• Barroquejón, Concerning The Quest, The Bearer and The Ring (CD 2003)
    [Mylodon Records]
  • Edoardo Volpi Kellermann, Tolkieniana I (CD 2004) [EVK Music]

I expect everyone inspired by Tolkien has, at one point or another, dreamed of standing in Howard Shore’s shoes, with orchestral and choral battalions at their beck and call. Reality, of course, is more prosaic. Even in these days of accessible sound editing and mixing technology, few composers can afford the cost of live musicians, much less a professional recording studio. Faced with such obstacles, many a Lord of the Rings symphony is destined to remain nothing more than a string of imagined melodies. For a few undaunted souls, however, logistical barriers are to be surmounted by electronically reproduced or synthesized analogues, combined, where possible, with “real” instruments and voices. (I use the term “real” advisedly, since for many, electronic music is viewed not as a substitute for something else, but a coeval medium of authentic artistic expression.)
Two recent efforts in this vein come from Chilean enthusiast David Hanus (aka: Barroquejón) and Italian-born Edoardo Volpi Kellermann. In addition to originating in different hemispheres, Kellermann and Barroquejón pursue their visions through different musical styles. Barroquejón’s _Concerning The Quest, The Bearer and The Ring_ quite literally “goes for baroque,” saturating the listener (most of the time) with complex, ornamental themes with bold choral accompaniment (all sung by the artist). If Blind Guardian had recorded a Tolkien concept album based on Lord of the Rings rather than the Silmarillion, and orchestrated it _sans_ guitars, the result might have sounded very much like Barroquejón. By contrast, _Tolkieniana_ (subtitled “Viaggio Musicale nella Terra di Mezzo”), while it has moments of symphonic elaboration, is largely piano-driven, preferring slower, more contemplative melodies, with only one track containing lyrics.
The contents of _Concerning The Quest_ focus on the second half of the trilogy, in particular on Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor. Each song is sung (in English) from a different character’s perspective, though the fast-paced buoyancy of the music often renders it difficult to distinguish who’s who, unless one is following along with the lyrics as one listens. The delivery of the lyrics sometimes sounds rushed, due to the complex demands of the meter. But what is lost in the grandeur is made up for by some gentler pieces in the second half of the album, where the less celebratory tone of the music allows for the achievement of greater emotional depth.
Whereas Barroquejón is a one-man, one-album project, Kellermann’s is a more collaborative venture, strategically enlisting the services of Davide Perino (the guy who supplies the voice of Frodo in the Italian dub of the Peter Jackson films) as narrator and veteran Tolkienian muse Giuseppe Festa (aka: Lingalad) for touches of flute. _Tolkieniana_ is also a more ambitious undertaking than _Concerning the Quest_, this being only the first in a multi-album treatment of LotR. This makes for a more leisurely tour of the trilogy, visiting Goldberry and the Tale of Lúthien as well as Fangorn and Rohan. The unhurried pace of _Tolkieniana_ contributes to its relaxed atmosphere. (One wonders how Kellermannn will handle the “action sequences” in his subsequent releases.)
Despite their differences, both Kellermann and Barroquejón represent grass-roots contributions to the fast-growing tradition of Tolkien-inspired music. It is through works like these that the voice of an enduring Tolkien fandom will be heard.
Reviewer: Chris Seeman

Article published on july / agoust 2004 issue of Beyond Bree