2009 / Real Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Despite the stellar results of his last recording Lotus Land, it didn’t quite keep the momentum of his pinnacle Real Music recording Sacred River. As for his latest endeavor Sanctuary, though the title is common and overused in the New Age genre, there is absolute nothing ordinary about the magnificent musical contents. Although Gandalf has been around for what seems to be forever, this does not seem to dilute his creative juices which are clearly obvious on his latest offering that is equal to or even exceeds the wonders of Sacred River.
Drawing on all his gifts as a producer, composer and musician Gandalf may have outdone himself presenting his listens with another recording of impeccable beauty. Sanctuary is essentially an outright solo effort with the exception of some assistance from Merike Hilmar on cello and Christian Strobl on darabuka and djembe. The album opens with the floating “Alhambra-Prelude” that glides on Hilmar’s gorgeous cello work. This particular composition is revisited twice throughout the album and is one of its central themes, yet each movement creates its own memorable mood. This repetitive approach is also very successful via the warmth of the mellow meanderings of “A Place In The Sun” and its interlude counterpart, as well as the moody and pensive twins “Citadel -Part 1” and “Citadel Part 2”
But if you are really looking for the more translucent Gandalf, this is best exemplified by the frailty of “The Loveliest Flower In My Garden” that was an inspiring spontaneous one take recording. Gandalf’s unique ability to be equally at home on the piano as he is on the guitar continues to create a sound signature that not only makes the music of Gandalf pleasure filled but equally profound.
Sanctuary lives up to its name with its mesmerizing performances as Gandalf, the musical wizard will cast a spell on his listeners drawing them into a cocoon of peaceful music that is never tedious. Sanctuary represents Gandalf’s fifth recording for Real Music, and arguably is the crown jewel of his last three recordings that have been nothing short of stellar. A well respected veteran in the New Age genre for many years, full commercial recognition has evaded Gandalf to date. Sanctuary has all the essential accessible ingredients to change all that.
February 2, 2009
Review by Kathy Parsons