WEA 1983 / Esoteric 2016
Journey to the center of the mind where strange but alluring things happen for Austrian artist with a wizard’s name.
Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf” might be indirectly related to heavy metal but it also served as a source for this album. Impressed upon reading the novel by the image of a corridor whence doors lead into chambers of the subconscious, Heinz Strobl, or Gandalf, embarked on a trip that would continue the path “Journey To An Imaginary Land” which had set the multi-instrumentalist on a progressively ambient course. Still, “Magic Theater” doesn’t belong in a new-age niche because, once the throb and watercolor of “Entrance” are resolved in bright guitar shards, tangled with a tight coil of synthesizer melodies, a wide, if inward-pointed, vista opens up.
And while “Reflections From Childhood” – one of the seven pieces numbered after the doors – may meander on acoustic pastures of folk, and “Beyond The Wall Of Ignorance” has a glimmering shadow of a melody in it, epic “Castles Of Sand” introduces a piano drama and acoustic baroque elegy to the now-unquiet, and slightly jazzy, adventure. But if it paves the road to the unhinged riffs and sax which paint “Loss Of Identity In The Labyrinth Of Delusions” and sharpen the perception of a shattered bliss, six-string and ivories restore the calm for “Peace Of Mind” before the organ and twang on “Exit” offer a celestial way out from the corridor of reflection. There’s understated magic in there – still is, after all these years.