Bjorne Lynne - The Gods Awaken
I received the CD "The Gods Awaken" (Proximity Records PR/BL CD 001) from Bjorne as a web special. Buy three of Bjorne's CDs and he'd send you "The Gods Awaken" signed and numbered. I didn't have any of Bjorne's CDs at that point, so I went for the deal. I now have a signed copy of "The Gods Awaken", #67 of 200. Thanks Bjorne!
"The Gods Awaken" is Bjorne's latest and perhaps his most ambitious. It is the third part in a series:
The music on "The Gods Awaken" was inspired by the novel of the same name, written by Allan Cole. Each track, although instrumental, has text associated with it, so the CD reads like a story in some way. Allan Cole himself provides some narration at the end of the CD.
David Arkenstone, probably the closest parallel artist to Mr. Lynne's work here, used the same technique in several of his albums, such as "Quest of the Dream Warrior". I am also reminded of Camel's "Dust and Dreams" at times, but that album was a little more bleak (more appropriate as it retold Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath").
It's taken a while for Bjorne to record "The Gods Awaken", and there are several guest musicians on the CD. Rebecca Webster adds flute, Mark Robotham drums, and Mark Knight violins---among many others. Bjorne himself is credited with keyboards, programming, percussion, vocals, and guitars.
The end result is a rock/New Age-flavored set of tracks which are most listenable and include a variety of instrumentation:
The recording is very clean, if a bit compressed and punchy. Even on cruddy speakers (like mine) you're going to get an impressive stereo separation, as the instruments are spread rather wide. You won't really find any holes in the mix, though, so be prepared for a full boat of instrumentation on nearly every track and not a great deal of dynamics. Many of the tracks feature lots of percussion, a wall of synthesizers, and guitar spread to the two channels. Bjorne also adds Mellotron and B3 at times (the Mellotron is from an E-mu Proteus 2000 box, but it's a real B3).
Since I opened "The Gods Awaken" I've had it in the CD player to accompany me and my hours spent at my PC. It's great background stuff. I really enjoy the mix of synthesizers on the album. Bjorne goes for subtle pads and gentle leads a lot, but he isn't afraid to toss in a few trumpet style leads, arpeggiations, or growls. In fact it's often difficult to tell where the synths end and the drums, guitars, and other instruments begin because everything is so well assembled. All of the instruments create a soundstage that just flows from one section of a song to another, including on "King Felino" where there's a nod to heavy metal. It is a very well crafted album overall.
Yet despite the technical prowess and craftsmanship shown in the album, I feel that it somehow leaves me short emotionally. All of the elements are there--beautiful and varied instrumentation, good arrangements--but the point where an album reaches in and grabs you is not really there for me. I believe it's typical of the curse of albums not far from the New Age vein: they're very well done and the artists are talented, but the tunes don't really come across as "tunes" and are more soundscapes or tapestries, sometimes without a great deal of emotional content. Most of David Arkenstone's work strikes me in the same way.
Still I enjoy listening to "The Gods Awaken" while I'm working on other projects, as there's often a moment of music which'll make me sit up and take notice, and I like that. In the meantime the music lets me go on about my business, like writing this review and reassembling my web sites.