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Album Review

The greatest joys of composer/keyboardist Ronan Hardiman's spiritually minded Anthem derive from the fact that he cross-pollinates his lilting, ultra-melodic melodies into so many different genre settings. Best known for his score to Michael Flatley's stage show Lord of the Dance, Hardiman draws heavily upon Celtic influences (texturing his hypnotic atmospheres with Leslie Dowdall's Enya-like vocals on the title track), but also creates throbbing trip-hop rhythmic foundations and ambiences which sound reminiscent of Enigma. On "Runaway," he plays a jazz-influenced melody in the vein of Keiko Matsui between heavily percussive, spirited vocal chorus parts sung angelically by Dowdall; however, an operatic vocal interlude seems a bit excessive. Likewise, the spoken voice over the hip-hop-influenced smooth jazz flavors of "Ready for Life" are unnecessary to get the emotion of the song across. Despite this stylistic variety, there is a certain similarity in Hardiman's approach: lay the rhythmic grooves, add atmosphere and vocals, and play great melodies. "Ancient Land," however, opens with dense tribal drumming and ominous orchestral overtones which draw world music and a classical influence into the equation. Listeners might have a hard time creating an exact definition of what Hardiman is doing here, but that's exactly why there's never a dull moment.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Ronan Hardiman is one of Ireland's premier composers of traditional music, responsible for the score to Lord of the Dance as well as many Irish films and television series. Born in Dublin to a father highly placed in Irish broadcasting, Hardiman listened to rock & roll and pop as a child (while his siblings preferred traditional Irish music). He worked as a clerk at the Bank of Ireland for twelve years, and occasionally playing in pop bands during the 1980s. After quitting his job, though, he...
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