Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CD Review – Northern Seas, by Al Conti

The Norse legends of old come to vivid, sparkling life in this multifaceted musical tapestry woven by actor, composer, and musician Al Conti. The fourth album from the multi-instrumentalist is steeped in Viking lore and, as such, brims with the mystery and mythology of those ancient times.

The proceedings begin with the sounds of rushing water and haunting wordless vocals as the seafaring Nordic warriors row their way through a “Veil of Mist” into the realm of the gods. The album is Conti’s personal tribute to such figures as Iounn (the subject of the lyrical “Spring Maiden”), Loki, Odin, Thor, and Baldur. The scope of the CD also includes the Valkyries, the downfall of the gods, and “The Rainbow Bridge.”

The music itself is lush, with rich layers of sound constructed by Conti’s keyboards, synthesizers, pump organ, accordion, and percussion, as well as violins, fiddles, Celtic whistles, and acoustic and electric guitars by other musicians. The result is an album full of dreamy lyricism, epic themes, and memorable melodies.

While the album generally falls into the category of New Age and world music, the most apt description is that it specifically sounds like what might be called medieval pop. In other words, it sounds like Sting at his best post-Police, except without Sting’s vocals. In fact, Sting and Al Conti should get together and collaborate. Sting could use the inspiration.

Northern Seas is definitely a keeper. It’s worthy of the gods, and worthy of your attention.

--Raj Manoharan

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