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TRACK LIST: 1. The Gold Rush 7:14 2. Elephant Race 4:01 3. Marakanda 4:04 4. Centaurus 5:14 5. A Way To Karakorum 4:06 6. Trans-Siberian Railroad 4:05 7. Seventh Crusade 5:01 8. Nocturno 1:56 9. Halcyon Days 6:24 10. The Travels of Gulliver 6:32 11. Bon Voyage 3:58 12. Phoenix 4:55 All tracks: Mueller. SOLO PILOT: Alfred Mueller - - keyboards; electronic drums & percussion; vocal samples; - sampled guitars & basses; emulated acoustic instruments
Preamble. "A Second of Action" is the second album by the German Solo Pilot of Prog, Alfred Mueller working under the moniker of Soniq Theater. The last track on the album, Phoenix, is dedicated to the victims of tragic events of September 11, 2001. If you wish to read the review of the first Soniq Theater album, click > here.
The Album. There are little stylistic differences between the new Soniq Theatre album and the previous one. The music on each of the first seven tracks here (see track list above) represents a highly original, tasteful, and quite complex Modern Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. Marakanda (3), and this is the ancient name of Uzbekistan's city of Samarkand, is the only composition on the album that features a few vocals. To be precise, these are the female vocalize and vocals, all of which are definitely of an Eastern nature. All five of the remaining pieces on the album are out of its predominant stylistics and feature very little repetitions. Nocturno (8), consisting exclusively of constantly developing interplay between the clavier- and violoncello-like solos and passages of synthesizer, all of which sound quite realistic, is a piece of Classical Music and has a true academic feel to it. The contents of the following three compositions: Halcyon Days, The Travels of Gulliver, and Bon Voyage present a confluence of Modern Symphonic Art-Rock and Classical Music with the bits of Prog-Metal. Apart from the parts of Rock instruments, these are also rich in those of string and chamber ones that, while still being synthetic, have quite a realistic and really pleasant sound. Finally, the music on the album's closing track, Phoenix, is about a pure Symphonic Art-Rock. Certainly, keyboards are the main (the only, in fact: see Alfred's performance equipment) soloing instruments on the album. These are mainly synthesizers, while the parts of piano are present on about a half of the tracks here, and those of (the Hammond) organ - only on Elephant Race and Halcyon Days (2 & 9). The Gold Rush (1) is the only track here containing the Mellotron-like passages, and also a vocoder. The lush orchestral arrangements are present only on both of the boundary tracks of the album. The riffs and solos of sampled electric guitars and bass are available on all of the tracks here but the aforementioned Nocturno, and those of emulated acoustic guitar, etc appear on the album only episodically.
Summary. Alfred Mueller is a very gifted composer and virtuosi keyboard player, and the drawbacks that are evident on both of his albums are quite typical for those by Solo Pilots in general and most of them, in my view, are insignificant. Here however, the sound of electronic drums (the samples of which are programmed in any modern synthesizer) is very synthetic. It would've been much better if instead of them, Alfred had used some of the so-called libraries of sounds, though of course, the latter can be used only within the framework of a virtual (PC) studio. So all in all, I can't rate "A Second of Action" higher than an excellent album, though compositionally, it is a masterpiece.
VM: April 4, 2003
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