All my life i have been a fierce rock fan, and still am, but because i'm very open minded about all types of music, i recently became a fan of New Age, and it's fair to say that David Arkenstone played an important role in my discovery of this kind of sound. Yes, it is true that he, like most new age musicians, falls ocasionally in the terrible clichets that plague the genre, but it is also true that the man is a great composer and his music has always something valuable and special, even in his weakest moments.
Having said this, i believe that this album is his masterpiece, the best record in a prolific and mostly splendid career; he created great works with the albums 'Quest of The Dream Warrior' (with a song, 'Kyla's Ride, that in my opinion is the best that he ever recorded, and that amazes me how nobody used it in a movie score), 'In The Wake Of The Wind', and 'Return Of The Guardians', all loosely inspired by Tolkien, and has other excelent records, but here he exceeded in recording music that exhales a true and axciting spirit of adventure, romance, mystery and imagination, places of enchantment, of pure magic and wonder - the Tolkien world in all it's splendour.
Arkenstone has the gift of creating sounds that sugest more than they reveal, a cinematic music that evokes and seduces, and with this album he manages to place the listener in the mythic universe of the Middle Earth, opening our eyes and ears with the wonders and the misteries of the ring saga. 'The Palantir', that unfolds an ethereal beauty and profound misticism, 'The Grey Havens', a beautiful display of the elfic ports, and 'Moria', a magnificent musical description of the somber caves, are just some of the highlights of a record filled with them. Magical and beautiful, a true wonderful record.
Wich brings me to Howard Shore: can we compare both scores? Well, they are diferent, because Shore's is more spectacular and screen-oriented, but i must say that i prefer Arkenstone's music, much more melodic and captivating. Nevertheless, i feel that it's a shame that music of such scope and beauty is not used in a proper movie.
An absolute must for every Tolkien fan, and actually to anybody who loves great music.