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TRACK LIST: 1. Dream I 5:19 2. Dream II 6:04 3. Dream III 4:19 4. Dream IV 11:22 5. Dream V 7:19 6. Dream VI 8:29 7. Dream VII 5:32 8. Dream VIII 3:12 9. Dream XI 3:55 10. Dream X 8:07 All tracks: by Lindh & Johansson. LINE-UP: Par Lindh - - Mellotron, Hammond organs, Church organ, - grand pianos, varied synthesizers, harpsichord; - acoustic drums & manifold acoustic percussion Bjorn Johansson - - electric, classical, steel, slide, & sitar guitars, - bass guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, zither; - bassoon & whistles; synthesizer; percussion With: Magdalena Berg - vocals Niclas Blixt - trumpet & French horn Nisse Mannerfeldt - euphonium & trombones Lovisa Stenberg - harp &: Choir Ensemble "Macogall" (conducted by E. Hellersted) Arranged, produced, & engineered by Lindh & Johansson. Choir arrangements: by E. Hellersted & Lindh.
Prolusion. The Tolkien-inspired "Dreamsongs from Middle Earth" is the second product of the creative collaboration between the well-known Swedish musicians and composers Par LINDH and Bjorn JOHANSSON, both of whom are multi-instrumentalists. Their first joint musical experience took place in 1996 and was marked with the release of the (still, Tolkien-inspired) album "Bilbo", which I haven't heard.
Synopsis. "Dreamsongs from Middle Earth" is an amazingly coherent recording, which, above all, is due to the fact that all the contents conform to a unified, nearly monolithic, compositional and stylistic conception. (Well, there are only wordless, separate and chorus, female vocals, so the album can be considered only a semi-concept work, which does not matter, though, and personally, I prefer an all-instrumental album to a vocal-heavy one.) There are no pauses between the tracks here, and each of the following ones provides the logical development of the music on its predecessor. This factor makes the entire album both coherent and epic. Another important aspect of the integrity of this music lies in the fact that it has a folksy-medieval and, what's central, distinctively fabulous feel to it everywhere on the album. The duo's benefactors-teachers in absentia are classic ELP, Mike Oldfield, and Steve Hackett (circa "Voyage of the Acolyte"), i.e. the artists, the artifacts of the music by which have been stamped in the universe's informational field once and forever. However, it is well known that Par Lindh and Bjorn Johansson are themselves the correspondence teachers for many contemporary musicians, as their music is much richer in original, genuinely inspired (and, thus, highly influential) ideas than in those penetrated into their minds by informational channels. The ideas are in the air! Of course, the music is Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, which, in this case, is woven of mixed, electrically acoustic textures. The latter, however, are often superior in quantity, and it's enough to have a look at the lineup above to believe my words. Each of the instruments mentioned has 'made' a solid contribution to the album. There are plenty of episodes featuring only the parts of acoustic instruments and interplay between them, among which those between passages of piano, classical guitar, and woodwinds are like honey to my soul. Dream-I and Dream-VII (1 & 7, of course) are the only tracks on the album that are about a dreamy and rather quiet Symphonic Art-Rock in their entirety. Instead of drums, both feature hand-percussion instruments. As if in contrast to these, Dream-VIII and Dream-IX contain no place for rest, being intense and intricate throughout. The latter is also notable for distinct elements of Oriental music. On the whole, all six of the other tracks represent something average between the said two categories of compositions. As a matter of fact, however, each of them, and especially the long Dreams IV, VI, & X, consist of a wide variety of different musical pictures, all of which, at the same time, are linked among themselves to form an amazingly united whole.
Conclusion. Above all, "Dreamsongs from Middle Earth" is one of those sincere, soulful and heartfelt works that will always remain listenable, to say the least. The sound is crystal clear, but since there is myriad of nuances, I'd advise you to put on the headphones when you listen to the album. Perhaps I should have first given recommendations to the album as such, but I believe everything is clear from the review. Furthermore, I am certain that the project and, therefore, the album need no special recommendation.
VM: June 2, 2004
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