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Alan Stivell - The Mist Of Avalon CD (album) cover


Alan Stivell


Prog Folk

3.30 | 8 ratings

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3 stars Gone are the new age 1980s, and with the 1990s comes a greater eclecticism, which is where Mr Stivell excels. "The Mist of Avalon" is his "Myths and Legends of King Arthur", a mythic tale with a Celtic slant. This is a lusciously produced work with some of his most spirited harp playing, often seemingly strummed like a guitar, not to mention a cornucopia of pipes, woodwinds, and female vocal accompaniment to go with the man's own beyond trilingual tongue. It also rocks more than most of Stivell's earlier material.

The album opens strongly with "La Dame du Lac", which introduces all its best elements in barely 4 minutes. A moving song, it bodes well for the disk, and the next few tracks, whether instrumental or vocal (such as "Guenievre") maintain that high level of appeal. However, quality if not adventurousness seems to decline somewhat as the CD suffers from that, "gee I have 60 minutes to fill when 35 used to be enough" syndrome. It seems to lack a focal epic of sorts, with the longest tracks clocking at less than five and a half minutes, the fine "Horses on the Hills" and closer "The Return". And in general the vocal exercises seem to work better as they approach his vision of a unique historical document. Particularly admirable is the foretelling of the more electronic influence adopted by groups that were barely yet on the scene such as Afro Celt Sound System, Martyn Bennett, or Deep Forest, but Stivell seemed to incorporate the dance rhythms without the heavy technology, which is all the more impressive.

A flawed "masterpiece", "The Mist of Avalon" is nonetheless a fascinating work that holds up to repeat listens, even if its entertainment objectives are sometimes mist.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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