AINULINDALE - the Lay of Leithian - CDR - 10 tracks - Auto-production - 2003

From time to time I receive a demo from an unknown band whose music stands out from the rest. This album from Ainulindale, a new French solo-project from Engwar, is one of them.

As suggested by the title, 'the lay of Leithian' is a concept album based on Engwar's personal interpretation of one of J.R.R. Tolkien's short stories taken from the Silmarillion. With each song illustrating an important episode of Beren's epic quest to earn the hand of his beloved Leithian.

Ainulindale's songs are based on the intricate and delicate melodies of the acoustic guitars and Engwar's haunting low-voiced spoken words, to which are added a violin, a viola, a double bass, a cello, a flute and percussions to create a superb neofolk/neoclassic album. If Engwar plays all the guitars and provides the low-voiced spoken words that haunt the compositions, the rest of the instruments are real and were played by his friends from the 'Conservatoire de Musique'. Needless to say, this detail adds a timeless organic feeling to the music that could never have been reproduced by machines. The songs also demonstrate Engwar's keen sense of composition as the subtle and sparse use of each instrument serves perfectly the dynamics of the compositions. Indeed, this term seems the most appropriate here, as each track encompasses a flow of shifting atmospheres, melancholic and moody neoclassical passages, timeless and dreamy folk melodies and tense, heroic percussion-lead moments that literally enthral the listeners imagination...

As can be expected of a first album, some influences (Backworld, Changes, Karnnos,...) can be heard here or there, but these are not glaringly obvious and are more like hints, faint and pleasant impressions of a familiar style, that give a good indication of the artist's strong artistic vision.

An excellent demo from a French project that should not remain unnoticed for too long...

Ian C.
Autumn 2003