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TRACK LIST: 1. Strange Flying Mechanic 4:14 2. Crossing Saturn's Rings 8:35 3. The Slow March to Lapetus 4:39 4. At the Risk of Hyperion 3:46 5. Titan's Lakes 7:03 6. Rhea's Icy Angel 3:44 7. Electra's Talking Robots 4:15 8. What Hides on Tethys 4:54 9. Unexpected Meeting on Encelade 6:51 10. Memories of Mimas 3:34 11. Saturn's Influences 8:06 SOLO PILOT: Marc Ceccotti – all instruments
Prolusion. Based in France, composer and multi-instrumentalist Marc CECCOTTI has a long career behind him, starting out with the band Edhels in the mid-‘80s and venturing forth on a solo career in 1999. "Somewhere Around Saturn" is his latest solo album, released in 2008.
Analysis. As one might assume when seeing the title, space music-influenced atmospheres form the contents of this production. The cover art, depicting what looks like an arsenal of cannon barrels directed at some unknown target above the clouds, indicates that there's a certain ominous feeling to the contents as well. The cover art of a CD doesn't always say too much about the musical content of an album, but in this case it certainly does. Keyboards dominate this release from start to finish, most times with multiple layers of sounds; a common feature is dark, ominous passages as a sort of foundation, a synth- or piano-driven melody made up of one to three layers in the middle, and a soaring lighter line placed high in the mix either as constant monotone sounds or fluctuating waves coming and going much like waves towards the shore. Guitars add nuances and textures, and mellow melodic licks and atmospheric soloing are the most constant features. Sometimes these are utilized at the same time while at other times Ceccotti will go back and forth between these two. Drums and percussion add rhythms, at times rather quirky ones at that, and a bass guitar will strengthen those as well as the darker sonic textures in the compositions. The instruments in themselves aren't that important in gaining an impression of the songs on this creation though. As space rock-influenced music goes, many readers will at this point have formed an opinion of the music offered. Melodic, soaring, majestic, with a dark tinge to it will probably be close to what some may think. Not so. Ceccotti's choice of keyboard sounds emanates from an eerie place in whatever variants of these he uses; some with damaged processors, some operated by HAL 9000 perhaps. The sounds are chilling, at times sick-sounding weird noises: melodic by all means, but strange in an alien sort of manner, the kind of sounds that would have been perfectly suitable as local music made by the nitrogen breathers of Sirius-sians, if such beings exist. The piano serves up harsh dissonant chords just as often as flowing melodic themes in the mix, and much the same can be said of the guitar, in addition to some highly distorted licks, riffs and chords. The compositions as such are eerie structures consisting of beautiful melodies, weird melodies and a certain influx of disharmonic and dissonant elements, overall resulting in an alien and quite unique sounding atmosphere. ‘Space’-tinged music indeed, but pretty far away from Ayreon or Vangelis in sound and style. It's tempting to say that Ceccotti has redefined what music influenced by the vastness of the universe may sound like, at least measured up against the more commercial contributions of the artists that have made such albums in the past.
Conclusion. People with a general interest in music with a certain science fiction character should find this album quite intriguing, and followers of experimental progressive rock of the instrumental variety may also regard this as a production worthwhile getting better acquainted with. The compositions as such may not be marvelous creations or brilliant in themselves, but there is a certain unique sound and atmosphere to this release that should make it interesting to check out, in particular for those with a fascination for the unknown and adventurous.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 19, 2008
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