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Donockley, Troy: The Madness of Crowds

"This piece sets the scene and tone of the whole album, which is, loosely, conceptual. It begins here with a meditation on the paradox of beauty within systems of cruelty, and the inherent hopelessness of the conditioned mind. The promise and noble dream forged by our ancestors spanning the so-called "Age of Enlightenment" of the late 17th through 18th century, is sharply contrasted by the modern day reality of a global society sliding backwards into a frightening 'Dark Age' of fear and religious extremism."

And so the journey begins…

If you thought the previous quotation, describing the title track from Troy Donockley's The Madness of Crowds sounds intriguing, you may be in for a enlightening experience.

Listening to Donockley's latest has been a real pleasure. For those of you who do not know, Troy Donockley had been a member of the progressive folk band Iona for fourteen years before he decided it was time for a change. Mr. Donockley is an excellent musician specializing in Uilleann pipes but also adding low and high whistles, acoustic and electric guitar, bouzouki, keyboards, mandolin, percussion and voice. Of course, he doesn't do it alone as the list of musical guests is impressive including vocals by Joanne Hogg (Iona), Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn), Barbara Dickson and Nick Holland. This is his third solo album.

This is a difficult album to describe as there is so much happening musically it takes some time to absorb. The music presented is beautiful and elegant, flowing majestically and executed flawlessly. Dreamlike pastoral arrangements hold these songs together, whether it be the luxuriant sounds of violin and cello or the soothing textures of Donockley's Uilleann pipes, there are many highlights to be had. Many of these songs are based in ambience upon which further components are constructed. Although a very mellow listen, the music often has an intensity about it but never in a harsh or overbearing way. As to be expected, there are Celtic themes as well as Eastern motifs scattered here and there.

Starting the CD is "The Madness of Crowds" with its Eastern mellow soundscapes, lush orchestration, gentle acoustic guitar and the beautiful voice of Joanne Hogg. Heavy percussion sounds break the quiet ambience while shards of electric guitar twist and turn giving the song a progressive edge. "Reeds" is a melancholy song which features delicate acoustic guitar creating a pastoral atmosphere. Strings dominate the musical landscape in "The Procession", a song deeply rooted in classical music. Here, the orchestral arrangement is superb. In "Exiled", piano and cello compliment each other in fine fashion which should again please fans of classical music.

Perhaps my favourite song is the ambitious and progressive "Orkahaugr" with its exotic Eastern themes. The song starts with Floyd-like acoustic guitar, before giving way to a lovely pipe melody and soaring electric guitar. This one is an aural extravaganza and has left a lasting impression. The album ends with the dreamy "End of Faith", a pretty duet featuring the vocals of Heather Findlay and Nick Holland.

The artwork is very well done and warrants special mention. The cardboard CD case folds out revealing beautiful photography and it is clear plenty of work went into the entire package. This is a case where the physical CD is a must have.

This is a work of exceptional quality and one Donockley should be very proud of. The following words puts this album in perspective:

"If any modern music can shake off the ravages of fashion and hark back to a time when music was created and listened to as Art rather than as commodity and accessory, then by definition this does precisely that….the essence of that 'lost world'."

Nothing else needs to be said.

Track Listing:
1. The Madness of Crowds
2. Reeds
3. Exiled
4. Now Voyager
5. The Procession
6. Orkahaugr
7. End of Faith

Added: September 25th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 3974
Language: english

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