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(52:45, ‘Sol Surfers‘)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sacred Moon's Light 7:38 2. Terra Nocturne 2:22 3. Where Have You Gone 6:41 4. The Crossing 2:44 5. Let Go 8:03 6. Open Door 4:58 7. American Dream 12:27 8. Dream Sequence 4:49 9. Across the Barrier 3:03 LINEUP: Lynn Stokes – vocals; guitars Roland St. John Perez – keyboards Kevin Cooley – drums Mike Orbelo – bass Dean Evans – flute Jerry Savoy – sax Lisa Stokes – backing vocals
Prolusion. SOL SURFERS are based in Texas, USA, and were formed by Lynn Stokes in 2007 as a vehicle to perform his own, original compositions. Stokes has been an active musician since the '70s and like him the band members are skilled and experienced musicians. "Terra Nocturne" was released in 2008, following by one year the self-titled debut by this act.
Analysis. "Terra Nocturne is the story of a journey through the emotions and transcendental experiences which transpire during the course of one particular lucid evening". This description opens the liner notes on this release and with phrases such as spiritual and astral journeys mentioned as well, one can't help but start associating this production with some sort of new age exploration. Track titles like Sacred Moon's Light and Dream Sequence underlines that reasoning pretty much, and as the CD starts playing one gets to experience that there's indeed a musical style and mood explored that have strong leanings toward this brand of music. The compositions are mostly slow and mellow affairs, with a constant down-tuned pace and a clear focus on providing the listener with strong, distinct moods explored in few and often similar sounding themes in the individual composition as well as on the album as a whole. There are few dramatic changes to be found, no intense moments that take you by surprise in a positive or negative manner, and no unexpected developments or sudden transformations either. In other words, there's not much to be found here for listeners into innovative, groundbreaking progressive music. When that is said, this isn't a bad creation, and I suspect many listeners will find this a pleasing and rather rewarding release in its own right. Acoustic guitars and the piano are the most central instruments, providing the melodic foundation for all compositions individually or jointly. The basic themes served are mellow, melodic and simple in nature, giving the rest of the instruments lots of space in which to add nuances and textures. A floating synth layer is an additional key feature throughout, placed in the back of the mix, and although not a constant feature it's still present to such an extent that it can be said to be an integral element in the sound explored. Fleshing out the compositions are additional keyboards in the shape of an organ as well as additional synth patterns, with a dark synth layer the most common feature of the latter. The sax and flute are given frequent soloing spots, the latter also providing details when mixed into the general soundscape on regular occasions. Subdued drum patterns and careful percussion work provide rhythmical elements along with the bass guitar, while the last element worth mentioning to get an idea of the music explored are the dreamy guitar solos by Stokes, pretty similar in style and sound to what David Gilmour has done in Pink Floyd over the years. And with that detail mentioned, the songs on this production bear strong resemblances to '70s Pink Floyd. Not the harder hitting dramatic variety of their production though, but rather the most mellow and melancholic parts of their creations from this timeframe. Let Go is arguably the prime example of this, a very compelling tune in itself but perhaps too close to a song like Hey You in terms of style, mood, melody and atmosphere for fans of Gilmour and his bandmates. The Sol Surfers and Lynn Stokes show an undeniable influence from this British act, but the similarity is mostly limited to the atmosphere and general mood explored. The compositions themselves have much closer ties to new age types of music, exploring a few basic themes rather than evolving and progressing, so to speak. And for me this last aspect of the creation is regarded as the main weakness, where few others are to be found. The musicianship holds up a high quality, the mix and production are crystal clear, allowing each individual instrument enough space to provide details easily detectable by the listener. But there's not much territory to explore in the songs as such and even with the strong, compelling atmospheres created the tunes in many instances come across as too long, overly exploring too few themes and segments too similar in scope.
Conclusion. Strong moods and atmospheres in a musical setting mixing influences from the mellow part of the Pink Floyd back catalogue with distinct new age leanings is what's offered with this production. Those looking for innovative, challenging music will not find much of interest here, but people who find the dreamier, most mellow compositions of later day Pink Floyd compelling should find this album interesting, in particular those among them who like to listen to calm, meditative music from time to time.
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