A soundtrack for The Wheel of Time - 2001
A great producer and session musician, Robert Berry found success in the 80's as a member of GTR (replacing Steve Hackett) and in 3, a power trio that also included Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. Unfortunately, his solo works are not as famous as his former collaborations. However, here we have a chance to talk about his latest release, a concept album based on "The Wheel of Time" book series.
One of the first things to discover in this album is the concept that lies behind the works. Personally I haven't read the books, but I can tell you that, by listening to Berry's music, I imagine a whole universe somewhere in Britain in the Middle Ages, a Celtic atmosphere that implies warriors, castles, dragons, heroes and princesses, forests, trolls and different stories: a quest, battles and more. Is it important to dream and say all that if you listen to the record? Absolutely. The main purpose on this music is the creation of a world, and if you imagine it, then it means it reached its goal.
The music? Sorry, here we go. The main approach is straight rock with different influences: Celtic music ("A Theme for the Wheel of Time", "The Winespring Reel"), acoustic guitars and folk mandolins ("Song for Moiraine", "The Knowledge of the Wise Ones"), symphonic rock ("Journey through the Waste", "Rand's Theme"), medieval music ("Heart of the Wolf"). The voices give the album a dramatic point that contributes to create the atmosphere, Lisa Bouchelle's vocalizations on "Ladies of the Tower" and Berry's ones on the main theme are just great.
The album itself has a great coherence, it follows a logical order, like a story. Something I consider amazing is that creating a soundtrack for a book is not like creating a soundtrack for a film in which the music follows the images or reminds of them. Here you have to create the images yourself by listening to the music, and it is more difficult for a musician to achieve. Can the record turn boring? I don't think so, I can compare it with a book, once you start and you get into it, you can't stop reading, once you feel quite tired and you're not paying attention, you know you have to stop and start again at the point where you stopped.
To conclude, I think I have to answer to some important questions: Progressive? Certainly. Innovative? Not the greatest example on earth. Interesting? Definitely. The most important part is that, being straight, Robert Berry composed music that creates atmospheres and worlds without having them in front of the person. He reached a point where music and dreaming fusion into one entity. The concept is great and the music is highly sophisticated.