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Robert Reed - 2016 - "Sanctuary II"

(214:04, Tigermoth Productions)


*****+
    

TRACK LIST: 

1. Sanctuary II Part 1 19:16
2. Sanctuary II Part 2 20:02

Bonus CD:
1. Salzburg 2:48
2. Pen Y Fan 2:14
3. Les Penning Section (single Edit) 1:28
4. Marimba (single Edit) 3:45
5. Side Two Opening (alternative Version) 5:35
6. Side Two End (alternative Version) 4:42
7. Marimba (Chimpan A Remix) 5:03
8. Sanctuary II Part 1 (Tom Newman Mix) 19:21
9. Sanctuary II Part 2 (Tom Newman Mix) 21:00

Bonus DVD:
1. Sanctuary II, Part 1 (5.1 Mix) 19:16
2. Sanctuary II, Part 2 (5.1 Mix) 20:02
3. Sanctuary II, Part 1 19:16
4. Sanctuary II, Part 2 20:02
5. Opening (promo Video) 2:57
6. Marimba (promo Video) 3:52
7. Les Penning (promo Video) 1:04
8. Drums Session (promo Video) 2:22
9. Advert (promo Video) 1:41
10. Interview 1 (working With Simon Phillips) 7:21
11. Interview 2 (working With Tom Newman) 8:12
12. Interview 3 (working With Les Penning) 2:45

LINEUP:

Robert Reed - all instruments
With:
Synergy - chants
Angharad Brinn - vocals
Tom Newman - bodhran
Leslie Penning - recorder
Simon Phillips - drums

Prolusion. UK composer and musician Robert REED have been around the block a few times, and is well known for bands such as Magenta, Kompendium, Cyan, Chimpan A and others. For the past few years he's also been an active solo artist where he is already clozing in fast on a dozen albums. "Sanctuary II" is his second solo album, and was released through his own label Tigermoth Productions in 2016.

Analysis. This is a production I have had waiting for quite some time. Not because I do not like this music, nor for any other music related reason. It is simply because this version is so extensive. Most of the material here are bonus features, but I'm among those people that need to listen and see through everything, and due to some health issues I've been dealing with it takes a lot out of me to stay focused for the more than three hours needed for such a production as this. Most people would be more than satisfied with the main contents of this album though, the 40 minutes long main album is the main course here and is the big selling point. These forty minutes are divided into two tracks, both with similar features, but with what sounds to me like a subtle difference that ever so subtly separates them. Two pictures made from the same ingredients if you like, but where the end results differ ever so slightly. The common denominators are numerous though. Both compositions look back to classical music as something of a core foundation I guess. Presumably classical piano, or perhaps chamber music. Not in a striking manner, but more as the core and original source of inspiration from which this music has developed. I assume that the direct inspirations are rather more contemporary, and many feel a need to mention Mike Oldfield whenever Robert Reed's solo albums are written about. And aye, we are in a similar playing field here I guess. What this album goes about doing, are exploring a blend of atmospheric laden music with a subtle classical tinge to it, at times seguing over to ambient landscapes, and mixing in elements from folk music and rock music. Drums and guitars most prominently from the rock music side of things, while instruments such as recorder and marimba emphasize the folk music touches that is otherwise most prominently present by way of melody lines and vocals. The vocals, by accident or design, often gives me associations to world music in general and African music in particular. Just why I cannot really tell, as the vocal styles as such doesn't really come with any features from the latter musical traditions that I am aware of; and this may well be some movie soundtracks or similar that have stamped a large impression in my brain. Be that as it may the, the vocals adds a subtly exotic vibe to this production for me, and a distinct world music vibe, even if that presumably is more of a subjective experience. I do note that the vocal elements, at least as I experience this album, are used more instruments adding their own tonality to the mix rather than being dominant elements supported by the instrumentation. The vocals are also the most striking element that is constant throughout both parts of Sanctuary II. Many other similarities are present in both parts, but for me this is the strong and most dominant identity mark. This is where the subtle differences between the two comes into play. Possibly or even presumably a subjective perception, and one that comes with some built in flaws too: A production such as this one merits many listens for it to become familiar, and as a reviewer you generally have limited possibilities to do just that. That being said, my perception is that the first part of the song hones in on more of a generic folk and world music vibe as the key elements, whereas the second part strikes me as being revolving more around Celtic, English and European folk music details blended with the vocal elements that gives me that subjective experience of world music flavoring. The differences are more on a subtle level however, and rarely if ever striking and in your face. The differences, like this album overall, tends to be of a more careful nature. The bonus CD is, well, more of the same. A couple of bonus tracks, that to my mind are rather similar to the music explored on the main album. Two single edits and two alternative versions of sections from the second part are tucked in, where I guess fans will find the latter two most interesting. At last we have Tom Newman's mix of both parts. As I haven't become intimately familiar with this album I cannot pinpoint the exact differences, but my main impression is that these are less elaborate on some level, and I noted down that I got the feeling that there was slightly more room for the guitars here and slightly less emphasis on keyboards and similar instruments. This is mainly a subjective impression though, and again it is a case of the differences being rather subtle in nature. The bonus DVD gives us a few promo videos, where the full tracks are the most interesting musically as we are shown how Robert plays quite a few of the instruments used here. We get to see how the drums was recorded as well, which is an interesting insight. The main course of the bonus DVD are the interviews though, although they appear more as monologues than as interviews in the classical sense of the word. Again features which grants interesting insights into the creation of an album in general and of course this album in particular. The DVD also contains the main album in a regular stereo mix as well as a Dolby 5.1 surround mix, the latter a boon to audiophiles out there I guess.

Conclusion. If there are any packages left of the special edition of "Sanctuary II" with bonus CD and DVD, that is the edition to go for here. With more than 3 hours of material that is a good deal no matter how you look at it. This is a case of the bonus material being of the same or similar quality as the main album, which probably indicates that Robert Reed is quite the perfectionist. Otherwise, this album in general is one that have Mike Oldfield fans written all over it in terms of a main target audience. Other than that, those who tends to enjoy music where folk music and rock music meet inside a progressive rock general context of the kind that veers towards atmospheric laden and ambient landscapes should find this album to be a rewarding experience.

Progmessor: June 27th, 2018
The Rating Room


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