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Ainur - From Ancient Times CD (album) cover



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Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ainur's debut has rapidly reached a cult status between many prog lovers. This new italian band has had the idea of recording and releasing a whole work inspired by "The Silmarillion" by J. R. R. Tolkien. After having analized the music I cannot say this is prog in the true sense. Apparently the album isn't too complex and is based upon, mainly, a melodic new-ageish flavour sometimes tinged with serious prog parts as in the sixth track "The Fall of Nargothrond" (4,43 mns). This one could be easily one of the most favourite recent track I've listened to in the last year. Excellent hard electric guitar work accompained with exciting synthesizer's excursions that reminds a little bit of the classic itralian prog band Biglietto per l'Inferno.

The album's lyrics are in english language, sung with some (obvious) italian accent. An important thing to remark is the vocal richness: five singers, three female, two male (one is a bass-baritone). In a similar vein to what contemporary important italian prog band Randone has already made within their 2005 big opus "Hybla Act 1". The listening is very pleasant due also to the fact that the band is composed by 18 membersproviding instruments like harp, horns, flute, clarinet, cello, viola, violin.

Another exciting track is the long "The Fall of Gondolin" (10,31 mns) which is builded on varied arrangements. From soft folky introduction to a hard-prog experience from the fifth minute on. Excellent guitars and synth again. Great track. In a similar vein is also the tenth song "Wall of Wrath" (8,59 mns) with a quasi medieval touch.

Generally speaking the album reminds me of a fantasy-like concept album from the seventies released with the contribution of many artists: Mandalaband's Eye of Wendor (1978). The same "commercial" feelings, the same serious proggy tendencies and the evocative musical horizons. In that case it was the mellotron of Woolly Wolstenholme to give the prog flavour. In From Ancient Times, hammond, moog, synthesizer and piano, even if not played massively, provide, at least, three wonderful tracks and evocative atmosphere!

Well done, Ainur. I hope to listen more from you.

Report this review (#113883)
Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This new Italian band host many musicians on instruments that range from violin, harp and flute to bariton, Moog synthesizer and clarinet. Their debut CD From Ancient Times is based upon the book The Silmarillion by Tolkien, that's not uncommon in prog ....! During my first listening session I got more and more impressed by Ainur their album, what a pleasant and elaborate compositions featuring very flowing shifting moods and a lot of variation. The atmospheres in the 11 tracks alternates between dreamy with twanging acoustic guitars, flute, harp and piano to compelling and bombastic with propulsive electric guitar riffs and fluent synthesizer flights. The vocals have an important role in Ainur their sound with many male and female singers, even a bariton who sounds like an opera vocalist. Some songs contain great variety like The Fall Of Nargochrond (from sparkling piano to propulsive and bombastic with fat guitar riffs and delicate synthesizer runs along strong male vocals), The Fall Of Gondolin (many changing climates) and War Of Wrath (sparkling piano, fiery gutiar, a sensational synthesizer solo and howling guitar runs). This is a tasteful album that blends symphonic prog, folk and classical in a pleasant way. My rating: 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#114787)
Posted Saturday, March 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another band inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien!

Ainur, a 18 pieces band, is another band inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion'. And this is normal, today (unfortunately). This band sung in English and for me not plays RPI in a strong sense. Is this a problem for a correct evalutation? Maybe... Maybe yes or maybe no... Because I can not able to evaluate this situation. In fact Ainur not plays true Prog. Or better, Ainur plays a sort of Folk Prog that is not Folk, not Prog and not Rock! In my mind this music sound as Opera Music!

Strange that the weight of cello, harps or flute are minimal when the electric guitars or synths have a good weight (too weight for electric guitar) and it is strange also that in some passges the music is also Power Metal (more for rhythms, style of vocals and structure). It is not strange the production style, extreme close to 70's.

My vision of Ainur's music is not totally bad. But I haven't a positive view for Ainur. Certainly 'From Ancient Times' is a good album that is easy to listen but that have few true Prog moments. Insignificant is the Italian tradition of Prog and in my opinion technique is the only true word for a correct description (and view) about this album. Interesting are 'War Of Wrath', 'The Fall Of Nargochrond' and 'The Fall Of Gondolin' but the rest of the album is close to New Age Rock. In this sense I think that Rick Wakeman is a good comparison also if Rick's music is too better (but I can not judge because this statement is prepared by my mind...!).

In my personal view 18 musicians for this type of music is too as number of musicians. Also because too are the voices, not all used correctly (with a good weight, more correctly).

Now I think that Ainur is a good band with good music, this is a correct judge. But not totally Prog. Sure if you love Prog Ainur is a band for you and in a correct view Ainur is a Prog band.

Report this review (#233385)
Posted Friday, August 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars OK, their debut is very similar to their next year's release, maybe they did it at once and released in this order. Maybe they just got a lot of inspiration (one of the greatest works of literature, Silmarillion I suppose, from which also Marillion draws at least name), I for example though about this masterpiece as the hardest book I know (then I encountered 1984 - hard in imagining it all, finally I've struggled with Zarathustra by Nietzsche and I'm not the winner). And as many others, I also think that it's unfinished (huh ? did I just heard somebody talking about Unfinished Tales ?) work and could be far better (better than masterpiece, uh oh). What I'm trying to say is that it's big world, completely unique world, set up to slightest details, with its own language, history and actually very well working universe.

These elements works in music too, because there's strange kind of harmony (excuse me, it's new for me to hear music inspired by book) between these two. Yeah, um, it works actually quite easy. I hear this music, first feeling that I'll have to laugh a little bit, but then I say to myself: "Why not, I mean, this works good, even it's not gothic choir, but rather bunch of merry elves singing together songs of joy".

4(-), 'cause they're still working it out. But in a very good way. I like it, I in fact wanted to give it at least (+), but there are gaps. And holes. And empty spaces, deaf parts of certain songs.

Report this review (#243994)
Posted Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A little different than your average Italian prog band,AINUR are a project formed in 2004 in Venaria Reale,Piemonte by three young musicians:Luca Catalano on guitars,Marco Catalano on drums and Gianluca Castelli on various keyboards.As the band claims,the need of transposing into music J.R.R. Tolkien's ''Silmarillion'' pushed the members to establish a project,consisting for their first album ''From ancient times'' of 18 members in total.This effort was finally released in 2006 by Electromantic Music.

Forget about the Classic Italian Prog sound here.''From ancient times'' has a dominant fairytale atmosphere throughout the album,not to mention that all lyrics are sung in English. Unfortunately the music often gets lost in the need of story-telling with lots of spoken/sung parts back-rounded by atmospheric keys and medieval flutes.Female vocals are really great,producing a result close to RENAISSANCE's musicianship,supported usually by nice piano and organ parts.I'm not really fond of the following male operatic vocals.Despite they are also qualitive,they seem to bore me a bit along the way.Musically speaking the album is closer to Folk/Acoustic Prog Rock with elements from Classical Rock OperasMassive use of string instruments,flutes,pianos and keyboards in order to capture and adapt Silmarillion's images.AINUR do that well at some point,though most of the tracks sound quite similar. Surprisingly the few tracks containing the electric guitars/bass/drums combination (the longer ones actually) are closer to Hard Progressive Rock than Classic Prog.Metal riffing and intense vocals support this claim.Yet the balance seems a bit lost trying to listen to the album in its full version.Calm spacey,classical or medieval parts are mixed with almost metal music and that's not the best thing I can face.

The band is talented,no question about it.The problem is that music in here is quite similar in moments,a bit too calm for most of its part,while this Tolkien adaptions-thing seems too old- fashioned for me.However,I believe these musicians can do much better things in the future and I will support them with a 3 star rating.Recommended,considering always the afore- mentioned warnings.

Report this review (#282065)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

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