VARIOUS ARTISTS: SONIC VISIONS OF MIDDLE EARTH
CDR: Foreshadow Productions FSH020 [2005]


Leviathan: Fog On The Barrow-Downs
Aidan Baker: Mines Of Moria
Jääportit: Sydänyön Samooja Syvällä Unten Mailla Ja Metsien Soilla
As All Die: Treebeard Of Fangorn
Gydja: Torech Ungol
Transcendent Device: Fires Of Mount Doom

Proclaiming “music projects led by people who appreciate, admire and simply love J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings” in the accompanying promo sheet one cannot help but immediately be struck that this is more a tribute album for the recent movie trilogy than a purely literary appreciation; the accompanying artwork of the cincture of one ring Elvish script about the disc face doesn’t help the intended cause but may well aid record sales.

Each artist wields a hefty chunk of the disc that gags full to the brim of dark ambience that attempts to ensorcell the listener with their individual interpretation of the most mainstream of prose fantasists of the twentieth century.

Leviathan conjures the eddies of the barrow-downs where haunt the barrow wraiths amidst sunken and forgotten cairns obscured in contrails of echoic mists, dimly heard voices and ancient clangour steep the obfuscation. Aidan Baker’s ‘The Mines of Morai’ posits a concatenation of pendant synth and pads that are less dark than they are eerie, distant granitic tolling reverberates the swale blemished with possibly unintended voluminal distortion. Antiphonal folk cadence breaks the droning reverie as Jääportit’s offering brings together electronic organ, flute and acoustic guitar amidst a background of picturesque birdlife broken by militaristic percussion buoyed on bizarre instrumentation and melody before returning to neoclassical folk exploration. Persisting with a more pastoral and illuminated approach, As All Die’s ‘Treebeard of Fangorn’ sways reverent piano and sweeping pad that rustle amidst dense foliage interspersed with plaintive horn. Gydja delivers powerful presence with ‘Torech Ungol’, limestone formations accrete earthen tears and subterranean winds swell tumid while the susurration of lambency dances across the stone welkin. The finale of the lengthy journey is a rumbling carcass of droning ambience by Transcendent Device, yet ‘Fires of Mount Doom’ proves more somnambulant than menacing.


NYR

[Foreshadow Productions]

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