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Andreas Vollenweider - Behind The Gardens - Behind The Wall - Under The Tree CD (album) cover

BEHIND THE GARDENS - BEHIND THE WALL - UNDER THE TREE

Andreas Vollenweider

Crossover Prog


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octopus-4
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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I have listened to this album so many times that I find difficult speaking about it. Vollenweider's music is usually relaxing and so well arranged and played that I usually consider it as a single thing without looking at specific instruments or musical passages.

Of course the leading instrument is the electro-acoustic harp invented by this eclectic multi- instrumentist. The birds and the natural sounds on the first seconds of the opener may remind to the newage, but I think to "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale" instead.

Yes, it's melodic and based on major chords, but specially on the opening track there's a subtle background of darkness that makes it take the distance from the newage music. The sound of the modified harp adds tones of blues while the other instruments sound "separated". I mean that the production is so clean and the instruments so detailed that the jazz influences appear clearly.

The music is dreamy. The percussion are always present but never invasive.

There are very melodic moments like on the harp solo intro of "Pyramid" that's a track on minor chords and this makes it sound more intriguing.

This album flows seamlessly and the music is evocative. I think it would be good for a fantasy soundtrack, made of mountains and castles, that's more or less the normal landscape of Vollenweider's land as he's from Switzerland.

Other tracks are less evocative. "Micro-Macro" could be called fusion, the whole B-side that's made of shorter tracks can be intended as a suite. It doesn't really follow a concept but there's a sort of continuity in this sequence of short and very short tracks.

The album is only 30 minutes long. This was quite normal in an era when if you wanted to fix the best possible sound on the vinyl you needed more separation between the "microgrooves". Al least this is what we owner of turntables were told.

I want to mention the last track "Hands and Clouds" because it has a folk influence and I see contacts with the early music of Angelo Branduardi (the two had some collabs later, specially live).

It's a very good album on the light side of prog which I suggest to lovers of prog-folk and even JR/F for the similarities with the most poppy things of Pat Metheny,

This is the first true Vollenweider's album, first part of an unoffical trilogy with its two follow- ups.

Report this review (#775762)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Considered the first of a kind of trilogy of works, the predominantly instrumental `Behind The Gardens - Behind The Well - Under The Tree' is a carefully arranged, lightly progressive example of a form of world music, the majority of which is based around Swiss artist Andreas Vollenweider's defining instrument, his modified electro-acoustic harp. This is one of his most mystical and mysterious albums, always pleasant and undemanding, but there's just a hint of daring, possibly due to several longer pieces at the start of the LP, a heavier use of synths than his later discs, as well as the artist performing accordian and sax throughout too.

The first side is the more exciting of the two, comprised of only two extended instrumental pieces. The opening seven and a half minute title track offers shimmering atmospheres that somewhat reminds me of several early laid-back Ozric Tentacles moments, with softly trilling synths bringing a gentle electronic element, unobtrusive drumming, hand percussion, and ethnic acoustic flavours full of tasteful and restrained positivity from Vollenweider's harp. Ancient knowledge permeates the almost 9 minute `Pyramid...' with some lovely sax drifting through the piece and a very brief vocal passage that reminds of the early spiritual Santana band albums, with the second half especially offering a superbly executed build.

`Micro Macro' is both strange and playful, some quirky synth moments and cool Moog pops almost recalling Rick Wakeman, with nice rolling drums as well. `Skin and Skin' effortlessly builds in urgency over glistening rising synth breezes and dark reflective sax. `Moonlight, Wrapped Around Us' is a brief accordian interlude opening to `Lion and Sheep', a brisk light jazz/fusion run under propulsive tribal beats and dancing synths. `Sunday/Afternoon' is a short romantic and joyful acoustic guitar theme that ends on a thunderstorm, while album closer `Hand and Clouds' is a very oriental sounding piece with placid washes of synths ending the disc in an uplifting and sweet manner.

I have a special place in my heart for Vollenweider's albums. I don't listen to them all the time, but when I do, they instill a sense of calm and peace while still offering superb musicianship from this most thoughtful of artists. Don't be put off by what may be simply the uncoolest cover ever, this and all of Vollenweider's releases exist purely out of time and reality, creating a soundscape of evocative mystery and hypnotic ambience. Prog fans wanting a nice background listen should look into this or any of his other discs.

Three stars.

Report this review (#1173797)
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars A magical mystical journey!

I was amazed to see Andreas Vollenweider here on Progarchive. For those not familiar with him, he plays a "modified" harp which has a very cool haunting type of sound. Sort of a mild flanging or chorus, sliding effect. Like most of his albums that I am familiar with, there are other instruments blended in, such as synths, percussions, drums, guitars, sax, and vocals used as another instrument (which Andreas plays most of those himself). All done very tastefully to enhance the ride.

The compositions, on this and other albums, really do give you the feel of taking a mystical journey through some peaceful, but exciting fantasy land. Like adventuring through a Roger Dean album cover or painting. The tempo ranges from peaceful to mild prog to almost classical and jazzy tendencies.

I had discovered Vollenweider back in the late 80s on his Down to the Moon album, which I like more than this album. I wound up getting all of his albums from the 80s which I would recommend to anyone looking to explore his music. White Winds is another excellent album. With the album Dancing With the Lion, he began to explore some new directions in his music but is still excellent.

I have not listened to Andreas since the early 90s as the old media I had of his albums is long gone. Rediscovered this album by rumaging through a thrift store/flea market (a new favorite habit) and found this and it brought back some fond memories. I give this album a 3.5 star rating but will round down to 3. I almost was tempted to deduct the rating more due to this goofy album cover, just kidding!

Report this review (#1526281)
Posted Saturday, February 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Known through most of the 1980s as the consummate (!) new age performer with the over-earnestness that exponents espouse, ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER is not a name that has commonly been tossed about on over-earnest prog rock fora. Yet whatever algorithms are employed by Spotify are more than eager to juxtapose this Swiss harp inventor and virtuoso with the likes of YES, so at the very least some whirring supercomputer somewhere has assessed that Vollenweider is A and Yes is B, if you see what I mean.

Over the decades I have listened to a good deal from this Swiss professional, often in random sequences, sometimes disunited by decades. Sure, he was a refuge during Serious Music's dark ages, but do we need him now? I can state categorically that I have yet to discern any edge whatsoever in his works; they are splendid, even luxuriant, but rarely moving. This debut of sorts (he did produce a "Suite" earlier but that was released later) establishes the blueprint for at least a decade's worth of successors in a mere half hour, with its blend of folk, classical, nascent "world music" and even jazz fusion. The harp may not sound a whole lot like its cousins, but, consistently leaned on, it becomes just as monotonous. At the same time, I acknowledge that new age artists that followed him in the 1980s were certainly influenced by and given to emulating the ambiance he cultivated.

If I had to pick a favourite it would be "Pyramid" which seems a prototype for his more hypnotic numbers on the next few releases. But I can't help feeling it would all sound better on Spanish guitar, no? The vocal segment is brief but spirited. "Micro Macro" is also noteworthy for its JEAN LUC PONTY on second generation anti depressants vibe. But overall, I'd say the most likely outcome of a search "Behind the gardens-Behind the Wall-Under the Tree" is a few happily sleeping souls.

Report this review (#2275919)
Posted Monday, October 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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