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In The Labyrinth - Dryad CD (album) cover


In The Labyrinth


Prog Folk

3.56 | 13 ratings

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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.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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