Song-by-Song, Album-by-Album analysis
VOICES FROM THE OLD WORLD (1986) - "Voices from the Old World" was released in the Fall of 1986 and represents the best recorded work of AD's singer, songwriter and keyboardist, Michael Gleason. Produced by Michael Gleason and Kerry Livgren and engineered by Kerry Livgren, the totally instrumental album was released on the Kerygma label (now defunct) and was executively produced by Mark Ferjulian and Ken Marcellino, who also produced both of AD's albums on Kerygma, "Art of the State" and "Reconstructions." Gleason used synthesized and sampled sounds to produce and emulate works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, solo piano and organ. The album has long been out of print, but I have seen it as recently as two years ago in various clearance bins in Christian bookstores in cassette form. "Voices" was released only on LP and cassette, and is a "must have" for any fan of AD, Michael Gleason or classically inspired music.
1. The Sands of Sinai - A mangificent work divided into four movements, it is aptly subtitled Scenes from the Book Exodus
1a. A Great Procession - Written for full orchestra, Gleason captures the emotion of the large throng of Hebrews as they begin to make their way out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The scene from The Ten Commandments in which Charlton Heston leads the cast of thousands is evoked, especially through the sampled sounds of French horns, strings and timpani. This first movement segues into the second:
1b. The Wilderness - A hauntingly moving score, this piece showcases the sampled sounds of oriental winds, violins, horns and full string orchestra. Very mournful, it recreated the disaster of the Hebrets tolling for 40 years in the wilderness.
1c. Tablets of Stone - Showcasing samples horns, strings and Gleason's incredible piano work, thismovement is uptempo to suggest the grandeur of God's giving The Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
1d. Across the Jordan - The culmination of the journey of the children of Israel, it marked the end of Moses's ministry and the beginning of Joshua's leadership. Echoing the feel and texture of "A Great Procession," "Across the Jordan" musically explains the second new start for the Hebret nation through the sampled sounds of full orchestration interspersed with piano, with timpani and cymbals added for key emphasis. This movement is my favorite of the four and could easily be the soundtrack for some great epic.
2. Prayer of the Publican - The last selection of side one begins with a much calmer approach of a horn section that reflectively echoes the spirit of the praying publican explained in the words of Jesus in Luke 18:10-14; "Two men went up to the temply to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a publican (tax collector)...(B)ut the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to Heaven, but beat his breast and said 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"
3. At the Door of Wittenburg Cathedral - Side two begins with a work dedicated to the moment in time in which Martin Luther confronted the Catholic church with his 19 theses, emphasized by a peaceful movement of sampled harp and recorder that leads into a magnificent Bachesque organ fugue.
4. Suite for All Seasons - A fantastic end to an album that should be re-relased on CD (perhaps Kerry Livgren and Numavox would be receptive?), it is divided into four sections to reflect the four seasons:
4a. Spring - Gleason's solo piano is backed by the sampled sounds of flute and winds in this airy movement that suggests the budding and newness of life.
4b. Summer - Slightly more up-tempo than "Spring," it echoes more piano and string.
4c. Fall - The best of Gleason's piano and keyboard work on this album, it stands alone and yet compliments the other three selections in this suite.
4d. Winter - Gleason captures the coldness and spirit of this season through using only keyboards and his vocal talents.
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