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Book of Roses

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Album Review

Andreas Vollenweider's Book of Roses marries concept to contemporary instrumentalism, and blends the music of numerous cultures into the composer's already worldly sound. Separated into four chapters (where each song is an "episode"), the album chronicles the journey of a young girl from dances in grand ballrooms, through mysterious woods full of magical jugglers, to an eventual meeting with the Sphinx. In between there are numerous other adventures, each punctuated by some of the most ambitious music of Vollenweider's career. His trademark electric harp is still here, and the flair for sweeping arrangement is intact. But the straightforward pop-jazz of "In Doga Gamee" (complete with lyrics) suggests Soul Cages-era Sting, while "In the Woods of Kroandal" marries a romantic classical swell to flamenco guitar and nature sounds. Vocals return for "Hirzel," which flirts with pop even more blatantly, breaking into a reverb-drenched electric guitar lead midway through. But Vollenweider then really gets experimental with "Manto's Arrow and the Sphinx" — with its relatively conventional harp dominated by the whooping and sequenced screeching of a female vocalist, the song is completely unclassifiable. While "Sphinx" is ultimately too outrageous to be functional, it proves that Vollenweider — by now an established heavyweight in the new age arena — is not afraid to try out new ideas. Fans of the composer's early, more ethereal work might be a little put off by Book of Roses' worldbeat flair and pop leanings. But they will no doubt enjoy the album's more thematic elements, which cleverly tie its various sections and sounds together with the turning pages of a book. Likewise, the finale, "Letters to a Young Rose," is classic Vollenweider, matching his modified harp to a shuffling accordion as it moves through various moods and tempos. Book of Roses isn't recommended for the casual Vollenweider fan, but it's a must-read for the faithful.

Customer Reviews


The artist did have a downfall in his creation. However, this album is enchanting and songs like "Jugglers in Osidian" are simply beautiful and uplifting! Lovely

Awesome at worst!

This was my first experience of Andreas' work, and I still count it among my very favorite albums. It puzzles me to hear talk of it as "lesser" than his others. It is perhaps the most daring. The combination of classical fluency, technical expertise, and *bizarro* is mesmerizing and evocative. I LOVE it.


Every new album by this artist is less inspired than the last. White Winds is still far and away the best - a perfect ten!


Born: 1953 in Zurich, Switzerland

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Andreas Vollenweider was one of the few musicians to gain superstar status as a "new age artist" back when the term was first used as a marketing category in the mid-'80s. The Swiss harpist, however, quickly transcended the need for alternative record sales when his albums simultaneously broached Billboard's pop, jazz, and classical charts in 1986. Born in Zurich in 1953, Vollenweider was ensconced in the city's fine art scene, courtesy of his father, one of Europe's leading organists. After becoming...
Full Bio