Alexander Turnquist fights off illness en route to creating Flying Fantasy and delivers his finest work to date.
Turnquist had established himself as a fine musician long before the creation of his latest (and fifth) album, Flying Fantasy, but after having surgery on his left hand in 2013 and relearning how to play guitar, he surely must have wanted to prove that he wouldn’t let the setback deter his musical ambitions. This also comes at a juncture in his career where he is transitioning from “merely” a guitar virtuoso to a bona fide composer.
Turnquist’s transition to a composer has been several albums in the making; As the Twilight Crane Dreams in Color was his wondrous break out into the colorful world of rich compositions, and Hallway of Mirrors continued his maturation and subtle compositional style. By comparison, Flying Fantasy is a bolder, less inhibited album. Although the guitar is still central to all the tracks, here we see other instruments (cello, vibraphone, organ, piano, marimba, steel drums, violin, and french horn) not only provide accompaniment, but also begin to slide into the spotlight on occasion. Turnquist’s meticulously crafted compositions could at times appear to be a little overly restrained, but Flying Fantasy sheds that conservative skin and begins to let the composer’s imagination run wild. The music is less fragile and more vibrant, as if we’re witnessing the butterfly breach the cocoon and finally take flight. For nearly forty minutes, we’re enveloped within the album’s enchanting world.
At the end of the day, Flying Fantasy is Turnquist’s greatest work yet, and a spectacular album to boot. Perhaps the threat of having his career cut short has forced the artist to evolve at a quicker rate than he would normally. In any case, this is another clear victory for Turnquist, and it’s likely that his best music is still ahead of him.