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Andreas Vollenweider - White Winds (Seeker's Journey) CD (album) cover


Andreas Vollenweider

Crossover Prog

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I was in a record shop while somebody was buying this LP. The guy asked the shop's boss to give it a spin (it was still usual in these times) and this was my first time with the music of Andreas Vollenweider.

I remember that day very clearly. The winds opening the first track and the orchestral chord which follows made me think immediately to the PINK FLOYD of Meddle, then a friend who was with me said: "Hey, that's a harp!".

It was enough for me. I asked for another copy and this is how it began.

This is the first true progressive album of Andreas Vollenweider. Even containing some newage elements and featuring the German guru Buedi Siebert, also known for an album totally made of the Tibetan mantra "Om Mani Padme Um", has a symphonic flavor and the cleanness of the sound makes me think to progressive electronic even though the instruments are almost all acoustic.

As usual the harp acquires a bluesy taste in the solos, but what matters is that all the tracks flow like a symphony where all the single notes are carefully dosed. Going ahead with listening the first floydian impression disappears. The soprano who closes "Hall of the Stairs" takes the distances. The oriental bells, the winds which introduce "The Glass Hall" move from Asia to the Ands and back in few passages. If I should compare this album to something else Kitaro's "Dream" comes to my mind. There are similarities betwenn those two borderline artists sometimes considered newage, even thoug Kitaro is one of the minds of the psych Japanese band Far East Family Band.

I tend to consider "The Glass Hall" the main theme of the album, so "The Woman and The Stone" is like a different chapter of the story. Very melodic and relaxing with the oriental flavor still present in the winds.

A little bit of darkness is brought in by "The Stone". A sort of interlude based on a single minor chord with strings and soprano vocals making variations on it. Another artist I can compare this track to is LUCIA HWONG.

The sudden end of the track, similar to Soft Machine's "Palace of Glass" gives the start to "Phases of the Three Moons". This title let's intend that the Seeker of the album's subtitle is not seeking on this Earth. As track is a typical Vollenweider's track which fades into the kind of fusion tempo of "Flight Feet And Root Hands" which is my favorite album's track, moving from a light-jazz mood to a very melodic chorus.

The far east is back with the Gamelan bells of "Brothership" joint with nauture sounds. A dream in an Indonesian wood, this is what this music brings to my mind. "Sisterseed" is only formally a different track. Darker than the previous is still performed by oriental instruments but now are strings instead of bells, so it's strange when a concertina sends us back to the Alps with "Trilogy". The tracks fades out with a reprise of the main them transposed into minor chords, then only winds and a thin bell. The Seeker's journey is finished.

I suggest you to take this journey if you are looking for relaxing ambient music. The dreamy album's cover represents well the spirit of the music inside.

Report this review (#800946)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars On his first few releases, Swiss composer and electroacoustic pedal harp inventor/multi-instrumentalist was essentially an artist in search of a genre. Not intricate or improvised enough for jazz, not disciplined enough for classical, not ethnic enough for world music, and lacking in rock aspect, he persevered until the nascent "new age" genre found him and anointed him. The relatively short window for this style was long enough for Vollenweider to emerge popular even when the yuppies all got too busy with diapers to seek out recordings that never rose to the level of automatic purchases. Yet Vollenweider himself, while not re-inventing his sound by any measure on "White Winds", the final installment of his Trilogy, must be credited for helping his own cause by dispensing with much of the aimless clutter that plagued his prior efforts.

While the man himself exuded gravitas even at a younger age, this is the first release where he manages to infuse his music with that earnest sense and deliberateness which might resonate more with prog fans. He didn't turn into MIKE OLDFIELD or JEAN LUC PONTY to be sure, but "Hall of the Stairs" and "The Glass Hall" play much more like epics while warmly showcasing his harp throughout, such that even the occasional chanting complements rather than detracts. These pieces are propelled forward by the naturally rhythmic nature of the harp, unencumbered by excess baggage. When he does include guests, such as Joerg-Peter Siebert on winds, the effect is more memorable still. Even his more docile arrangements like on "Phases of the Three Moons" and "Flight Feet and Root Hands" retain a simple charm and elegance.

I'm not saying that fans of complex progressive rock should visit every Unitarian Church sale looking for "White Winds", but at least here the gentle breeze of new age seems to buffet the good ship prog while assuredly not rocking the boat.

Report this review (#2276537)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 | Review Permalink

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