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Andreas Vollenweider - Caverna Magica CD (album) cover


Andreas Vollenweider


Crossover Prog

3.20 | 31 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Albums of the Swiss musician Andreas Vollenweider haven't been seen too often here. That's not surprising, since he's very thinly connected to the traditional progressive rock field; more likely he's considered as a New Age / World Music artist, a modified harp being his main instrument. I found his instrumental (-oriented) music in my early adulthood some 26 years ago. After being charmed by a library loan Down to the Moon (1986), I bought the 2-CD box The Trilogy that features the album trilogy of Behind the Gardens - Behind the Wall - Under the Tree (1980), Caverna Magica and White Winds (1985), plus Eine Art Suite. Hopefully I'll some day find inspiration to write also about the two last mentioned, but here's my view on the middle part of that trilogy.

The opening track 'Caverna Magica' starts in a misleadingly psychedelic manner with mumbled voices and footsteps, and a sound of water dripping that becomes rhythmic and is gradually replaced by harp, soon joined by the band. Vollenweider and his co-musicians (mainly on percussion) weave a light, World Music flavoured jazz groove. More or less wordless chant-like vocals by Corina Curschellas lightly colour some tracks such as 'Mandragora', and they underline the World Music atmosphere. The tracks are pretty short, but they follow each other seamlessly and form a coherent continuity, a carefully planned suite. Side One of the original vinyl ends with charming 'Sena Stanjéna?' which adds electric guitar to the relaxed soundscape.

'Belladonna' is a good example of the soft romanticism in Vollenweider's music. The thing that may put off especially prog rock oriented listeners is the way the repeated melodic riffs often form the basic structure of individual pieces. The playing often has a jam-like, easy-going, lighthearted groove. But the music is "progressive", in its own way. First, the whole suite forms a pretty cinematic musical journey, and second, the instrumentation is highly rich in exotic details, offering many delightful surprise moments along the way, some of them Oriental. The bright-sounding harp however stays on focus throughout the album. After several rather lazy tracks, the relatively catchy 'Geastrum Coronatum' slightly raises the intensity, leading to the brief outro 'La paix verde' in which the sound effects suggest that the protagonists who have been wandering in a cave fall into the sea.

A minus comes for the short total length (33 ½ min), but in Vollenweider's discography Caverna Magica is among the most recommended works. This is for listeners who can find enjoyment in New Age and World Music, and who appreciate relaxed jazziness and exotic sonic details.

Matti | 4/5 |


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