I was recently listening to the Magnatune New Age Radio Mix (New Age?!) and an amazing song came on. Was it guitar or keyboards or what? I had to find out...
It turned out to be hammered dulcimer played by Jamie Janover. Very cool. Notably different from what I have heard previously in my (very) limited exposure to this instrument. Well structured compositions. Very "world" sounding. Intricate melodic changes weave in & out as Janover employs a wide range of dynamics, rythyms and percussive methods--displaying impressive skill & technique. It's quite easy to find yourself captivated as you follow the complexities of a piece. The compositions are interesting & intriguing. Yet the ambient rhythmic nature in the manner in which Janover employs the instrument can be quite relaxing at the same time, striking a nice balance for the listener.
Sometimes it's worth it to take a look outside your musical comfort zone. You don't know what you might find.
Janover's works available from Magnatune:
PS FWIW, I have made a little web button for Magnatune fans. Feel free to copy/use it on your own site as you wish.
[Updated 2 November 2005: Changes made to the review.]