Musik & Film – [Release Date: 18 September 2013]
With a band name of Gandalf’s Fist and an album titled ‘A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer’ this can only mean one thing folks – yep, progressive rock.
With all the fabulous progressive rock coming out of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia at present, much home-grown stuff is getting lost in the flood and it would be easy to say that albums like this are the reason why.
But I think that would be just a little unfair.
I have read quite a few scathing reviews of Gandalf’s Fist’s previous releases and given the title of this I have to say I was expecting the worst.
And although there are some moments of acute cliched naivety and some moments of absolute bollocks here, there are also moments of inspired songwriting and musicianship – and if you can manage to forgive the former and embrace the latter it’s actually a very good listen.
It tells the story of a legendary figure from the 26th Century who wanders the Cosmos and finds himself stranded in a decaying space station on the borders of a decaying black hole (yes, I know…)
I’ve never been a fan of spoken prose in music – feeling that the music should tell it all – so, for me, things don’t get off to a great start as the scene is set by a Morgan Freeman-alike voice-over which unfortunately segues into probably the most naive and cliched track on the album ‘The Nine Billion Names Of God’ with its repetitive riff and almost chanted vocals is not an auspicious start.
Things improve markedly however on ‘Stowaway On The Mushroom Planet’ (yes, I know…) which features a fabulous vocal/guitar cadenza, and even more so on ‘Somewhere Beyond The Stars’ with a great vocal by one of the additional five female vocalists – don’t know which one, but she sounds very similar to the mighty Magenta’s Christina Booth.
The narration appears again on ‘Maze Of Corridors’, probably the poorest track – sorry, but the words ‘maze of madness’ repeated ad nauseum to a repetitive riff do not a good song make.
But things pick up again – ‘A Universal Wanderer’ with its Genesis ‘Entangled’ opening is very good and the consecutive tracks ‘North Of The Wall’ (despite more narrative) and ‘The Battle For Tannhauser Gate’ (yes, I know…) are, without question, the best two tracks on the album.
If their previous output was as poor as the worst tracks here I think they probably deserved the reviews they got, but on this effort the good far outweighs the bad to deliver a more than listenable album.
And if they can ditch some of the more repetitive and frankly risible aspects of their work there’s definitely a great band in the making.
Review by Alan Jones
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