We all long for some kind of protected zone in our lives, a place to withdraw from the noise and craziness in the world, a refuge of balance and peace. Some find it in the silence of a forest, in the remoteness of mountains or the rolling waves by the seaside. Some find it in sacred places, praying or practicing meditation. Listeners all over the world tell me how my music helps them cope with the challenges of life. Please feel welcome to enter my musical Sanctuary. — Gandalf
|1. Alhambra - Prelude 1:38|
|2. Under Southern Skies 7:24|
|3. Once in a Star-Brightened Night 4:25|
|4. Alhambra 6:30|
|5. A Place in the Sun 5:35|
|6. Citadel - Part 1 5:59|
|7. Citadel - Part 2 5:05|
|8. The Loveliest Flower in My Garden 4:36|
|9. Pilgrim's Road 6:47|
|10. A Place in the Sun - Interlude 1:19|
|11. When Blossoms Turn to Fruit 3:58|
|12. Alhambra - Reflections 2:44|
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 listeners 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.
Sanctuary continues in Gandalf's usual musical tradition… i.e. I like this a lot, but he’s not doing anything particularly new… on the other hand, why mess with success? What sets him apart from many New Age composers and performers is his lush orchestrations and that he’ll change up his leads… i.e. one song focuses on guitar, another on piano, another is more sitar-oriented, etc. It’s a very comforting sound, meditative, like you’re in a forest where the struggle for survival has been overcome by all the plants and animals that are usually locked into the mortal combat known as the eco-system. This runs together as all one piece, no breaks between the tracks, and the various songs borrow from each other. My fave track on this CD is “Citadel, Part 1” which has many moods and in the end makes a grand exit with a very simple melody, there’s some “to die for” string harmonies in here that take the listener higher and higher, as a major key melody keeps breaking out of a minor key intro. I think what makes him good is as much as what the material is, is what he does with it, how he surrounds it with some really cool orchestration, or drumbeats that sometimes only put in the barest essentials of rhythm. In any event, Gandalf, an Austrian artist how uses this Lord of the Ring pseudonym, should be proud of making life just that much better for so many listeners.
Sanctuary is Gandalf’s fifth release on the Real Music label, the latter being a haven for contemporary relaxation and wellness music for many years. Over the past one and a half decades, Gandalf’s distinct music has undergone a slow but sure transformation to a more reflective, meditative and new age kind of feel-good music. This is also the case on Sanctuary, offering a further smoothened, very laid-back collection of instrumental music, in which no forceful elements are present anymore. Instead, the overall graceful and gentle music nicely blends piano, acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, cello and percussion, creating a warm, dreamy and unhurried sonic space to put the mind to rest. ” “A refuge of balance and peace”, to cite Gandalf, “a place to withdraw from the noise and craziness in the world”.
This is the time when the magic returns. Gandalf creates a perfect sanctuary where you can escape from your everyday anxieties and easily stay alone with your own essence. You can recover your soul from sorrows and disappointments of the surrounding world. You can fill your heart by that love which is contained in Gandalf’s music. It is an endless ocean of joy and light. Gandalf masterfully plays on various instruments. His firm sound cannot be compared with anything. But especially I like his expressive guitar. It is like a storyteller who tells his own, very special stories which he brought from mysterious distant lands. With what else can Gandalf’s music be compared? It pours out like a wide floating river that runs its waves to the unknown. For me, Gandalf’s music is always an exciting journey. The artist puts all his soul into the music. He cares for the listener and very softly leads him along the river of his music. As always, Gandalf’s album Sanctuary has a refined sound. The artist carefully works on every smallest nuance. His music is an ideal gift for any new age music lover. And when I listen to Gandalf’s music I have only the question where does the artist find the source of his inexhaustible inspiration?
Gandalf's fifth release with Real Music, Sanctuary, is a well-structured outing that finds pacing and movement as critical as musicianship. A totally delightful set that is real music that can be enjoyed in the background or foreground, this is the kind of set that can redefine new age in the general public’s mind. Partly a throwback to the early days of NAC when no one knew what to make of instrumental music that wasn’t jazz, the best thing to call this is alternative adult at its best.