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Soniq Theater - 2007 - "Seventh Heaven"



TRACK LIST:                                 
1.  The Fountain
2.  Welcome Home
3.  Lilly
4.  New Year's Eve
5.  But Seriously
6.  Lift-Off
7.  Trip Across the 7th Age
8.  Closer to Heaven
9.  Silk Road
10. Divine Harmonies


Alfred Mueller - keyboards; programming

Prolusion. "Seventh Heaven" is the 7th release by Germany's SONIC THEATER. Now, the one thing that separates Soniq Theater from most other artists is that it is a one-man band, where keyboards are the only instruments used. And as either by choice or through limitation the emulations of other instruments on the keyboard actually do sound more like emulations than the real thing, accepting that premise is vital for the enjoyment of all the releases from Soniq Theater. The other recordings in Herr Mueller's discography are as follows: "Soniq Theater" (2000), "A Second of Action" (2003), "The Third Eye" (2004), "This Mortal Coil" (2005), "Pandromania" (2005) and "Enchanted" (2006).

Analysis. On this seventh release, the main focus of the album seems to be melodic, and many of the songs are tranquil almost to the level of sounding like new age music. There are tunes with a more energetic expression as well, but mood and melody is the focus in quite a few of the tracks here. Stylistically the music is still best sorted somewhere under symphonic prog; some might say that calling Soniq Theater a poor man's Erik Norlander might be an accurate description. From what I was able to hear on this release, the inspirations for the songs here seems to be pretty much from all over the place, with touches reminding of ELP as well as Genesis, Tangerine Dream and Kitaro. The problem with mellowness when music is made with keyboard emulations though, is that the emulated instruments stand out clearer. And for my taste, this detracts from several of the tunes here. Alfred Mueller also tries out some extended vocals on one track here. And, to be blunt, that was not a good idea. In my opinion the vocals are too limited, as well as slightly off key and melody in some places. I also get the impression that Alfred Mueller's creative well has gone a bit stale while making this record, as there are far less examples of captivating melodies and moods on this record than there are on those of his previous releases I'm familiar with.

Conclusion. The end result is a rather varied release; and the weakest of Mueller's releases I've come across so far. Fans of this type of music will find quite a few interesting moments on this CD, as will eclectically inclined music fans and keyboardists. Others should get a listen to this album first though; as I suspect quite a few will find this record rather uninspired; especially casual music fans.

OMB: December 3, 2007

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