Taking full advantage of his 30 years experience crafting music in harmony with the rhythm of nature, Gandalf presents a grand celebration in tribute “to the wonderful variety and beauty of the universe" with Earthsong and Stardance. Masterfully blending his customary sounds with the Corso Wien Orchestra and a Sanskrit choir, the whole truly blurs the boundaries between earth and the stars.
Earthsong & Stardance
|1. The Unfolding of the Worlds (Part 1) 7:10|
|2. The Unfolding of the Worlds (Part 2) 9:07|
|3. About the Miracle of Life (Part 1) 3:33|
|4. About the Miracle of Life (Part 2) 2:32|
|5. About the Miracle of Life (Part 3) 5:09|
|6. About the Beauty of Being (Part 1) 2:52|
|7. About the Beauty of Being (Part 2) 5:39|
|8. The Paths of Man (Part 1) 3:57|
|9. The Paths of Man (Part 2) 3:21|
|10. The Paths of Man (Part 3) 4:50|
|11. The Paths of Man (Part 4) 4:35|
|12. The Paths of Man (Part 5) 1:34|
|13. The Great Ceremony (Part 1) 2:03|
|14. The Great Ceremony (Part 2) 5:58|
|15. The Great Ceremony (Part 3) 4:58|
The true master of new age music Gandalf returns with a new album Earthsong & Stardance, released by the renowned label Real Music. This album is the epic symphony celebrating the variety and beauty of the whole universe. The Corso Wien Orchestra, with their subtle classical approach, and Sanskrit choir which beautifully sings in one of the oldest languages of mankind, helps the artist to create the polyphonic sound which goes in many dimensions. And certainly all compositions are united by Gandalf’s unique style which enchants the listener and makes him float easily on the waves of Gandalf’s inspirational music. One wants just to enjoy the touching and heartfelt artist’s guitar. Yet I’d like to add that all compositions of Earthsong & Stardance are listened to as a single whole. Earthsong & Stardance is filled with joy and it celebrates life with all the vital force which is contained in the deep and versatile music of this gifted Austrian composer and performer. But these words don’t fully describe Gandalf’s music. What are the main features of it? The music of Gandalf has a special essence which can be felt beyond the sound. It contains positive vibrations which raise the spirit and give it a needed strength. You feel how life is beautiful and amazing. You again want to love and create in this very rich and exciting world where material and spiritual are just integrated parts of a whole, and it is hard to determine where one ends and another begins. You want to get lost in love and find yourself overfilled with new constructive plans and ideas. Listen to the album Earthsong & Stardance and sense the vibrations of life, and the pulsations of the universe itself.
Gandalf is a true veteran of new age music with a career that spans 30 years and 32 albums so he definitely has something to say to us through his music as he has honed his art to a fine point with the release of each new album. In March 2011 Gandalf released his latest effort called Earthsong & Stardance which he recorded with the Corso Wien Orchestra. As you might suspect from the title this album has a sweeping scope that covers not only the earth but reaches out to capture the universe itself in the music that he chose to include on this album. The Corso Wien Orchestra and the Sansrkit Choir helps the album to reach these lofty heights that Gandalf has set as goals for the compositions that are a part of this offering. The music is broken up into five main movements with the overall themes of The Unfolding of Worlds, About the Miracle of Life, About the Beauty of Being, The Paths of Man and The Great Ceremony. Each movement has several individual parts that capture the flow and the emotions that Gandalf wishes to convey to his listener. All the music was composed, orchestrated and produced by Gandalf so there is no doubt as to who is in control of the music that found its way onto this album. The orchestra, the choir and the solos played by Gandalf on this project are top notch and show forth the care that was given the arrangements by Gandalf when he orchestrated and produced the flow of this album. One word of caution as you listen to the five major movements on this release, the individual parts of the movements are mixed so as to be a continuous mix so that part 1 continues into part 2 and into part 3 without a break. For that reason if you are listening to MP3 files you might want to make sure that you have chosen all of the parts under each major movement so that the song does not abruptly stop in the middle of the piece. The overall feeling of the album is one of awe and reverence which you can feel in the way that the orchestra pieces were arranged. The album exudes a peacefulness and tranquility as it explores the stars above us and then comes back down to wander the beauty that we find in our existence right here on earth. Gandalf has created emotional music with this release that is both introspective in that it asks the listener to look within themselves to find that which connects each one of us to the stars and the earth while at the same time asking that we look beyond ourselves at the majesty of nature and the universe that surrounds us. To see ourselves as part of the whole of the universe while still being individual in nature is something that Gandalf manages to capture in his compositions quite well. Gandalf has skillfully woven the solo performances into the compositions much like an orchestral solo occasionally punctuates a point in the flow of classical music where emphasis is needed to drive home the point of the music. I enjoyed the electric guitar that he chose to emphasize his point on The Unfolding of Worlds part 2 and The Paths of Man part 3 as it celebrates what had been reflective music up to that point. Gandalf uses the Sanskrit Choir in much the same way throughout the album by choosing very carefully when they will appear during each song so that the album never takes on the feel of an album of nothing but chants. His acoustic guitar playing has a tenderness to it that pulls you into the music as it offers a meditative moment to that which has come just before. With the orchestra cradling the acoustic guitar in its arms it makes the guitar that much more alluring. All in all Earthsong & Stardance delivers on its promise to take us on a journey of celebration and exploration of this universe that we live in and the planet that we occupy. Gandalf has always had an abiding love of nature in his personal life and that kind of devotion is sure to come out in the music that he composes. The album is a wonderful mixture of music that has a definite classical feel to it but with new age sensitivity that will appeal to all of Gandalf's fans who have followed his career these last 30 years. The music is thoughtful and will resonate with the listener if they give it a chance to move beyond the mind and into the heart. Gandalf once again shows that he understands both himself and nature with this release and shares his heart with those who are willing to look beneath the surface of these compositions.
Gandalf is one of the pioneers of the New Age movement quite capable of migrating from ambient to electronic to the meditative sub genres with no loss of credibility. Despite the exceptional standard of his last 3 recordings, the musical wizard’s wanderlust approach has somehow been thwarted via these semi-meditative gems. However, Earthsong & Stardance breaks this contemplative streak as Gandalf presents his listeners with one of his most progressive recordings in years. There is a significant musical transformation as Gandalf arrangements are notably fleshed out with embellishments courtesy of orchestration, percussion and even choral arrangements. But the music does not have to be heard to recognize that you are about to hear something different. The track listing is divided into 5 movements that include anywhere from 2 to 5 parts in each song. Each movement lasts from 8 to 18 minutes allowing Gandalf, the Corso Wien Orchestra and the Sanskrit Choir room to breathe and let go. The opening movement “The Unfolding Of The Worlds” opens with an almost monk style chant that borders on eerie versus heavenly but nevertheless flows effortlessly into Gandalf’s progressive yet melodic first movement. Part 1 is broad in its arrangement while Part 2 focuses on more specific instrumentation including some bold yet tasteful electric guitar work concluding with the chants that began the movement. Immediately you will realize that while very different to Gandalf’s prior recordings, you as the listener are being introduced to a very special recording event. While the second movement “About The Miracle Of Life” follows a similar pattern as the first, the third movement, “ About The Beauty Of Being” is the shortest of the five and allows the listener to find a more reflective Gandalf especially Part 1 that flows and builds in Part 2. The Corso Wien Orchestra is featured here and they are clearly on their symphonic game as they interact with Gandalf. In contrast, the album closes out with “The Great Ceremony” that begins in an almost reflective mood but by Part 2 the percussion and Sanskrit Choir dominate as does the upbeat blissful tone concluding Earthsong & Stardance in a grand epilogue style without repeating its prior movements. Gandalf’s music has always been much grounded yet with the strong ability to reach for the sky. Perfectly titled, the musical wizard has created a tribute to both Mother Earth and the infinite universe that surrounds her. Though quite a different jewel to his prior 3 recordings, Earthsong & Stardance is yet another perfect addition to the artists recording portfolio that began over 30 years ago. Despite taking this artistic and bold chance, this has not stopped the wonderful winning streak as Gandalf continues to astonish his listeners.
Earthsong & Stardance is an amazing “Symphony Of The Third Millenium” created to celebrate composer/multi-instrumentalist Gandalf’s 30th anniversary as a performing artist. It is also “a tribute to the wonderful variety and beauty of the universe, to the miracle of all life and being” (quoted from the liner notes). Gandalf appears on acoustic and electric guitars, saz, electric sitar, piano, organ, keyboards, mallets, and orchestral percussion; he is also half of the Sanskrit choir. He performs with several other artists in addition to the Corso Wien Orchestra and the previously-mentioned Sanskrit choir that sings selections from the Bhagavat Gita in its original language. The music ranges from big cinematic orchestral works to more delicate solos and small ensembles to chants. The work is divided into five movements that are further divided into two to five smaller sections, but the pieces flow together as a seamless whole. It’s impossible to put this album into a categorial box, but there are definite classical, world, rock, film soundtrack, and new age influences on this most impressive album. The first movement is called “The Unfolding of the Worlds.” It begins with atmospheric sounds and a single note setting a simple rhythm on the piano. The two deep male voices of the choir chant in Sanskrit as a variety of instruments begin to paint the colors of the gentle and magical landscape. Part 2 continues as a tranquil instrumental that features piano, cello, oboe, and guitars along with the Corso Wien Orchestra. The second movement is “About the Miracle of Life.” Full of wonder and beauty, it features a poignant acoustic guitar passage that is a highlight of the album. The third movement, “About the Beauty of Being,” features Merike Hilmar on cello and Gandalf on piano. Uplifting and optimistic, some parts are intimate while others have a cinematic sweep. “The Paths of Man” begins with a repeated single note on the piano that continues as other instruments join in to add to the color palette. The “Paths” are varied, but all are sunny and very pleasant; some are solitary while others are full and vibrant. “The Great Ceremony” is the fifth movement and contains a wonderful variety of musical styles and world instruments that create a celebratory and joyous mood. Strongly rhythmic yet gentle and warm, you may find yourself dancing to this one as this most-enjoyable album comes to a close! Earthsongs & Stardance is my favorite (so far) of Gandalf’s many albums, and I strongly recommend it. It is available from Real Music, Amazon, and iTunes as well as outlets where Real Music’s selections are featured.
The ethereal opening to Earthsong and Stardance transcends the current period and touches upon mystic societies, traditional monk chants, and even more aboriginal approaches to music. What unites the disparate elements on both parts of the initial suite is the skill used in creating a seamless musical effort. While the two parts of “The Unfolding of the Worlds” represent the longest tracks on Earthsong and Stardance by far, Gandalf keeps things interesting while creating a microcosm of the different sounds, styles, and influences that will ultimately be tapped during the album. The three-part “About the Miracle of Life” is eleven minutes of composition that touches upon genesis; the very organic and classically-oriented arrangements give birth to a full and dense weave that takes listeners on a journey. The second part of “About the Miracle of Life” represents one of the high points on Earthsong and Stardance; while it is one of the album’s shortest tracks, the brooding and darker feel of the track represents a great interplay to the lighter compositions that are placed throughout the rest of the album. It is during this movement that Gandalf moves towards a slightly harder, more progressive metal-influenced feel; while the track does not move fully towards a rock constellation, the ability of Gandalf to take nods from incompatible genres is impressive. “The Paths of Man” is perhaps the most epic of the different compositions on Earthsong and Stardance; at five distinct movements collectively spread out over eighteen minutes, the track gives Gandalf more than enough room to properly stretch his wings. Winding down Earthsong and Stardance, the latter movements of “The Paths of Man” feed into “The Great Ceremony” and give listeners a fitting conclusion to an expansive and wide-ranging journey. Top Tracks: The Unfolding of the Worlds, Part 2, About the Beauty of Being, Part 1 Rating: 7.9/10
You have got to give this new ager credit for thinking big. To celebrate his 30 years as a muso, he has written an orchestral tribute to the universe and all its splendors. Fusing new age and world beat into the cosmos, this is grand work that could only come from the heart. Not for the casual listener because you have to be prepared to really be pulled into this work, this is the real deal along these lines. Heady stuff that gets you to stop a second and reflect.