Agnus Dei

Sandrose Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The old Irish proverb says that one should never speak ill of the dead. That makes me really hate reviewing Angelos, the third disc from Austria-based Agnus Dei.

This duo, comprised of keyboardist Gerald Krampl and poet Hilde Krampl, had released two discs of New Age piano music when Hilde died of cancer in 2002. Grief-stricken, her husband continued the project, combining Hilde's poems with his music. This disc revolves around the army of archangels, combined with a musical expression of grief over the loss of his wife and partner.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You see, that's why I hate having to review Angelos. I hate having to say anything bad about this disc due to the circumstances surrounding it. But it is as boring as sitting through a day's worth of church services.

I know that Hilde Krampl's poems should go hand-in-hand with the music, but I've never been a scholar of poetry, so forgive me if I leave that area to someone with more expertise. I focus on the music -- and, truth be told, Gerald Krampl's compositions are dull, dull, dull. Each of the 11 tracks revolves around its own musical theme, repeating it as often as some of the prayers we used to chant when I was attending Mass on a regular basis, thus sucking what little life had been in the songs out due to sheer repetition.

Now, this isn't a damnation of New Age music, or even piano music for that matter. When the music is well-written, I don't care what genre it belongs to, the music has a way of capturing and enrapturing the listener. If only any of the tracks on Angelos did that, it would be a better disc. Instead, tracks like "Anael" and "Ezechiel" tend to grate on the listener's nerves, making them want to invoke something other than the heavenly seraphim for relief.

I even wish I could say something positive about the disc's closer, "Grief," a song written in memory of Hilde Krampf. But while Gerald Krampf tries to create a soundscape which offers hope in spite of the obvious vacuum in his life, the track feels like it doesn't fit the mood at all. I hate to say it, but I'd have preferred something quieter without the electronica - possibly even something more akin to a dirge - to really capture the emotion.

Rating: D-

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© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sandrose Records, and is used for informational purposes only.