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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Wheel Of Time
Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time
Image © 2001 Magna Carta Records

Featured Artist: Lisa Bouchelle
Image © 2001 Paul Wesley

(29 July 2001) A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time—performed, produced and written by Robert Berry—is one of two stunning progressive rock projects out this summer from Magna Carta (USA) (Cat No. MA-9052-2, 2001) with vocal contributions by featured artist Lisa Bouchelle. The Wheel Of Time series of fantasy novels is one of the most successful, longest running and most closely followed of all the works in this genre. Author Robert Jordan's brilliantly written tales have been at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list since 1990. Described as a modern day Tolkien, Jordon has created a universe inhabited by wildly imaginative characters and creatures.

The soundtrack was written to be the perfect musical accompaniment for the books and also as a great listening experience. Robert Berry created a musical environment that reflects the drama and action found in the words of the written works. He took a musical path that suits the style of books some claim it is hard to imagine any other approach but the one he has taken. The 19-track album is largely instrumental, blending Celtic with Pink Floyd, with more of a motion picture texture than Mostly Autumn's instrumental numbers that combine the same musical elements (review).

The label found that early listeners and fans of the books were thrilled with the manner in which the music delivered the cinematic images described in Jordan's books. Berry has been recognised a quality artist ever since his early years with the band "3" (along with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer) and the group Asia.

Contributing to the continuity of the Wheel Of Time book series, the compact disc cover artwork was painted by renownede fantasy artist Darrell K. Sweet whose paintings graced the covers of all nine Wheel Of Time books. Liner notes are simple and accompanied by this brief statement from the books' author, "Music has always been an integral part of my writing. Not only do I write to music, but I think of my writing in terms of music. The words must flow in certain rhythms, and the story has its own rhythms. In a way, it's like orchestrating the characters."

A certain standout track on the album is the anthemic "Ladies of the Tower" featuring Lisa Bouchelle's soaring powerful lead vocals. Accompanied by acoustic guitar, crisp percussion and keyboards, harmony vocals achieved through multi-tracking also add a lovely texture. The acoustic guitar solo during the instrumental bridge is also notable.

The album is an instrumental masterpiece blending Celtic styles with progressive and traditional acoustic instruments with modern arrangements. An instrumental standout track is progressive treatment of "The Winespring Reel," most reminscent of some of Mostly Autumn's most recent numbers. While "A Theme For The Wheel Of Time" is one of a small number of tracks that contain sung parts, the soundtrack-style instrumentals are quite enjoyable and will certainly appeal to Clannad, Capercaillie, Mostly Autumn and even Karnataka enthusiasts.

While vocally more sparse than many of the albums reviewed regularly at Musical Discoveries, the strong cinematic and progressive rock texture of this album makes it especially appealing. We applaud both Robert Berry and Magna Carta on the project and especially appreciate Lisa Bouchelle's vocal contribution. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Wheel Of Time from amazon.com here. Certain to appeal to Celtic-oriented soundtrack lovers and instrumental progressive rock lovers, this album is worth further exploration. It is worth a journey—a very nice listen!

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