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Waerloga Records and Radio Rivendell present a second volume of original fantasy music from some of the best up and coming acts in the genre. Fans of dark ambient, orchestral, neo folk, video game and fantasy music will enjoy this compilation which is designed as an instrumental soundtrack to (not existing) fantasy films and games...
Radio Rivendell (www.radiorivendell.com) is a non-commercial, non-profit making web-based radio station dedicated to playing fantasy music. The station has been online since 2001 and its music content is mainly from fantasy films like Lord of the Rings, Conan, Willow, etc. It also features music from well known computer games including Warcraft, Baldur's Gate, Dungeon Siege and many more.
The core listeners are either roleplay fans who want some ambient background music when they are playing, or fans of soundtracks in general.
I have to admit that since I was made aware of Radio Rivendell, after we reviewed Volume 1 in their CD series, I've spent quite a lot of time listening to the music on their website. While some of it is not to my taste, a lot of it is, and occasionally I'll hear a track from a movie or game soundtrack, and then hunt down the CD on Amazon - yes, I need to get out more.
More recently the station has also started to play music from unknown artists who have either scored music to obscure games that never made it into the mainstream, or from artists who compose for the love of it. That's where this series of CDs comes in - as a showcase for some of the best up and coming talent in the market.
Highlights of this collection, for me, include:
The Reiters: While slow to get going, this builds well to a beautiful conclusion.
The Bridge over Gruhdok: This has a very familiar church feel to it (mainly down to the fact that it's main instrument is a church organ) and is incredibly relaxing.
The Great March: Interesting, chanting rhythmic melody. which made me want to get up and march around the room - as scary as that sounds.
Under a Crescent: Dull, and slow start, but eventually it turns into a great track - it's just a shame that it's a little too short.
It's a shame that orchestras are so expensive these days as a lot of the tracks on this collection would have benefited greatly from a full orchestral recording.
Presentation wise, I wasn't overly impressed with the packaging. Volume 1 came in a standard CD case, while Volume 2 is housed in a cardboard slipcase with a CD tray glued into it. This is the sort of packaging you used to get in the '90s for CD single releases and it gives this album a very cheap feel.
On balance, I personally didn't feel that this was a strong as Volume 1, but then my music tastes aren't the same as everyone. I like to hear more rousing, moving tracks (in a James Horner or John Williams style) and so a lot of the more dark and bizarre tracks just didn't appeal to me.
Over this CD's 16 tracks there's definitely something here for everyone, and a track for almost every gaming emotion you want to enhance. The Book of War is certainly worth picking up and adding to your collection.