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Joel Styzens | Relax Your Ears

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Monthly Newsletter sign-up: "Music, Tinnitus, and Inspiration" iTunes Bandcamp (FLAC and 320 mp3+) Amazon Facebook Last.fm Myspace Pandora (create Joel Styzens radio) Official site: Relax Your Ears.com Twitter

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United States - Illinois

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Classical: New Music Ensemble Folk: Gentle Moods: Instrumental
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Relax Your Ears

by Joel Styzens

Contemporary Classical? Jazz? Windham Hill? No, it’s a unique combination of all of the above with sweet moments of guitar & soaring cello lines spiced up with complex rhythms & harmonies: captivating, uplifting music you feel down in your soul. 5/5 Stars
Genre: Classical: New Music Ensemble
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. A-Sharp
3:45 $0.99
2. As You Are
4:16 FREE
3. For You
3:42 $0.99
4. Life Line
4:04 $0.99
5. 7 8 6
3:16 $0.99
6. Unaware
4:06 $0.99
7. Reflection
3:42 $0.99
8. It Was
2:41 $0.99
9. Viv
4:17 $0.99
10. Humboldt
4:06 $0.99
11. Take Anything
4:27 $0.99
12. Memento Mori
5:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
NEW 2011 EDITION CD Now In Stock at CD BABY (Just click "Buy CD" above on this page.)
• ULTRA-FIDELITY MASTERING for the finest in audio quality
• NEW 6-PANEL LAYOUT with photos by Paul Elledge (Billy Corgan, Ministry, Willie Nelson, Trent Reznor...)

*FREE digital download of "As You Are" for a limited time only*

• Top Seller and Top Classical Pick by CD Baby (August 2010)
• CD Baby's Editor's Pick & 5/5 Stars
• Featuring cellist Katinka Kleijn from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

"Music that you feel down in your soul." Music Examiner
"Joel Styzens is a true master of sound." Serge Kozlovsky, Independent Music Critic, Belarus

One year after completing his degree in percussion and moving to Chicago, Joel Styzens had established a strong presence as a drummer in the local jazz and rock scenes and landed a teaching position at Chicago's renowned Old Town School of Folk Music. In late January 2006, he woke up with the pitch of A-sharp ringing in his ears. Ordinary sounds such as conversations, cars driving past, and clattering dishes registered as painful and startling. Tinnitus and hyperacusis—ringing of the ears and extreme sound sensitivity—threatened to take away his life’s work and passion.

Styzens gave up his drumming career, but he refused to give up music. He sought several experimental treatments and therapies and began composing for acoustic guitar. In 2009, on his label A-Sharp Records, Styzens released his first album, Relax Your Ears, which earned Editor's Pick and 5/5 Stars from CD Baby and 2nd place in the Indie International Songwriting Contest.

The compositions on Relax Your Ears employ varied and unusual tunings. "I hear all these full, resonant sounds and chords that I just can't find in standard tuning, or typical alternate tunings. I had to find a way to make them," says Styzens. "I tune and place my fingers on the fretboard until the right sounds appear."

His intuitive experimentation led to a collaborative partnership with Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn, who is prominently featured on the album and whose soaring melodies add a level of depth and emotional intensity. Guitar and cello carries throughout, but saxophone gives a jazz flavor to songs like "Take Anything." Cajon adds a world music flair to songs like "7 8 6," which shows off Styzens' percussionist sensibilities through shifting time signatures. Despite a diversity of instrumentation and textures, the resulting album is unified like movements of a symphony or moments of a film score, combining soothing aspects of New Age music with the compelling energy of Classical Crossover.

Styzens continues to cope with the effects of the tinnitus and hyperacusis, but they have improved gradually with therapy, including a new treatment called Neuromonics, which employs customized white noise and music that interacts with the auditory system. Such experimental therapies have inspired Styzens to compose experimental music as a form of personal therapy. His latest compositions employ painful trigger sounds as instruments. For example, washing dishes hurts, so one of his musical sketches utilizes metal and glass objects such as household plates, glasses, pots, and pans. Using ear-plugs when he plays, Styzens draws on his background as a percussionist to reclaim sounds that have had negative associations for him, turning them into positive and intriguing tunes.

Styzens intends to use A-Sharp Records as a forum where musicians with hearing ailments can connect, collaborate on recordings, and give each other support, using the label’s website to raise awareness about hearing conservation. According to the American Tinnitus Association, over 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Supportive networks, as well as widespread public education on the condition and its prevention, are increasingly necessary in a high-volume world.

Four years after his hearing conditions changed his life, Styzens has no intention of focusing on the negative. Tinnitus and hyperacusis have allowed him to uncover new musical passions, composing and playing acoustic guitar. “Composing my own music is more fulfilling than anything I've ever done—it comes from a very deep place.




to write a review

Weetzie May

Original, evocative, and unforgettable. I have heard this album now scores of times and never tire of it. Each tune has been my "favorite." The paradox here is how relaxing this music is, yet how energetic and energizing. Relax Your Ears tracks are nights of soft breezes, water lapping, a crescent moon, hung with stars below.

Peters at CD Baby

In a time when so many new age albums are simply noodling synthesizers or ambient loops and flutes, it's refreshing to hear something in the genre that is actually engaging, played on real instruments (primarily guitar, cello and piano) and features instrumental pieces that can be intriguing and mysterious, when you really listen to them. Joel Styzens, a professional drummer who turned to guitar after being struck by tinnitus, has crafted a warm batch of songs that range in genre from folk to jazz to chamber to what some call easy listening. Highlights include the hand-drum driven "For You," and the time-shifting "7 8 6." As a whole, it's easiest to call it new age, but this is no spacey nonsense, this is an engrossing, darkly pleasing album.

Karen Cribb (Australia)

Relax Your Ears
Absolutely beautiful.... I listen to it all the time and never tire of hearing it. Well done Joel.


The perfect album for absolutely anyone. The beauty of this music, aside from the pristine depth of sound, hauntingly beautiful compositions and technical virtuosity, is that it is the perfect fit for virtually any situation. It relaxes, it energizes...it's just good for the soul. Everyone should have this album in their collection!

Sara R.

Sanity Saver
I listened to this album non-stop during a particularly stressful time at work. I have to say it saved my sanity, allowed me to focus, and calmed my nerves...not to mention it is a wonderfully crafted album of unquestionable beauty. I look forward to Joel's next release!

Justin B.

Reward your ears with this CD!
"Relax Your Ears" would be the soundtrack to the world's greatest film. It is currently being used as the soundtrack to my daily life. Joel has composed fascinating, moving music which is beautifully realized by a very talented group of musicians. It is somehow more striking for its softness. Get this album and put it on repeat if you want to inspire your mind and reward your ears!

Vince M

Good for All Occassions
Does this CD Relax Your Ears? I am no doctor, but I would have to say yes! I've been playing this before bed, when I'm just waking up, and it makes a great chill dinner music as well. The music has amazing technicality so you can appreciate and never get bored, but so simply beautiful that it takes no effort for you to like it.