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Gandalf - Gallery Of Dreams (featuring Steve Hackett) CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.46 | 31 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Steve Hackett goes Mike Oldfield by Gandalf's magic power

It is fair to say that had it not been for the presence of one of my all time favourite guitar heroes--Mr. Steve Hackett--on this album, it is unlikely that I ever would have come into contact with Gandalf, an Austrian New-Age composer and multi-instrumentalist that has been releasing albums since 1980. Gallery Of Dreams was also the first Gandalf album I heard and for a long time the only one. After having heard some other Gandalf albums as well, I have gone back and updated this review, but my rating of two stars still stands.

Hackett adds both some of his very distinctive electric guitar sounds and some tasteful Classical guitar playing, but the music is mostly dominated by soothing, keyboard-generated soundscapes with some occasional piano and some more exotic instruments. The album is almost wholly instrumental, but Tracy Hitchings (Quasar, Landmarq, Strangers On A Train) does add vocals to the title track. Hitchings would a couple of years later record another album with Gandalf called To Our Children's Children. In my opinion, To Our Children's Children is a better showcase of Hitchings and Gandalfs combined powers. Even though I absolutely love Hitchings voice, her presence on only a single track on this otherwise wholly instrumental album is a bit out of place.

The value in this music lies, for me, not surprisingly, mostly in Hackett's guitars; particularly, when he is allowed to shine on his electric guitar. When he is allowed to contribute some nice acoustic playing, the mood is not that dissimilar to Hackett's Classical albums, but Gandalf's music is not really Classical. Needless to say, there are much better places to look if you want to witness Hackett's amazing guitar talents. Those looking for anything similar to Hackett's Rock albums or anything musically related to Genesis, are obviously looking in the wrong place here. But for those who enjoy relaxing, New-Age type music, Gallery Of Dreams is probably a nice addition. The music of Mike Oldfield is probably a very good reference point, but we are not talking about Tubular Bells here, but rather some of Oldfield's more recent and more New-Age oriented albums. This is overall a very relaxing and much understated type of music and it is very hard, not to say impossible, to relate this in any way to progressive Rock.

Recently (May 2014) I have heard and reviewed two live albums that were recorded on tour in support of Gallery Of Dreams. Recorded in the early 90's, these live albums feature Gandalf and his band with Hackett guesting and these live albums impressed me much more than did this studio album. Comparing the live versions with the studio versions, the live versions win hands down. (Also, a three disc set is available which holds the Gallery Of Dreams studio album plus the two live albums).

This is recommended to fans of Gandalf and to major fans of everything Hackett, though the aforementioned live albums is the better place to start!

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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