Though this sounds like an orchestra alongside a group, Scheherazade is actually just one man, Al Conti, who has mastered percussion, winds, synth, piano, guitar, and a subtle proliference of instruments popping up all over the disc. The music is intelligent New Age winding back to its progrock forebears by way of Klaus Schulze, Michael Hoenig, Kitaro, and the gentler scions of the classically based genre. This instrumental song cycle is based, of course, on the storytelling myth of the enchanting woman after whom the ancient myth was titled, but it could just as easily be interpreted alongside Kitaro's Slk Road as an exotic panorama of distant lands moodily portrayed.
It goes without saying that the primary sound is Arabian, but Conti interpolates echoes of Australian aboriginal, Western symphonic, and various kindred modes, aligning them perfectly within a finely textured milieu that's both cinematic and meditatively narrative. Much of the travelogue is stately but spacious, allowing the mind to wander bemused and wide-eyed. More than a few passages are mindful of Camel's gorgeous slow melodies in their later period.
This is the composer's third release, and he's nailed everything necessary for a solid release, far surpassing the too frequent treacle offered on the Private label or the saccharine Hearts of Space. Nearly an hour long, Scheherazade is both balm and thoughtful dissertation, open to several approaches. I suggest a warm summer's night, wine, stars above, a significant other, and an uninterrupted block of time. On the other hand, it will serve as a solitudinous oasis just as easily and as fruitfully. No matter the situation, though, the CD is an absorbing and cathartic experience on a sublimer level than most.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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