I discovered MacDonald because of Lewis. I believe it was reading The Great Divorce that brought me to Phantastes; I remember thinking to myself "I like Lewis, and Lewis seems to really like this fellow George MacDonald, so I'll have to check out MacDonald sometime." When I did end up picking up Phantastes, I had a similar experience to that of Lewis: a baptism of my imagination, and after finishing it I proceeded to devour all of his fairy tales that I could get my hands on. Reading MacDonald gets me high on beauty like nothing else.
For a number of years I've been wanting to produce a concept album that's based on a book for a variety of different reasons; foremost I think that context and story make music significantly more meaningful and beautiful. When I read Phantastes the first time, I was so enchanted by the Beech tree that I found myself writing her song to Anodos. It wasn't too long after that I decided Phantastes was the book I needed to put to music.
This story, as I’ve come to see after spending so much time with it, works particularly well as source material for a concept album. Partly because music and Anodos’ gift of song figure largely throughout the book providing ample opportunity to weave music with the story, and partly because there is just so much magic, beauty, and otherworldliness in the story, making it a deep fountain from which to draw inspiration. I hope that for those who haven’t read the book the music will encourage you to do so, and for those who have read it the music will help you to see some of the beauty I see in Phantastes.
Excerpts from the album are featured below.