Album:The Fairy Garden
Artist: David Arkenstone

cxxrygcAfter a number of musical journeys into diverse musical terrain such as Game of Thrones-inspired Dark Ambient music and the contemporary groove-based Chill genre on his recent Songs From The Aqua Lounge album, veteran recording artist and sonic explorer David Arkenstone, has revisited a style that fans around the world will find familiar. According to David: “I was channeling my musical self from 25 years ago. The Fairy Garden is a nod to my early releases.” The music has all the enchanting characteristics that many people associate with David Arkenstone, including lush orchestration, atmospheric synthesizers, airy flutes, heavenly harps, dramatic percussion, and more. There is a cinematic quality to the music and I could easily see it as a soundtrack to a Lord of the Rings type movie. In a word… magical.


David Arkenstone is truly one of the foremost instrumental musicians of our time. In a career that spans 3 decades he has had 3 GRAMMY nominations, 20 Billboard hits, and has over 50 albums in release, as well as composing music for Hollywood films and documentaries. The music he composed for the Olympics is still used to this day. David’s soundtracks have been heard on television networks like the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and NBC Sports. The fantasy nature of his music has made it a perfect match for computer games such as World Of Warcraft and more.


As David was developing his sound in the early days he studied music in college and started a david-arkenstoneprogressive rock band where he was influenced by artists such as Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Deep Purple, as well as classical music. But when he later discovered the new age music of Kitaro, a new creative inspiration sparked an evolution of David’s sound and artistic direction, one that was equally informed by the literary works of authors such as Tolkien and his “Lord Of The Rings” books. According to David: “I enjoy bringing many different influences together in my music. World music, classical rock, and new age are some of the styles I draw from and enjoy weaving into an entertaining and adventurous whole.” He goes on to say: “I believe a lot of people think of me as a storyteller. And that’s the picture I have of myself – a person who invites people to explore the back roads of their imaginations, only I use notes and textured sounds in place of printed words or dialogue. Sometimes when I walk into the studio, I think of the phrase, ‘It’s not just a song—it’s an adventure.’”


As computers became more prevalent in the recording industry, David made full use of them. In his words: “Technology has produced some wonderful tools for making music. The computer allows me to fully orchestrate my pieces and really fine-tune them. I have always loved the sound of the orchestra. Now I believe I have refined a wonderful blend combining the best elements of the acoustic world, with the electronic world.” However, David is also an accomplished instrumentalist as well who plays a wide variety of instruments including guitars, bass, harp, zither, piano, synthesizers, mandolin, bouzouki, cello, flute, melodica, Turkish saz, pennywhistle, pan pipes, drums, and percussion.


fed0a802859939ea435655325a579bd9On The Fairy Garden, David plays a number of these instruments in addition to being joined by violin virtuoso Luanne Homzy, and GRAMMY winner Susan Craig Winsberg on flute and piccolo. Here, David describes his vision for this album: ““As a musical painter, I wanted to make a portrait of a magical place using my sounds. I’m always drawn to the wee folk. Fairies are very popular with humans – the idea of a ‘fairy world’ is an escape from the familiar. I write soundtracks for the imagination that allow dreams to become a reality for a while.” As part of preparing for this experience, David researched the charming fairy houses on Monhegan Island in Maine and recalled a recent trip to Tahiti. He pondered what a fairy garden might be like, and then designed a day in the life of the fairies. In his words: “I imagined dreamy gossamer filled trails, enchanted caves, mysterious woods and fairies dancing by firelight, then the moon leading the way back from a wonderful musical trip through that magical world.”


So let’s enter the enchanted domain of The Fairy Garden… The day dawns with the opening track “Sunbreak,” which David describes as being: “designed to be an entry into this musical journey that we are about to take.” Sparkly, tinkling sounds portray the first rays breaking over the horizon leading into dramatic orchestration with strings and percussion illuminating the energy and excitement of a new day. There is a cinematic quality to the music that gives the feel of listening to a film soundtrack, although here, the movie is being viewed in the mind’s eye of the listener.


Heaven and earth meet in the yin/yang balance of the earthy rhythm track overlaid by celestial b30af39da2e687650a9680c155abdb58choirs, harps, and ethereal synthesizer sounds on “Gossamer Dream.” According to David: “I have always liked putting slow melodies over various rhythms.” On a track called “The Enchanted Cave,” David does a bit of time traveling, so to speak, in which he describes the creating of this song as: “ One of the moments I felt like I was stepping back in time in my own career.” And the song does indeed have the feel of David’s classic music that many people know him by. Here, plucked guitar mixes with hammer dulcimer samples, flute, percussion, and light orchestration as we journey deeper into the realm.


Over the years, David has delved into the world of Celtic music, and influences of that style are heard on a sweet romantic song called “The Faerie’s Kiss,” that features lovely heartfelt performances by violinist Luanne Homzy and flutist Susan Craig Winsberg. A sprightly tune called “Morning Flight,” hearkens back to the feel of David’s earlier Sketches From An American Journey album. In my interview with David, he referred to a track called “Fire Fairy Dance” as: “Probably my favorite song on the record. A throwback to this jungle-y thing I do, almost African. The combination of marimbas, flutes, and percussion are a common thread in my music.” Switching gears into a very different direction on “Princess of the Fairies,” David calls this one: “My version of Renaissance music.”


ee4aca3cf80ca71b0cff690fc94d75b0While I thoroughly enjoyed every song on The Fairy Garden, one of my absolute favorites was “Pools of Moonlight,” which David describes as: “One of the most magical tracks on the album. I love illustrating dreamy things through music, as an impressionist might. Lots of light in this track.” This is one of the more archetypically new age-sounding pieces and takes the listener drifting over its luminous enchanted soundscape. After 11 songs, we finally reach “Journey’s End,” which David crafted as an ending to say “goodbye” to the faeries. There is also a cinematic ambiance to this piece as well, and I can almost see the film’s credits rolling over its dramatic strains.


Having been a new age music journalist for over 35 years, I have probably heard just about all of David’s dozens of releases and he remains one of my favorite composers in this genre. I have the greatest respect for his musical adventurousness and willingness to explore new sonic horizons. However, I have a feeling that this is an album that many long time fans have been waiting for from him. The music integrates all the elements that contributed to his iconic sound as he built his reputation over the years. The Fairy Garden is a “must have” for fans of David’s classic sound, and for new listeners, it is an excellent place to start. Few recording artists stimulate the theatre of the imagination as deeply as David Arkenstone, and listeners are guaranteed an enchanted excursion into the spellbinding realm of The Fairy Garden.



Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album: