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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gandalf

Magic Theatre

Review by Gary Hill

While this is not the wizard of Tolkein’s tales, there is a lot of musical magic going on here, making this a well-titled set. Gandalf is the working name of Hans Strobl. His musical creations land in the territory of things like Vangelis, Mike Oldfield and others. I’ve reviewed another reissue from Gandalf in this same issue. This one tends to have a wider musical palate than that one does. That said, everything here is purely instrumental, while a couple songs on that other disc had some spoken vocals. Of the two, I’d say that I like this one better. Still, both are quite strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Entrance / the Corridor of the Seven Doors

This comes in quite dramatically and builds out with a great electronic  prog sound. This really works through some definite changes as it continues to grow and develop. The guitar soloing later brings in a great rocking section.

1st Door / Reflections from Childhood
An acoustic guitar driven arrangement brings this one into being. As the song continues to develop that instrument is a big factor. The number has a real world music element built into its midst. The flute adds to that.
2nd Door / Castles of Sand
Picked acoustic guitar plays a big role on this piece. It’s slower, mellower and quite dramatic and evocative. Around the two minute mark it powers into a new section. It’s definitely more of a rocking movement, but not a lot faster. By around the three and a half minute mark it drops down to piano and the sounds of the waves. Piano and acoustic guitar really drive a lot of the later parts of the song after it builds back outward. Around the ten and a half minute mark it works to a cool jam that’s almost part ELP and part Yes. Before the twelve minute mark a different rocking prog movement takes over.
3rd Door / Loss of Identity in the Labyrinth of Delusions

This is a really dramatic and hard rocking prog tune. It gets a bit noisy and chaotic around the half way mark. The cut is a rather short one – at least in comparison to the rest.

4th Door Magic Mirror
I really love the guitar work on this song. That applies to both the intricate acoustic stuff and the soaring melodic electric guitar. Some of that stuff actually makes me think of Steve Howe a bit. Some of the keyboard elements bring an almost fusion thing to the table, though. Some of the jamming near the end also brings some jazz to the table.
5th Door / Beyond the Wall of Ignorance
This comes in mellow and yet dramatic. It builds in a very dramatic way, too. As it continues to evolve it moves into a great melodic fusion type of jam.
6th Door / Peace of Mind
Much more of a melodic electronic prog piece, this is closer to the kind of stuff we got on the other album I reviewed from Gandalf in this issue. .
7th Door / the Fountain of Real Joy
The saxophone on the early parts of this lend some intriguing sounds. The cut works through a change after the mellow, sounds of nature laden opening section. The bass line that drives it even brings some funk to the table.
Exit
This is a satisfying conclusion to the set. It has some great melodies and a nice contrast between the mellower opening section and more soaring later parts. It eventually fades away to end the album.
 
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