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Gandalf - Visions 2001 (with bonus CD: Rare & Precious Pieces - 20 Years Of Gandalf) CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.13 | 5 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars The Magician's Return

While the title might perhaps lead you to think that this is a re-recorded version of Gandalf's 1981 album Visions, the present album is actually a brand new 2001 studio album. It could be considered a belated follow-up album (a bit like Rick Wakeman's Return To The Centre Of The Earth), but it is hard to find any direct connections between Visions and Visions 2001. There are however plenty of indirect connections such as a general return to the sound and feel of the original Visions. Also the two albums are similarly structured with ambient pieces functioning as interludes between more uptempo and melodic pieces. The quality of the two albums is also similar, though overall I prefer the original Visions.

In keeping with his chosen artist name, Gandalf here made an album explicitly inspired by Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. And he manages to capture the moods of that story and its magnificent fantasy worlds perfectly. As usual Gandalf plays a plethora of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, and the wonderful sitar (that also was featured on the original Visions to great effect). On some passages Gandalf's electric guitar playing sounds very much like that of Steve Hackett (with whom Gandalf worked on Gallery Of Dreams, and obviously picked up more than a few tricks from Hackett). Other musicians involved here add bass and drums which ensures a strong Rock base of the sound, and yet others add flutes, whistles, and violin, which gives this a distinct Folk music nature.

Overall, Visions 2001 is a very high quality offering that deserves to be heard. There are however two main problems with it that prevent me from giving it the same high rating as the original Visions. One problem is that it is just a bit too long for its own good. With a running time of well over an hour it tends to wear the listener down despite the high quality of the music. The album would definitely have benefited from being shortened somewhat. The other problem is that there is one misplaced vocal number on this otherwise completely instrumental album. When this song started I first thought that Spotify had gone mad and started playing an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical soundtrack. It does not fit in at all among the rest of the tracks here and is a complete embarrassment in its own right. With these flaws taken into account, Visions 2001 is inferior to the original Visions album which was more coherent and effective. Still, if you liked that album, and Gandalf in general, you should get this album as well as it is clearly (despite its flaws) one of Gandalf's better albums.

Before ending I should mention that the album comes with a bonus CD called Rare & Precious Pieces featuring alternate versions of familiar pieces from throughout Gandalf's recording career (including his collaborations with Steve Hackett and Tracy Hitchings). It provides a decent overview, but it is better to start with the regular albums.

Recommended in addition to the original Visions

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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