David Rohl deserves a big compliment for recording a very modern sounding third Mandalaband-album. BC-Ancestors has been released more than thirty years after the second recording of the Mandalaband. For those who are not familiar with the band, first a few historic facts before reviewing the new album. We could label the first eponymous album of the Mandalaband (1975), as a fine blend between a rock band and a choir. Itís a concept album about the Chinese occupation of the Tibetan people. Of course, the record company wanted a follow-up for this successful release. Therefore - being a record producer - Mr. Rohl contacted everyone he knew in order to get a new line-up for the successor. We can designate The Eye Of Wendor (1978) as one of the best concept albums of its time.
Last year, David Rohl gathered together another company of musicians. He locked them up in the studio to record two brand new Mandalaband-albums. On those albums, they had to create the musical spirit of the seventies blended with contemporary influences. On the first album, they covered the heroic age of ancient history leading up to the birth of Christ. The second album will be entitled AD-Sangreal, concerning the Romano-Spanish legends about the Holy Grail. Letís focus on BC-Ancestors. The fourteen tracks are dealing with the magical tales of Eden, Nimrod, Shemsu-Har, Karum Kanesh, Babylon, Anak, Aten, Ozymandias, Solomon, Akhiyawa, Elissa and some more ancestors. On this almost seventy-minute long album, they created a perfect soundtrack. From time to time, the music brings you back to ancient Egypt just to undergo the magical moments in history.
David Rohl managed to get the best out of well-known musicians as Troy Donockley (pipes, whistles), Woolly Wolstenholme (keyboards, vocals), Jose Manuel Medina (keyboards), Mark Atkinson (vocals), Kim Turner (drums), Geoffrey Richardson (viola), C raig Fletcher (guitars) and Ashley Mulford (guitars). Sometimes the music sounds orchestral as we can hear on tracks as Ancestor (Overture), Nimrod and Shemsu-Har, but many modern drumbeats, as we can hear daily on the radio, are present too. However, they work out fine on tracks as The Sons Of Anak and Ozymandias. The use of Troy Donockleyís pipes and whistles sometimes give the music a Celtic feeling reminiscent of Clannad and Iona. Good examples are Eden and Karum Kanesh. This album also reminded me of The Alan Parson Project. Some of the songs have a similar kind of melody or the same atmosphere. Even the lead vocals of David Rohl are very similar to those of the late Eric Woolfson.
The musicians who created this fantastic new album deserve a big compliment, but that also applies to Ed Unitsky for the cover design and David Rohl for the booklet. Itís easy to see they spent a lot of time making it look perfect. Both designs bring you in the right mood while listening to BC-Ancestors. Iím already looking forward to volume two of Mr. Rohlís history lessons. Moreover, Iím looking out for live concerts in the near future. You will find me in front of the stage, no doubt about that. Until then, this album will get many spins in my CD-player.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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