Phantasmagorical: Master & Musician 2
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Sep
- Like Snow Before the Sun
- The Journey Home
- The Wind and the Beat
- Caffeinated Desert
- Lazy K
- Oh Boy
- Far East of Cleveland
- In My Father's Time
- Father and Son
- Forever to Joy
Earlier this year, guitarist Phil Keaggy toured to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his landmark instrumental album,
It's a marketing gimmick that creates some unreasonable expectations for this newer project. Aside from being instrumentals performed by the same virtuoso, the albums are only distantly related in sound, not stylistically identical. Both blend elements of folk, rock, and jazz, but the 1978 original had more of an Old English character to the melodies. Only the new album's "Forever to Joy" echoes the '70s feel of the first album with flutes and dated synthesizer driving Keaggy's acoustic guitar.
Emphasis should instead be placed on Keaggy's original one-word title (a real word that amazingly goes unchallenged by Microsoft Word), referring to a shifting series of imagery. Indeed, most of these new compositions begin in one style, only to switch to another before the finish, yet the results are more imaginative and flowing than disparate or jarring. A horn arrangement begins the excellent standout "Cascading" before Keaggy unleashes mesmerizing acoustic guitar accompanied by flutes, and it only broadens from there. "The Wind and the Beat" (a clear nod to another classic Keaggy instrumental album) starts with a Latin-styled groove before neatly evolving into more of a rock shuffle.
These sonic textures also vary from track to track, which helps give character to each piece—something that's been lacking on many of Keaggy's instrumental projects. There's a little bit of Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton to "Lazy K," a duet between guitar and clarinet, and "The Journey Home" is soothing in its mix of acoustic guitars and cello. The rolling piano in "Caffeinated Desert" also sets up beautiful contrast for Keaggy's gentle electric guitar ambience.
Like most instrumental recordings,