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(60:35, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Pilot 7:11 2. Bismarck Explorer 7:32 3. Cold Rigid and Remote 5:51 4. Abduction 7:11 5. The Enemy 11:36 6. Solitude Unites Us 6:44 7. 8511 4:52 8. Presumed Dying 9:38 LINEUP: Carl Westholm – synthesizers, piano, vocoder Leif Edling (Candlemass / Abstract Algebra) – bass; backing vocals Mats Leven (Abstract Algebra) – lead vocals Lars Skold (Tiamat) – drums Ulf Edelonn – guitars Cia Backman – b/v With: Several additional musicians
Prolusion. JUPITER SOCIETY is a Swedish project, planned and lead by Carptree member Carl Westholm (formerly of Candlemass / Abstract Algebra). With the help of a multitude of friends (some of whom are famous musicians also: see lineup above), a concept album was recorded and quickly signed by highly active US progressive rock specialist label Progrock Records.
Analysis. I think the term "space opera" is a rather good description of this release. This is the Star Wars of progressive rock / metal operas where acts like Ayreon cater for the ones who like some complexities and variation to the space-tinged atmospheres explored, similar to Star Trek and Babylon 5 catering to the sci-fi crowds who wants something a bit more fleshed out in terms of storylines and character descriptions. In comparison, Jupiter Society is more like the original Star Wars. High on mood and atmosphere, but somewhat lacking in details. It's an enjoyable romp though, as long as you like the prevailing features of the release. In fact, this is an album where you have to enjoy the dominating facets of the recording to be able to enjoy the music overall – one of the rare cases where you can listen to one of the compositions and based on what you hear on that one pretty much decide whether or not you'll be able to enjoy the whole production. The vocals are the most important feature here. Many different vocalists are handling lead and backing vocals, but the lead ones all share a distinct trait: emotional delivery. The vocal component is sometimes powerful and other times more restrained, but the singer always tries to add feelings and emotions to the delivery, to a greater extent than on an average recording. In addition, the vocals will in some cases function as the main melody provider. Most times underscoring the main singer are backing vocals in a variety of forms, from single female voice to multilayered mixed voices and even digital choirs in some segments, and voice effects like vocoder and whispering too: a massive amount of vocals of varying kinds on all compositions, to the extent that it is absolutely requisite to like those to enjoy the production as a whole. The musical foundations for these sonic explorations are keyboards and guitars: multilayered synth planes floating lightly on top and rumbling dark and deep beneath the main melody line, and most times conveying the finer textures of that line as well. All the spacey elements of the music come courtesy of this facet of the soundscape, as well as the melodic elements not conveyed by the various lead and backing vocalists. Additional elements provided by synths are rhythmic and spacey sound effects, effectively used to create minor nuances of variation on some of the songs. Guitars are widely used on all songs too, with an emphasis on heavy. Slow riff patterns and drawn out chords are the name of the game for this album, no shredding or grandiose guitar antics being evident. Some basic melodic foundations are conveyed by the axe, on which vocals and synths add the finer elements, but most of all the guitars – along with the bass – add darkness and heavy sounds to the sonic tapestry, and is a key part of the formation of the plethora of epic, majestic sounding segments found on this production. Piano and percussion add some minor details to the compositions too, the former instrument is especially used in quite a few segments, but most of all this whole creation is very much about vocals and synths, underscored by guitars.
Conclusion. This debut album by the Swedish project Jupiter Society should probably find its main audience in the crowd enjoying Ayreon and similar artists. The compositions aren't very complex, though, and the structure of these creations is the only facet that can be regarded as such. The focus on vocals and synths throughout will make this a classic love or loathe release; you'll have to like both of them to be able to enjoy this album.
OMB: October 16, 2008
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