When I finally got my hands on Deborah Martin’s new album, Eye of the Wizard, I encountered a large eye staring at me from the cover: the outer shape being formed by trees, the pupil by a fractal pattern. It seems to be alive. Is it alive?
As I began to listen, I was immediately greeted by an acoustic guitar that accompanied me through most of Martin’s creations. A certain mood arose: intense yet far from dark, it felt rather friendly. The guitar paired up with synth layers and subtle beats to form a whole: minimalistic, but with a clear concept behind it. These sounds inspired clear visions of a forest scene giving way to a sunny clearing on a warm spring day surrounded by lush grass.
The whole album seems to be thematically inspired by witchcraft and wizardry, not unlike the youthful approach often found in Prikosnovenie releases, which is reflected not only in the cover artwork but also in the titles of Eye of the Wizard‘s tracks.
As the album progresses, I get the impression that it is best approached as one complete piece. The songs progress nicely into each other, forming one album-length movement. It is mildly cinematic, having the effect of a soundtrack both in spirit and in sound. The intensity of the songs comes and goes in slow waves with passages in which the synth layers form a patiently progressing ambiance. There are moments in which the subtle percussion takes over and provides well-fitting rhythmic structure. This element doesn’t destroy the calm, forest-like atmosphere, though; the beats merely make me nod my head along with the music ever so slightly.
The upside of having an album full of similar songs also comes with a downside, of course: there aren’t many individual highlights on Eye of the Wizard to speak of. None of the songs really evolve the mood that the first song set in motion, unfortunately leading to a mild stagnation. Luckily, the tension in the album does gradually work through a crescendo towards a final climax. The title track conjures up a stronger energy than all of the previous songs combined. An electric guitar comes into play here—an element that seems strangely out-of-place and yet relevant all the same after all the gentle sounds that have dominated the album to this point. The outro, a carpet of synth layers, gives the impression that the wizard, who has wandered the paths laid out by Martin, has finished his work and departed for a new quiet adventure, leaving the forest to return to its silent hidden ways.
The atmosphere conveyed by Eye of the Wizard is clearly one of serenity. Unlike other female solo artists inspired by metaphysical themes (Lamia Vox, for instance, had been my first association), Deborah Martin never quite ventures into dark realms where the music may radiate a certain morbid energy. No, Eye of the Wizard radiates a positive vibe. It is not an in-your-face joyous atmosphere; it is remarkably subtle with just a grain of intensity. That said, I find that Eye of the Wizard is most suitable as background music, especially as a soundtrack behind reading some of your favourite fantasy novels.
01) Dance of the Faeries
03) Lords of the Vale
06) The Alchemist’s Robe
07) Eye of the Wizard
08) Into Mist