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Robert Reed - Sanctuary CD (album) cover


Robert Reed


Crossover Prog

3.95 | 186 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Robert Reed, main composer of both the female fronted symphonic prog band Magenta and his sophisticated side-project Kompendium, is a very busy man these days! In addition to those two acts, he's not only helped out with bands like Touchstone and Materya over the last couple of years, but he's painstakingly worked away on this solo project `Sanctuary', and it's simply the absolute crowning achievement of an already wonderful career. Taking inspiration from Mike Oldfield's `Tubular Bells', Mr Reed has crafted two side-long suites of (mostly) instrumental music that effortlessly and seamlessly transitions through a mix of symphonic, world, new-age and light ambient styles, with even a bit of chanting and brief Celtic elements as well.

Over the course of the album, Reed slowly introduces a large variety of instruments and soaring themes, building on and moving between them in varying tempos back and forth. Symphonic prog grandness, medieval flavours and acoustic ruminations are most prominent, as is his majestic guitar playing, and the music takes on a deeply spiritual quality throughout, especially suitable as we're currently in the Christmas season. Mike Oldfield's defining album is constantly referred to in promotional materials for the album, and while it's an easy comparison, there are just as many moments that call to mind Gryphon or even Fruupp at their most sweeping. But one thing that is clear is how much of a labour of love this project has been for the artist, as he has poured his heart and soul into every second of it.

Recorders float through the beginning of the two-part self-titled epic, stirring acoustic guitar plucking weaving with rising electric guitar strains and cymbals crashing with power. Whimsical madrigal melodies are introduced by way of classical guitar, trilling flute and announcing triangle, a cooing choir, striking mandolin and sprightly acoustic guitars dance around triumphant chimes. Strains of `Hallelujah' cry in rapture over charming lute, a Celtic jig is strident and purposeful, and a very brief cheeky nod to `God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' will raise a smile! The second part incorporates spirited hypnotic chanting, tolling bells, pretty pipes, regal symphonic passages with blissful twinkling ambient reflections before victorious electric guitar soloing closes the piece in a hugely bombastic and victorious manner.

Available in a number of formats, including both vinyl LP and a beautiful DVD-Audio set, Robert Reed may have initially used `Tubular Bells' as a starting point of this work, but this is not some mere imitation or uninspired remake. It's a love-letter for a time when the album form was looked upon with the potential to be a grand artistic statement. It may have it's roots in the Seventies, but it still sounds vital and fresh now, and every single theme Reed introduces throughout this epic is impossibly moving and momentous. It's one of the most captivating, distinctive and special progressive releases of 2014.

Truly music for kings and queens, gods and us mere mortals, Robert Reed's `Sanctuary' is thirty-nine minutes of sheer musical bliss, and a true sanctuary for the heart, spirit and mind!

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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