Album Review of
Secret Sarai

Written by Robert Silverstein
July 25, 2020 - 3:46pm EDT
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One of the most acclaimed musicians on the worldwide New Age music scene for decades, Austria’s legendary multi-instrumentalist Gandalf returned in 2020 with a new masterpiece called Secret Sarai. Up until recently, Gandalf's albums were distributed via California-based Real Music but, following the disappointing sale of the original label to new owners, Gandalf departed the sadly now-defunct Real Music so Secret Sarai was released in Europe on his Seagull label, distributed via Prudence. Several musicians assist Gandalf on Secret Sarai, including vocalist Eva Novak, who appears on several tracks, notably the lead-off single from the album called “Bound To Live Free”, yet for the most part, the mainly all-instrumental album features Gandalf writing all the music and performing all keyboards, guitars, and percussion. Perhaps the true beauty of Gandalf’s music is its versatility, shifting from an acoustic-based, New Age backdrop to a highly developed, progressive, electric rock-influenced sound, heard prominently on the three-part title suite. Progressive fans have often compared Gandalf’s music to icons like Mike Oldfield and Steve Hackett, yet, now with 30+ albums released since the late 1970s, Gandalf’s music remains iconic and important in its own right. A good example of the progressive element, especially Gandalf's electric guitar work, can be heard on the multi-part “Road To Awareness”, while another highlight is the album-closer "Oceans So Wide" / "Setting Sails For Unknown Shores", which spotlights Gandalf's keyboard expertise. Timeless, yet modern sounding at the same time, Secret Sarai is Gandalf's masterpiece, creating an elegant addition to his extensive catalog of album classics.