[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Radio Silent 7:06 2. Dreamscapes 5:46 3. Sending Dead Flowers 6:13 4. Wasting 8:28 5. Old Man's Tale 2:41 6. Sonic Pulsar 3:56 7. I Have This Stone 4:29 8. In Slow Motion 6:41 9. This Is Not a Jam Session 6:53 10. New Perspective 5:56 11. Made of Dreams 2:58 12. Playing the Universe 4:46 13. Somewhere in the Universe 6:25 All tracks: by Sonic Pulsar. LINE-UP: Hugo Flores - - vocals; electric, acoustic, and bass guitars; - drum programming; synthesizers Carlos Mateus - - synthesizers; acoustic and electric guitars Produced, engineered, and mastered by Flores.
Prolusion. "Playing the Universe" is the debut of the Portuguese project Sonic Pulsar led by multi-instrumentalist Hugo Flores. The guys are already about to release their second album called "Out of Place", the line-up on which, apart from Hugo and Carlos, features Nuno Ferreira on bass guitar.
Synopsis. One of the most important and popular sub-genres of Prog, Classic Space Rock subdivides into three categories. These are Electronic Space Rock, which is the 'department' of Tangerine Dream etc, Space-Fusion, the brightest representatives of which are Gong and Clearlight, and Symphonic Space Rock / Space Metal with Eloy and Hawkwind being the most respectable bands playing in this style. Well, Sonic Pulsar is from the latter 'camp', and some parallels between the band's music and that of Hawkwind and Eloy (in the 1980s) can be drawn. Here however, I must make a reservation that the said comparisons are quite relative, because the music presented on "Playing the Universe" is definitely original. At least, it doesn't contain any direct influences. I am generally not used to filling a review with the names of 'comparable' bands and performers (it is by no means too much trouble to find plenty of them for each review), and it would be especially erroneous in the case of Sonic Pulsar. I'll only note that the music of this project is more complex and interesting than that on most of the albums Hawkwind released in the 1980s, not to mention those in the 1990s. The 72-minute "Playing the Universe" features thirteen tracks, almost all of which, including the only instrumental piece Dreamscapes, are about Classic Symphonic Space Rock with either elements or the bits of Space Metal. The exclusions include:) the opening track of the album Radio Silent, the loudest and heaviest composition here representing an excellent Space Metal, and Old Man's Tale (5), which is somewhat of an Art-Space Rock ballad with virtuosi solos of acoustic guitar being at the helm of arrangements. Along with those of electric guitar, bass, and synthesizer, solos and passages of acoustic guitar and the parts of piano play a significant role in the arrangements on the album and are present on most of the tracks here. All vocals are in English and are OK, but purely instrumental arrangements cover about two thirds of the album.
Conclusion. The only drawback of Sonic Pulsar's debut album is the sound of programmed drums, which is too thin, in my view. I believe Hugo will choose the best ones from the library of drum samples when recording a new album, though of course, the best choice would be the engagement of a real drummer. Nevertheless, "Playing the Universe" is in many ways an outstanding album, and I heartily recommend it to the lovers of Classic Symphonic Space Rock.
VM: Agst 5, 2003
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]