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IN THE LABYRINTH

Prog Folk • Sweden


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In The Labyrinth biography
IN THE LABYRINTH is an experimental musical project based in Stockholm, Sweden and is led by Peter LINDAHL. The main concern is to mix a wide array of styles to create a symbiosis quite unlike most music heard of today. You could define it as progressive rock with a strong ethnical element, almost like an early PINK FLOYD with both classical and oriental overtones.

Three CDs and various compilation tracks have been released so far. The texture of these is mostly mysterious and melancholy, often broadened by rich arrangements that feature diverse instrumentation and sometimes vocals. There is an emphasis put on beauty but also on the haunting and the desolate. "Dryad" (2002) is the third album by this band, after "Garden Of Mysteries" & "Walking On Clouds". It took almost eight years to create this little masterpiece, and now, everyone can notice that the wait was truly worth it !

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IN THE LABYRINTH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.48 | 10 ratings
The Garden of Mysteries
1994
3.39 | 7 ratings
Walking on Clouds
1999
3.51 | 6 ratings
Dryad
2002

IN THE LABYRINTH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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3.64 | 12 ratings
One Trail To Heaven
2011

IN THE LABYRINTH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

IN THE LABYRINTH Reviews


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 One Trail To Heaven by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
3.64 | 12 ratings

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One Trail To Heaven
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'One Trail To Heaven' - In The Labyrinth (8/10)

Although a so-called 'best of' compilation seems better suited for a band or artist that has already achieved some degree of commercial success, 'One Trail To Heaven' is a damned good argument for newcomers to check out any of In The Labyrinth's three albums. Led and arranged by Swedish composer Peter Lindahl, the music takes the listener on a winding journey across Europe and Asia, often fusing different cultures and styles of folk into a beautiful mix. As ambiently-inclined as Lindahl's work tends to be here, there is a wealth of diverse sound and beauty to soak up on 'One Trail To Heaven'.

In The Labyrinth is another one of those artists I have come across that seems painfully underexposed. Comparisons could be drawn with Australian innovators Dead Can Dance; this music envelops several cultures, from Northern European folk to Indian sitar- exploration and Far East ambiance. What makes the sound so convincing is in the execution. The instrumentation is authentic and admirably performed, and the production crisp and professional. Occasionally, Lindahl will opt for a more conventionally Western singer-songwriter approach (as is the case with the fantasy-glazed 'Muscarin Madness') but the majority of this compilation is geared towards showcasing his more ambitious orchestrations. Hammered dulcimers, 'Chinese flute', and a myriad of Arabic percussion are some of the instruments heard here.

For a compilation, 'One Trail To Heaven' enjoys a healthy sense of flow, often to the point where I could be fooled into thinking this is a regular studio album. On top of a handful of preferred picks from the three albums, there is also unreleased material, exclusive to this compilation. For me, 'Moorish Rhapsody' is the highlight of this ordeal; a Celtic-Arabic folk fusion with warm, Beatles-like vocals not dissimilar from Arjen 'Ayreon' Lucassen's voice. The melancholic 'Over The Wall' is another favourite of mine, whisking the listener away to Nepal and a spiritual quest to Kathmandu.

Peter Lindahl's work is vast and deserves a much greater audience than he has thus far been given. Although this is technically not a studio album, 'One Trail To Heaven' makes for a perfect introduction to the music of In The Labyrinth. Within the course of an hour, many cultures are explored, and each leaves a gorgeous impression. The diversity does make for a somewhat scattered listen, but as compilations go, this is gold.

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 The Garden of Mysteries by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.48 | 10 ratings

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The Garden of Mysteries
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars In the Labyrinth's story dates back in 1980, when multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl along with Mikael Gejel and Ulf Hansson formed a project entitled ''Aladdin's Lantern'', performing some sort of Middle Eastern-influenced Folk music, containing both original tracks and covers of traditional pieces.Their shows included even belly dancers, but Aladdin's Lantern was mainly a part time band.In early 90's they decided to promote the project to a full-time band, initially changing their name to Labyrinth and eventually to In The Labyrinth.They released the cassette ''The Garden of Mysteries'' in 1994, which saw a CD re-issue two years later on the obscure Swedish label Ad Perpetuam Memoriam with two bonus tracks.

Their style has not changed much regarding their early years, it is some sort of Psychedelic Folk Rock with emphasis on the folky than the rocking side of things.The musicianship is almost entirely based on the traditional instruments/keyboards combination with sporadic vocals.I can hear a variety of different influences, the majority of the tracks have evident Middle Eastern influences ( easily recognizable also through the title tracks) and instrumentation but I can detect also strong hints of Latin and Byzantine music throughout.The wide variety of acoustic instruments, string arrangements and wind instrumental jams deliver trippy psychedelic soundscapes in a contemporary way and all tracks are guided by the ethnic fundamentals with the the piano, synthesizers and effects having a back-up role, adding some sort of grandiose atmosphere to the compositions.A few cuts contain also some electric guitars in a second role and leading keyboards to offer a richer and more demanding sound.The real problem of the album is the similarity between the soundscapes with all tracks attending simultaneously to offer a steady soundscape, but ending up to be too much of the same.If the album was cut to half it would be definitely more interesting, ''The Garden of Mysteries'' tends to be rather boring on the way with 74 minutes of largely instrumental folk music being too much to handle.

Certainly a great addition to a die-hard fan of ethnic soundscapes, trippy Folk music and traditional instruments, but a bit too light and monotonous for the rest.Approach after listening to some samples first.More recently the album has been released by Transubstans Records...2.5 stars.

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 The Garden of Mysteries by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.48 | 10 ratings

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The Garden of Mysteries
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Escaping IKEA

Have you ever wandered around the city at night, and suddenly had a taxi drive by you with wide open windows - attacking you with strange Arabian music flowing right into the streets? Whenever I put this album on, that's what I imagine - that's where my thoughts go. To those wonderful, kind, proud and hard working taxi drivers who talk like machine guns and do their very best to introduce you to the music of their homeland. I've had countless of fares going home from a night out on the town, maybe not the most sober dude, but having a terrific time with my newly found friend for the hour - bobbing my head back and forth to some enchanting desert cobra music.

Just like the previous review I did, this one also takes its inspiration from far far away - far away from the wet and windy Swedish north, juggling all kinds of Arabian, African and Persian flavours whilst still infusing everything with something that I'll get back to a little later. -And yes I'm continuing on my Swedish diet here. My neighbours are worth it trust me on this.

The guy behind this experiment is named Peter Lindahl. The reason I'm calling this an experiment is that nobody - and I mean nobody had attempted to immerse themselves completely in this kind of music before - and then releasing it like a proper album for the casual music fan in Scandinavia - well at least not a native white guy! I'm sure there are many people from all around the world who have been successful in getting albums printed in Scandinavia on the basis of a waiting public - no doubt, but everyone featured on this outing is from Sweden. No introduced spices, and still you'd be hard pressed to put your finger on anything sounding out of place in regards to authentic Arabian or Persian music. It all comes across like revamped Middle-Eastern music gently streaming out of your local taxi cab.

Lindahl plays a wide variety of instruments, and maybe that is something of an understatement on my behalf, because this dude is up there with Mike Oldfield. Wow! Let me just run you through what he gets his filthy hands on through this highly infatuating musical caravan: Mellotron, Fender Statocaster, Saz, Zither, Spanish, western & twelvestring guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Santoor, Piano, Melodion (modified ockarina), Viola de gamba, Baroque travérs-flute, Kena, Soprano & Alto recorders, Daf, Darbouka, Tamboura, Various percussion, Synthesizers, Samplers, Soundeffects & Programming, Chorus, Vocals and Recitation. Pheewi! Everything he touches sounds well versed and true, and this is coming from a guy who grew up with loads of friends from places such as Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia. One of my best friends who incidentally also turned me onto the drums was from Senegal - he taught me a great deal about this kind of music - the different tonalities it sported as opposed to those beats we are taught here in the cold North. And this album still sounds very much in tune with what the music down there is all about - it's just trying to do something different here. Trying to be ethereal and anti-grounded, even if the instruments are terrifyingly wooden in textures and heavily rooted in the soil. It takes a brilliant musician to change the feel of an instrument - making the drums fly instead of what they usually are - earth bound and rustic.

What makes this album pop and stand out - and ultimately also crosses the line into something the ordinary prog head might enjoy, is the way everything is gift wrapped here. Let me tell you about the paper here, because that's what caught my attention almost immediately. Clean ethereal flutes handled with care sounding like a mish mash of dolphin song and pan flute. Abstract soundscaping synths slowly forming underneath everything like had the earth turned into a sonic version of coca cola. Soulful weeping electric guitar interludes. Beautiful lingering violin sections with nods toward the greener pastures of Ireland - maybe spliced up with a tiny dash of doom. Other times the music turns evil psychedelic - approaching early Floyd tracks like Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - reaching out of its own sarcophagus with rotting arms grabbing a hold of you with Egyptian flare and seduction. Then in the heat of the moment we are treated to a female voice stepping out of the pyramid with soaring whispers - tales of flight and the golden Horus.

This is as close as you'll ever get to the real deal, but then again those treacherous flickering pulsating synths do take you places far away from your everyday Nile swim. There are so much going on in terms of mixing different cultures here, but the overall ambiance of Middle-Eastern, African, Arabian instrumentation all mixed together with psychedelic oscillations and folk twists from the North - still manages to sound together. One could easily imagine this experiment winding up as a dish with far too many ingredients, and personally I must say that I do tend to go for the naive and straight forward in terms of instrumentation, but here the end product is just tantalizingly fantastic. The trips down to Congo, the Nile delta and pyramids all through the 3 or 4 minutes of one single track, is to me worth the prize of admition alone. So if you're thirsty for the world and all of it's bountiful fruits, tapestries and alluring rhythms, you can go there without a passport just by purchasing this little remarkable gem.

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 One Trail To Heaven by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
3.64 | 12 ratings

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One Trail To Heaven
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars IN THE LABYRINTH is the creative vehicle of Swedish composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl. Just when this venture was formed and named is a bit uncertain, but in 1994 the first full album production with music issued under this moniker was released as "The Garden of Mysteries". Since then two more albums followed, the most recent of these "Dryad" from 2002. "One Trail to Heaven" is a compilation pulled from all of these CDs, and was issued by the US label Trail Records in 2011.

Progressive folk music with psychedelic details is the name of the game as far as In the Labyrinth goes, beautiful and exotic music the territory explored, far away from the boundary challenging music of the great innovators, closer at hand to the likes of Gandalf and Vangelis. More refined and sophisticated than either of them, more progressive if you wish, but ultimately music whose charms will reside in sound and arrangements rather than structural development or instrumental virtuosity. If you enjoy artists like the aforementioned Gandalf alongside Eastern-tinged music and find the thought of the two combined within a progressive framework tantalizing, In the Labrinth is an artist that will provide you with many delightful experiences.

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 One Trail To Heaven by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
3.64 | 12 ratings

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One Trail To Heaven
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars IN THE LABYRINTH is the brainchild of Swedish songwriter and multi-intrumentalist Peter Lindahl. From the mid to late 1990s he has produced three albums under this moniker. Now a new compilation includes the most fascinating compositions, some previously unreleased material as well as alternate versions of songs from Peter's exclusive personal archive. So all in all the songs represent a timeframe from 1993 to 2004. You can expect atmospheric nordic folk blended with psychedelic respectively Middle Eastern elements coming from sitar, saz, tabla aso, mostly presented by Håkan Almkvist who collaborates on nearly every track.

Hence this is far away from a one-man show definitely, Lindahl is supported by a bunch of musicians as for the instrumental and vocal attendance. Multiple impressions are worked in coming from a wide range of common and exotic instruments like arch lute or quena for example. In order to point out some exceptional songs - Karakoram Waltz convinces, due to a fantastic combination of flute, mellotron and guitar this is such a lovely thing. And including celestial female vocals the wonderfully melancholic Deep Saffron gives me the shivers everytime I listen.

On the couple Night Of The Baskerville Killer and The Endless City the band comes out of the wood really when offering some psychedelic and spacey attitude. Featuring ethereal moments, sugar-sweet melodies and charming harmonies this is certainly designated for some relaxing. 'One Trail To Heaven' is another excellent release on Trail Records, in best tradition so to say. When you're awaiting some ambient ethno/folk music this will be the right track - 3.5 stars.

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 Walking on Clouds by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.39 | 7 ratings

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Walking on Clouds
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This is the second of Peter Lindahl’s three In the Labyrinth albums, and the one that includes the most narrative insight into the thoughts behind the music. Lindahl accomplishes this in two ways: first, with brief but informative liner notes that accompany each track; and second, with spoken-word poems woven into several of the tracks.

The sounds here are a logical blend of the group’s lighter and more fantasy-oriented debut ‘The Garden of Mysteries’, and the more somber and mature ‘Dryad’. Even though my understanding is that some of the ‘Dryad’ works were recorded around the same time as ‘Walking on Clouds’, that album seems to have had a more developed post-production treatment than Clouds. I have to say the result in markedly different but equally enjoyable in both cases.

Of Lindahl’s three albums the Indic influence is most pronounced here. The instrumentation is much the same as on ‘Dryad’, with the distinctively-inflected deep cello-like sound of the viola da gamba; Håkan Almkvist’s precise fingering on sitar and rhythmic tapping on tabla (Fereidoun Nadimi adds additional rhythm on darbouka); and Sven Lindahl’s chilling and moody wind work on the cornet à bouquin. Peter Lindahl of course plays most of the other instruments, and provides or collaborates on all the compositions except the ode to Indian soap “Chandrika”, which was composed by Almkvist.

The overall mood of this album is quite interesting, falling as I already said somewhere between the ‘The Garden of Mysteries’ and ‘Dryad’. Mysteries feels to me like a much lighter and more playful recording, and ‘Dryad’ is quite somber although definitely not depressing. Clouds on the other hand feels adventurous, almost as if there is a narrator relating tales to us as he wanders along experiencing various cultures and concepts. My suspicion is that this is intentional, as Lindahl is a well-traveled individual who I expect has been to most of the places introduced in this album.

“Kali” tells the tale of a three-eyed Indian goddess who rules over the teaming Bengali city of Calcutta. The tabla and sitar are naturally prominent here, as well as some zither from Lindahl himself and I believe a little flute. This track really sets the mood for the whole album with a mystical and almost earthy feel while it describes the deadly but vital relationship of the people with their goddess. The merging of electric guitar and traditional Indic sounds gives this a world-music feel that is quite intoxicating in the right setting.

Lindahl offers a tribute to the father of the modern Indian nation Mohandas Gandhi, opening with a line that was made famous in the touching portrayal by Ben Kingsley that brought the name of this peaceful champion of the people into the world’s public conscious: “we’ll have a little tea”. I wonder how many wars could have been avoided in our history by such dispassionate discourse. Anyway, the instrumentation here is wonderful, with much bending of strings and syncopated hand drumming and soothing strings rising above it all (possibly mellotron, I’m not really sure). One has to wonder if this kind of peaceful and reasoned calm was the catalyst that drove Gandhi to accomplish so much in his lifetime.

For some reason “Over the Wall” reminds me of the old Tintin cartoons, and the words describe the experience of crossing the high Himalayas and feeling a sense of awe and peace at the top of the world. I suppose this is somewhat autobiographical for Lindahl as he relates one of his many travels. “The Caravan of Sheeba” on the other hand feels like a kind of medley of sounds, ranging from orchestral to folk to opera. This is the most polished sounding track on the album, and I could easily see this one translated to the symphonic stage as a powerful work.

The theme of “Birka” is closer to home for the group, representing an ancient excavated town that served as a center of trade in the early days of Sweden. The blend of viola da gamba, sitar and percussion here is delicate and rich, while the woodwinds ground the whole thing with an ancient and earthy feel. This is an understated piece that manages to sound majestic at the same time, while “Lop Nor (the Wandering Lake)” that follows it is more discordant and ominous, owing mostly to the harsher percussion and dissonant strings that reflect the harsh desert conditions of the mystic Asian lake the work is meant to represent.

The band wanders into Asian territory with a poem by Molana that Lindahl transforms into an amorous narrative spoken in Persian. This is yet another example of the cultural range of the band and a nice balancing piece between “Lop Nor” and the almost post-rock sounding instrumental “Golganda”.

Parts of “Gates of Oneiron” comes from an older recording from the seventies, and here the mellotron and percussion dominate and give the composition a timeless quality.

The group launches into the most decidedly Indian-inflected track with “Chandrika”, named for a brand of Indian soap and representing the real-world need to cleanse oneself at points along a dusty journey. The strings of the sitar and viola da gamba accentuate the odd rhythm for an overall feeling that manages to project that sense of completion that comes at the end of a journey. Nicely done.

Finally the title track closes the album with a soothing and heavenly fantasy that lifts the listener up above the everyday and worldly fray and into an ethereal state of higher consciousness – that is, if you let it. A poignant and thought-provoking ending to an engaging hour of music.

In the Labyrinth is a musical experience that is terribly underappreciated and unknown in popular culture. That’s too bad, because these albums all represent music made for the pure love of the art, and of the cultures and concepts that they represent. You could do much worse than to invest a little time and money finding all these albums and taking a few mental journeys yourself. Of the three, ‘Walking on Clouds’ projects the strongest sense of movement and of travel, and for that reason I highly recommend it to anyone looking for adventure. You don’t even need to leave home to find it. Four stars.

peace

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 Dryad by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.51 | 6 ratings

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Dryad
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars In the Labyrinth blends the sunless Scandinavian winter with near and far eastern mysticism. "Dryad" is quite a unique album that might be a bit overly long but features many fine moments. The approach seems to be aimed more at setting a mood than setting any fires, but unlike a lot of Scandinavian prog, that mood is more one of mystery than of mourning.

A variety of acoustic stringed and plucked instruments spar with traditionally progressive keyboards and flute, while Peter Lindahl sings sparingly but well, often backed adeptly by Helena Selander and Kristina Fuentes, especially on "Catch a Cloud". which unfortunately endures a slow death dissolving in acid for the last few minutes. Something that sounds like a sitar seems to be in almost every track, which ultimately contributes to a feeling of sameness here and there, but certainly not on " Muscarin Madness" or "The Night of the Baskerville Killer", both delightful songs depicting the musical equivalent of the Scandinavian fairy tale full of irresistable danger. Among the purely instrumental, the best are the opener "Lost in the Woods" and "Trident".

This intriguing album would get a better rating if a few of the less interesting instrumentals had been cut out, but it is certainly worth exploring in the labyrinth, especially for the fun of getting a little lost.

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 Dryad by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.51 | 6 ratings

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Dryad
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars ‘Dryad’ is the last offering from Peter Lindahl (so far). His music really intrigues me, mostly due to the way he manages to meld so many different authentic ethnic sounds into cohesive works where each instrument seems to fit naturally together. The Indian and other Middle Eastern sounds of sitar, zither, and lute-like saz mix wonderfully with the percussion of the tabla, daf, and darbouka to provide a rich Eastern mystic and peaceful base to the music, while the presence of electric guitar, bass, and violin seem to accent rather than contrast. Other exotic sounds fill out some tracks – a zurna woodwind, eerie viola da Gamba, and various other non-attributed percussion blend Arab, Asian, and Indian rhythms and sounds with more contemporary Western ones, mixed with some distinctly Celtic woodwinds and strings, and the sparsely sprinkled English vocals. Not what you would expect from a guy who hails from Sweden.

But Lindahl is a bit of a world-traveler, as he documents on his web site and in various occasional interviews. He spent much of his youth in the Perth area of Australia, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. And has clearly taken influences from all those places.

I purchased all three of the ‘In the Labyrinth’ albums after hearing the group’s ‘Garden of Mysteries’ album on-line a while back. I’ve postponed writing about them because there is so much to say about each track, and because I kept finding myself picking out random words, phrases, characters, and even instruments and researching them to try and determine their origin, significance, and meaning in the context of each song. One can spend an inordinate amount of time doing this, and while it can be educational, it also tends to take time away from simply enjoying the music, as well as life in general, so I finally stopped.

In short, these are wonderful compositions, full of many, many different sounds and emotions. The overall mood of this album is a bit darker and more somber than the group’s other two albums, but it is not depressing or negative by any means. There is a strong sense of awareness of mortality and of the knowledge of evil in the subdued woodwinds, strings, and percussion, but these realities do not detract from the sense of purpose in the musicians as they labor to craft their art.

Seven of the eleven tracks are instrumentals, and I can’t help but compare the vocal tracks to the more sedate Moody Blues tunes of the early seventies (but without the Moody’s commercial sensibilities).

Key tracks include the instrumental dedicated to the underworld figure “Nargal” in which the gravity of the subject matter is reinforced with a deep and brooding bass line and several variations of discordant strings; the short and trance-like “Jabberwocky”; the spirit-inflected “Deep Saffron” with its gentle woodwinds and fairy-like whispy backing vocals; and the sad but respectfully peaceful requiem “Farewell Little Brother”.

But my favorite track is the creepy tale of the “Night of the Baskerville Killer”, an almost soft-rock tune with storyteller narrative and very delicate percussion that’s like an aural salsa giving a spicy lilt to the music. I have a shorter early demo version of this same song that Peter gave me a while back, and it is really fascinating to listen to the detail that went into fleshing out the basic framework of the song with the final version that appears on this album. If he and his friends spent nearly as much time putting the finishing recording and production touches on all these tracks, it is easy to understand why it took nearly eight years for this record to be completed.

“Dryad” is a natural follow-on piece to In the Labyrinth’s “Walking on Clouds” album, several tracks of which were recorded during the same time and even in some of the same sessions as this album. If you pick one up, get them both and listen to the back- to-back for maximum effect.

I wish I had the musical knowledge to provide a detailed and technical review of this music. But I don’t, and that’s partially why I remain free to simply enjoy music and then report on it, rather than trying to critique its technical worth. This way is much more enjoyable. My thanks and kudos to Peter Lindahl for a wonderfully crafted hour of music, and I give it a highly recommended four stars for any world, symphonic, Eastern, folk, or traditional music fans out there. You’ll love this album.

peace

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 The Garden of Mysteries by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.48 | 10 ratings

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The Garden of Mysteries
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars One common trait specific to Prog is the word "trip" , which of course was coined by Timothy Leary and his Moody Blues influenced LSD philosophy. History and Geography have also been a huge source of inspiration for many progressive orchestras throughout the globe, due to the universality of transcending borders and barriers. Hence, our Swedish voyager guides us fellow travellers on this sonic transporter, through stupendous glimpses from all corners of our planet. In lieu of pasports and visas, we are processed via a litteral arsenal of vintage (yes, we do have a mellotron) and modern instruments , an Oldfieldian menu of gargantuan proportions. Departing from the lofty Gates of Andorra, we soar over the torrid Andalucian countryside , veering into the stark Saharan landscape, leaping into the Holy Land , up through Turkey and the submerged ancient city of Kekova, enduring the blistering monsoons of Siam , swerving into the harsh central Asian plains , to finally unwind and land back in Sweden, exhausted and smack in the middle of a Scandinavian shamanic ritual! Phew!! Sweat is dripping into my keyboard! Now, that's what I call a "trip" , a rather ingenious term to describe this musical maze, even when listened to as a backdrop, one cannot help imagining scenes of luxuriant epochs and dreaming of constant adventure. This is not World or New Age music by any stretch . Just another example of how far Prog can stretch the musical envelope. 4 open tickets

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 The Garden of Mysteries by IN THE LABYRINTH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.48 | 10 ratings

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The Garden of Mysteries
In The Labyrinth Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This is an artist I ran across in the midst of a Google frenzy researching a completely unrelated band. This is a rare review of an album I don’t own (yet), but I felt it was worth commenting on. The album is apparently out-of-print, and in fact I wasn’t able to find it listed in any catalogs or on-line sites I’m aware of, but there are some used copies floating around.

In any case, that doesn’t take away from the very positive experience most prog fans will likely have listening to this (assuming they can find it). This isn’t really a band per se; it’s more like a group of acquaintances with similar musical interests who collaborate with Peter Lindahl to produce the occasional offering. Lindahl, in addition to playing a ton of instruments and mixing the album, also appears to be the guy who owns most of the recording equipment. So I guess that means he gets to call the shots. The gnome-like creature on the album cover was painted by him too. In poking around the web I see there are at least three representations of this drawing, try and find them yourself and see if you can spot the differences!

There are strong world-music sensibilities to this album, but don't get the impression that it should be lumped in with Irish drinking songs and African percussion bands and Russian folk tunes and all the other world music CDs in the dusty bins at the public library. It’s a bit more than that. Lindahl and friends apparently have a longstanding interest in several musical styles, many Middle Eastern, and most of which are evident in both the song titles and the music itself. There are Turkish, Indian, and even Mediterranean sounds aplenty, particularly in the rhythms and percussion, but also at times the arrangements swell to a bit of a pompous mood, almost Baroque-like (and of course totally appropriate for any self-respecting progressive work).

The whole album is an extended exploration of represented in the mystical and exotic garden, sort of a slightly Eastern-influenced Alice in Wonderland, I suppose. There are very few vocals actually, so much is left to the imagination.

Overall this is a very strong, mostly instrumental album with several beautiful arrangements that combine all manner of ethnic instruments with modern rock ones (just electric guitar and bass really); plenty of synthesized sounds and mellotron (with numerous different flute sounds); languid tempos; and lots and lots of percussion. Fans of world music, middle-eastern traditional sounds, and even ‘tron fans will more than likely appreciate this album.

No particular tracks stand out (all of them are very good), but a couple are worth mentioning. “Monsoon” with its moody flute and wistful piano accented by humming female backing vocals and a sole electric guitar is a strong track. This would be great to listen to on a rainy spring afternoon (and someone please tell me where that piano sequence came from, because I know for a fact I’ve heard it before somewhere). “Aral” is mostly synthesized strings and quite a bit different than most of the rest of the album, but does a great job of creating that spacey mood like the still in a storm that brings with it an air of expectation, and really captures one’s attention; and “Ya Qadar” – if you like middle-eastern drums and percussion, this one will really get your feet and hands working.

I’m not totally sure what to make of these guys, but I liked this album enough that I'm purchasing the other two, which can still be found on the artist's web site. I’ve never heard much else quite like these guys, and am looking forward to hearing more. A highly recommended album if you like instrumental music, mellotron, loads of exotic percussion and ethnic instruments, and are willing to get lost inside the mood of an album for an hour or so. Four stars.

peace

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