Queen of the Golden Wood by Jim Kirkwood

Jim Kirkwood

Queen of the Golden Wood

2 tracks

Running time: 1:06:32
Released: 10/2006

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  01   The Secret Place - 30:00
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  02   The Golden Wood - 36:32
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During the early nineties I wrote a lot of music inspired by J.R.R.Tolkien. Plenty of other artists had already done the same thing, Bo Hanson has still, for me at any rate, produced the best work on that theme, so I thought I would have a go. I released three cassettes of material, "Where Shadows Lie", "King of the Golden Hall" and "Uruk Hai". Queen of the Golden Wood was an album primarily about Galadriel the "Shining One". I never got round to releasing it and as the music was recorded as nothing more than midi-files it was mostly lost. I returned to the theme recently having fallen in love with the character again. I stll had a few of those midi-files though trying to match the sounds to them was largely trial and error. In fact, very little of the music here is original. Only the concept and the notes with the titles written down is true to the time. The subject of Tolkien as a source of inspiration for music comes and goes like fashions. For myself, Middle-Earth has been with me nearly all my life so I make no apologies if it isn't currently in fashion. No doubt, in a few years time even the excellent Peter Jackson productions will seem dated. Who cares as long as we enjoy them. I humbly submit my music in the same chidlike manner. I hope you enjoy it for what it is.
Go-carelessly, Jim

A review of the album by Synth Music Direct

Many will know that Jim is not a fan of his early cassette releases. He explains in the liner notes to this album that he considers them more as drafts of ideas. I would strongly disagree with him there, though there is no doubt that he has honed his craft considerably since then. On this album he has taken the midi files (these don't contain music as such) of an old uncompleted early project and has wrapped his current studio equipment round it as well as adding a lot of additional music. If I hadn't known any of this I wouldn't have guessed its early origins as it sounds like a very fine example of what he has been doing lately but now I do know I can hear some echoes of the past especially in the melodies.

Birdsong mixing with a mournful lead line gives 'The Secret Place' quite a serene feel but then things take a rather sinister turn as ominous sonic stabs make a sudden entrance. Another lead line answers the first. A very rapid sequence surges forward. Another wonderful melodic sequence falls into formation. There are more notes per second than I could possibly count, all going together to form a mesmerizing wall of pulsations. I just closed my eyes and let it seep into my very being. My mind is taken on a journey of fantastic mayhem. By the ninth minute all sequences depart and we are left with deep dark brooding strings. A slow loping rhythm starts up accompanied by a stunning melody all sounding incredibly analogue and mid 70s. It wouldn't have been out of place on Tangerine Dream's 'Stratosfear' actually. Things become more syncopated by the second but the rhythms play a supporting role to that wonderful lead line. Very moody stuff indeed. We descend to atmospherics once more, a little motif ringing out then disappearing. Another sequence enters but it is thoughtful rather than pounding.

'The Golden Wood' begins very quietly with wordless sighing. It's really beautiful stuff, almost spiritual in its delicate tenderness. This is all banished with the arrival of a forceful sequence accompanied by chaotic effects. A second sequence bounds along with the first, both then being joined by subtle rhythms. It's all rather hypnotic, easy to focus the mind too narrowly and miss the lovely melodic detail which unfolds than disappears. By the twelfth minute the lead lines are becoming more substantial and well and truly grab the mind and heart taking them on further ecstatic journeys. Sequence and melody seem to move in perfect balance, each element being just as stunning as the other. Incredible stuff. All fades away in the sixteenth minute. We are left with very quiet atmospherics bringing up images of the moon shining through the mist and trees, illuminating an ancient forest. We then get another typical Kirkwood sudden explosion of sound as massed maniacal chords shake the foundations, contrasted by gentle shimmers and soft melodies between the salvos. The best sequence on the album so far then breaks loose and ups the intensity still furthers as it runs berserk battling with ghostly spectres, arcing energy singeing the very air as the supernatural battle rages. The excitement is fantastic! Jim's fans will be in absolute raptures.

We then get a sort of screeching virtual guitar heralding yet another sequential avalanche and the struggle rages with renewed vigour. All the pulsations are then banished by demonic organ stabs which are themselves set to flight by angelic wordless vocal colouring. What a beautiful section this is contrasting magnificently with the pure power of before. A slow jaunty rhythm starts up- all rather pleasant, wistful even. In then come the melodies and even by Jim's standards they are of the very highest order. I just close my eyes and soak it all in. This is an amazing album but apparently just the first in a series inspired by early sketches of ideas found in these mystical midi files. He has done them real justice using the much greater facilities he has today than fifteen years ago to create an awesome album of rare power and beauty. I hope we don't have to wait long before the next in the series. (DL)