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(55:57, Dreaming Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Mood Opening 2:30 2. New Electronica 5:25 3. New Horizon 6:05 4. It's Time To Change 7:48 5. Purple 4:53 6. In Memory 6:32 7. The Sun Is Going Down 7:26 8. Infinity 5:30 9. The Final Trip 7:22 10. Mood Closing 2:24 SOLO PILOT: Eric Minen – all instruments
Prolusion. Eric MINEN is a self-taught French multi-instrumentalist who embarked on his musical journey in 1980. He was a member of a number of outfits, including a Frank Zappa tribute; then released his debut solo album, “Melodies Urbaines”, in 2007. “ElectroMoods” is his second album, released, like the first, on the Dreaming subdivision of Musea Records.
Analysis. As illustrated in the introductory paragraph, Eric Minen has had quite an impressive career in music, so that a new listener would be justified in expecting all those diverse experiences to have in some way impacted his solo output. It seems, however, that Minen has instead chosen to play it safe, so to speak, expressing his artistic creativity within the ambient/New Age mould – a style that, while very successful in terms of mass appeal, is generally frowned upon by lovers of ‘real’ music. To be honest, Minen comes across as a fine guitarist, and his talents on his main instrument would deserve a better showcase than this “Electro Moods”. Here we have an album that shares the features of almost the totality of the output of the genre: soothing, outwardly ‘beautiful’ music that, however, is so polished as to feel almost soulless. The main problem lies with the lack of variation in the structure of the compositions, so that we are presented with almost an hour of music where the individual tracks sound almost invariably like each other. This is a common flaw of this particular style, though this is also one of the factors that make it so widely appreciated. Indeed, many see this kind of music as a background to other activities, rather than something that requires an active participation; to them, a disc like “Electro Moods” can serve many purposes – including the relaxation of mind and body. As is very often the case with such recordings, it is not easy to describe any of the tracks in detail. The circular structure of the album – beginning and ending with similarly-titled tracks barely over 2 minutes – might suggest a sort of concept behind it, at least in Minen’s original intent. Not surprisingly, electronics play a large role (as the title also implies), vying for attention with Minen’s skilfully played guitar. While the dreamy, spacey passages are often pleasing, I was much less thrilled by the frequent use of programmed drums, which lend the tracks a mechanically regular beat that increases the impression of each track blurring into the next one. Even worse, in my view, are the whooshing, chugging sound effects that suggests Seventies’ disco music or B-movie soundtracks, which in most cases detract from numbers that would otherwise be soothingly pleasant. In this situation, Minen’s guitar gets often lost, or at least not as upfront as it would deserve to be. Taken as a whole, the compositions seem to throw together all the clich?s of the style, and any attempts at taking an even slightly different route do not last very long. Actually, the album’s two ‘bookends’, Mood Opening and Mood Closing, are probably the most interesting episodes, since the electronics are used in the purest form (think vintage Tangerine Dream), avoiding the reliance on hackneyed effects that spoils the rest. Even if one of the tracks is called It’s Time to Change, nothing actually ever does, and the overall effect – compounded by the slow, plodding pace of most of the tracks – is nothing short of soporific. My above assessment will obviously come across as overly harsh to supporters of ‘music for relaxation’. While I do not see anything wrong in people enjoying this kind of production, I just feel it is somewhat out of place on a website dedicated to progressive rock and progressive music in general. Though an album like “ElectroMoods” may share some of the superficial features of prog, it is actually closer to the mainstream than most of what is generally featured here.
Conclusion. If you are looking for music that will help you relax, or just serve as a soothing background for your everyday activities, then “ElectroMoods” will be an excellent addition to your collection. However, if you are interested in music that requires a more active participation on the part of the listener, then you’d better look elsewhere. Guitar enthusiasts might also want to check out Eric Minen as a guitarist, even though this particular musical style is not the best showcase for his talent.
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