When keyboard player Hanspeter Hess from German project The Healing Road listened to Mike Oldfieldís latest release Music From The Spheres, he liked that album so much, that he decided to pick up Mikeís early recordings. He found out, however, that he never bought a copy of Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge or Ommadawn on CD, so he had to play the vinyl versions. Holding the records in his hands, he realized that he missed the smell of vinyl, the warm analog sounds and the beautiful artistic sleeves. These thoughts kept running around his brain for a long time. Ideas about making a vinyl album crossed his mind several times. Finally, French prog label Musea agreed to release Tales From The Dam on vinyl.
I got a copy to review the LP, but then I realized that I had a problem. A long time ago, I gave my record player away to my brother-in-law. Fortunately, I noticed a small plastic bag on the album cover. Inside I found the CD-version of the album. After listening, I concluded that Hanspeter had released a fine piece of work with The Healing Road. This release was much better than the one he recorded a year earlier. Timanfaya had some fine moments, but the music didnít go straight to my heart as Tales From The Dam did. The album consists of two long tracks. Side 1 is entitled Tales From The Dam, Part 1 and that is my favourite piece. Right from the beginning, you can hear how Hanspeter Hess is strongly influenced by Mike Oldfield as far as the early works of Oldfield are concerned. ĎRealí drummer Stefan Ditmar gives the songs more power and dynamics. The grand finale of the track is a wonderful climax. The use of several solos on synthesizer and electric guitar makes the music sound very melodic and symphonic.
The second piece, Tales From The Dam, Part 2 moves into the direction of Austrian multi instrumentalist Gandalf, acoustic guitar players Thommy Frank and Claus Flittiger in particular are responsible for that sound. However, the keyboards played by Hanspeter again sound strongly and you will hear pleasant solos performed on synthesizer. It is a pity that Hanspeter uses drum machines on this piece, but eventually that didnít change my final judgment. Tales From The Dam is without doubt a strong album, not only recommended to people who are into the music of Mike Oldfield and Gandalf, but to anyone who likes instrumental symphonic rock.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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