9 Songs, 50 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

CandiceMichelle1 ,

Review from Journeyscapes Radio

Al Conti is a Grammy-nominated recording artist whose latest album, Mystic, casts a seductive veil of enchantment upon a culturally rich and beautiful landscape. Beautifully packaged with artwork that visually captures the essence of the music just perfectly, the album’s nine outstanding compositions are likewise each accompanied by short stories that serve to further give the listener glimpses into the past. Conti wrote, arranged and performed the compositions, while two tracks (“Pilgrimage” and “Devotion”) were loosely based on traditional music that he arranged and adapted. Composed within a style that could perhaps be described as new age world fusion, the album draws most notably from Mediterranean, Near-Eastern, Persian and Indian cultural influences. A talented team of guest musicians throughout includes Grammy award-winning artist Ricky Kej, who serves as associate producer as well as lends additional programming, keyboards and harmonium. Vanil Veigas likewise provides additional programming, keyboards and santoor. Also joining the lineup is Jeff Pearce on electric guitar, Charlee Brooks on vocals, Pamela Copus (of 2002) on harp, Karthik K. on tabla, Butto on flute, and Jenevieve D’Silva on ghatam, cajon and assorted percussion.

“Mystic” opens the album with the solemn toll of a church bell followed by the reverent intonations of The Oxford Court Monk Choir. A stunningly beautiful introduction, it reminds me somewhat of the opening piece, “The Mystic’s Dream”, from Lorenna McKennitt’s The Mask and Mirror album. Jeff Pearce lends subtle brushes of electric guitar, as the soaring wordless vocals of Charlee Brooks join the monk choir – their voices collectively echoing among the halls of what feels like a vast cathedral hidden in the mountainous mists somewhere. An earthy and sensual rhythm comprised of both Indian and electronic percussion ensues, as the piece is carried along by a gypsy-like melody led by an arrangement of flute and other exotic instruments. “Trance” follows next and is one of my favorite pieces on the album, bringing to mind that of a night caravan trekking across the desert, as brushes of chimes remind me of twinkling stars spread across the sky. This piece is likewise supported by an earthy, sultry rhythm accentuated by Indian tabla drums, and showcases an exquisitely exotic melody comprised of santoor and harmonium. The more contemplative sixth track, “Contemplation”, is another favorite of mine which incorporates a distinctly Celtic flavor, blending ancient western and eastern musical influences to perfection. Showcasing Pamela Copus on harp, she leads the lovely composition with a lulling melody among a luxurious arrangement of instruments that include tabla, santoor and electric guitars. Another personal favorite is the seventh track, “Ritual”, which is dominated by an encompassing rhythm, as it seemingly paints a picture of festive lights and ecstatic dances by the Mediterranean seashore. Wrapping up this magical, mystical journey is the soulfully shining yet soothingly serene “Anima Aeterna”, which concludes with Charlee Brooks singing among of sea of both exotic and orchestral instruments.

Sensually imbued with a haunting mystique, Mystic could easily serve as the perfect soundtrack to an Arabian Nights tale. For comparison’s sake, those who are especially fond of more world-flavored works by Chris Spheeris, David Arkenstone and Loreena McKennitt are almost certain to relish this album as well. The music herein is earthy yet fiery, making the album a perfect companion for sacred dance and ritual. While listening to these breathtaking compositions, images frequently came to mind of temple dances, candlelit chambers and travelling nomads in the desert. A luxuriant weaving of cultures veiled in mystery, ecstasy and sensuality, Mystic is exemplary of new age world fusion at its finest!

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

Four years in the making, "Mystic" is the anxiously-anticipated sixth album from Al Conti, one of the greatest story-tellers in the “new age” music genre. Nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award, Conti’s albums are always a special treat because every detail is so well thought-out and beautifully-designed. The 8-panel digipak for Mystic contains a wealth of information about Conti’s journey in creating the album as well as for each of the nine tracks. He composed, arranged and performed all of the music. His impressive guest list of additional musicians includes Ricky Kej, who aided in production as well as playing on the album; Pamela and Randy Copus of 2002; guitarist extraordinaire Jeff Pearce; and vocalist Charlee Brooks, who has worked with another legendary musical storyteller, David Arkenstone, for the past few years.

It is interesting to note that Conti used a very different process in composing the music for this album in that his previous projects had deadlines, release dates and expectations in place before any of the music was recorded. Conti explains: “As this album is about the inner mystical journey to spiritual deliverance, it seemed appropriate that the album itself would lead the way, rather than me as the composer, leading the direction. The journey, not the arrival, became the focus.”

The album begins with the sound of a bell and the Oxford Court Monk Choir, sending us immediately back in time. Charlee Brooks’ timeless, haunting voice emerges, vocalizing without words. The monks return backed by shimmering atmospheric sounds. It is easy to imagine this title track being performed in a very large, open space. Jeff Pearce’s electric guitar is both exotic and contemporary, but the use of ancient ethnic percussion instruments as well as keyboards creates a kind of push and pull of time periods, making the music timeless. In the life of a mystic, a trance state can lead to communion with a higher source and to a higher level of being. In “Trance,” Conti conveys that state with an assortment of Middle Eastern instruments. “Pilgrimage” is loosely based on traditional music that was arranged and adapted by Conti. It begins with a slow and exotic violin solo, gradually adding more instruments and rhythms. Once the pilgrimage is underway, the music becomes much livelier, more upbeat and almost dancelike - a favorite! Pamela Copus performs on harp in “Contemplation” - gentle and hypnotic. Jeff Pearce also performs on electric guitar, keeping the mood subtle and introspective. Rituals come in many forms from very formal and elaborate to the mundane steps we take before retiring for the night. In this piece (“Ritual”), strong rhythmic elements propel the beautiful melodic passages and make them sparkle - another favorite. “Devotion” is based on a traditional Middle Ages pilgrimage song and reflects on the sacrifices made to follow a life of devotion. “Anima Aeterna” translates as “Eternal Soul,” the most mystical of all concepts. Charlee Brooks returns on this closing track that bids “farewell” to those on the journey. Poignant and haunting, it’s a beautiful conclusion to this excellent album.

"Mystic" is another musical masterpiece from Al Conti! Very highly recommended!

About Al Conti

Vermont-based new age composer/multi-instrumentalist Al Conti was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of Italian and German ancestry. Growing up in Argentina, he developed interests in acting and music. He began teaching himself to play piano and guitar at age six, and started acting lessons at eight. Those lessons led to a career as a stage actor in Argentina. He moved to the U.S. at 17, and by the age of 20 had an agent, resulting in roles on-stage, in film, and on the soap opera As the World Turns.

In the early '90s, he became more serious about composing music, but it wasn't until 2004 that he gave up acting in favor of music. In 2006, he released his debut album, Shadows, on his own Shadowside label. Poeta followed in 2007, and on October 7, 2008, Conti released Scheherazade. ~ William Ruhlmann

Buenos Aires, Argentina
New Age