Tales - "Marco Polo: A Life For A Dream"
(SIT / Arizona University Recordings 1999, AUR CD 3092 / SIT19904)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
French keyboardist/percussionist Jean-Luc Herve Berthelot returns with his fourth release of five, an instrumental journey with 13th Century traveler Marco Polo, with a particular focus on his 17 year stay at the Court of the great Mogul Kublai Khan.
Like the previous release, "Interstellar Memories" (see review in AI #5), "Marco Polo" is a beautiful floating keyboard journey full of gorgeously crafted textures and aural landscapes. There's a variety of sounds and Berthelot adeptly weaves his tale of Polo's journey and experiences. Like "Interstellar Memories" before it, "Marco Polo" comes dangerously close to being New Age fluff, but the percussion and varied sounds kept it interesting for me and the music easily swept me away on the high seas with Polo and his fellow travelers. And as this is most certainly Berthelot's intention the disc is then a success. I tend to be ambivalent about such works as I like to be challenged a bit by floating spacescape music. But I also have a hard time being anal when I end up having been dreamily lost in the music which proved to be a good medicant after a bad day at the office. So pull out the crystals, focus on your mantra, and drift.
"Marco Polo" should be available in the US at Virgin, Tower, Borders, and Blockbuster stores. You can also visit the Tales web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz