WALKING ON CLOUDS
Review by ClemofNazareth
is the second of Peter
Lindahl’s three In the Labyrinth albums, and the one that includes the
narrative insight into the thoughts behind the music. Lindahl
in two ways: first, with brief but informative liner notes that
track; and second, with spoken-word poems woven into several of the
Of Lindahl’s three albums the Indic influence is most pronounced here.
The instrumentation is much the same as on ‘Dryad’, with the distinctively - inflected deep cello-like sound of the viola da gamba; Håkan Almkvist’s precise fingering on sitar and rhythmic tapping on tabla (Fereidoun Nadimi adds additional rhythm on darbouka); and Sven Lindahl’s chilling and moody wind work on the cornet à bouquin. Peter Lindahl of course plays most of the other instruments, and provides or collaborates on all the compositions except the ode to Indian soap “Chandrika”, which was composed by Almkvist.
The overall mood of this album is
quite interesting, falling as I already said
somewhere between the ‘The Garden of Mysteries’ and ‘Dryad’. Mysteries
me like a much lighter and more playful recording, and ‘Dryad’ is quite
although definitely not depressing. Clouds on the other hand feels
almost as if there is a narrator relating tales to us as he wanders
experiencing various cultures and concepts. My suspicion is that this
intentional, as Lindahl is a well-traveled individual who I expect has
most of the places introduced in this album.
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007, 13:33 EST | Permanent link
Sweden's In The Labyrinth are multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl (flutes, mellotron, guitars, mandolin, viola da gamba, zither, saz, shehnai, bass, percussion, vocals, samplers and "fx") with a variety of guests including fellow multi-instrumentalist Håkan Almkvist (sitar, tablas, electric guitar, bass, tapes, radio and fx). Walking On Clouds is the second CD by the group, whose members have changed over the years aside from the one constant, Lindahl.
In 1997, Lindahl and his wife had traveled to India; the music on the album reflects that trip as the arrangements and instruments used clearly indicate. It is a mix of instrumental and vocal pieces, where each of the album's 11 tracks has a descriptive introduction from Lindahl. The inclination is to refer to the rhythms and arrangements as Middle Eastern, but that isn't true, since India is, in fact, part of Asia and not the Middle East. But, influences being what they are, it is not surprising that there are similarities – and from which way across the border, I can't say. The Northwestern portion of India borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries that are considered part of the Middle East. But, short of spending time writing lecture on history and geography, let's just talk about the music.
Musically the pieces range from the upbeat, swirling darkness of "Kali" (the black, three-eyed goddess "who rules seemingly ruthlessly over the wild, bustling city of Calcutta" writes Lindahl) to the mostly mid-tempo, danceable rhythm of "Mahatma" (dedicated to Mohandas Gandhi) and "Gates On Oneiron" (meaning "gates to the dream-world," roughly, says Lindhal) to the calm, peaceful and gentle "Over The Wall" (about the Himalayas) to the austere "The Caravan From Sheeba," which sounds as if it could be part of a movie score, as it has the feel of an overture. In between we travel to the dark "Lop Nor (The Wandering Lake)" for some sharp guitar soloing and the sweet, dramatic sound of violins, and travel through the even darker "Dervish Dreams." Oddly enough, "Golgonda" (an Indian wine) has a bit of a Scottish Celtic sound to it, where their seems to be bagpipes, but, of course, there aren't. Otherwise, this piece is atmospheric, where the rhythmic percussion that has dominated the release so far is absent. Sounds of, perhaps, a street market can be heard in the background. The title track, "Walking On Clouds" falls somewhere in between being both atmospheric (as clouds might suggest) with soft but firm (if that makes sense) percussion (as walking might suggest).
Anyone who appreciates the mid-to-late period work by Tangerine Dream will find much to enjoy here. What might also come to mind, as it did for me every once in a while, was George Harrison's "Within You, Without You" (Sgt. Peppers) though in the first track, I thought a little bit of Pink Floyd's "Eclipse" (Dark Side Of The Moon) in the soft vocals and phrasing of Lindahl -- of course, with an Indian motif. The vocal pieces do hark back, a bit, to a more psychedelic late 60s, especially given Lindahl's singing voice, but then many artists were dabbling in "eastern mysticism," The Beatles at the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi being one example.
Helping Lindahl create this rich suite of music that is both smooth and textured, and extremely inviting are Kirk Chilton and Micke Lövroth on violin, Ismet Demirhan on woodwinds, Sven Lindahl on cornett, Fereidoun Nadimi on darbouka and recitation, Miriam Oldenburg on accordion, Stefan Ottman providing additional recitation, Helena Selander and Anders Victorssen on background vocals -- all combining to transport you to a different world.
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, June 2003
Progressiveworld, Stephanie Sollow
WALKING ON CLOUDS
In The Labyrinth’s follow up to the excellent “The Garden Of Mysteries” album is even better than the debut. As the debut contained a mix between old and new songs it gave an overall shattered impression. “Walking on Clouds” though feels like a “real” album. The total playing time are also shorter so it’s easier to listen through it in just one listening. Some of the musicians have been changed since their previous album, but Peter Lindahl is the man behind it all. This line-up also includes Håkan Almkvist from Ensemble Nimbus and Orient Squeezers. The music though is in the same style as before. Their mix between Middle-eastern, Indian Raga, Scandinavian folklore and Turkish folk & world music blended with Ambient, Psychedelic & Symphonic Rock is still very original. The many different instruments used on this album are very important for the final result. In The Labyrinth has once again proved that they’re one of the most experimental bands around today.
Reviewed by Greger Rönnqvist
WALKING ON CLOUDS
This album consists of eleven magnificent tracks combining influences from Turkish, Hindi, Medieval, Oriental and traditional Nordic music in a soundscape clearly progressive and symphonic. One main feature is the mellotron and the extraordinary way in which it has been mixed in with traditional instruments is incredibly enhancing to the world-music sound of the album.
The CD starts off with Kali, initiated by an introduction featuring classical strings, then picking up on lucidly India inspired melody that is performed in an arrangement combining unto perfection percussion and sitar, woodwinds and electric instruments. Add to this the mellotron and you can imagine for yourself! This track is interlaced with s, a title that saves us from having to describe the music itself. I’m under the impression that the main theme has been played on mellotron. Also there’s a powerful bass, some excellent electric guitar work and towards the end, sitar supported by some fantastic mellotron backings. It links up with Over the Wall, which is a beautiful ballad combining traditional Nordic music with percussion and oriental instruments including sitar. Wonderfully sung together with the ever-present mellotron.
Bliss! The forth number which is titled The Caravan from Sheeba, has a very classical introduction and a melody merging together both Turkish and European cultures, its timbre being crystal clear, with a lot of mandolin and excellent orchestration. This instrumental is hooked up with Birka, where the minor Asian influences are maintained, the instrumentation featuring traditional oriental instruments, violin mellotron and exquisite flutes and choirs. Neither has this composition any ending and passes over into Lop Nor, which despite being the most contemporary track doesn’t loose contact with the traditional setting.
But I especially wish to point out the classical guitar and strings. Wonderful! Fantastic! Possibly the one track of the album expressing the strongest influences of European culture.
Then we return to melodies with Turkish orientation, the next track being Dervish Dreams, which is a composition with hypnotic rhythm and boasting a wide variety of traditional oriental instruments, also including a well contributed performance by flutes. A very different sort of track is Golgonda, typically Hindi and once again with the fascinating and wells embracing mellotron in the background. This composition is connected with Gates of Oneiron, a beautiful melody from the royal court of India and with a part of the instrumental section deriving from an original recording made by the same band in 1978.
Vocally “In The Labyrinth” reminds me of Steve Hillage on his oriental influenced records, but the songs are sung even more brilliantly on this album! The title of the next track Chandrika, defines this piece perfectly, with a great performance by sitar and percussion.
The album ends with Walking On Clouds, which is linked up as a following of the previous track. This instrumental is very contemporary, with keyboards and choirs playing a prominent part, naturally not missing out on the involvement of the mellotron and also carrying a beautiful electric guitar solo presented with a personal and intricate sound. A gold medal to this majestic record! Conclusively, an album that enriches the current progressive scene with a virtual fusion of cultures, making it an authentic jewel indespensable for lovers of good music!
Antonio Escalante “El Mellotron” Nr 8, 99/00
Translation from Spanish by Anette Sundborg-Romeau
WALKING ON CLOUDS
While perhaps lacking in the department of rhythmic complexity and pure instrumental virtuosity, In the Labyrinth's second release should appeal to progressive fans by merit of its masterful meshing of Western rock music and various diverse world musics, mostly Middle-Eastern and North Indian. This is truly atmospheric symphonic rock, attaining a rare level of mysticism and exoticism by blending native instruments with beautifully expressive melodies. The music most often explores somber yet hopeful and upbeat themes, never becoming dark and never becoming overly heavy or "rockish".
The varied instrumentation is really the focus of the album: sitars, zithers, and some other very ethnic-sounding string instruments prevail among a slew of sounds from the likes of tablas, flutes (wood flutes perhaps?), hand percussion, and so on, all of it anchored by some very prominent low-end bass. Vocals in English are present, but for the most part are tasteful and accent-free. I feel they detract somewhat from a couple pieces ("Over the Wall" and "Dervish Dreams"), but they are sparse enough that they don't bother me in any other songs. That said, easily the highlight of the disc is the instrumental trio of "Caravan From Sheeba", "Birka", and "Lop Nor", all of which run together as one piece. Here, the band's sense of adventurous atmosphere reaches a peak, moving from the romantic melodicism of "Caravan" to the more ethnic and exotic "Birka" to the almost conventionally symphonic and almost menacing "Lop Nor". A fantastic journey.
Though I cite those three tracks as the strongest, virtually every single track here is a gem, a fascinating trip through exotic lands. While those that require some element of weirdness and experimentation in their music may be disappointed, since the appeal of Walking on Clouds is more in the orchestration and textural diversity than anything else, I'd heartily recommend this to anyone that likes symphonic rock tinged with folk and world influences. This is one of the most pleasant surprises I've heard in a while.
review by Brandon Wu
Ground and sky review
Walking on clouds and Dryad
In the Labyrinth have been around since the mid-'90s (initially as simply Labyrinth), singlemindedly ploughing their world/prog crossover furrow, although I believe their debut, '97's The Garden of Mysteries is now out of print. They actually make a pretty unique noise, with elements of various ethnic musics combining with a modern progressive style to create something new; surely what 'progressive' rock should be all about? About the only clear influence you could point to is that brand of krautrock acts who assimilated 'world' influences before there was such a term, particularly Embryo. Led by multi-instrumentalist Peter Lindahl, their lineup seems to be fairly fluid apart from his lieutenant, Håkan Almkvist, with other musicians obviously being brought in as and when needed.
'99's Walking on Clouds defines their style perfectly, being a real pot pourri of influences, often applied simultaneously. It's difficult to pick out highlights on a single listen, as I imagine this will take several plays to really appreciate, although the middle-eastern pipes on Golgonda are notable. Not so sure about the vocal tracks, though they're relatively few and far between. Lindahl plays Mellotron on several tracks, mostly strings, although some of the flute work is quite clearly 'Tron, too. The string parts are mostly upfront, if not actually solo, blending nicely with the more unusual instrumentation, at least to my ears. 'Tron highlight? Probably the end of Mahatma, although several similar parts could also qualify.
Three years on, Dryad is actually slightly less 'world' than its predecessor, although sitars, darboukas, tablas and the like still proliferate. The vocal tracks here seem better integrated into the album as a whole; in fact, 'well-integrated' is a phrase that sums the record up in general. Lindahl's diverse influences come together more smoothly here, at least to my ears, making for a more satisfying listen all round. Marginally less Mellotron than on Walking on Clouds, with a similar mixture of about 90% strings to 10% flutes, with Muscarin Madness only featuring a few seconds of the latter. Overall, a slightly better album than its predecessor, but a little less 'Tron.
So; if you're intrigued by this description of In the Labyrinth, either of these albums is worth a shot. Decent Mellotron work on both, too, though if you're offended by the sound of 'ethnic' instrumentation, you may wish to go elsewhere.
Andy Thompson, Planet Mellotron 2005
WALKING ON CLOUDS (In German)
Einen wunderschönen guten Tag, meine lieben Leser. Herzlich Willkommen auf unserer Reise in fremde Welten, in längst vergangene Jahrhunderte, hin zu Völkern und Gegenden, die sie nur aus Geschichtsbüchern kennen. Machen sie es sich bequem und begeben sie sich mit uns auf musikalische Reise nach Südeuropa und in den vorderen Orient. Wir begrüßen auch unsere vierköpfige Reiseführer Crew aus Schweden, die mit allerlei bekannten (Flöte, Gitarre, Piano, Congas), sowie unbekannten (Kena, Djembe, Darbouka, Tamboura) akustischen Instrumenten, ihrem elektronischen Handwerkszeug (Mellotron, Synthesizer, Sampler, Gitarre) und sehr wenig Gesang für einen unvergessenen Höreindruck sorgen wird. Unsere Stationen werden die musikalische Umsetzung verschiedener Orte, Landschaften und Geschehnisse sein, die von unserem skandinavischen Quartet mit äußerster Präzision und Liebe fürs Detail umgesetzt und hörbar gemacht wurde. Unsere Reise führt uns von Andorra über die Türkei, wo wir uns auf die Suche nach der versunkenen Stadt Kekova begeben, Ali Hassan treffen, später am Aral See vorbei ins ferne Seram, bis tief in den Garten der eigenen Vorstellungen. Schließen sie die Augen und sie werden mit ihrer Vorstellungskraft Dinge sehen, von denen sie bisher nur zu träumen wagten. Unseren Reiseführern ist es auf unnachahmliche Weise gelungen ihr Konzept von Stimmungen und Melodien umzusetzen, die durch eine Instrumentierung zum Nachdenken anregen und Energie mit Ruhe kombinieren. Wenn sie schon immer auf der Suche nach der Vermischung von orientalischer Folklore mit europäischen Ursprüngen waren und auch Gefallen bei Interpreten wie z.B. Loreena McKennitt finden, dann werden sie sich sicherlich bei uns wohlfühlen. An den 22 Orten der Reise werden wir nicht zu lange verweilen, um dadurch die schönen Klänge und Eindrücke nicht durch extreme Längen zu zerstören. Reine Prog Reisende kommen zwar nicht auf ihre Kosten, können aber mit Toleranz gesegnet, neue, hauptsächlich orientalische Hörbeispiele auf sich wirken lassen. Wir wünschen ihnen eine angenehme Reise und süße Träume. Ihr Kapitän
WALKING ON CLOUDS (In Italian)
Dopo la pubblicazione di “Garden of Mysteries” (APM 1996), il polistrumentista svedese Peter Lindahl è entrato in contatto con il vulcanico Hakan Almkvist e con la sua TAP Records per il lavoro relativo al secondo cd degli In The Labyrinth.
L’entrata del progetto nella scuderia TAP sicuramente amplia i già vasti orizzonti della label svedese, piccola ma agguerrita: con Ensemble Nimbus, Tween Deck II e Orient Squezeers, l’etichetta ha sempre cercato una via singolare ed eclettica alla sperimentazione e alla fusione di generi diversi. L’accordo con Lindahl non poteva certo mancare.
L’idea del progetto In The Labyrinth era quella di realizzare una profonda fusione tra l’amata musica indiana, il folklore scandinavo, il rock sinfonico, l’ambient, l’acid rock e la psichedelia. Hakan Almkvist, profondo conoscitore dell’India e musicista esperto, non poteva essere spalla più adatta in questo lavoro.
L’ensemble annovera un nutrito gruppo di persone: la coppia Lindahl-Almkvist, il violinista americano Kirk Chilton, già con Ensemble Nimbus, i fiatisti Ismet Demirhan, Sven Lindahl e Micke Lovroth, la fisarmonicista Miriam Oldenburg e uno stuolo di coristi. Ancora presente il vecchio compagno Stefan Ottman.
“Walking on clouds” è uno dei lavori più interessanti prodotti dalla TAP: un crogiuolo di suoni dal mondo, tutti accomunati dall’intensa vena spirituale e mistica. Dall’India di “Kali” e “Mahatma” alla Svezia di “Birka”, passando per l’Asia Centrale di “Takla Makan” alla Turchia di “Dervish Dreams”, la band sfoggia un talento eccezionale nel miscelare diversi suoni.
E’ un’invasione di scintillanti sitar che viaggiano su ritmiche programmate e loops; le chitarre rock fronteggiano gli impasti cameristici degli archi; le dirompenti e “terrose” percussioni sfidano il sound “celestiale”, creando piacevoli contrasti. Mellotron, flauti e mandolino trovano degni compagni di strada in viole da gamba, zither e saz.
Le descrizioni dei brani ad opera di Peter rendono ancor più agevole la comprensione del lavoro di fusione. Sappiamo così che l’ottima “Birka” è ispirata ad un’antica città svedese, situata su un’isoletta lacustre, centro di scambi commerciali persino con popoli orientali; che “Golconda” è un ottimo vino indiano; che “Chandrika” è un sapone indiano, utile per scrollarsi di dosso polvere e sporcizia accumulate durante i viaggi.
Molti brani sono davvero festosi e sereni, altri (penso a “Over the wall”) hanno un mood ipnotico stralunato che li ricollega alla psichedelia e alla ricerca raga dei campus americani. Appaiono tessiture sinfoniche e suoni egiziani e balcanici in “The Caravan of Sheeba”; tutto si fa più sfumato e misterioso in “Gates of Oneiron”, vetta di ricerca spirituale l’eterea title-track.
La noia on fa mai capolino anche grazie al sapiente gioco strumentale e alla presenza di frequenti momenti cantati, anche solo con vocalizzi. Colpisce la spontaneità del sound, ancor più dopo aver letto che le registrazioni sono durate ben quattro anni.
Un interessantissimo album che sicuramente non mancherà nell’audioteca dei prog lovers più curiosi.
Ottimi. Da ascoltare.
Recensito da Donato Zoppo. Un labirinto di suoni dal mondo (Vers. stampabile)
WALKING ON CLOUDS (In English)
is a Swedish band, so don't
possibility of a nice album
is nearly sure of. Is that what we call Avant-Garde or New-age music ?
One thing the first influence is surely caming from the Middle-East.
The first song "Kali" is written around the godess Kali, for who each
autumn, many Indians got their bath in their ugly river in Calcutta.
Hum! The second song dedicated to Gandhi, what a very nice exchange
between the woodwind
and the Indian's rift, excellent song. On song
three we could hear influences from the psychedelic PINK FLOYD with
some other 60's psychedelic pop influences, a song which describe the
Himalayan Heights. "Caravan of Sheeba" is a progressive song with some
Mellotron and symphonism inspired by Yougoslavian Goram Bregovic film
score-composer and the Egyptian megastar Om Kalsoum. "Birka" is a
recently excavated towm near Stockholm and Lop Nor is a lake in the
Takla Mäkan desert from the nord-west of China, on nord of Tibet.
These are two songs with Medieval, mystical arrangements. The next song
is a Turkish influenced, with
narration from the Molana's poem.
"Gongolda" is an exquisite Indian wine, probably the more spychedelic
and spacey song from all. "Gates of Oneiron" is a Indian Beatlesque
song. "Chandrika" is a soap brand from India, sitar and soap were
surely a good thing after a long travelling in India. The album ending
with a nice song with high amount of ambient influences.
So is that New-age or Avant-Garde, it surely depend on the definition you put under these two. Could I try with millenium music ? Peter himself probably got the right definiton of is own music, behind Middle-est Asian music (Indian Raga also) and mystical themes, many other were mixed such as, Swedish Folk, Psychedelic music (60's & 70's), Ambient, few Symphonic-rock and with progressive arrangements also. Could be called this a Mystical Middle-East psychedelic-folk prog. Music of IN THE LABYRINTH simply is a well good discovery by myself, an I well thanks Peter for is essentiel help and music. He's help by the "Swedindian" Håkan Halkvist who play Indian's music with style. RECOMMANDED to lovers of Alternate music.
Denis Taillefer, Proglands
WALKING ON CLOUDS (In German)
Siggy hat dieser Tage Peter Lindahls Bandprojekt In the Labyrinth auf die BBS gebracht. Warum bin ich da nicht drauf gekommen? In the Labyrinth produzierten auf den drei mir bekannten CDs allerkomischsten psychedelischen/atmosphärischen/soundtrackartigen Ethno-Prog. Gut, das Wort „Ethno-Prog“ habe ich eben erfunden, das gibt’s gar nicht. Aber diese Musik ist viel zu spannend und überzeugend, um vor den Lesern der BBS verheimlicht zu werden.
Wenn ich etwas an den CDs zu kritisieren habe, dann, dass sie vielleicht an wenigen Stellen einen Hauch zu synthetisch klingen. Aber das ist 1) die Ausnahme und 2) wirklich die einzige Kritik. Einflüsse fallen mir massig ein: Peter Gabriel („Passion“), Nic Potter, Anthony Phillips, Carlos Peron, zahl- und namenlose Weltmusikanten. Ja, auch Oldfield, aber eher verhalten und wahrscheinlich meinem geringen Horizont in Sachen Weltmusik geschuldet. Die Melodien in "Mahatma" wecken in mir sogar Erinnerungen an Kraftwerk...natürlich völlig verschieden arrangiert.
„Kali“, der erste Song auf „Walking on Clouds“, ist gleich ein Referenzwerk für das Album. Arabisch anmutende Perkussion, dazu indisch klingende Melodien. Dann hält ein Break den Lauf der Musik auf, das so nur Europäer an dieser Stelle einbetten konnten. Orientalische Musik wird hier nicht imitiert, sondern für die eigenen Ideen adaptiert und umgeprägt.<>Zwischen der perkussionslastigen Musik mit ihren Tablas und Sitars bahnt sich immer wieder ein Mellotron, eine (gar hackettartige) Gitarre oder einfach nur eine Bassgitarre, die auf den europäischen, in diesem Falle eben schwedischen, Ursprung der Musik verweist. Ab und an singt Peter Lindahl einige Zeilen, mit einer Stimme, die an Andrew Latimer erinnert. Mir gefällt die Stimme sehr und ich könnte mir vorstellen, dass Lindahl deutlich mehr singt, als drei, vier Liedern pro Platte. Ah, auch die Stimme von Tony Banks kam mir in den Sinn, nur eben in gut und gekonnt.
Durchhänger auf dem rund einstündigen Album konnte ich nicht ausmachen. Die Musik – es folgt eine unglaublich innovative Formulierung – nimmt einen mit auf eine Reise...in den Nahen Osten, in dein Inneres, wohin du willst. Nur langweilig wird es nie. <>Wer die Möglichkeit hat, In the Labyrinth anzuchecken sollte dies unbedingt tun. Tolle Musik, die mich – 100% subjektiv – an eine orientalische Version der Brimstone Solar Radiation Band erinnert.
ALL THREE ITL ALBUMS (In Swedish)
In the Labyrinth är multi-instrumentalisten Peter Lindahl som, tillsammans med gäs- tande vänner, målar upp nya musikaliska landskap.
Det första som slog mig när jag lyssnade, var en fantasy-känsla, där vissa spår mycket väl skulle kunna illustrera filmer i genren. Extra inspirerad blev jag här av de vackra målningarna, som pryder skivomslagen.
Musiken är också fantasifullt utförd och influenserna är många. Bitvis landar jag i tidig Pink Floyd, och många gånger hos Mike Oldfield. Annars är den mest framträdande influensen, det orientaliska inslaget. Orientaliska skalor vävs snyggt ihop med det övriga och sitaren färgar vackert.Pär Berglund