Musically, these tracks and performances are well in-tune with Halpern’s sonic vision making Psychedelic Therapy Music one of the most unique albums to date from this New Age music innovator.