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(54:15, Soniq Theater)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Great Wall of China 6:13 2. Ayers Rock 4:48 3. Alhambra 4:18 4. Ice in the Tropics 5:00 5. Lake Vernon 3:43 6. Global Village 3:34 7. A Day in Detroit 6:07 8. Sierra Nevada 1:47 9. Silicon Valley 2:36 10. Provence 3:00 11. Glacier 3:04 12. Western Skylines 6:49 13. Peruvian Skies 3:16 LINEUP: Alfred Mueller - keyboards, programming
Prolusion. German project SONIQ THEATER is the ongoing creative vehicle of composer and keyboardist Alfred Mueller, and starting in 2000 he has steadily been releasing new material under that moniker. "Globaliced" is the 16th in the series, and was issued at the start of 2016.
Analysis. Soniq Theater have developed a bit over the years, originally starting out as a more expressive and dramatic venture, with firm nods in the direction of the classic era symphonic progressive rock keyboardists, and have slowly developed into becoming more of an ambient project with nods towards both the aforementioned classics and more electronic based artists such as Tangerine Dream. The one this that have stayed the same is that all the music is performed on synthesizers and keyboards, and that aspect will always be the make or break as far as enjoying this music is concerned. On this 2016 album we are treated to pretty much more of the same. The keyboard arrangements are compelling and well made, be it in a more ambient guise or a more dramatic and expressive one. The latter of these being in the minority though. Organ and Mellotron sounds are used here and there to good effect, while the more gliding synthesizer sounds tends to dominate alongside playful keyboard and piano details. As the title of the album indicates, Mueller has sought inspiration from different parts of the globe on this one, with instrument details that have nods towards Asian, South American and Spanish music a part of the totality, as well as those inspired by geographical locations rather than cultures and nations, exemplified on for instance Glacier. Mueller has a good ear for compelling melodies and in setting the pace and the mood for his compositions. Where this album suffers, as is the case with just about all the rest of his productions, are when the emulated instruments are used. The keyboards sound good, the bass is passable, the drums have a clinical 90's feel to them and the acoustic guitar is less than impressive. While other instruments such as the saxophone, accordion and electric guitar are even less impressive when used as effects, be it by accident or design. Listening to a Soniq Theater album is an exercise in listening to what might have been the end result just as much as experiencing what you actually listen to. As is most often the case, this is another album featuring multiple songs I would have liked to listen to if recorded by a proper band, as I rather guess the end result would be rather more impressive if that should ever happen.
Conclusion. Those familiar with the later works of Soniq Theater will get pretty much what they expect as far as this album is concerned. Well thought out arrangements and melodies, distinct moods and atmospheres, certain key instrument details used to emphasize the different aspects of the individual compositions, all wrapped up in and explored in instrumental music that draw inspirations from ambient and new age music just as much as the classic era progressive rock keyboardists and the sounds of artists such as Tangerine Dream. A compelling album on many levels, but suffering from the fact that everything has been worked out on and performed with synthesizers and keyboards exclusively.
Progmessor: February 25th, 2018
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