Pablo El Enterrador - Pablo El Enterrador - 6/10
By some hailed as a masterpiece, but too commercial and plain for my tastes.
Pallas - The Sentinel - 7.5/10
Neo-prog is not always my cup of tea, but this record has loads of atmosphere. Skip the two commercial tracks, and you are left with a well done concept album about Atlantis.
Par Lindh / Bjorn Johansson - Bilbo - 8/10
Maybe Par Lindh's finest hour. Is a concept album from Tolkien's Middle Earth, and is excactly what you could expect from this: Very inspired by folk music, and with plenty of atmosphere, almost like film music.
Popul Vuh - Hosianna Mantra - 8.5/10
This is the German band Popul Vuh, not the Norwegian symphonic rock band by the same name. This is probably the most tranquil, calm and relaxing music ever reviewed here. There are no drums, no sharp edges - this record is thoroughly peaceful. The lyrics are Christian, but the music rather pulls one's mind towards buddhism or New Age - and should make the way to Nirvana a bit shorter. There is a certain Indian flavour of the music, mostly because of the use of the instrument tambura. Other instuments used are piano, harpischord, guitar (electric, but not noisy in any way), oboe and occasional violin. The beautiful, mesmerising female vocals are almost whispered. All the instruments work very well together in forming a hypnotic atmosphere. The greatest pitfall in creating music like this is that it can become too bloodless and boring. And this record could put you to sleep, but not for that reason - I think that Hosianna Mantra is a success. I know that some people disagree with me on this, but I can't really understand why. There is little repetition to be heard, and quite a lot of subtle, wonderful details and parallel melodies. I guess that some people aren't that receptive to the tranquil, dreamy atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is a sub-par track on the record, the far too pretentious "Departure", which contains little else than an oboe solo reminding me of some psalm. I never manage to listen through all the three minutes of it. And maybe a couple of the other tracks are a little short on truly memorable moments. But most of the record, and especially the highlights, "Not High in Heaven" (with German lyrics despite the track name) and "Kyrie", are so beautiful that I almost feel sorry for those who haven't heard them yet. However, I suspect that Popul Vuh are not for everyone, so listen before you buy if possible.
Popul Vuh - Einsjager & Siebenjager (74) - 5/10
After having eaten up Hosianna Mantra, I immediately rushed to get this, which some refer to as Popul Vuh's best. Well, it's not. For the most part, a guitar and a piano play some uninspired stuff, with some percussion in the background. The instruments work nicely as a whole, but the melodies are just boring and completely fail to catch my attention. Maybe the addition of a bass guitar and some more interesting compositions could have made this worth some money. Where did the great ideas from Hosianna Mantra go?
Popul Vuh - Tantric Songs - 6.5/10
It is easy to hear that this is the same band that made Hosianna Mantra. The atmosphere is exactly the same. But unfortunately, Tantric Songs contains much more repetition and fewer of the subtle details which made Hosianna Mantra exciting (almost) all the way through. And gone are the wonderful female vocals. There is still a certain ethnic feel, but not typically Indian this time. The occasional use of simple percussion and some bass voice humming gives Tantric Songs a slightly darker sound than Hosianna Mantra. But the problem is the huge amount of repetition. Each of the eight tracks are very stationary and monotonous (and one of the tracks lasts for almost 17 minutes... prepare for a 15-minute yawn). The soundscapes are beautiful all the way through, but don't by themselves make this a record I can recommend. If you want more of Hosianna Mantra's sheer tranquility, however, you need not look any further.
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Per un Amico - 7.5/10
Very gentle, often jazzy, and, subtly, incredibly complex. Flute is often heard. Annoyingly happy at times. Definitely not one of the best records ever, as some people claim it to be.
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Storia di un Minuto - 8.5/10
Tranquil; often jazzy.