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Robert Berry - (A Soundtrack For) The Wheel Of Time CD (album) cover


Robert Berry

Crossover Prog

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2 stars This was just a haphazard discovery from the library; it had 'progressive rock' description and it was classified in the electronic/ new age section, so it had a good chance of being interesting. The fact that it's a "soundtrack" for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time fantasy series is not a recommendation for me, because I really couldn't care less of epic fantasy literature (Tolkien is the only name from the genre that I've read). But who knows, the music might be nice nevertheless, I thought. After one quick listening (and that's all I'm going to give it, except for re- listening to few better tracks for a possible inclusion in a compilation CD - you see, there just isn't time to re-listen everything that's not interesting in the first place, that's my principle with music) I can say that it was not up to my taste.

The music has no memorable melodies, and it feels as if it's not even properly composed, just worked together in the studio with images and plots of the fantasy story constantly in mind. I believe that multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry has captured very well the atmosphere of the series, and the dedicated reader of Jordan's fantasy may gladly use the CD as the background listening while reading, or memorizing the story in his mind. And it seems that's exactly what the "soundtrack for The Wheel of Time" stands for, as it is not a case of any film or TV series. The music is dark and cinematic, it has a sort of sinister feeling of a quest through dangerous landscapes (by this music I get a picture of the books themselves); happily there are no overblown battle sequences or other sorts of megalomanic drama, but as a whole the CD is quite tiresome and frustrating to listen to if you're not already familiar with the world it describes. It simply doesn't work as pure music on its own.

It's mostly instrumental, and neither of the featured vocalists (Andy Frazier and Lisa Bouchelle) are ones I would want to hear more. Mandolin on several tracks brings a folkish feeling. This is epic fantasy music all right (note that I use the word epic as an epitome to fantasy, not to music itself: the longest track is about five minutes). But I'd say it's only for the target audience, the fans of fantasy books and roleplaying games.

Report this review (#277821)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A novel soundtrack

It may look like a film soundtrack album, and it may sound like film music, but (as far as I understand) this is not a film soundtrack album. Indeed, (again as far as I understand) no such film exists. Rather, it is a conceptual album based around a series of fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan. I have never read any of these novels, but presumably Robert Berry has read them, and he has created a book soundtrack to go with the fantasy series. The music could however easily have been for a film, at least some parts of it sound like film score material. Other parts reminded me of Alan Simon's Excalibur trilogy, even though the present album is significantly less star-studded. Most of the instruments are played by Berry himself, but he does invite a few helpers including two members of the brilliant Prog Folk band Tempest. Berry has previously contributed production and keyboards to Tempest's albums and here Lief Sorbye and Michael Mullin of that band repay the service on mandolin and violin respectively. The album is mostly instrumental, but a few tracks feature lead vocals by Andy Frazier and Lisa Bouchelle.

Compared to the only other solo album I've heard from Berry, Pilgrimage To A Point, this one is radically different. While Pilgrimage To A Point is best described as Crossover Prog in the vein of GTR (the band featuring Steve Howe and Steve Hackett and in which Berry was involved at some point) and 3 (the version of ELP in which Berry replaced Greg Lake), A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time is a mixture of Folk Rock/Prog Folk and "film" music. At first, I found it a bit tame, but I began to appreciate it after several listens and find it a rather enjoyable listen. The mandolin playing of Sorbye adds a nice touch to the often hard edged electric guitars and New-Age like synths. The best track for me is The Winespring Reel in which mandolin, lead guitars, and synthesisers interact wonderfully.

A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time is worth hearing, but it is certainly not essential listening

Report this review (#990458)
Posted Monday, July 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

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