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Bo Hansson - Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings] CD (album) cover


Bo Hansson


Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 145 ratings

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4 stars Bo Hansson is a bit of a mysterious character, and someone I never heard of until just about a year ago. This isn’t the album that drew me to his music; rather, I had come across a copy of “Magician's Hat”. But the sounds intrigued me so it wasn’t long before this one found its way into my collection as well. This is the English-label version of his 1970 solo debut ‘Sagan om Ringen’, and a very curious treatment on the famous J.R.R. Tolkien epic.

The music here is all instrumental, and nowhere near the kind of grand, almost gothic sound that some of the later soundtracks and Tolkien tribute albums would tend to have. In fact, Hansson’s keyboard arrangements and eclectic style remind me of quite a few Swedish acts like In the Labyrinth, Autumn Breeze, Gjallarhorn (Swedish-speaking in their case), and even Isildur’s Bane at times. His music is ambient at times, experimental at others, and almost always vaguely familiar, although I’m guessing I never heard this record on the radio or at a friend’s house so the familiarity aspect is suspect.

This is not the type of sound most people would expect of a Lord of the Rings-inspired piece of music. Later recordings ranging from Led Zeppelin to Mostly Autumn are more grandiose, pompous, and expansive. Hansson instead focuses on the fantasy side of Tolkien’s tale, weaving a musical (mostly keyboard) tapestry through the Old Forest to the House of Elfrond and eventually back toward home, skipping huge parts of the story in the process but establishing an almost mystic mood that must have been awesome to use as a backdrop when reading the three volumes way back then.

The congas and Santana-like guitar licks on “The Black Riders/Flight to the Ford” capture the anxiety and high drama of that passage without being overbearing or cheesy, much like “Homeward Bound / the Scouring of the Shire” evokes a mood of finality to the adventure.

Like I said, not the sound I would have envisioned for a Tolkien soundtrack for sure, but Hansson was a creative genius who gave us a fascinating alter-interpretation on this hugely popular literary classic. I can’t say this is a masterpiece because there are a few spots where the repetitious organ and hand drums seems to drag on a bit much, and because the level of attention paid to certain parts of the tale don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense (“Lothlórien” and “Shadowfax” – why)? But in all this is a great musical work that is bound to be appreciated by nearly all progressive music fans, regardless of their genre of choice. Highly recommended and four stars.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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