The ethereal opening to “Earthsong and Stardance” transcends the current period and touches upon mystic societies, traditional monk chants, and even more aboriginal approaches to music. What unites the disparate elements on both parts of the initial suite is the skill used in creating a seamless musical effort. While the two parts of “The Unfolding of the Worlds” represent the longest tracks on Earthsong and Stardance by far, Gandalf keeps things interesting while creating a microcosm of the different sounds, styles, and influences that will ultimately be tapped during the album.
The three-part “About the Miracle of Life” is eleven minutes of composition that touches upon genesis; the very organic and classically-oriented arrangements give birth to a full and dense weave that takes listeners on a journey. The second part of “About the Miracle of Life” represents one of the high points on Earthsong and Stardance; while it is one of the album’s shortest tracks, the brooding and darker feel of the track represents a great interplay to the lighter compositions that are placed throughout the rest of the album.
It is during this movement that Gandalf moves towards a slightly harder, more progressive metal-influenced feel; while the track does not move fully towards a rock constellation, the ability of Gandalf to take nods from incompatible genres is impressive. “The Paths of Man” is perhaps the most epic of the different compositions on Earthsong and Stardance; at five distinct movements collectively spread out over eighteen minutes, the track gives Gandalf more than enough room to properly stretch his wings. Winding down Earthsong and Stardance, the latter movements of “The Paths of Man” feed into “The Great Ceremony” and give listeners a fitting conclusion to an expansive and wide-ranging journey.
Top Tracks: The Unfolding of the Worlds, Part 2, About the Beauty of Being, Part 1
Gandalf – Earthsong and Stardance (CD) / 2011 Real Music / http://www.realmusic.com