Llewellyn’s 2003 album Sacred Circles is one of the finest New Age music releases from recent times. In this article we’re going to look at what makes this into an almost perfect release – and get some tasty samples as well.
When an artist is highly productive, it is sometimes a challenge to focus on just one album because there’s so much great music to choose from. UK artist Llewellyn is such an artist, with 70+ releases to his name (and quite a few recorded with partner Juliana too – see list here). But even in this massive discography, «Sacred Circles» stands out as something unique, wonderful and highly inspired.
Llewellyn’s style is a mix of New Age music and vocal driven, easy listening pop. Not many artists do this well. It is a hard sub-genre to master. To compare Llewellyn with Michael Cretu is tempting. I’m sure Michael wouldn’t mind. Opening track on Sacred Circles is “Stardancing – Into the Light”. It has positive and romantic atmosphere. The ultra light rhythm, piano and Celtic inspirations set the mood for the whole album.
The title track has an unforgettable flute melody. The piano rounds it up beautifully and makes the 6 minute track fly away. It is totally unpretentious, far from the larger- than-life “Sacred Circles” title. Track 3, “Blodeuwebb – White Flower – The Maiden” and track 4, “Ariarhod – Oar Wheel – The Mother”, play like one track. The many intertwining melodies flow wonderfully, making this into the best part of the album. This is the kind of songs New Age music artists dream to compose. It doesn’t feel forced at all. The melody and light arrangement instantly set the atmosphere. It is studio precision work from Llewellyn and his team.
“Morrigu Phantom Queen” is a little bit slower and contemplative. It is not the best song on the album, but that is all forgotten when listening to the next track, “The Ritual”. Again it is the contrast between the gentle rhythm and the dramatic atmosphere that create interest. It is a magnificent song.
The almost 10 minute long “Casting the Circle” is like an EP within the album. It is OK, but it doesn’t add much. “Release” is a chilled and dreamy song with the sound of water in the background. It is a fine build up to the album’s pop-ish finale; “Silver Wheel”. Here romance and mysticism, pop and New Age music, are beautifully mixed. Again; this is difficult to do well, but Llewellyn has no problems what so ever – as seen in the below video. Bravo!
Conclusion: “Sacred Circles” is not an album without faults, but there are several incredible songs here that are made for the reply button. If you want to get to know Llewellyn’s music, this is a perfect place to start. This album hasn’t received the praise it deserves.
Score: 93/100 – See how I rate music here.