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(54:00; Soniq Theater)
I think this is Alfred Mueller’s 19th solo album, and I’m also pretty sure I have reviewed all of them over the years, so it is safe to say I understand his style and what to expect. Over that time the vast majority of his albums have been pure solo, just Alfred and his keyboards, but here he has taken a slightly different tack and has brought in guitarist Ralph Brandenburger who is a key component on three of the eleven songs (and I presume is also the reason for the album title). In some ways this is an excellent idea, but in some others has also caused an issue, as they work together incredibly well and this moves Alfred’s music in a different direction. The first song on the album, “Antartica”, is one of those that features Ralph and I was immediately impressed as this was taking the music of Soniq Theater to a new level. The next song, ‘Springtime In Siberia’ is very much of Alfred’s normal style, with bouncy keyboards up against some symphonic layers, very much in the vein of some of Rick Wakeman’s solo material It is actually a really good song, really nice, but I kept wondering what it would be like if he had used “real’ musicians on this as well, and what would happen if he had a rhythm section that breathed as opposed to using electricity. In some ways this feels like quite a disjointed album, just because there are so many styles on offer, and tracks with Brandenburger are so very different to the rest. However, there are also some gems to be found in the true solo songs, but as I said when reviewing his last album ‘Squaring The Circle’ it really is time for Alfred to get a full band behind him as it used to be in the Nineties when he was part of Rachel’s Birthday. I actually think that in many ways this is his finest album yet, not just for the material with Ralph, but there is a lack of continuity within it. For the next one, even if it isn’t a full band, it would be interesting to hear a complete album from them both as they complement each other with great interacting sounds.
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