Ian Anderson
Divinities: Twelve Dances with God


3.0
good

Review

by linguist2011 CONTRIBUTOR (252 Reviews)
August 22nd, 2017 | 11 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A bit too much like a dance, but the fact that this side of Ian Anderson's musical focus hadn't been heard for almost two decades makes Divinities an interesting proposition at least.

Ian Anderson's solo career has been, up until the last decade or so, pretty inconsistent. The first album ever released under his own name, 1983's synth-worshipping Walk Into Light was practically a response to the (then) new direction that Jethro Tull were heading into with Broadsword and the Beast. Then, we hear nothing about Anderson's solo material for another 12 years. 1995's Divinities: Twelve Dances with God is thus a better albeit safer solo effort from Anderson, though unfortunately sounds dated now, over two decades after its release.

Divinities is a thoroughly instrumental album, but its constant likeness to the cheesier moments of a Disney soundtrack already gives out warning signals. Thankfully, the album doesn't give you a headache until the second half, where the lack of inspiration begins to creep in. "In a Stone Circle", "In Sight of the Minaret" and "In Maternal Grace" are probably the best examples of how Anderson finely tunes his flute to the orchestral leanings of all other members, instruments such as the oboe, clarinet and violin amongst others demonstrating a clearly classical influence. However, it's often the case that the arrangements for these wistful-sounding instruments tend to be lost in what is generally an inconsistent, flawed songwriting structure. It's very admirable that songs such as those aforementioned sound nice and flowery, even spiritual if you want a more specific adjective, but trying to focus your attention on their particular musical arrangements will eventually prove headache-inducing. This can be seen as a minor flaw however, especially when you compare the overt, unapologetic cheese of "In a Black Box" and "In Defence of Faiths".

These two songs are simply two examples of where the orchestral arrangements give way to an almost Disney-like production, when Anderson's influence is barely heard: or if it is heard, it doesn't seem very relevant. The songs in the second half of Divinities generally drag until the run-time finishes not only because of the previous point, but also due to the sheer montonousness of it all. A tried and tested formula can only be rolled out for so long before it gets tiring, and eventually shut off in favour of something more adventurous. The progressive, experimental brilliance of "At Their Father's Knee" regains more of what makes Anderson in this album a compelling character, and for almost six minutes it's easy to appreciate his immense songwriting talent when he can be bothered.

Divinities probably marks more of an identity crisis for Ian Anderson's solo career than an actual attempt at staying relevant, but it is nice to hear how the man embarked on a more orchestral soundscape. Indeed, not since the mid 70s had Ian Anderson taken part in anything which sounds like the material on Divinities, and since the album's release the man's preference has veered more towards progressive, folksy musicianship. In that sense, Anderson's second solo album proper is something of a success, but a flawed record at the same time.



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user ratings (13)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
August 22nd 2017


2434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

c/c welcome as always.

e210013
August 22nd 2017


1615 Comments


Nice to see this reviewed here, man. Fortunately it seems that are other people interested in reviewing Anderson's albums, besides me.

About the album, I'm not an expert of it. I don't know it very well. I need to check it properly before a final opinion. Anyway, from what I know, I think it's an excellent album, maybe a 4.00.

Still, your review make me more attentive about the album. I think I must check it, one of these days.

Jethro42
August 22nd 2017


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed with most of your review, Robert. I start thinking my 3.5 is rather generous. ''En Afrique'' is VERY similar to the groove found in Jethro Tull's song ''Wounded, Old and Treacherous'' released in the same year on album Roots to Branches.

Divaman
August 22nd 2017


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great to see this reviewed here. My first reaction is that the album might be a little better than you rated it, but then again, I haven't gone back and listened to it in years. One of the curiosities about this album is that it was released by a classical music label, which must have driven a lot of classically trained musicians who couldn't get their own record contracts crazy.

Digging: Neil Cavanagh - City of the Sun, Valley of the Moon

Divaman
August 22nd 2017


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Side question for all of the Ian Anderson/Tull fans. I see that Martin Barre is coming around live on tour in the U.S. and Europe, and he has a show in my area in October. Have any of you seen him as a solo act? How was he? I just created a new Sputnik page for his solo albums.

Jethro42
August 22nd 2017


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was not aware about Martin Barre. For some reasons, I can't imagine him playing out from Jethro Tull. Good move in adding him to the database oc.

e210013
August 22nd 2017


1615 Comments


I never saw him or even Jethro Tull, performing live. But I agree with Jethro. It's hard to imagine him playing out from Jethro Tull.

Jethro42
August 23rd 2017


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've seen for myself Jethro Tull twice in mid 2000. It was a time where Tull were touring without releasing albums. Shows were divided in two parts; an acoustic performance first, and then an electric one to complete in a good way. I enjoyed these shows big time!

Divaman
August 23rd 2017


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've seen Tull a number of times. Saw them on the Under Wraps tour and the Rock Island tour, then saw at least three other times in their latter years. Also saw Ian on the Homo Erraticus tour and the Thick as a Brick Part 2 tour. I know that Barre is playing mostly Tull classics, although I'm not sure how much of a band he has with him this time -- if there's a vocalist, or he's playing all instrumental. I'm leaning towards getting a ticket and checking him out.

Jethro42
August 23rd 2017


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Whoa, you truly are a ticket collector ;)

Divaman
August 23rd 2017


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tull is one of the view bands I've seen that often. But they're as close to a favorite band as I have.



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