All Is One - One Is All
2016 / Real Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
All Is One - One Is All is the 36th album (many of which were released in Europe) by Gandalf and his eighth release on the Real Music label. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist from Austria, Gandalf has always been a colorful philosopher and storyteller with his music. On this album, he performs on piano, guitars, saz, keyboards, atmospheres, and percussion. He is joined by Agnes Milewsky (vocals), Merike Hilmar (cello), Karin Leitner (Irish whistle), Peter Aschenbrenner (bodhran, bass flute, and Irish whistles), Vasile Marian (duduk), and son Christian Strobl (drums). As would be expected from any Real Music release, the music on All Is One is calming, uplifting, and beautifully produced.
All Is One - One Is All begins with “Prelude - The Secret Inside,” which features the vocals of Agnes Milewsky. The title song is featured in part here and on two other tracks with different arrangements and lyrics (also by Gandalf). “From The Depth Of the Earth” is an eight-minute piece with a cinematic sweep and magical intensity. “Starship of Ever” is more piano-based plus cello and keyboards, telling a slightly melancholy tale with heartfelt grace. The brief “Interlude - One Thought” is a lovely duet for piano and guitar that segues into “Where Longings Are Born,” my favorite track. Mysterious and intense, cello and piano suggest an edgy darkness that never really seems dangerous, but you’re not quite sure. The second half of the piece lightens a bit, adding an organ part that suggests triumph or a break-through of some sort. This is a really compelling piece that grabs my attention every time I hear it! “Paint You a Song” is a gently flowing song-without-words - something of a pianistic soliloquy expressed from the depths of emotion. “The Fragrance of Eden” is a sweet Celtic dream that features Irish whistle, cello, and piano. Poignant yet warmly uplifting, it would be perfect in a movie soundtrack. The title track is a poetic expression, sung with great feeling and sincerity by Milewsky, whose angelic voice adds even more heart to the album. “The Tree of Life” begins simply with piano and guitar, and gradually builds to become more orchestrated and anthemic - a little bit movie soundtrack and a little bit prog rock. Gandalf’s son, Christian, provides some impressive drum-work on this song! I love “Where Wishes Come True” and the piano/cello combination. Soft, dreamy, and hypnotic, it’s a beauty! “And Music Filled the Spheres” brings the album to a close with a piece that is sometimes melodic and sometimes ambient, incorporating some of the earlier themes and adding new ones. The organ a little past the middle of the piece gives a majestic feeling that dissolves back to quiet piano, strings, and atmospheric sounds to the end.
Gandalf again proves why he has had a world-wide presence in contemporary music for so many years. All Is One - One Is All is available from RealMusic.com, Amazon, and iTunes. Recommended!
April 23, 2016
Review by Kathy Parsons