Christiaan Bruin -
The Black Codex - Full Box Set

(8CD 2015, 45:08/ 49:57/ 52:30/ 49:51/ 49:44/ 61:00/ 50:48/ 57:59, FREIA Music THORBOX1)

The tracks:
Episodes 1-13
CD 1:
  1- Overture Pt. I(7:21)
  2- Overture Pt. II(7:50)
  3- Map Of The World / Fairground Of Ark Pt. I(7:40)
  4- Fairground Of Ark Pt. II / A World Away(7:16)
  5- Wanderlust(7:12)
  6- A Dot On The Horizon(7:50)
  1- Beneath The Surface(7:07)
  2- Flight Of Columbo(6:55)
  3- House Behind The Hedge / Trapped In Time(6:40)
  4- The City Of Ark (From Above)(7:07)
  5- One And The Many(7:54)
  6- The Key(7:16)
  7- Thoughtcrime And Burglary(6:58)

Episodes 14-26
  1- The Scent Of Fear(8:14)
  2- The Black Cliffs Of Ark(6:44)
  3- Stampede(7:00)
  4- In The Sewers(6:40)
  5- The Mad Realm(7:21)
  6- A Wolf Among The Sheep(7:10)
  7- The Judgement Of the King(7:21)
  1- New Beginnings(8:55)
  2- Feast Of Spring(8:10)
  3- Demons In Disguise(7:07)
  4- Ex Igne Fides(7:22)
  5- Safire - After The Fall(8:48)
  6- Fairground Of Ark Pt. III - The Conjuration Of Earth(9:29)

Episodes 27-39
  1- Is There Anyone There?(6:36)
  2- The Weasel's Theme(6:59)
  3- The Weasel And The Child(6:35)
  4- The City In The Sky(7:59)
  5- Rival Minds(6:22)
  6- Arriving At The Northern Gate(6:52)
  7- Behind The Threshold Of Worlds(8:21)
  1- Silhouette In The Window(6:37)
  2- Immersion(6:41)
  3- The Hauntings Pt. I(12:27)
  4- The Hauntings Pt. II(8:07)
  5- And The Day Will Come(13:20)
  6- Sťance(13:49)

Episodes 40-52
  1- In The Dead Of Night(7:28)
  2- Rise To Power(6:37)
  3- Archetypes(8:33)
  4- In The Dungeon(6:51)
  5- Prepare For War(6:34)
  6- Face To Face(7:42)
  7- To The Other Side(7:03)
  1- Aftermath(7:31)
  2- What Dreams May Come(5:05)
  3- And So It Ends (Blue Planet Among The Stars)(6:34)
  4- Our Place Under The Sun(7:58)
  5- Heading Home(13:10)
  6- A New Map Of The World(17:41)

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When I received the latest musical offering of multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Christiaan Bruin, I really started to wonder whether this man has some time left to visit his family and friends! Being a musician in acts such as Sky Architect, Adeia, Nine Stones Close, Mayra Orchestra and Chris you have hardly time to socialize, I guess. To this impressive list of musical activities he now has added a new name: The Black Codex. After listening to the music for this project, I didn't really care at all whether his family and friends often see him or not, because what Christiaan achieved on this 8CD release is really outstanding.

You could say that The Black Codex is a unique project. It's a musical sequel story in 52 episodes. It tells the story of Ezio, a young man who sets out to draw a map of the world from a wooden flying machine. However, from the moment he meets Lev, his plans go completely awry. Lev has a mysterious insight in the patterns in which people behave and is a master of secret plans and schemes. Lev involves Ezio in his quest for an ancient book called The Black Codex, which is ultimately the basis for all existences on earth. During this quest they encounter all kinds of villains, secret societies and mythical characters. It's a sweeping fantasy story indeed! The music that comes along with this story was originally released for the first time last year.

Every Sunday subscribers received a newly composed and recorded piece of music by e-mail together with illustrated lyrics, drawings, and other bonus features. These were sent as a download. Now, one year later the 52 pieces have been spread over eight CDs and released in a very good looking cardboard box which also includes a 68-page booklet with all lyrics, drawings and additional information about the story. Furthermore you can read which musicians have supported Mr. Bruin to realize this fantasy story.

Unfortunately mentioning of all the compositions on these eight discs is impossible. It would take too much time and space to do so. It's obvious that the music is influenced by all the musical projects Christiaan is involved with, but that would be a too simple conclusion of what this release has to offer. However, words can hardly describe what you hear throughout the eight CDs, because the music is of an unbelievable high quality level. On all discs you'll hear bombastic symphonic moments next to intimate folk-like passages. These pieces sometimes sound like medieval music; at other times like neo-progressive rock. Some tracks sound like movie scores with an almost classical nature, and every now and then a rock opera came to mind. I'll probably forget to mention other musical styles, but that's inevitable when you have to listen to eight discs on which all compositions are jewels in its own right.

It's hard to give you names that refer to the music of this epic story, but I heard tracks that came close to the music made by The Enid, Ayreon and Karda Estra. The more soundtrack-like pieces sound a bit like the music written for fantasy films by people as Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, John Williams and Howard Shore. Therefore it wasn't difficult to get images of movies like Jurassic Park, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Gladiator, The Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit while listening to this boxset! Just like the musical genres on this release the names of acts to which the music might refer to is even longer than I can mention in this review.

All I can say about The Black Codex is that it's a truly monumental project of a young Dutch musician, who showed that he's even a greater musical genius than I thought he was. People who think that only Arjen Anthony Lucassen can write great concept albums are wrong, since Christiaan Bruin is capable of doing the same kind of extraordinary musical things on his release. With the release of this 8CD-album he appears to be one of a kind. The Black Codex is a true masterpiece that only deserves the highest possible rating of five stars. Highly recommended!

***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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