Gandalf - Gallery of Dreams album featuring Steve Hackett reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

I recently received a copy of this latest album by Austrian keyboard maestro, Gandalf from the record company in Holland who are doing their best to distribute it. I must admit my initial attention was firmly focused on the presence of Mr Steve Hackett on this album but I should add that had I not given the album a serious listening on its own merits then I would have missed out on what has to be one of the best produced, dare I say “progressive” albums of the last couple of years and that is not solely due to Steve’s presence I can assure you!

The album takes us through the story of an artists’ dream and the dreamscape he encounters in the world within his own mind. The combination of Gandalf’s undoubted talents on keyboards and Steve’s ability to make the guitar create an aural landscape make this quite a stimulating album.

The album begins with Face In The Mirror, which uses both Steve and Gandalf’s skills to conjure up a vivid aural landscape as the artists’ dream world confronts him and he has to decide what is real and what is illusion.

Willow Man - Watcher Of The Waters follows, a superbly evocative piece with some particularly haunting keyboard work suggestive of a mist shrouded lake, possessed of a magical power or presence; that of the Willow Man himself.

Alone Again and Between Different Worlds are very pretty and once again both musicians are in fine form as they lead us on another aural adventure into the unknown. Another Dream is suitably ethereal and uses the combined talents of the two musicians accompanied by a flute and oboe, which certainly adds effect to the piece. The plaintive Song Of The Unicorn follows, and it is here that Steve’s acoustic playing really comes to the fore. It is followed by Winged Shadows, a superbly played piece of mainly keyboard music, suitably grandiose in feel to evoke the drama of the situation the dreamer finds himself in on meeting the unknown.

The remaining tracks on the album build up a suitably evocative and thought provoking album. The music is never understated and both Gandalf and Steve are in complete control of their music, never once failing to demonstrate what superb musicians they both are. I have no hesitation in recommending this album to those of you who are looking for something a little more stimulating for your ears.

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