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(64:01 / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Gray 5:10 2. Green 15:20 3. Red 8:41 4. Black 11:33 5. Blue 6:05 6. Yellow 9:20 7. White 7:49 LINEUP: Robert Valet - keyboards Peter Terhoeven - guitars Sebastian Jungermann - bass Volker Janacek - vocals; drums Sandra Baetzel - vocals; saxophones
Prolusion. "Chromagnitude" is the seventh studio album by Germany's SOLAR PROJECT, following "Force Majeure" (2004), "Five" (2001), "In Time" (1997), "The House of S-phrenia" (1995), "World Games" (1992) and "The Final Solution" (1990), of which I am acquainted with the first three. According to the band, this, their new CD is a piece of concept music interpreting the psychological power of colors.
Analysis. The seven tracks on this disc are each titled after one of the seven colors existing in the nature, but most of them seem to be embracing all the colors of the rainbow. True artists, Solar Project are well aware of how to intermix the 'seven notes' they have at their disposal so make their music sound pictorial. While I haven't heard any of their first three releases, I feel sure "Chromagnitude" is their most original album to date. Even though the influences of their primary benefactors, Pink Floyd and Eloy (the latter manifesting themselves predominantly only in the vocals), still can easily be traced, most of them are very resourcefully modified. Besides, the number of Solar Project's own discoveries has once again grown and is already large enough to stop considering this outfit to be mere followers of those space-rock giants. Since Robert Valet almost completely refuses from using synthesizers this time around, preferring Hammond and Mellotron, the album has a distinct vintage aura throughout. A true keyboard wizard, Herr Valet is also the most unique voice in this show, and though Peter Terhoeven's guitar work is only reminiscent of that of David Gilmour when he plays slowly, his rapid solos are all similarly beyond comparison. Bassist Sebastian Jungermann from time to time imitates Roger Waters' distinctive 'pulsating' style, but in the end it is only Sandra Baetzel's saxophone leads that always bear a strong resemblance to those in Pink Floyd; thankfully these are not featured on all of the tracks and are never prolonged. Unlike Volker Janacek, Sandra (who is the only novice in the band) sings on each of the compositions, otherwise either alternating or sharing the lead with the drummer, both having a typically German accent. All in all, the music appears to be fully original only when the band goes heavy, but inasmuch as hard movements are an essential part of almost all of the tracks, even the most ardent advocates of originality won't be disappointed with the CD as a whole. What is more, the only exception to that rule, the ballad Blue, is mainly an organ- and piano-based piece and therefore doesn't sound very derivative even within its vocal sections. The alternation of classic symphonic space-rock arrangements with those suggesting progressive Hard Rock is typical of both Yellow and Black, though the second song additionally has a strong electronically-hypnotic feeling in places and is the only track in the set on which Solar Project call into being their earlier passion, Hawkwind. Gray, Red and White are all created upon quite similar compositional scenarios, stylistically representing a well-balanced blend of the recording's primary style and nothing other than progressive Doom Metal (not to be confused with Eloy-style Space Metal) which, in turn, forms the essence of the disc's longest track, the largely instrumental Green (15:20). The former three songs are all outstanding, but this epic is a simply mind-blowing piece of music. The band's heaviest and, at the same time, most original composition to date, Green is progressively highly eventful, something which literature or movie critics would call "a mixture of elitist art and real action".
Conclusion. Unlike any profaners / simplifiers of the classic Pink Floyd style, their countrymen RPWL included, Solar Fire would have had major commercial success back in the '70s. It is only due to the presence of external factors that I can't rate their latest CD as a complete masterpiece.
VM: Agst 22, 2007
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