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Ian Anderson - Divinities: Twelve Dances With God CD (album) cover

DIVINITIES: TWELVE DANCES WITH GOD

Ian Anderson

Prog Folk


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Indian classical music as seen by the Tramp . Sounds nothing like a Tull album . Ian is visiting classical Hindu (or Indian) music complete with the orchestra and his flute. The tour he did while promoting this came in Brussels and was more of a classical affair (so was the ticket price) and attended by only a few obvious Tull fans. It was fine evening , but I was happy it was over as I had overdosed on that type of music.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#24897)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the Ian Anderson's journey around the world, the world of gods and beliefs. Each song is an evocation of a faith and is built like Classical Music with Celtic-European Folk influences but spiced with the feelings and the tastes of each visited country. For example « In Maternal Grace » has an obvious eastern asiatic sound (probably China), « In Sight Of The Minaret » is the encounter of the worlds of Sheherazade and Mozart, « En Afrique » (In Africa) is dedicated to animism with a strange but pleasant mixture of tribal and swing sounds, « In The Olive Garden » is the cross-roads of « religions of the Book » and « In The Moneylender's Temple » is a neo-classical piece in honour of the God of the Gods : Money. Until further notices only the last track « In the Times of India » shows an indian taste. So I can't agree with the last reviewer. But maybe we have not listen the same record . In conclusion, this journey is the very best of Ian Anderson. Music raised to his firmament. Great art, great flutes !

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Send comments to Tauhd Zaďa (BETA) | Report this review (#24898)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
hyhyh@yahoo.c
5 stars This is the BEST solo project of any prog artist. A mix of "classica"l music with oriental influeces. Forget about the "rock" sound of Anderson´s flute, iIn this record his tone is so elegant and divine.

Andrew Giddings (Jethro Tull keyboardist since 1992) co-wrote all the songs and he created amazing musical atmospheres.

A must for any melomane.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#24899)
Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
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4 stars I love classic and baroque music (Vivaldi in particular); I love all the Jethro Tull works; I love all the Ian Anderson's solo albums. One album to combine these three spirits with some wind from the Orient (superb idea from Ian!). Ok, here we don't have a 60 elements orchestra (unfotunately) and two pieces seem more similar to a new age ambiental music than to a pure classical music...but In The Moneylender's Temple, At Their Father's Knee and In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff are good reasons to pass over the details. Also with some defects, this great and intelligent album must be rewarded: 4 stars!

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#42414)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I came across this disc at my local public library, filed under the ‘Classical Music’ section. It struck me that there are certainly very few musicians around today that can claim the distinction of being associated with both a classical recording, and with winning a Grammy Award for Heavy Metal Band of the Year (see Crest of a Knave).

Of course, Jethro Tull’s Grammy was one of the greatest faux pas’ of the 20th century, as Ian Anderson himself points out with great humor in the liner notes of the remastered ‘Crest’ in 2005. In the case of Divinities however, I don’t think the ‘classical’ moniker is too far off the mark.

This CD was released on the Angel label of EMI Records, the label whose most noted composers are old dead guys (aka – classical music), but they’ve also been known to take big risks with crossover experiments like Rick Wakeman’s Return to the Centre of the Earth (with the London Symphony), Steve Hackett’s Watcher of the Skies (Royal Philharmonic), and the Scorpions (Berlin Philharmonic), so I suppose someone like Ian Anderson, who undoubtedly owns a tuxedo or two and at least plays a proper orchestral instrument isn’t that much of a leap after all.

Anderson has said he was reluctant to do the album, which was commissioned by EMI in 1994, but decided a cultural religious theme would be of interest once he committed to the project. The result is interesting at least, but certainly far outside the comfort zone of the majority of progressive music enthusiasts, and certainly nearly all Tull fans.

This is an entirely instrumental album, and is for the most part Ian Anderson playing flute with synthesizer backing by then band-mate Andrew Giddings, and a handful of other musicians on flute, clarinet, oboe, violin, cello, harp, French horn, and trumpet. Each work is meant to represent some specific world religious or cultural theme.

The opening track “In a Stone Circle” is supposed to represent a Celtic sound, so one should probably have visions of Druids or the Mother Warrior goddess or something. There’s also some synthetic bird sounds that flit about, and a few passages that sound like they might be meant to represent battles or perhaps hunting. Use your imagination.

Next up is “In the Sight of the Minaret”, which for some reason strikes me as Moroccan (you know, sort of Arabic but sort of Spanish or Portuguese too), but maybe that’s just a result of watching too many stereotypical western movies. I’m sure a European could figure this out a lot more easily. I’m not sure if the minaret reference is meant to suggest an Arab theme by itself, or some culture in the near vicinity of an Arab culture, but the tone strikes me as more Occidental than Arab.

“In a Black Box” has a really easy flow to it, and is one of the few songs with some robust drums (although these may in fact be looping tracks and not the real thing). My take on this one is that it is actually just some light filler, but again one can’t usually be sure with instrumentals.

I read a review of one of the live performances of this album, and apparently Anderson claimed “In the Grip of the Stronger Stuff” was a song about booze, perhaps an acknowledgement of the impact that devil’s piss has had on so many cultures. This is a short, somewhat hesitant work that doesn’t sound all that different than some of the 70s Tull albums (except without Martin Barre’s guitars and Anderson’s vocals).

“In Maternal Grace” has an eastern sound, with bells, piano, and a really different, hollow flute sound. The liner notes say there is some wooden flute on the album, and this is one place where it was probably used. Also there’s some sort of string picking here that reinforces the oriental feel, perhaps representing the mythological Chinese Queen Mother.

I don’t know if “In the Moneylender’s Temple” is supposed to be Hebrew, but the title would at least suggest that. If so, the sound doesn’t lean that way for me. There is some heavy organ, cello, and piano.

“In Defense of Faith” is clearly Anglican, and in fact I had a strong sense of familiarity with the tune the first time I heard it. This sounds very much like some of the ancient hymnal tunes I’ve heard in old Lutheran churches here in the States. The sound is melodic enough, but quite rigid and angular in tone. I can picture the players with high, tight, buttoned-up collars while playing it.

“At the Father’s Knee” does sound Hebrew, like a very slow and mellow version of some of the better klezmer I’ve heard before. This one also works its way into an rigid, almost militant tone towards the middle, but mellows out again by the end.

“En Afrique” is obviously African-influenced, with rich drum sounds and lots of exotic percussion, again with the flute that sounds reedy (and is probably wooden), and an irregular timing. This is a nice little mood tune and my favorite on the album.

The tone on “In the Olive Garden” is very even, very melodic, and quite nice. This also has quite a bit of picked strings, although here again they are probably digital representations.

“In the Pay of Spain” has almost a baroque feel, majestic with plenty of cello, metallic percussion, and a choppy and deemphasized flute. Not sure what this represents, but it is in stark contrast to the final song, “In the Times of India”. Despite the obvious title and strongly Indian percussion and wood instruments, here again I rely on the review of this song played in concert for an explanation. Apparently the newspapers in India (at least back then) printed messages from subscribers to loved ones on Valentine’s Day, and this is what the song is in reference to. I wouldn’t have gotten that without help. This is also the longest song on the album, presumably because it ends the work on a light and high note.

This is not typical progressive music by any means, and will probably not appeal to the majority of folks who have an interest in symphonic, art, or folk music. It may be of interest to some who lean towards jazz, world music, contemporary classical, and possibly even experimental music. All told, this is a very well-composed and orchestrated work, but is more than likely limited by its very narrow appeal.

Three stars with an emphasis on the disclaimers above.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#80307)
Posted Sunday, June 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this CD expecting Jethro Tull but what I got was Ian Anderson and an orchestra just like it says. That said the music is top quality and has grown on me over the years. It would have been a little better to here some more flute from the master though. Some people will no doubt love this and others hate it, for me I'm glad I bought it and think it is well worth a listen without being a classic.

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Send comments to laghtnans (BETA) | Report this review (#100303)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Now, if you're anything like me, as soon as you got your new copy of Ian Anderson's Divinities: Twelve Dances with God, a friggin' Ian solo album, we said to yourself, "HOLY CRAP! This sucker is gonna be so metal! There's gonna be LOADS of headbangin' riffs, and blistering solos, and Ian playing all the instruments at once, and...and...wait, new age?"

This record isn't really new age, of course. If my understanding of new age is what I think it is. It's classical. I guess. If classical is a viable genre. Which I'm not sure any more, that phrase has been so bastardized that it's meaningless these days. Ugh. The music is serious, but it's never without a sense of humor. It's meditative, but not without bursts of energy. Chinese hip hop? If you can classify this, do please tell me.

Suffice to say that this record is quite unlike anything in the Tull canon. It's closest related to Passion Play in purpose, but not in style, mood, et cetera. In fact, I'd say that this is the biggest shock to hear after contemplating that bloozy kid on This Was; Passion Play is still a collection of ROCK SONGS. There's no Martin here, and the Minstrel hangs up his lyrics sheet; this does not rock, nor can you sing along.

Now, I could sort of review this album with some kind of grand, musical analysis of all the tracks, or I could go based on the "gut feelings" or "emotional resonance" of each the album, both of which would be highly appropriate. But, no, I think I'll stick to my usual two-per-paragraph song breakdown. What the hell. I'm not doing anything tonight.

We open with "In a Stone Circle," which contains some moody synths and pastoral flute lines, the ocean waves. But no ballad of the sea here. No words, just like everything else on the album. Is it gorgeous? Sure. Ian plays soft and sweet, but nothing really sticks in the brain.

"In the Sight of the Minaret" is an amused, jumpy tune, with some Mozartian influences, do I not detect? Sometimes it does fall into an Eastern themed variation though. "In a Black Box" is a little weird, occasionally drifting into...circus music? Funny.

"In the Grip of Stronger Stuff" is actually kind of cool. I guess it makes sense that this was the one that got played at live shows. It's definitely toe tappin', and the flute occasionally gets a little violent. "In Maternal Grace" sounds oddly familiar. The flute is gorgeous, but when the synthy pianos get in the way, it sounds a little dorky. "In the Moneylender's Temple" is energetic, if a little much at times. Andy Giddings should stick with the organ rather than the sound effects.

It was not easy to choose a favorite track on this thing by any means whatsoever, but after a while, one finally sunk in. Okay, that's not really true. Not sure if I can hum this one. But at least I always look forward to the Celtic flute 'n organ lines of "In Defense of Faiths." Really quite charming that one, especially when the flute ascends.

"At Their Father's Knee" is...uh, I'm running out of ways to describe all this. It has more great flute, more Back in the bach-ground (and "Bolero?"), and the orchestrals are a bit turned up for this one. "En Afrique" is the most "world music" of the lot, and it's actually kinda groovy. Definitely top tappin', and maybe the best use of the orchestrals on the album.

"In the Olive Garden" is another sorta floaty, ethereal flute piece. Which is, in essence, the album. "In the Pay of Spain" is a little livelier, as one would expect of the Spanish Inquisition (which I've just realized can be interpreted...well, you know. Not how I planned it though). Maybe the best keyboard parts here.

"In the Times of India (Bombay Version)" leaves one wondering how the non-Bombay version sounded. I kid. The song itself is an okay piece of atmosphere, but by now, the record has sort of done all it can do. Oh well, at least the final movement contains the sounds of the sea again, so we know we've come full circle. Is this album conceptual? And what the hell do the titles have to do with the tunes anyway? I wonder if Ian's "intelligent" music has played us for fools once again...

So, on the one hand, this album is very easy to listen to. Remarkably so, even if you're not a diehard Ian fan (if you are of course, then this album is "great"). The record never offends, and usually impresses. And that's because the Minstrel himself is in top form for sure. The flute is always brilliantly played, and if you listen closely, you'll hear that it's not all atmospherics; some of the marks of his trade are still firmly in place. As for the rest, well, Giddings is Giddings. He has his moments, but he has his synths too. Doane Perry is understated, which is probably for the best (although the militant drumming on...some track or other, I can't remember which, is not bad at all).

On the other hand, none of this is terribly memorable at all. And sometimes the "orchestra," which sounds mostly like Giddings at the keys, gets a little overbearing. It's also more than a little samey, the Celtic/Eastern flute line broken only by that "En Afrique" thing. Honestly, aside from the "highlights" mentioned above, it all starts to run together after a couple of listens.

As I said before, this album is a lot like Passion Play, so I think it's alright to rate them the same, an even three. Both are highly intellectual works, but I think of the two, Passion Play is probably the more rewarding in the long run. However, Divinities has the distinct advantage of being more listenable right now. Which is, admittedly, not the most important thing in progressive works. But, with Passion Play, it was hard to both listen AND digest. At least with Divinities, you have a shot at the listening part.

And, I guess if you ever wanted to get away with playing some prog over the PA system at work, this album is easier to get away with than, say, Brain Salad Surgery...

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#126205)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The colors of spirituality

"Music as celebration is the key here: brightly coloured by elements of improvisation, this material echoes the many diverse and sometimes conflicting spiritual yearnings which might trouble the itinerant middle-aged musician on his continuing journey across the world's stages..apparently, it was also quite fun to play." [from the CD booklet]

"Twelve Dances with God" is an interesting effort from the Tull front man. No vocals, no guitars, no big bass/drums rhythm. Ian plays flutes and his partner Andrew Giddings handles Keyboards and Orchestrations along with a handful of classical musicians. The results are really enjoyable and special.

On the plus side, yes, the music is as beautiful as you've heard. Simply gorgeous flute as the lead instrument with orchestral backgrounds in styles of classical, folk, world, and new age all present. Occasionally is reminds me of renaissance period music or travelogue music a la Loreena McKennitt. And while it is often relaxing and mellow, it is not "bore you to sleep" background music. It has moments of great writing, colorful distinct playing, and character. The quality of the material makes it more than a muzak experience. On the down side, since the music is inspired by spirituality it would have been nice for there to have been some exploration or commentary in the booklet to this end. Nothing. Also, while this was clearly a classical music release I do wonder how good this material could have been with some band involvement. There are moments that just cry for some guitar or for different musical elaboration. That's a big what-if and maybe a pointless one, but with the right adjustments this could have been the best Tull album in ages. But pulling back from that tangent this is really a quality release just the way it is.

I would recommend this first and foremost to fans of classical music but also to anyone who loves quality instrumental music. It is a very nice little highlight of the Tull/Anderson catalogue. I'm so happy to have taken the chance.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#128966)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
rushfan4
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Divinities: Twelve Dances With God is the only solo album that I have heard from Ian Anderson. Going in to this I knew it was not a Jethro Tull-type album but this was certainly not what I was expecting. That being said this is actually surprisingly a very good album for being an all instrumental album with little to no guitars and drums. I feel that this album is more likely to appeal to a classical music fan than it will appeal to a progressive rock fan but it is well worth the listen. I have given this 3 star because I feel that it is a good listen but not an essential listen for a prog rock fan.

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Send comments to rushfan4 (BETA) | Report this review (#155179)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars He called for his flute, and he called for his fiddlers three

With Ian Anderson essentially being synonymous with Jethro Tull (many of the uninformed think that is his name!), solo albums by him are few and far between. With his overwhelming influence on the musical directions of Tull, there is little need for him to release albums in his own name, other than perhaps in order to attempt to distinguish the contents from those which fans of the band might expect. Divinities, Twelve dances with god is however a genuine exception.

This album was recorded at the invitation of EMI Records' Classical Division. It reflects Anderson's interest in religious and cultural influences through the sounds of flute and orchestra. The principal musicians are Anderson (of course!) who plays a wide selection of flutes and whistles plus Andrew Giddings who supplies the orchestrations and keyboards. Anderson's distinctive vocals are not to be heard anywhere on the album. The pair are supported by 8 other musicians playing instruments of the orchestra or providing percussion.

The overall mood of the album is distinctly classical. Inevitably, the quality of Anderson's pedigree does shine through though, but the style of flute playing here is not of the staccato rock timbre which adorns Jethro Tull's releases. Here, the flute plays the part of lead instrument in a series of short concertos.

In reality, there is little to distinguish one track from the next, each bearing the same light nature as the last. As such, the album is best heard piecemeal, taking one or two tracks at random.

In prog terms, there is little of interest here at all. Only the revered name of the principal musician offers any genuine link to our genre of choice. Overall though, there is no doubt that this is a pleasant if undemanding listen.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#174027)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album reminds me to Jethro Tull's "Baker St Muse" from Minstrel In The Gallery album at least in one simple point: the acoustic style. "Divinities" is an album dedicated to the world's religions composed by Ian Anderson who also wrote "Aqualung" and its references to religion. You may also refer to Tull's album "Heavy Horses" where there are many acoustic songs. The overall scene is played by Ian's flutes, Andrew Giddings' keyboards, and a classical ensemble. The result is an attractive album especially to those who favor unplugged style or classical album.

Here Anderson limits himself on flute and the way he plays really indicate his energy and mood to the entire music. If you are familiar with Tull, you may find some elements of Tull music here and there. Ian improvises African influences on En Afrique, and sometimes to other ethnic like Irish, and India.

One characteristic you might want to know is the sound. You may use a few words you've likely never seen in a Tull review: light, orchestral, meditative and calming. Giddings's keyboard work is quite soft and sometime it shows in thicker sound. Andy's keyboards and some strings form the basis of all the songs, and Ian's various flutes positively shine as they fill in the melodies. Even though the overall tone of the album is consistently pastoral, there's actually a lot of varieties among the different pieces.

Overall, it's a good collection of classical music that favor those of you who love unplugged kind of music. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#182082)
Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars This is my favorite of Ian Anderson's solo albums. It is by no means prog folk. It may not actually be prog. What it is, is a light classical collection of flute-based tunes. It's almost new age, but any time it appears to be getting too light, if you listen closely, there is an intricacy in the arrangements that make it more than new age.

The songs are primarily eastern (mainly Indian) influenced, with a peppering of other classical stylings mixed in. Ian Anderson's playing is perfect for each melody, interesting, yet subdued. His solos are intoxicating, even without the high energy he often infuses into his Tull recordings. The orchestrations by Anderson and Andrew Giddings are beautiful and lush.

I had the good fortune to listen to this while driving to work early this morning. It made it a perfect day from the start.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#210018)
Posted Friday, April 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Classical theology?

Is this a presentation of Ian Anderson's pluralistic theology with 12 different gods? Or is there only one god that different traditions dance with in different ways? The track titles are our only guides as this is an entirely instrumental work. This is not to be confused with a Jethro Tull album, Divinities: Twelve Dances With God is Anderson going at it all by himself backed only by a Classical orchestra and some discrete keyboards by Andrew Giddings. The lead instrument is the flute throughout, so don't expect any guitars, drums or other Rock elements here; whatever else it is, this album is 100 % non-Prog. But it is not quite pure Classical music either; some parts are perhaps a bit closer to New-Age territory. Pleasant, but rather unremarkable. I myself is in the grip of much stronger stuff!

If I ever invite some cultural snob to dinner, I can imagine playing this album quietly in the background. It might perhaps also work to get a young child to sleep! But I doubt I will ever have a reason to play this again. Even Vangelis has made more eventful and dramatic music than this! Still, this is a very professional recording and far from poor. It is much better than, say, Tony Bank's attempt at Classical music with his Seven.

Strictly for fans and collectors of everything Jethro Tull-related.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#291848)
Posted Sunday, July 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Divinities" is an elegant, mellow and mystical instrumental suite from Mr Anderson, the master of the flute and Andrew Giddings. It's beautifully arranged and follows a nice concept portrayed as 12 dances with god. The names of the tracks include some names of places which work well at setting the scenes. The music is all of high quality, a potent mixture of soft folky Jethro Tull, Western classical with touches of Indian classical as well. An excellent album for anyone's collection though strongly recommened to fans. And just like most of Anderson's solo works, this is better than any of the later JT albums.

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#565295)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is not what I would have expected from Ian Anderson at all however it is very pleasant, beautiful in parts. It is a kind of hybrid involving Classical / New Age / World Music. Anyone expecting a Jethro Tull flavor here will be sorely mistaken. I have a kind of love / hate relationship with classical music. The inspiration for the music was spirituality and hence the title of the album. This is not background soul music at all and should be played loud and joyously. With Anderson the lead instrument is obviously the flute and damn can this guy play it. It isn't for everyone but for those with a classical music leaning should break someones arm to get hold of it. I award this album a very clear 4 stars for what it is and on any site other than a prog rock music site I would happily go the full 5. Hell I'm in fact going to go the whole hog here, such was my suprise with this Anderson release.

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Send comments to sukmytoe (BETA) | Report this review (#943218)
Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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