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Robert Reed - Sanctuary CD (album) cover


Robert Reed


Crossover Prog

3.95 | 186 ratings

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4 stars Robert Reed has been a prog mastermind for quite a while now, having first discovered him with his first group Cyan as well as working on the Fyreworks album, showing off his qualities as a composer and arranger whilst being well mannered on guitars and keyboards. His Magenta project is still running strong, his musical partnership with the amazing Christina Booth having dished out some memorable albums (Seven, Metamorphosis, the 27 Club). Recently, he has corralled some of the finest prog artists and released the terrific Celtic-infused Kompendium project. Being a manically prolific musical mind, he has finally resolved any solo album urges by honoring us with a tribute to Mike Oldfield and his Tubular Bells methodology. Now some may find that predatory and rather uninspired but I beg to differ, as I know of very few outright Tubular Bells cloning, even though artists such as Colin Masson or Amarok (the Polish band) will gentle poke the style espoused by the Ommadawner. Some negative minds might feel that 3 versions of TB from the master himself I more than enough, so why bother? Well, Robert Reed is not Mike Oldfield, he has every right to create an obviously unapologetic homage to whomever he feels is worthy of such acclaim. Oldfield was Reed's inspiration to make music, so this remains a quasi-religious experience for him that we should all applaud.

"Sanctuary" is a nearly 40 minute affair (a cool DVD shows you how it was done) that needs little enhancing explanation, the two long tracks follow the fluid orchestration, whereby additional instruments are layered onto the original theme, acoustic and electric guitars inviting the bass to enter the fray and blending in a variety of keyboards to expand the melodies, swerving by a few clever detours such as the mandolin, glockenspiel and voice choir sections. By bringing in Oldfield stalwarts Tom Newman as co-producer and Simon Heyworth doing the mastering, the sound will be pristine as such an immaculate exercise demands to be.

Part 1 (20:41) "I worked hard to make the melodies stand on their own. I wanted to capture the emotion that Mike Oldfield managed to communicate through his playing" states Mr. Reed on his website and the importance of his mentor is entirely justified by the manner in which Robert captures his emotion in playing such glittering music. The main theme, repeated in a myriad of variations throughout the disc, sets the tone that will permeate the album. Electric guitar is the spotlight instrument and it utterly dominates the score. The Synergy vocalists do a phenomenal background canvas, the recorders offering up pastoral vistas, the sweet acoustic guitar weaves its country magic. The bass led section is an outright copy of the original which is okay mainly because the original was so good. Bouncy, hopeful and luminescent, the arrangement seeks out newer pastures and yet keeps to tradition. Spell-binding!

Part 2 (18:09) starts off with Moerlen-era Gong marimba/vibes that recall "Percolations" in a way, acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute entering the realm. BTW, Pierre Moerlen was an Oldfield sideman on a few albums, so this should come as no surprise. The judicious use of the tubular bells is a clever detail that only heightens the pleasure. Reed rips a seductive spark from his electric axe as the piece accelerates into bass/tympani overdrive. The main theme is underscored in a kaleidoscope of variations, the guitar carving the way. In typical fashion, the ebb and flow is grandiose, gushing and cinematographic, the voice chanting "Oh maka-che, maka- che, maka-chukala" sounds perhaps fraught with cliché but this only parallels the original script. Reed screwdrives his guitar-centric lead with ardent poise, screeching high and dry, showing off a skill he always has had in his back pocket. The marimba waves are magical, the road ahead glistening with sensation and amazement, the sublime voice of Angharad Brinn (check out the video I posted) seduces with unbridled ecstasy, a gentle Celtic lullaby propelled by a rather brilliant bass run and as such, is one of the finest moments on this recording. The outro reaches its natural climax with more background choir and a series of slippery solos (has there ever been a master of slippery guitar like Oldfield? Yeah, the humble Robert Reed!) And like Queen enjoyed stating on some of their albums, NO SYNTHESIZERS WERE USED in the making of this album.

One of the finest covers adorn the jacket, as well as supplying a DVD that offers various surround mix options as well as a few technical videos. A great deferential package from the man!

4.5 sonic asylums

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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