Colors of a New Dawn
2004 / Real Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Last year Real Music had the honor of redistributing Gandalf's dramatic yet dreamy Between Earth and Sky. This year this privilege is taken one step further as Gandalf presents the label and his fans with an album of new material with an equal mix of keyboard and guitar based compositions. Continuing to provide his listeners with his visionary pictorial music, the Austrian artist's shows us some additional commercial accessibility yet persists in weaving his musical wizardry magic throughout.
The most obvious commercial trappings can be found on the one vocal track "In The Presence Of Angel". Featuring the soft vocal samplings of Julia Martins they carry an Enya like quality. But even here the vocals are not the focal point restricting them to limited lines. Rather the contrasting swirl of the mellotron and nylon guitar work along with the angelic Ms. Martin allows the title to live through the music.
Another fine moment is the elegant piano based "Bridge Of Confidence" that brings to mind the song "A State Of Grace" composed by the duo Exchange (where are they now?). While the composition logs in at over 5 minutes every second of this song is an absolute delight.
Experimentally speaking check out the music found on "From Distant Shores". With a multitude of chants that interplay with the very pure and melodic piano work of Gandalf it makes this opus somewhat perplexing. Also, featuring some electric guitar and percussion work it is certainly the most upbeat moment of the album. Still not sure whether the chants sashay well with the melodious keyboard work. Nevertheless, a very daring move by this multi-talented artist.
Meanwhile, Gandalf closes the album out with the utterly soothing "Brighter Than A Star". The hissing swish of the keyboard embellishments adds a wonderful imaginative word picture of a shooting star leaving its glazed trail across the canvas of God's sky. Very much in the tradition of his label mate 2002, there are no hard edges to this song making for a smooth ending to a delightful album.
While Gandalf has certainly made his music a little more accessible here, there is nothing that will offend those who enjoyed the more meditative qualities of Between Earth and Sky. If you enjoyed the mainstream efforts of the track "A Seagull's Tale" from the previously mentioned album, then there is no doubting that Colors of a New Dawn will charm and shed some wonderful "light" on your ears.
February 2, 2004
Review by Kathy Parsons