Gandalf - Journey To An Imaginary Land [Esoteric Records/Cherry Red - 2017]From 1980 Journey To An Imaginary Land is the first album from Gandalf ( aka Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl). And itís a very pleasing, moody & memorable blend of light instrumental prog, folk elements, new wave music, & and spacey synth-scaping. Imagine a blend of Oldfield & more guitar based Popol Vuh, with hints of Tangerine Dream & Vangelis, and get an idea of whatís on offer here. Here we have a much deserved 2017 CD reissue of the album on Esoteric records.
As you'd expect with Esoteric you get a nice & classy presentation of the album, with the CD coming in a clear jewel case recreating the simple yet effective cover artwork taking in a bright & glaring sun above a desert landscape. We also get a 16 page booklet featuring a new six page write-up about the album by Malcolm Dome. Along with pictures of Strobl & his studio. And the whole album is digitally remastered.
The album takes in six tracks, with each lasting between five & ten minute mark. The mood through out itís fairly mellow, yet often epic in its feel. As Strobl moves from buoyant to atmospheric settings, blending together acoustic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, synths, mellotron, & percussion.
The albums nicely rises & falls in pace, as the tracks move from laid back layers of tuneful strummed 12 string acoustic guitar work. Through to blends of bongo percussion & cascading synth scapes. Onto brighten slightly world music tinged simmers of clear electric guitar melodies, and warming banks of keyboard work. Onto sparking & glowing drifts elector-ambience, and un-twee sounding new age drift & ebb.
I was only vaguely aware of Gandalf before checking out this reissue, and I must say I was very much taken by Journey To An Imaginary Land as a whole- as it effortless brings together tunefully & bright melodies, with confidant musicianship & great compositional skills. Sure thereís nothing really dark, or edgy going on here, but if you enjoy 70ís- to-80ís instrumental music that dips itís toe in light prog, folk & spacey electronics this really is a must for you.