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Hall of Beginnings CD

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Hall of Beginnings
Highly Recommended! Prepare to enter a whole new world of musical magic!
Originally composed for a PC game, this amazing new album creates an epic soundtrack atmosphere - where Lords rule, dragons wings fill the skies, ancient mysteries and magical spells abound. If you're looking for something to inspire creativity, Hall of Beginnings will transport you.

1. Hall of Beginnings
2. Seeker
3. A Blessing
4. Lament
5. Across the Fourth Sea
6. Elven Dance
7. Finale

Reviewer : Bill Binkleman (Wind and Wire)

Inspired by and drawing influence from the (at the time) impending release of Peter Jackson’s incredible film treatment of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring/Lord of the Rings, Tony O’Connor has released an album of dramatic, visual, and cinematic music, filled with moments of elation, triumph, despair, mystery, and romance. The music on Hall of Beginnings certainly mirrors the emotions elicited by Jackson’s superb interpretation of Tolkien’s literary masterpiece. Whether O’Connor’s worldwide fans (who have embraced Tony’s wonderful instrumental recordings) will find they can resonate equally as well to the “soundtrack” approach and the occasional high drama of this exciting album remains to be seen. I am a big fan of this album.

Hall of Beginnings is masterfully composed, performed and recorded. There is true and unmistakable majesty in the refrain of the opening title track. You can palpably sense an adventure in the offing as the (synthesized) orchestra swells and the timpani beat out their crescendo. Honestly, it’s damn hard to believe that there isn’t a real orchestra playing on this recording. It sure sounds like the real thing most of the time (maybe all of the time, in fact).

“Wind Seeker” marks a completely different approach musically, as Tony uses a wooden flute and synth-harp (or real harp, perhaps) to lend the song a medieval feel - the music is both romantic and forlorn. Tony’s technical proficiency with wind instruments is showcased on this and several other cuts on the album, as well as his solid engineering and production savvy. Hall of Beginnings is an extremely well-recorded album (as are all of this artist’s recordings).

Bringing even more of a “movie” feel to the album is the inclusion of some sound effects scattered throughout the recording, including sounds that bring to mind life in a medieval village or castle. They are non-intrusive most of the time, so don’t be dissuaded by my mention of them.

Since there are only seven tracks on the CD, you can correctly deduce that the music has plenty of time to stretch out and develop on most songs, such as the two-part “A Blessing - The Battle” (sound effects on this track include a horse’s hooves clip-clopping in a castle courtyard, church bells pealing, a raven cawing, and monks singing a [Latin?] hymn). It’s fairly
obvious that there is likely a literal story to the music on Hall of Beginnings, but as if to really drive this point home, Tony has done something unique and highly creative. The CD itself is packaged in a DVD-style case and instead of the normal liner notes, there is a small booklet of fantasy art included inside (the art is very well-done, I might add, by artist Dmitry Savinoff). The overall effect is undeniable - Tony intends for the music and artwork to inspire the listener to create a “movie” in your mind as the music plays.

Besides the wooden flute and his usual arsenal of keyboards, Tony also plays guitar, piano, harp, percussion and his trademark electric woodwinds. As any reader of previous O’Connor recording reviews I have written knows, I consider Tony a consummate musician. On Hall of Beginnings, he flexes his muscles in new and exciting directions. From the achingly sad passage in “A Blessing - the Battle,” with plaintive guitar and angelic female vocals, to the almost sorrowful “Lament,” graced by some beautiful solo harp work, to the sprightly and fantasy-drenched “Elven Dance,” blending fanciful synths, percussion, and electric woodwinds in an intoxicating satyr-like dance of sly mystery, Tony performs in inspired fashion. Whether romantic, majestic, tragic, or celebratory, the music on Hall of Beginnings is truly befitting of knights, dragons, wizards, and brave deeds done on the field of battle. Ambitious, exciting, often quite beautiful, and yet very accessible and (dare I say it) catchy at times, Hall of Beginnings shows that when inspired by something as awesome as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Tony O’Connor rises to the occasion and delivers music fit for all of Middle Earth. Delightful and recommended.

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