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(55:52, ‘Soniq Theater’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Alien Ambassador 4:52 2. Lunar Sea 4:50 3. Elysian Fields 5:09 4. Venus Transit 4:25 5. Globular Cluster M55 4.44 6. Hyperion 3:37 7. Break the Frame Revisited 4:20 8. Alien Civilisation 5:18 9. Some Things Never Change 4:11 10. Stardust Memories 4:55 11. Metropolis on Mars 4:51 12. Toccatina 2:50 13. Infinity 1:49 LINEUP: Alfred Mueller – keyboards, programming; vocals Jens Klenk – guitars
Prolusion. The German project SONIQ THEATER has been the creative vehicle for composer and musician Alfred Mueller for close to 15 years now, self-releasing a steady stream of albums using this moniker from 2000 and onwards. Consisting of 13 tracks, "Stardust Memories" is his 13th album and was issued in January 2013.
Analysis. Alfred Mueller has managed to establish himself with his own particular breed of music. From his initial forays with a distinct bombastic symphonic progressive rock character to them he has developed into a creator of fairly cinematic music. Still with occasional nods towards the likes of ELP, but just as much he utilizes elements that will come across as familiar to fans of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. While he is a good composer the end result isn't always impressive. On this particular album, Break the Frame, a relic from 1997, is a piece of music that perhaps should have been left alone. Mostly due to the rather detrimental effect the mix of the drums has on this one, badly reverberating into disrupting vocals and additional instruments alike. Metropolis on Mars is another composition I think many might skip, unless they have a thing for minimalistic, funk-tinged synth pop from the mid 80's that is. But on other occasions Mueller's skills as a composer and performer come to their right, and at times brilliantly so. The electronic joys of Globular Cluster M55 and the playful cosmic-tinged escapades of Hyperion are Mueller at his best, and Alien Civilisation with its array of subtly weird and joyful, uplifting movements a sheer pleasure to experience as well. Cinematic excursions with occasional dramatic eruptions are represented in plenty elsewhere, and most often with something that appears to be a specialty of Mueller: dampened inserts sporting a dark toned, smooth and elegant synth motif on top of a careful rhythm foundation, sometimes with a neat, light toned swirling synth texture as a supplemental detail. Most of all this most recent Soniq Theater album is one that is positive, uplifting and jubilant in mood. A truly joyful album throughout, and as long as you can deal with Mueller's main overall weakness, emulated instruments, this is an album that should have a broad overall appeal.
Conclusion. Elegant instrumental music sporting a rich array of smoothly surging and hovering synth motifs on top of fairly well developed rhythm set-ups, placed within an overall uplifting framework, is what Soniq Theater provides on "Stardust Memories". Most of all an album that should find favor amongst fans of Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre, although those who enjoy the more accessible material by the likes of Tangerine Dream might also find this one intriguing.
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