Album: Scattering Stars
Artist: Michelle Qureshi

“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”

CDThese words by the Sufi poet Rumi were the inspiration for the title of the new album by composer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Michelle Qureshi. Music and spirituality are inextricably linked for Michelle. In her words: “The more time I spend looking inward, the more I can express myself outwardly through music. I seem to be on this journey that is not planned yet flowing for me. Along the way, music is like a companion, mirroring my concerns, my sorrows, my joys, and desire to be at peace in my life, while sharing the experience.”


While many artists begin learning their instrument at a very young age, it wasn’t until Michelle was in her teensMichelle performing that the idea of playing music began to enter her awareness. One of her earliest memories in this regard was the first time she strummed the guitar strings of an idle guitar propped up in a living room corner at her friend’s home. In that moment, something resonated deep within her and a seed was planted. Inspired by the music of The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and other icons of the time, Michelle began to teach herself guitar. As her interest and skills grew, she knew that music was her calling, and eventually went on to study classical guitar, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music. In her formal studies, Michelle was exposed to new influences, ranging from Bach, Mozart, and Brahms to film score composers such as Ennio Morricone, Phillip Glass, and others.


screen-shot-2015-05-11-at-10-41-42-amBlending her music with the spiritual dimension of her life, Michelle believes that music has great potential to unite, connect, and touch us all. Putting this belief into practice, Michelle often performs her meditative music at house concerts, yoga studios, spiritual services, and hospitals. As she shared in our interview: “I feel my music exudes a kind of tranquility and peacefulness that touches people. With the belief that we are here to help and serve each other, I am content knowing in some way my music does serve. At every performance, I am trying to raise the vibration through my music.” In addition to playing live, Michelle has released a number of albums of her beautiful music including Margalla Hills (2015), Meditations (2014), Flow (2014), Suite Beats (2014), Illumination (2012), and Of Light (2012).



Of her latest release, Scattering Stars, on the Heart Dance Records label, Michelle shared: “This is my seventhmichellequreshichordophones album, but the first one primarily focused on guitars set within ambient soundscapes. The moods are varied but still carry a thread of familiar style. As a musician and composer, I expand my music environment when I explore other ways of making new sounds. Sometimes this means acquiring and learning to play instruments like Native American flutes and didgeridoos, or Tibetan singing bowls and harmoniums, or even to delve into sound creation via the amazing technology that is now available.


Acoustic and electric sounds blend harmoniously on “Beyond the Field,” which opens the album on track 1. Michelle’s gently plucked acoustic guitar notes and chiming harmonics drift sweetly over a subtle synthesizer soundscape. There is a relaxed pastoral ambiance that draws the listener in and makes for a lovely portal into Michelle’s musical world. The next song, “Crystals,” evolves in 3 movements played on keyboard, bass, and soft 38b93fc7bfd088c6845267600c292f82electric guitar. A more rhythmic center part is bookended by the spacious ambient sections that begin and end the piece. On a track entitled “New World,” a variety of synthesizer sounds that range from purely electronic textures and effects, to strings, choir, tinkling bell sounds, and more, lend a cinematic air to the composition that is punctuated by acoustic guitar, classical guitar, and dobro. Given some of the otherworldly elements, I wonder if the title “New World,” refers to a place not of this Earth. If it is I’d love to visit there.


It’s hard to hear the sound of slide guitar and not think of blues, or perhaps country music. However, Michelle’s melodic use of it on a track named “Dust,” brings it into more of a Windham Hill-type acoustic guitar context and adds a quiet emotional expressiveness to the song that is subtle yet tasteful. While some of Michelle’s music is more structured, other pieces have a free-flowing improvisational feel. One of these is an impressionistic sonic landscape called “Overheard,” that combines electric guitar, piano, bass, synthesizers, and cricket sounds. I’m not sure how best to describe it other than to say it is downright trippy, and I really enjoyed it.


The appropriately titled “Chasing The Wind,” introduces new multi-cultural elements, that of wind instruments.09f7e1e3267db0bf1cfd6967c68dbc12 Here Michelle plays Native American flutes and the Australian didgeridoo along with layers of keyboards, although no guitar. It is another unstructured sound tapestry that is undefined by melody, rhythm, etc. but evokes a particular ambiance nonetheless. On a track called “Given,” Michelle describes a bit about her creative process: “In ‘Given’, the ‘motif’ was written first. I combined in one sweep the airy openness of harmonics with the grounded earthy tones I draw from slide. From there, the song was built around it.” Its mellow dreamy vibe at times reminded me of the quieter spacey moments of Pink Floyd.


And speaking of spacey, the next track, “Stargazer,” definitely fits the description. It is somewhat of a sound collage with various elements drifting in and out of the mix, including electronic percussion sounds. Unlike a lot of music that uses electronic percussion, the beat isn’t incessant, but is more like accents that pop up here and there. The final track, “Philosophy,” however, is the most groove-driven piece on the album, with contemporary electronica sequences animating a good deal of the piece.


Michaelle studioThe album has an interesting flow to it, starting out with a more familiar guitar-centric sound. However as it evolves, it drifts into increasingly esoteric waters where the guitar often becomes just one of the elements in the inventive ambient soundscapes. Michelle certainly brings some unique perspectives to her music in the blending of acoustic and electronic tonalities. I don’t know that I’ve heard anything quite like it. One of the most fascinating aspects is that you never know what is going to happen next around each musical corner, both from song to song, and also within any given track. My initial impression of Michelle before hearing the whole album was that Michelle was primarily a guitarist. However after experiencing all of the tracks she seems more of a sonic sorceress using a wide range of instruments and technology in her artistic alchemy. Scattering Stars is an experience in the unexpected and a window into the seemingly unlimited imagination of Michelle Qureshi.


Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album:



CD Baby