All Roads Lead To Amber from multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Alisa Coral's Psi Corps once again finds her repeating her successful formula of creating an original soundtrack to an existing work of literary fiction. Arriving hot the heels of last year's critically acclaimed disc Tekeli-li - A Soundtrack to the Adventures of A.G. Pym, which was her adaptation of Edgar Alan Poe's tale The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, this time around the inspiration is drawn from the first two books in The Chronicles of Amber series by the late fantasy and science fiction author Roger Zelazny.
Divided into two parts the thing that differentiates All Roads Lead To Amber from its predecessor is that for the most part it is a darker themed and certainly a more densely layered effort, something that is particularly evident throughout the first section titled The Siege of Amber. The two part "Battle of Kolvir" which clocks in at around sixteen minutes, in my mind represents the best example of just how adept Coral is at layering a myriad of vintage synth washes and effects around the dizzying, processed guitar riffs from new collaborator Charles Van de Kree. After emerging out of this massive, swirling vortex of sound the dark atmospherics ease somewhat on part one's final track "In The Dark / Cabra". Initially spurred on by a languid bass line from Vespero's Arkady Fedotov and more of Van de Kree's angular guitar playing the composition gradually unfolds around a liberal amount of Alisa's eerie sounding manipulations on the theremin.
The first two tracks on part two's Along The Black River, "How Many Mile To Avalon?" and "Dark Rituals of Loraine" pretty much continue along the same lines as "In The Dark / Cabra". On "How Many Miles To Avalon?" the listener is afforded the first real look at what Van de Kree is capable of as he dishes out a plentiful serving of hard edged, melodic solos overtop the galloping, electronic percussion, while Alisa's shimmering synth textures complements things perfectly. The ever changing moods and tempos which are so prominent on this disc shift once again on the absolutely searing "Across The Black Road". A heavily layered, all out tour-de force that has an infectious, electronic backbeat that you can almost dance to, but what is most impressive here is just how adept both Alisa and Charles are at stacking layer upon layer on their respective instruments, thus creating a single, sprawling and multi-textured landscape. This approach is also successfully recreated over the course of the final two tracks "Valley Of Garnath" and "Dara" as well.
This latest release to come out of Russia just further confirms what I've been saying now for the past couple of years. One has got to be impressed by the amount of innovative, fresh sounding and richly rewarding music that has been filtering out of that country, especially on the RAIG label. These guys have established a stellar track record for issuing high quality, cutting edge music and you can definitely place Alisa Coral and her Psi Corps into this upper echelon of artistic genius. All Roads Lead To Amber should be considered as nothing less than essential nourishment for the soul and pure cinematic bliss for the brain.
Part I: The Siege Of Amber
1) Walking The Pattern
2) Battle Of Kolvir (Part I)
3) Battle Of Kolvir (Part II)
4) In The Dark/ Cabra
Part II: Along The Black Road
5) How Many Miles To Avalon?
6) Dark Rituals Of Lorraine
7) Across The Black Road
8) Valley Of Garnath – The Battle
9) Dara (Walking The Pattern)