Monday, June 3, 2024

Quest for the Runestone By David Arkenstone


Quest for the Runestone


David Arkenstone

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are albums nestled within each of our collections, those of us old enough to have known CD’s will know this to be true, those who are aged in time to remember actual vinyl albums with real art work will remember this feeling with a reflective lump in the throat, we remember those albums that once took pride and place on the top shelf, with easy access, that had worn covers from constant use and much love, and after listening to Quest for the Runestone by David Arkenstone today I know that this amazing release would have been one of them, perhaps this is the Holy Grail of instrumental albums?

The opening of our journey starts with the track Prophecy, now I usually like to create my own story, trace my trail through the musical narrative that manifests within my mind, but on this review that would be rather disingenuous as it already comes with a 48 page booklet of a tale so fascinating, one that I believe that you should read in your own time after purchasing it, and have your own immersive experience.

We shall clasp firmly to the hand of musical endeavours that this multi-talented, multi Grammy Award Nominated composer has brought upon this stage of musical plenitude. Prophecy itself is an opener that is grand and majestic, its kingly vibrations roll down the hillsides of tonal delight with a passionate power and an intensity that only David Arkenstone could provide us with.

The Soothsayer Speaks will take you to an even higher level of excitement, and also may well remind some of the works of Blackmore’s Night in its musical context. The vocalisations here were simply breath taking and reminded me of the series The Witcher. The vocals on this album were gifted to the project by Clara Sorace and Giulia Colantonio, and what a powerful force could be found here within this driving and all-consuming offering.

Quest for the Runestone is a 12 track album of great quality and precession; it also shows the love that Arkenstone has for Celtic and Nordic traditional music. On this specific track we can both feel and hear that to be true and called Ancient Magic Awakens. Within this piece one of the most delicate yet growing flute performances can be found and a progressive and all empowering percussion that drives the narrative home with utter power.

Réann is a wonderfully heart felt offering that contains the magical Uilleann pipes of Eric Rigler, I first heard these being used on an album some 25 years ago and that haunting feeling of mist filled days on the green hills and meadows never left me. The orchestration here is sublime and would fit into a Lord of the Rings style movie with ease, and in my view is one of the finest tracks off the album.

The next piece, Eyes Of Skata, had me travelling back in time to 2016 and Arkenstone’s Fairy Garden album, a release with much beauty contained within, here that same fluency and smoothness could be found, the strings within were akin to the very vibrations of the land itself, and the vocals, a reminder that we are still travelling along our musical path on this ever onward composition of wonderment.

The deeper realms of mystery now unfold upon us, could these be blown by the magical winds of time itself, here on this craft-fully created opus we are gifted a performance that is so stirring, yet delicate at the same time, one literally waits for something to manifest on the piece called Oceans Of Ice, yet the tone and timbre of this wondrous musical revelation are well contained, held within the minds of the master composer, to build a story so compelling that it drives us on further.

We now arrive at the midway point of the album and once there we find one of the most remarkable offerings on the album called Path of the Mountain's Bones. Bathed in Celtic nuances this is a track that will raise the energies and uplift the intensity of the moment in such a powerful yet fluent way. We can pay homage to a multitude of musicians here, but the artists imposing and exciting percussion reigns supreme, along with the legendary vocals of Clara Sorace reminding me so much of Sophia Brown’s performance on We are The Black Rose from the Witcher “Blood Origin”.

So deeper we go and as we do so, we find a true gem now called Stars Without Light, by some contrast we are gifted an almost ethereal arrangement, with angelic like vocalisations and a very careful early compositional structure, the traditional Arkenstone build and progression is here, but in a way that manifests even more musical flavour to enjoy, the juxtaposition of keyboards and strings made this one for me a very compelling composition indeed.

The Arbos Stirs, and as it does a numinous realm if forever opened, this reminds me of Arkenstone’s earlier works on his Music Inspired By Middle Earth albums, overall the masters creational structures are sublime. David Arkenstone is in my view one of, if not the finest multi-instrumentalist around.  This very track is an exercise in build and progression, one that all budding musicians could learn from, and all listeners simply marvel at.

The weave of our musical carpet is vast and we have shifted course now to a knot of tonal delight entitled Inscriptions. There is an outer worldly and kindly mystique to this piece that is so appealing, the arrangement is carefully depicted and manifested with utter perfection. The deep guttural male vocalisations are scene setters on their own, but the transcendent strings sections doubly so.

Those darker waters have been found, from the foothills of ancient energies to the shadow of the grey monolithic mountains of musical genius, Secrets Of The Runestone is also a piece that is as vigorous as it is glorious, here is a stylish composition packed full of dynamics and splendid crescendos, and as such a film score waiting to happen.

Our journey concludes with the reflective and symphonic Keeper Of The Flame. A respectful and magnificent creation that has a sense of regal and ceremonial ambience about its construction, the slow build and character of this song is simply breath taking, and as such Arkenstone has once more produced a striking and colourful offering that could grace any fantasy movie.

Quest for the Runestone by David Arkenstone has to be the artist’s best work to date, how can it not be, it contains a lush list of luminaries that deserve a mention in Luanne Homzy on violin, Hardanger fiddle, the aforementioned Eric Rigler with his Uilleann pipes, Kimberly Zaleski on flute, piccolo and bass flute, Carlyn Kessler on cello, Clara Sorace and her stunning vocals, Sergio González Prats on hurdy gurdy, Dov on violin, viola and the vocals of Giulia Colantonio. Please when you buy this album and I know you will have the sense to do so, please take some time and read of the booklet inside created by Dashiell Han Arkenstone, it will complete your experience.

Quest for the Runestone by David Arkenstone is a soundtrack masterwork that takes the listener on a journey so vast and all-encompassing it is utterly breath taking, it is an emotionally charged ride over the hills and valleys of stunning neo classical empowered arrangements that the listener will never ever forget, in my view Arkenstone has produced an album of a life time here on Quest for the Runestone.

Quest for the Runestone releases 1st July 2024.

No comments:

Post a Comment