Friday, December 17, 2010

"Silver Swan" by Qntal

And now to give a music review for something that is not Celtic.

I first discovered Qntal via pandora when the first track of this particular album showed up. I listened to it once in lala (before Apple shut it down), and now I have the pleasure of listening to it quite frequently on rhapsody. The band is from Germany, and they have a dark, almost goth-like sound on this particular album though they use largely real instruments on this one compared to their other works. I have heard bits and pieces from their other works, but this album, I believe, contains their best songs.

"Monsieur's Departure"

This song is based on a text written by Elizabeth I of England about love she felt towards someone else. This is a very haunting, seductive, and beautiful piece reminiscent of a waltz, and it will get stuck in your head. This is the song that first introduced me to Qntal.

"Amis Raynaut"

This song is sung in French and has an almost seductive air about it; but, then again, the French language is like that. It is reminiscent of "Monsieur's Departure" though not as haunting.


This haunting song is also based on a Latin Medieval text and almost has a Mediterranean-style feel to it. I also like the use of the deep male voices in the background, which add to its dark mood. It is one of my favorites from the album.

"Von Den Elben"

This song starts off with the twanging of an instrument that sounds almost Greek, and then it works into a gentle harp and synthesizers before the singer Syrah's voice comes in. The entire piece is very pretty, and the musical arrangement is very lush.

"Lingua Mandax"

After the slowness of "Von Den Elben", the band picks it up with something more lively and almost tough-sounding. Even though it is sung in Latin, it almost sounds like German, which actually works for this song.

"Falling Star"

Syrah reverts to singing English again, and she shows off how she hit those high notes with the synthesizer humming in the background.

"The Whyle"

This song is in Middle English, I believe. It is lively and comes across almost like a dance.


This piece is pretty. Some instrument in the background makes almost a dripping sound, which makes me think of a melting winter turning into spring.

"Altas Undaz"

This song returns to lush background instrumentation. The chorus is very pretty with Syrah singing more high notes.


This song sounds a little like "Lingua Mandax" except it has a far gentler sound. It also sounds Mediterranean- inspired.

"Silver Swan"

The last song on the album is a gentle, orchestral piece; with Syrah's vocals, it sounds graceful and beautiful, like a swan gliding on a lake. It is a fitting end to the album.

This album is very pretty. I have no general complaints about it except that some of the pieces do sound the same after a while. However, it is a beautiful and memorable piece of work that I will enjoy for years to come.

I give it four out of five stars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Holiday High" by Spalding and Lasar

And now for a Christmas music review. Now that finals are over, I now have the time to do this.

I first discovered Cadence Spalding through my pandora radio stations this past year, and I liked her layering vocals, so I caught on. During my free trial for emusic, I was looking her up and discovered this album that she did with her husband Mars Lasar. After one listen, I used my credits to download the album and now have the pleasure of listening to it frequently. For those not acquainted with Spalding's work, she sounds like Enya except her voice is higher and that she sings what sounds like both alto and soprano parts, which set her apart from the Irish singer.

"All Is Calm"

This is a version of "Silent Night". It is a very pretty version, though I think having Cadence's more real-sounding vocals almost sounds a bit jarring.

"Candles Shine"

This is "Away in a Manger". Another pretty song.


This is a different version of "O Christmas Tree", as these lyrics do not match up with the original ones. The real vocals again sound a bit jarring and almost ruin the ethereal sound of the layered voices.


I believe this is an original composition of Spalding's or her husband's. This is basically a prayer for Christmas.

"Oh, Come Rejoice"

I think this is also another original composition. It is pretty though not one of my personal favorites.

"The Babe"

This is "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". I personally like versions of this old hymn that have a darker feeling to it, and this one suffices very well between the haunting voices, the drums in the background, and then the flute towards the middle of the song. My only complaint is that I would have not sang the first verse and chorus twice. Otherwise, it is very pretty.

"Angel Song"

This is "What Child Is This?", and it is very beautiful. It just might be my favorite version.

"Turn Your Heart"

This is "Angels We Have Heard on High", and it is also is a pretty piece.

"Fall on Your Knees"

This is an original composition, though it starts off like "O Little Town of Bethlehem." It is one of my favorites from the album.

"Stars in the Sky"

This is "O Holy Night." I believe this is Cadence singing the main melody, though to me it almost sounds like a boy's voice. Not another of my personal favorites.

This is a very pretty album. It is not sentimental like other Christmas albums, and I love Spalding's use of the layering. However, I think she could have removed her more natural- sounding voice from some of the pieces, as it did not add much to them. Another problem I have is that some of the song titles are seemingly mixed up. I don't know if this is emusic's fault or not, but the last three song titles do not match what I listen to on rhapsody and what amazon says (the song order in the review is as rhapsody gave me and is the same as amazon's). Along the lines of song titles, it got confusing trying to figure out what Christmas song was what and re-naming them so I remember which one is which; it would have been easier to stick to the original titles.

Otherwise, I have very few complaints with this Christmas album. It is beautiful and will probably be listened to all year round by me. I give it four and 1/2 stars out of five.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Upcoming Reviews

I'm still here. After finals next week, I've got quite a few music reviews to do. Here is a list (not necessarily in order that I will do them) of which ones I want to do:

"Deirdre" by Deirdre Shannon
"Celtic Christmas" by Orla Fallon
"Silver Swan" by Qntal
"Dissolution of Eternity" by Dargaard
"Holiday High" by Cadence Spalding and Mars Laser
"Songs for a Fallen Angel" by John McGlynn

Keep watching this blog, and hopefully I can get a few of these written over my Christmas break.