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Tracklist: 1. Rondeo 5-44 2. Unicorn 3-46 3. Pandora's Box 4-24 4. Minka e rano 2-23 5. Excalibur 4-27 6. Jurassic Classic 2-34 7. The Power And the Glory 6-47 8. Tsunami 5-05 9. Palace of Glass 10. Laughing Through My Tears 3-40 11. Leftoverture 1-02 12. Hydra 4-19 13. Crying Sky 4-04 14. The Riders of Rohan 7-00 15. Cinemagic 6-17 16. Dans le Nuages 5-03 All music composed, arranged, performed, recorded & produced by Alfred Muller.More info at:
Prologue. Yet another demo (once again from Germany and once again excellent, at least) is here and another brick will be put to the wall of reviews on ProgressoR. (By the way, last year one teacher of music from Russia was 'crying' all over the CIS virtual (PC) channels about a harm and even danger that (the wall of) my reviews bring(s) to the readers, music-lovers and music itself. He had maniacally called and even demanded to destroy the site (as if ProgressoR is just another Berlin Wall). Could you ever at least imagine such a crazy situation? Nevertheless, all that I just told you about is, sadly, the truth.) Well, it's time to tell you about a real hero of this review - the Soniq Theatre album. I was a bit surprised to see in the (European) project's name the word "Theatre" being written in "American English" (like in the case of Dream Theater, while there is another band with the same word in its name in Germany - Theatre of Tragedy). Also, of course, I have never heard of this (another one) Solo Pilot Alfred Muller before. That's the usual story, though, with regard to all Prog-novices and their demos, so most of the words I said above are actually empty. But I had to write at least a few sentences in Prologue, hadn't I after all? That's quite another matter if this review doesn't need any of Prologues at all (especially like this).
The Album. The majority of compositions on Soniq Theater's self-titled debut album are instrumentals and only Minko e rano and Cinematic (tracks 4 & 15 respectively) contain female vocals. Inasmuch as these two tracks sound quite unusual in comparison with all other compositions on the album, let me please begin with the description of them (especially since all instrumentals here are, on the whole, the ProGducts of the same united stylistics). While Dans le Nuages are clearly French words (also, I guess Rondeo is the word combined of the two other words: Rondo and Rodeo), the title of track 4, Minko e rano, reminds some of East-European Slavonic dialects. But, while I can't understand what a wonderful female choir sing about on Minko e rano, these women sing magically, by all means. First of all, their singing reminds me a magic ritual (though a real intent of the song is unknown to me) and an overall musical atmosphere of the track (Art Rock, generally) is quite corresponding to the spirit of the ritual. Cinematic has a… cinematic feel (of an excellent soundtrack) where there are various female vocalizes sound on a spacey instrumental background. Both the said tracks are nice, but Minko e rano, stands especially separate on the album. It sounds more impressive and effective than Cinematic. As I've already mentioned above all fourteen instrumental tracks on the album were, on the whole, created within the same united stylistics that, in its turn, looks very original. The stylistics represents quite a unique mix of Classic Art Rock and Prog Metal with a 'light' Classical music. Most of these compositions run up-tempo and the heavy, diverse and tasteful electric guitar riffs and moves just accentuate a wide-variety of the symphonic arrangements and solos. Alfred Muller is one of the most serious Solo Pilots, and he also is a talented multi-instrumentalist in general. His mastership of playing the keyboards is, in my view, on a par with such well-known contemporary virtuosos as Par Lindh (of PL Project), Clive Nolan (of Arena, et al.), etc (though it's obvious sometimes (!) that Herr Muller took the correspondence lessons from maestro Rick Wakeman).
Summary. Moderately complex, full of diverse, tasteful arrangements and fast, impressive virtuosic solos, the first Soniq Theater album is also rich in compositional brightness that, potentially, makes it one of the most successful ProGducts (both musically and commercially) of today's scene. If Alfred would have a band with the mates that would be as technically strong musicians as he himself, such a band, led by him, would easily, in my view, be able to repeat the success of Dream Theater.
VM. October 22, 2001
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