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Jon Anderson - The Fellowship: In Elven Lands CD (album) cover


Jon Anderson


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3.73 | 49 ratings

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Elen Sila
4 stars Guest-Star Jon Anderson lights up this unusual work that attempts to "reconstruct" the ancient music of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Middle Earth."

Strange as it sounds, that's what they really did. But beyond all the early-music practices and original instruments, this album is unmistakeably progressive in its approach. Interspersing lyrics with intricate instrumental passages, using the human voice as a kind of instrument, "The Fellowship" (which seems to be some kind of loose collection of international recording artists, musicologists and "world" musicians) has actually pulled off what may be the first Prog-Early-Music hybrid.

Guest vocalist Jon Anderson (of Yes fame) only appears on four of the 16 tracks (of which he wrote two), but those tracks are some of his best work in recent years. Two of his tracks are in Elvish and two in English (the two that he wrote). For Yes fans, the most "yes-like" of Jons songs is "The Sacred Stones" wherein he sings about the Silmarils of Tolkien's mythology. The song feels strongly celtic but quickly builds as the arrangement grows in size to what might be called a full mediaeval orchestra.

But Jons most interesting songs are the two in Elvish, the artificial language of author J.R.R. Tolkien. The first, "Elechoi" has Jon singing a repeated phrase, vaguely reminiscent of "We Have Heaven" in it's varied repetition. But the song doesn't really resemble anything he has done before. It is entirely mediaeval in its performance and Jon seems fully committed to the concept. He truly becomes the part as if he is playing a character from Tolkien's books.

Jon's second Elvish song, "Verses to Elbereth Gilthoniel" is a complete hymn to the Elves' goddess with beautiful instrumental interludes. In both of his Elvish songs and in "The Sacred Stones" Jon is joined by punk- rock legend Ethan James on hurdy-gurdy. If that sounds strange to you, it's only because it is! The sound is truly hypnotic.

The rest of the music on "In Elven Lands" carries through on the Tolkien theme, the ancient style and the progressive approach. Of special note is "Beware The Wolf" sung by Caitlin Elizabeth. That song a mediaeval sort of way. Other epic works include the instrumental "When Durin Woke" which features another full orchestra of ancient sounds and it gets truly large. While many Prog albums explore rock's classical roots, this is the first to carry it to a rediculous extreme of making it really ancient. It seems impossible that such a mad project could succeed but it does with flying colours.

Overall, the album takes you on a journey, just as all good Prog should. But don't expect rock. This thing blazes a new trail through ancient, celtic and world music from a progressive point of view. Produced by film composer Carvin Knowles and Adam Pike (of The Syrups), this album is for all of us who have always associated Jon Anderson's voice with Tolkien's stories.

Elen Sila | 4/5 |


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