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Gandalf Journey To An Imaginary Land album cover
3.44 | 37 ratings | 5 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Departure (5:03)
2. Foreign Landscape (8:51)
3. The Peacefull Village incl. "The Dance Of Joy" (7:50)
4. March Across Endless Plain incl. "The Mirage" (10:10)
5. The Fruitfull Gardens (6:25)
6. Sunset At The Crystal Lake incl. "Reflections" (6:45)

Total Time: 45:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Gandalf (Heinz Strobl) / acoustic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, synths, devices, Mellotron, percussion

Releases information

Lp. WEA 58 258 (Germany) / Lp. WEA WE 351 (France) / WEA 2292-44890-2

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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GANDALF Journey To An Imaginary Land ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GANDALF Journey To An Imaginary Land reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some classify Gandalf's work as progressive rock; well, there are bass, guitars and drums, but by the way the keyboards are played, I think one should rather put it in the progressive New Age genre. The main attraction is the omnipresent loaded & floating keyboards, about like on "Dogs" around the 9th-10th minute (Pink Floyd's Animals), or on the Jean Michel Jarre's early albums. Gandalf also plays an electric guitar sounding like on the Tangerine dream's "Thief" album. There are some good bass, drums, and the omnipresent acoustic guitar is rather rhythmic. He plays some moog solos in an exotic way, a bit like Kitaro. The ensemble is rather dreamy. It also may remind you the Neuschwanstein's album.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This wizard has created nice atmospheres!

It is predictable to know that this musician from Austria took the name of Gandalf from Tolkien's writings, and also, what he creates could get on well with the same books, or actually in some of the film's moments.

Though I don't really know anything more about this artist, I can mention that he has released a lot of albums since 1980, he is a prolific musician well recognized in his country. His debut album is entitled "Journey to an Imaginary Land", featuring six compositions and a total time of 45 minutes. Heinz Strobl (Gandalf) is a multi-instrumentalist, or if you prefer, a one-man- band.

This album kicks off with "Departure"; some kind of explosion introduces you to the music, but secons later the atmosphere becomes gentler due to the acoustic guitar and the synthesizer effects. Then, keyboards appear as foreground and produce a friendly sound that is always accompanied by that nice acoustic guitar and bass sound. This track has some interesting passages, especially where the short keyboard solo appears, giving it a symphonic sound.

I wanted to put that word "symphonic" because most of the album might be considered as a "new age" or "ambient music", though those symphonic parts make it fit under the progressive realm. The second song is "Foreign Landscape" which has an electric guitar that along with those synth effects, remind me in moments of both, Vangelis or Mike Oldfield. This longer track could work as a movie soundtrack, or also work while you are reading a nice book. The music is soft and gently, so you can relax and enjoy it.

"The Peaceful Village", I think the name speaks for itself, what you will find here is music in the same tenor, peace and calm in all their extension. The delicate acoustic guitar always helps creating an ambient of harmony and tranquility. The song begins slowly until minute two and a half, where a new and pastoral structure appears, giving again a gentle sound that may put a smile on you. I like very much his keyboard sound.

The longest track is "March across the Endless Plain" with a ten-minute length; however it does not necessarily means that this would be neither the best track, nor the most complex or elaborated. It is good, it has good elements and a pretty nice structure, the fact is that after a few minutes one may feel bored, actually some of the moments here are pretty similar to previous song, so that repetition does not really help. What I can point out, is that he knew how to combine the percussion with the atmospheres.

"The Fruitful Gardens" shares several atmospheres, though the music could sound pretty repetitive with the acoustic guitar and keyboards, the second part of the song becomes better after a short stop, where the guitar and synth slowly begin to progress and gradually becomes a new piece. The album finishes with "Sunset at the Crystal Lane", whose sound reminds me to some Popol Vuh moments: atmospheres, colors, textures, etc. Though the music begins slowly (again), the volume is increasing with the seconds and it creates some tension that will lead you to keep listening until it finishes.

Journey to an Imaginary Land is a pretty good effort by Gandalf, a progressive rock fan may enjoy it, though it is not the best example of what progressive rock is, actually it is strange to see him under the crossover genre, but well, if you like some ambient, soft electronic music with symphonic hints, you may try it, if not, you will not like it. My final grade is three stars, nice music to sit comfortable and relax.

Enjoy it!

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl, performing and recording under the Gandalf moniker, has to be considered as one of the founders of New Age music.Born in 1950, Gandalf's travels all over the world not only broadened his musical horizons but gave him the opportunity to unite different music styles and cultures.Between August and October of 1980 Gandalf recorded his first solo album ''Journey to an Imaginary Land'', eventually released on WEA Records the same year.

The ''Departure'' introduction shows in a general way what Gandalf's concept was all about.Acoustic guitars blended with floating synths and electronics in a composition able to give birth to a whole new music genre.''Foreign landscape'' though is more diverse and inventive.A mix of MIKE OLDFIELD-guitar instrumentals, TANGERINE DREAM-like spacey electronics and again simple-sounding acoustic guitars in a unique mix of Electronic Prog and Space Rock.''The Peaceful Village'' is a really peaceful piece of music.Acoustic crescendo with obvious Eastern influences and background synthesizers, occasionally bursting out some energy with percussion and more doninant synths.''March Across the Endless Plain'' is maybe too long for the idea it serves.Repetitive percussion sounds and synths will take too long to give their place to some cool atmospheric musicianship with fine electric solos and this soundscape is repeating twice with no particular surprises.Good but overstretched inspiration in the vein of DAN AR BRAZ.''The Fruitful Gardens'' contains the most dreamy, symphonic and emotional keyboard work by Gandalf, while some of his passages recall the moog parts of GENESIS.Another lovely title, ''Sunset at the Crystal Lake'', is represented by some cool,spacey and pure Electronic Music with some Eastern vibes here and there, (again) not far from TANGERINE DREAM, a calm way to close the debut of Gandalf.

Maybe the historical importance of this album is even bigger than its true musical value.Still fans of Electronic Prog and followers of MIKE OLDFIELD and DAN AR BRAZ have plenty of reasons to like this one, not to mention everyone fond of instrumental New Age soundscapes.Recommended.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Departure

This is where Gandalf began his journey at the outset of the 80's. Journey To An Imaginary Land is a pleasant instrumental album, at times spacy; at times atmospheric bordering on ambient; and at times folky. It is however not an album of pure relaxation or New-Age like some of his later efforts, but it is also not as melodic and memorable as the follow-up album Visions.

Everything here is performed by Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl (aka Gandalf) who plays acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and various keyboard instruments. There are no drums on this album but the same Herr Strobl adds percussions of various kinds.

It starts out well with Departure which features tasteful marked bass lines. The folky The Peaceful Village is also a nice piece. The longest tracks, Foreign Landscape and March Across Endless Plain, tend to drag on however and they feel too long for their own good.

Overall, a pleasant start but it was not until his second album Visions that Gandalf would really come into his right.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Gandalf is the alias for Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Stobel, and on his much admired 1980 debut `Journey to an Imaginary Land', the composer blends a mix of predominantly acoustic and electronic instrumental passages, with elements of folk, world and ambient music, as well as just a pinch of lightly symphonic prog-rock. In some ways comparable to the early works of Deuter and Kitaro, the crossover fusion of styles of Mike Oldfield and even Tangerine Dream and Manuel `Ashra' Göttsching's more calming moments, it's a charming and sweetly spiritual soundtrack of great heart and embracing warmth.

`Departure' welcomes to listener with joyful trilling Moog melodies and confident prominent bass over sparkling Jean-Michel Jarre-like smooth fizzing synth washes, making for a spirited opener that offers inviting comfort. Acoustic guitars throughout the near-nine minute `Foreign Landscape' jangle with finesse, while the electric guitars are reaching and reflective in the manner of Manuel Göttsching, and the electronics move between lighter ambient pools, purposeful rises and stirring upfront reprising themes. `The Peaceful Village' holds a definite Deuter-like joyful contentedness, its rambunctious acoustic guitars and peppy hand percussion weaving around whimsical whirling synth soloing that together work up into a frantic jig-like dance to close out the first side.

Unsurprisingly with its title, `March Across Endless Plain' finally offers some carefully more dramatic and carefully darker textures based around strident acoustic guitars and exotic percussion, and some of the grander guitar theatrics and gentle Eastern-flecked moments over spacey synths call to mind the Far East Family Band. The runaway Moog dashes of `The Fruitful Gardens' remind of `A Trick of the Tail/Wind and Wuthering'-era Genesis, and some of the symphonic fanfares and spectral organ crescendos could easily have appeared on their ex-guitarist Steve Hackett's first couple of solo albums. Slow to unfold and unhurried ambient closer `Sunset At The Crystal Lake' crosses the shimmering synth expanses of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze with placid twinkling Moog ripples and tender Kitaro-like Eastern flavours.

Some will likely find `Journey to an Imaginary Land' both a little bit too pretty and/or a touch repetitive in spots, but it's made with truly good intentions and genuine love that it's hard not to be won over by its placid atmospheres and fragile honesty. Easily accessible without being commercial and delivered with impeccable instrumental skill, more forgiving ambient/electronic/New Age fans should find plenty of tasteful music here to appreciate, and the album proves to be a sublime undemanding background escape from the stresses of our busy lives.

Three and a half stars (and the CD booklet in the 2017 Esoteric Recordings remaster is a lovely bonus).

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