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Gandalf The Universal Play album cover
2.80 | 20 ratings | 4 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. PHASE 1 : Earthbound (4:44)
2. PHASE 2 : World Within (9:19)
3. PHASE 3 : Cosmic Circle Dance (12:06)
4. PHASE 4 : Gate To Infinity (7:06)
5. PHASE 5 : Ocean Of Time (11:13)
6. PHASE 6 : Pure Love (5:42)

Total Time: 50:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Gandalf / Sound sources Grand piano, synthesizers, prophet samplers, electric and acoustic guitars, mellotron, digital drums and percussion

Releases information

CBS 450372-2

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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GANDALF The Universal Play ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (21%)

GANDALF The Universal Play reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars A giant leap for Gandalf - an insignificant step for mankind

With The Universal Play, Gandalf left (Middle-)Earth and ventured into deep space. This is an almost completely electronic affair in a style not dissimilar to those of Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. The sound is dominated by electronic sounds throughout, and though there is lots of grand piano, guitars can barely be heard at all. As such, this was a radical departure from Gandalf's earlier efforts. Together with Anthony Phillips, Gandalf is a rare example of an artist who can create both (nearly completely) acoustic works and (nearly completely) electronic works.

For me, the main problem here though is not the radical change of style, or indeed primarily the particular style chosen - even though I have to admit that electronic music is far from my favourite type of music. The problem lies elsewhere: it is the almost complete lack of melody. (I have a similar problem with much of Jarre's and Vangelis's works, though I do like some of it).

So, even though I can hear this music (in the background) without taking offence, I fail to find any listening value in it. It is not unpleasant on the ear, indeed it is sonically of high quality, but it is just unexciting and dull. This album will most probably appeal to fans of the likes of Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and (Larry Fast's) Synergy, but it fails to leave any lasting impressions on me.

Latest members reviews

3 stars While the best part of the previous Gandalf release 'Tale From A Long Forgotten Kingdom' still falls the same category as his earlier albums, starting with 'The Universal Play' Gandalf completly arrives to the second period of his musical carrier. This period (which lasts to the early '90s) consi ... (read more)

Report this review (#122900) | Posted by eMTee | Sunday, May 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is among my ten favourites in electronic-progressive music. Oldfieldian Earthbound is beautiful. The worse track is Cosmic Circle Dance, that is too repetitive and sounds very artificial, but Ocean Of Time is a masterpiece: sounds and melodies are as an amazing picture of a moving oce ... (read more)

Report this review (#59141) | Posted by | Sunday, December 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This one is rather different from the former albums of the great master Gandalf. Where the last one "Tale From A Long Forgotten Kingdom" is very melodic and nice to sink in to, this one is harder and takes more time to appreciate. The music is very floating, sometimes even minimalistic. It's c ... (read more)

Report this review (#43539) | Posted by Tangram | Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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