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Gandalf - Magic Theatre CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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erik neuteboom
3 stars It was in the mid-Eighties that the Austrian multi-instrumentalist Gandalf visited for the first time Holland, in the famous Paradiso Theatre in Amsterdam. The gig was far from sold out, we could easily take a seat in front of the stage. There Gandalf had put his Persian carpet on the ground and he was surrounded by many analogue keyboards, acoustic - and electric guitars and a sitar (I love that mesmerizing ethnic sound!). Both the crowd as Gandalf enjoyed the concert and I had another pleasant and unforgettable progrock concert memory, so warm and pleasant.

That concert was the promotional tour for this album, in my opinion his most symphonic effort. On this site Gandalf his music is described as a kind of New Age, here it has mellow and sometimes a bit ambient climates but in general it's far from the often boring New Age atmosphere. Highlight is the long composition entitled "Castels in the sand" featuring a splendid build-up with wonderful play on the Grand piano (from classical to jazzy) and very moving, Spanish inspired acoustic guitar, supported by soft choir-Mellotron waves, GOOSE BUMPS! The other tracks sound pleasant and varied with fine interplay between acoustic - and electric guitars and keyboards (piano, synthesizers, Mellotron) along some saxophone and flute. Imagine a blend of MIKE OLDFIELD, KITARO and ANTHONY PHILLIPS.

By the way, last year I witnessed Gandalf as a support act for The Musical Box (performing "The lamb...") and I have heard that he will tour again and even visit Holland for the second time, I will be there!

Report this review (#43457)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With his fourth album Gandalf continues the same formula of the previous "To Another Horizon" record. A whole instrumental opus based on spiritual or phylosophical reflection. The sense of loss and the chance to get up of each single man and woman is what he's trying to explain in music. So the nine tracks are put in a precise order that goes from desperation to real joy. His visionary and fertile imagination builds up the scene of a magic theatre in front of which the listener comes, alone. When he enters in, through the main door that stands in front, he is at the beginning of a long corridor with seven doors. Each door opens to an interior reflection or to a specific feeling or psycological status. Only passing through all the seven doors is the key to moral ascension, the secret of real joy. Obviously the music reflect each state of mind, going now struggling with lonely grand piano, then powerful with that strong orchestral interludes.

The tracking list is very intersting to read: 1.Entrance: the Corridor of the Seven Doors (5,47 mns); 2. 1st Door: Reflection from Childhood (4,02 mns); 3. 2nd Door: Castles of Sand (13,06 mns) 4. 3rd Door: Loss of Identity in the Labyrinth of Delusions (3,15); 5. 4th Door: the Magic Mirror (3,52 mns); 6. 5th Door: Beyond the Walls of Ignorance (7,35); 7. 6th Door: Peace of Mind (4,54 mns); 8. 7th Door: The Fountain of Real Joy (5,36 mns); 9. Exit (3,37).

Gandalf is a skilled musician and an excellent multi-instrumentist. He knows well how to achieve the most appropriate arrangements for each different state of mind. So fiery electric guitar and distorted saxophone, played by guest musician Peter Aschenbrenner, along with fast tempo drumming rapresents the Labyrinth of Delusions and the Loss of Identity, while hope and redemption ask for acoustic guitar, sitar, flute and for celestial synthesizer's performances. Mellotron and organ do well their own job too, not as so prominently as in the previous album. By the way, the result is slightly less convincing. Maybe 'cause it was based on an already used formula. 3.75 is my evaluation. Something you have to put on your cd player while you're going to take a break and want to relax after a long hard working day. New-age music? Not still, this will come later.

Report this review (#88810)
Posted Saturday, September 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Interesting. That's the word that comes to mind thinking about this artist. I mean: look at his discography ! This man has had a very productive career and he is not even 100% progressive and that makes him even more versatile and interesting. In my favourite music store they placed an album by him under new age. I stated at that moment that he was supposed to be progressive but the salesman said: not this album, this is entirely different. I can't remember which album it was, he made quite a lot. But it's what I mean: he is a universal artist and is intriguing because of that.

This particular album is intriguing too. To me this is pure prog, high standard composing and execution resulting in a wonderful album. At first I picked out the longest track (2nd door) for my mp3 and so I know that one best. I loved it immediately, the music is kind of quiet, very melodic and very suitable as background music but meant in the most positive way possible. When I decided to check out all the other tracks I was anxious to discover they couldn't live up to the magnificent 2nd door but suprisingly they did. At least almost. The whole album is in the same style, to me that was a plus because it's a very soothing style. You have to be in the mood for this but when you are it's more than an enjoyable listen for over 50 minutes.

With all this positive information it will be no surprise I value this with 4 stars. Very well deserved !

Report this review (#157607)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Magic

Magic Theatre is, together with Visions, Gandalf's finest moment. The eclectic and adventurous nature of the previous To Another Horizon is refined on this album and combined with the melodic sensibilities of Visions to create an excellent instrumental and progressive album. Magic Theatre is also rare in Gandalf's vast discography in being more of a band effort than a one man show. In addition to Gandalf himself on a wide variety of instruments including electric and acoustic guitars, a multitude of keyboards and percussions, there is also a full time drummer in Egdon Groger and bass player in Heinz Hummer which gives this album a fuller sound than other Gandalf albums. Further, Peter Aschenbrenner plays grand piano, organ and saxophone, and Robert Julian Horky plays flutes.

The styles vary from folky to jazzy to classical to electronic while never going too far in either direction and thus keeping it all a coherent whole. This album often reminds me of my favourite Mike Oldfield album Q.E.2., but though Gandalf might perhaps accurately be called "the Austrian Mike Oldfield" he has his own approach to things.

Overall, I find Magic Theatre highly enjoyable. It is recommended to all fans of instrumental, progressive Rock.

Report this review (#1178648)
Posted Saturday, May 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

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