Have you ever visited the Canary Island of La Palma, a place of never-ending spring? Wandering through the diversity of amazing landscapes on this unique isle lifted my spirit and opened my creative flow in a very special way, which I interpreted with my signature blending of guitars, keyboards and orchestral tones. I hope the music will transport you to such an uplifting and magical place as well. —Gandalf, January 2016
All is One - One is All
|1. Prelude - The Secret Inside 1:16|
|2. From the Depth of the Earth 8:09|
|3. Starshine of Ever 7:13|
|4. Interlude - One Thought 1:02|
|5. Where Longings Are Born 6:43|
|6. Paint You a Song 6:38|
|7. The Fragrance of Eden 6:31|
|8. All Is One 6:52|
|9. The Tree of Life 8:17|
|10. Where Wishes Come True 4:34|
|11. And Music Filled the Spheres 7:26|
After a brief 1:16 prelude, “The Secret Inside,” track 2, “From the Depth of the Earth” establishes the environment that listeners will exist in over the course of Gandalf’s latest release, All Is One - One is All. Next “Starshine of Ever” rises and falls, utilizing minor shifts and changes taken over the course of 7-plus minutes to establish a cohesive entity. A piano and cello intensity pushes each element to a nice plateau, giving listeners a narrative voice to appreciate.
“Where Longings Are Born” has an intricate opening that immediately draws listeners in, with distinct musical efforts filling in the composition. The depth and density of the effort ensures that one will have to play the song numerous times before hearing each inclusion and dynamic established between the instrumental efforts.
“Where Wishes Come True” is the shortest, non-prelude/interlude effort on the album, but Gandalf has included such a rich panoply of notes, movements, and distinct elements that the effort possesses as much gravitas as any other effort on the title. “The Tree of Life” is a late-album effort, contributing tons to the overall sound of the disc. The deliberate percussive elements that punctuate this track ratchet up the momentum of the latter half of All Is One - One is All, ensuring that listeners will be on the edges of their seats until the album concludes.
“And Music Filled the Spheres” is the final composition on All Is One - One is All, and it provides listeners with a great conclusion for the different twists and turns that they had experienced through the entirety of the album. The composition is a must-listen as it provides fans with an idea where Gandalf may go on follow-ups to this disc.
Top Tracks: “From the Depth of the Earth,” “Where Longings Are Born,” “Where Wishes Come True”
Gandalf is an easily recognized name for many in the new age instrumental community, and the music that he has produced over the years has been a testament not only to his considerable talents and his dedication to creating music that would satisfy his own inspired visions of what he wanted to accomplish with each new release, but also meets the needs of those dedicated listeners who call themselves fans of Gandalf's musical legacy. Gandalf's latest release on the Real Music label is called All is One - One is All and will be available on April 29, 2016 for all his fans around the world who have been waiting for this newest journey into his heartfelt compositions since 2013 when Dreamweaver was released.
With an artist who has such an extensive catalog that began in 1981 with Journey to an Imaginary Land, it would be tempting to try and find common threads in his music and place his current work in some sort of historical framework in regards to his body of music as a whole, but with thirty-seven albums prior to this one, it is best to simply look at All is One - One is All merely as a talented musician’s statement of where he is at in 2016 and what compositions move his heart and soul as he creates music for himself and for his listeners.
Gandalf’s music is a comfort to listen to because it consistently walks a path that plucks familiar strings in the hearts of his listeners and it is this feeling that draws listeners back again and again to his compositions. All is One – One is All features eleven new arrangements and the album has just about 65 minutes of playing time which takes its listeners on a magical journey that will leave them feeling centered and refreshed. While Gandalf wrote the lyrics for the song “All Is One” and composed, arranged and produced all of the music you will hear on All is One – One is All, bringing his vision for the compositions to life is not a solo effort. We also find Agnes Milewski contributing vocals to the project, Merike Hilmar doing a fine job on the cello parts that you will hear on several of the tracks, Karin Leitner doing a marvelous job on the Irish whistle on track 7, Peter Aschenbrenner playing the bodhran, bass, flute and Irish whistle, Vasile Marian on the duduk, and finally Christian Strobl on the drums for track 9.
Gandalf plays a variety of instruments on All is One – One is All including piano, guitars, saz, keyboards, atmospheres and percussion. While in many cases the piano does tend to be the focus, Gandalf uses and interweaves all the other musicians seamlessly into his music so that they become integral parts of the whole that makes each song work. A wonderful example is track 3, the song called “Starshine of Ever.” This song starts off with Gandalf on the piano as the sole performer in this peaceful sonic landscape that is filled with the introspective sounds of his keyboards. But suddenly out of this stillness the sound of the cello joins Gandalf in a wonderful duet between Gandalf’s piano and Merike Hilmar’s emotionally filled cello playing, with each performer building on and adding to the performance of the other until the listener is completely enamored with the song and feels compelled to hit repeat when the song has come to a satisfying close.
The wonderful thing is that the interaction that takes place on “Starshine of Ever” is very much indicative of the way that Gandalf relates to the guest musicians who play parts in the other compositions on this album. As I was listening to the songs on this project I was struck with how much the guest players were an intimate part of the music that I was hearing and how the songs would not be quite the same if Gandalf had treated their contributions as less than essential during the recording or producing aspects of this new project. While All is One – One is All is without a doubt an excellent Gandalf album, it is still good to see that Gandalf is able to allow these guest musicians to add their nuances to his compositions.
While all of the music on this project is impressive and points to the expert musical sensibilities of Gandalf, I must admit that I do have another favorite song besides “Starshine of Ever” and that other favorite would be track 7, “The Fragrance of Eden.” This song features the Irish whistle of Karin Leitner and also Merike Hilmar’s cello again along with Gandalf on the piano. This is a wonderful song that lifts your spirits and immediately casts your mind to green meadows and lazy summer days filled with nothing more than being a part of the world that surrounds you. In that sense the title “Fragrance of Eden” captures exactly what this song conveys so well in its light, airy melodies and the interactions between the musicians with each adding their own part to the positive emotions of this track. Eden as a place where burdens are lifted and hearts are once again free is the perfect analogy for what the listener feels when they hear this song and allow it to sink into their spirits. It is a song that grabs you in its embrace and makes you feel that all is right with the world if only in that moment the music is playing.
All is One – One is All is a great addition to Gandalf’s sizable discography and one that will be very satisfying to his longtime fans. It is apparent that even after decades of writing and recording music, Gandalf is a very capable composer and is able to craft songs that are imaginative, inspired and able to touch his listener’s hearts. This is truly an album that Gandalf fans will want to add to their collections as he continues to lead his listeners on musical explorations that he started way back in 1981.
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 Milewski (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 Milewski. 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 Milewski, 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 progressive 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 once again proves why he has had a world-wide presence in contemporary music for so many years. Recommended!
I have long been a fan of the music of Gandalf, with memories of Dreamweaver and the ever beautiful Between Earth and Sky being my personal favorites. Now here he is back with a tremendous new release called All is One - One is All.
The essence of oneness kicks us off on our journey; the dolphins sing in a prelude called “The Secret Inside” that features the vocals of Agnes Milewsky and guides us gently into the empowering and meaningful “From the Depth of the Earth.” This is a composition that has simply got it all. With a stunningly emotive arrangement and delightful sensual rhythm, the percussion and intensity of this track is simply outstanding. At around the five minute mark listen for the Gandalf’s guitar and then marvel at the incredibly flowing piano segment shortly thereafter.
The delightfully entitled “Starshine of Ever” walks majestically into our lives with a flourish of sheer genius. Its soft and gentle beginnings are so delicate and attractive and Gandalf’s piano plays an ageless melody. Then he is joined in a rapturous musical moment of utter class by the inclusion of Merike Hilmar on cello.
For a moment we take an interlude into a short form composition called “One Thought,” a moment for acoustic guitar and piano to dance. Then we find ourselves in a whole new realm as if musically we have roamed into an entirely new dimension. The dramatic quality of this arrangement is breath-taking and worthy of any film score. Hilmar’s cello is once again a wonderful thing to just bathe in, and all orchestrated by the master Gandalf, who’s piano is the narrator on the descriptive and colorful piece we now know as “Where Longings Are Born.”
Sometimes you come across a song or two that really resonate with you, and on “Paint You a Song” we have just that. The subtle mastery on piano from Gandalf builds the piece with an almost mournful repose. The performance of the artist on this track is quite picturesque. Through the narration one can feel the sense of a longing, a desire to create something so very special for someone.
I noted Gandalf’s comments about the Canary Islands being the land of never ending spring. I understand that, I live in Cyprus, the land of never ending sun, and this composition called “The Fragrance of Eden” is quite idyllic as at the moment of writing it is indeed spring here, and the tones of the music float along on the wings of the many butterflies that flutter past my studio window. A special note of appreciation must be paid to Karin Leitner for her charming Irish whistle on this piece.
And now for the title track “All is One.” There is a certain mysterious element to this track, but one that contains a real vista of wide eyed wonder. Agnes Milewsky’s vocals are spot on, just the right power and sensitivity combined to bring us a really heart felt song. Gandalf’s piano must be listened to carefully; he creates such a haunting harmonic melody. Add the cello of Hilmar and you have a world class composition.
The longest composition on the album is the insightful “The Tree of Life.” I would urge one to carefully take in all the little nuances on this piece. It is quite complex and is a really good example of how to create a track with multi instrumentation and harmonic vocals. Gandalf’s performances on piano and guitar are simply remarkable. A special shout out has to also be given to Peter Aschenbrenner for the amazing bass flute on this piece.
The second to last door, leading to what is known as the penultimate room of the journey, is now upon us. As we walk through that door we come across the musician in a thoughtful mood on the track “Where Wishes Come True.” Gandalf’s hands manifest an almost outer worldly theme on this piece, but the melody is so charming that it creates an abundance of energy and warmth, the more deeply we listen.
Our last port of call is a piece called “And Music Filled the Spheres.” To me this track has an almost universal appeal. We can hear the sounds of nature as our dolphins return to converse with us. The artist has really fashioned a superb ending piece for all to simply float along with and enjoy. Through this final opus we are gifted one of the most amazing organ segments I have heard for years. At around four minutes this will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck in this completely unexpected moment of musical inspiration.
All is One - One is All has all the hallmarks of an album that will be remembered through the eons of time. It has been masterfully performed and produced, and will satisfy all of your musical needs and desires. Here is an album that will totally engage you, and will not let you go until the very last note is played … a truly supreme album indeed.