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Album Review: Northern Seas
Al Conti
Cover image of the album Northern Seas by Al Conti
Northern Seas
Al Conti
2010 / Shadowside Music
48 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Northern Seas is Al Conti’s follow-up to his award-winning 2008 release, Scheherazade. Two years in the making, the eleven original tracks are based on Norse mythology from the time of the Vikings. A multi-instrumentalist who plays piano, acoustic guitar, violin, electronic keyboards and percussion, Conti has created a vibrant, cinematic tour of ancient times and places. Additional musicians add wordless vocals, guitars, fiddles, Uilleann pipes, and Celtic whistles. Also an actor and world-traveler, Conti brings a wealth of life experience to his music, giving it plenty of substance tempered with the wisdom to keep the music accessible. The music ranges from dark and stormy to absolutely buoyant and carefree - all of it paints vivid pictures of mythological characters and their fabled lives. In addition, the colorful liner notes summarize some of these tales and explain how the music was conceived - a beautiful package well worth the few extra dollars more than a download.

We begin our journey on Northern Seas with “Veil of Mist,” a dark, exotic, and very mysterious piece that evokes fear of the unknown as well as the thrill of a new adventure. “Northern Seas” has a strong rhythm that moves it forward while keyboard, voices, guitar, and various other background sounds convey a spirited optimism. “Song of Rig” becomes more dancelike with a catchy beat and a simple, lively melody. I love “Dans For Loki (Loki’s Jig),” the most carefree piece on the album. In mythology, Loki was known as a trickster, but this jig focuses on his playful, fun-loving side. Complete with Uilleann pipes, fiddles, and many other instruments, it’s a dance of joyous celebration. Delightful! “Odin The Wanderer” tells of the father of the gods and his quest for wisdom. Darker in mood and conveying the feeling of searching, it’s another beauty. “Valkyrja” was a group of goddesses whose task it was to choose warriors lost in battle and take them to the afterworld. The majestic sweep of the piece suggests strength and honor - gorgeous! “Ragnarok” is the name for the demise of the gods and the ultimate battle between good and evil. Haunting and almost without hope, the feeling of loss is heartbreaking. Our journey ends with “The Rainbow Bridge,” a bridge that unites our world with the realm of the gods, offering hope to all.

Northern Seas is another truly great album from Al Conti and is available from www.alconti.net, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Highly recommended!
October 14, 2010
This review has been tagged as:
Grammy NomineesKathy's Favorites: 2010
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