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(52:26, ‘Soniq Theater’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overnight Sensation 4:17 2. The Muse 6:08 3. In the Dead of Night 5:08 4. Raindance 4:52 5. Shake your Legs 4:03 6. Fun in the Sun 4:50 7. Connemara 3:24 8. Veracruz 4:27 9. Balm for the Soul 4:06 10. Trance Rapid 5:14 11. Gondwana 5:57 SOLO PILOT: Alfred Mueller – all instruments
Prolusion. SONIQ THEATER is the moniker chosen by German keyboardist and composer Alfred Mueller for his solo efforts. Since his first solo album in 2000 he has, one exception aside, issued a new album each and every year. "Overnight Sensation" is his twelfth production to date, and was released in January 2012.
Analysis. When Mueller started out releasing his solo albums 12 years ago, it was clear that symphonic progressive rock of the kind Emerson, Lake & Palmer created were among his musical influences. Since then the Soniq Theater productions have gradually developed into specimens of a steadily more easygoing manner, with cinematic inserts, compositions less and less divided into distinct separate themes and generally smoother and more free-flowing in character. "Overnight Sensation" marks another step in that direction. The songs on this disc are, by and large, rather easygoing affairs. Circulating bass motifs and a steady pace throughout each given piece a general approach throughout, with just a few inserted sequences and subtle differences in pace or intensity representing any substantial differences in each individual composition. The arrangements remain more refined in character however, with layers and sounds coming and going in a nice and effective manner. But this time around, we can speak of theme variations rather multiple themes. Mueller is skilled at exploring this type of material too however, even when venturing into techno-flavored surroundings like on Shake Your Legs where he manages to maintain a good nerve and does keep matters interesting. Most people in the art rock universe tend to have a taste for constructions markedly more sophisticated than techno music that is an accomplishment as I regard matters. Other than that these are compositions that reside somewhere in between symphonic art rock, ambient music and progressive electronic music, with a foundation residing someplace around where the most accessible parts of each of these stylistic expressions meet. Quite a few elegant keyboard maneuvers and fine performances, but the material this time around is quite a bit away from coming into consideration as challenging, adventurous or innovative. Personally I found Trance Rapid to be the most intriguing piece, a composition that gave me instant associations to Tangerine Dream's ‘Midnight in Tula’ (from “White Eagle”, 1982). Perhaps mostly so in mood and atmosphere, but the pace-filled energetic performance and somewhat cold hammering synths shouldn't be that dissimilar either if my memory serves me correctly. I also found that Mueller's use of emulated instruments were less of a distinct feature on this latest production of his. On many previous occasions this has been a detrimental factor for his material to a lesser or greater extent. But on this album this has been reduced to a lesser one, and in most instances it doesn't affect the listener experience as such, a noticeable trait still, but usually not to the point of being detrimental.
Conclusion. Soniq Theater continues his annual musical escapades in a fine manner with "Overnight Sensation". On this occasion we're dealing with an album I surmise will find its key audience amongst those who enjoy the likes of Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre, as well as amongst those who fancy the most accessible parts of Tangerine Dreams back catalogue. While not directly comparable to either of them, the compositions share some features with them that I surmise will make most of an impact to that particular audience.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 4, 2012
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