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Andreas Vollenweider - Down To The Moon CD (album) cover


Andreas Vollenweider

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Nice to see this Swiss musician with his amplified harp here at last. I've been his (non- frequent) listener for two decades now. He's not exactly a prog artist, but easily original and "cross-over" enought for inclusion. This album was probably my introduction to his music in 1992 or so, and it made a good impression. At that time I was quite a lot into New Agey music - which surely helped me to come across Vollenweider in the library. He's not exactly a New Age artist either, nor jazz, nor World Music, but a bit of them all. In the prog context of PA, I'd say you better enjoy these mentioned genres to possibly enjoy Vollenweider. Otherwise his music is likely to bore you.

This Grammy-winning album is among his finest works. His harp, played with rhythm, groove and catchy melodies, is in the main role. It's accompanied mainly by synths and light percussion. The airy opener 'Down to the Moon' sets the nocturnal and romantic atmosphere and is seamlessly followed by the energetic sounds of 'Moon Dance'. The instrumental chorus or refrain or whatever (yes, the whole album is instrumental) gets repeated heavily, which may turn some listeners off, but the track does have a charming mid-section. The album benefits from the conceptual feel and continuity. At times it gets very romantic and soft. (Be warned!) But not syrupy sentimental though.

The production is excellent, timeless instead of sounding eighties. Recommended to be enjoyed with cosiness and a glass of wine perhaps. And a very good starting point to his music. World music elements are quite absent on this one.

01 - Down To The Moon - 2:26 02 - Moon Dance - 4:11 03 - Steam Forest - 4:56 04 - Water Moon - 2:15 05 - Night Fire Dance - 4:57 06 - Quiet Observer - 2:43 07 - Silver Wheel - 3:57 08 - Drown in Pale Light - 2:13 09 - The Secret, The Candle and Love - 3:44 10 - Hush - Patience at Bamboo Forest - 0:12 11 - Three Silver Ladies Dance - 2:40 12 - La Lune et L'enfant - 2:00

Report this review (#777130)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Andreas Vollenweider's albums exist in a musical world of peace, tranquility and spiritual escape. With his trusty modified amplified harp, his music always has a very unique and identifiable style that sets him apart from other new age artists. Although often being associated with that genre, his music crosses over into progressive rock, electronic and even classical elements. He surrounds his music with nature themes and effects, creating a gentle ambience full of vivid detail.

On his fifth album, Vollenweider creates a haunting shimmering musical journey, usually surrounded by subtle background sounds of nature and lost worlds. His magical melodies are arranged with an easy-listening but subtle complexity. Mostly instrumental, except for some wordless chants, it makes for perfect background listening. Despite the contributions of other talented musicians, usually with low-key effective synths and light drumming/percussion, Andreas is always front and center, playing with great energy and delicate passion.

Although the album is broken into separate tracks, each section segues into the next, creating a wonderfully paced continuous piece. Both the vinyl and CD version split the album into two halves, `The Near Side' and `The Far Side'.

`The Near Side' starts the album with the very haunting and mysterious title track, quite grand and atmospheric. It then drifts beautifully into a very catchy and quite upbeat `Moon Dance', with a hugely memorable theme - If you're ever feeling a little down, this piece will instantly pick you up, make you smile and think that maybe things aren't quite so bad! Nice use of synths and drums on this one too. The ambient `Steam Forest' has an interesting programmed raindrop loop that repeats throughout the entire piece, creating a very hypnotic effect. It has a wonderful plucked acoustic sound from Andreas, with a very warm melody, and a touch of drama in the second half. The short interlude `Water Moon' has a very Oriental sound, with a brief dramatic theme that rises twice. `Night Fire Dance' is let down a little by a slightly cheesy and very dated programmed electronic vocal loop, but the music has a very majestic and uplifting repeated theme that is intoxicating.

`The Far Side's `Quiet Observer' is a slightly darker classical theme, with lots of mystery and tension. `Silver Wheel' has a nice electronic melody buried away, especially effective in the second half of a piece that is slightly more romantic. `Drown In Pale Light' is a short thoughtful and reflective piece, really sounds like a warm acoustic guitar on this one. Likely it's Andreas up to his old tricks with that modified harp! Another gentle piece, `The Secret...' is extraordinarily pretty, perhaps a little soft. It has a very soothing quality, and is probably the most romantic theme the band performed on this album. `Hush/Three Silver Ladies...' has a very hypnotic ethnic/world music loop, with a tasteful and melodic electric guitar solo throughout, which breaks up the album nicely. Oriental music themes show up in this one too. The album ends on what sounds like an acoustic instrumental lullaby, `La Lune....', a drifting, spacey and dream like finale.

For some strange reason, I find some occasional elements of Vollenweider's music might have been a (VERY!) slight influence on the more sedate and earthy Ozric Tentacles material! Shhhh, keep that observation a secret, not sure if it's only me that's thought that!

I came across this CD in an Op shop for $1, I nearly fell over when I found it! I've since picked it up on vinyl, because I love the beautifully simplistic and evocative front cover. Very subtle, it creates the perfect visual imagery to accompany the music.

`Down To The Moon' has plenty of substance and integrity to offer, is timeless and always inspiring, and gets even better with every listen. Precise and elegant, it also proves that Andreas Vollenweider's music is much more than insipid new-age muzak dross to be instantly dismissed.

Report this review (#808571)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Many years ago, I think it was around 1990, I went for a dinner to the house of some relatives I barely knew. There was people I have never heard of and I've never seen after that evening. They had a hi-fi with few LPs and I was surprised when I saw that one of those was "Down To The Moon", which was laying in the middle of mainstream pop stuff.

Of course it was the album which went on the turntable. I asked how they knew about Vollenweider and what convinced them to but that disc...I don't remember the answer but I have thanked my prog guardian angel for having avoided Michael Jackson or some Italian actual pop star.

Down to the Moon is positive and melodic, things that have made this artist often classified into NewAge, but it has prog qualities, too. In my opinion this is the definitive Vollenweider's album, the one to start with as it contains the principal elements of his music. If you like the sound of his "electric harp" and in general, clean sounds, optimal production and you are looking for relaxing music able to make your mind travel, that's the album.

You will not be carried to the moon or to elven lands. The landscapes described by the music speak of Far East, nature, listening to Drown In Pale Light, just as example, I can imagine a sunny spring day below the mount Fuji, but the soundscape is various, including African like percussion, some spacey ambient moments and a great sense of melody, all permeated by a jazz sensibility which often makes me consider Vollenweider and Pat Metheny as similar artists.

Spin this album and dream on it, the closing track sounds like a lullaby with the harp's highest notes smoothly fading out. Let it adjust the frequency of your brainwaves, as many of Vollenweider's albums can do.

The only negative thing is that as many newage albums of the 80s, it's very short. Sometimes it was a technical choice intended to give more physical space to the tracks on the vinyl, the equivalent of ripping at a higher bitrate. A very good album if you are in the right mood, excellently composed, arranged, played and produced.

Report this review (#956779)
Posted Friday, May 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars By the mid 1980s New Age music was accorded its own section in record stores, and artists who were never really part of that "movement", like TANGERINE DREAM and MIKE OLDFIELD were filed uncomfortably in those shelves, much to the cringing chagrin of those who knew better. On the other hand, ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER began his career just prior to these marketing developments that seemed customized for him. He quickly embodied the best aspects of the new age personally and musically. Even when the proverbial 15 minutes were over for the bulk of related artists, he was able to retain his base and continue recording well into the next century. "Down to the Moon" was the pivotal release, garnering a Grammy in the new age category. Listening to it now, it's easy to see why.

The unique harp that he created and plays remains in the foreground throughout, and the production is absolutely crystalline. The acoustic guitars, played by Max Laesser, are far more predominant than before, and eclectic influences from the Americas, and near and far East are more discernible. "Moon Dance" marks further maturation that began with "White Winds" - a central jaunty theme with distinct offshoots and a modicum of voice as is his wont. I wouldn't doubt that Japanese band ASTURIAS listened closely to this album before embarking on their career shortly thereafter, adopting the lucidity and elegance of such numbers as "Silver Wheel" and "Three Silver Ladies Dance". A few tracks are much more reflective, such as "Water Moon" and "Quiet Observer".

It's probably been decades since I listened to Vollenweider in this detail, and I'm surprised how much better "Down to the Moon" sounds than it did 30 years ago. If you want one representative from his comprehensive discography, nay, from the whole new age genre, you could do far worse than land right here.

Report this review (#2277611)
Posted Friday, November 1, 2019 | Review Permalink

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