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(52:55, Soniq Theater)
TRACK LIST: Track list: 1. Ticket to Everywhere 6:46 2. Fasten Seat Belts 4:03 3. Imaginary Voyage 4:55 4. The Engine 6:00 5. Itchy Feet 1:33 6. Train to Paradise 4:44 7. First Class Traveller 1:47 8. Safari 4:24 9. Short Trip to Space 1:23 10. Intercity Express 5:17 11. Departure 3:49 12. Homeward Bound 4:08 13. Journey's End 4:06 LINEUP: Alfred Mueller - all instruments
Prolusion. German project SONIQ THEATER is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Alfred Mueller, a venture that started shortly after his former band Rachel's Birthday seems to have disbanded. A total of 19 albums have been released under the Soniq Theater moniker since then. "The Journey" dates back to 2017, and is the seventeenth of these. As with all other albums by this artist, it is a self-released one.
Analysis. Soniq Theater have developed quite a bit over the years, starting out creating music that often had a strong orientation towards classic era symphonic progressive rock in many ways, and then gradually seguing towards material with more of an ambient feel to it. "The Journey" is consistent with this development, and as with most other Soniq Theater productions everything on this album is accomplished by Mueller himself without any outside help. Mueller is a skilled composer, and has a good ear for a good melody. That is often the saving grace for his albums, as they tend to come with their fair share of weaker points. That just about everything is done by way of keyboards a feature that can have some rather detrimental effects, especially when instruments are emulated. So is the case this time around, where a few guitar emulations in particular have a rather substantial wince factor to them. Bass, drums and a few other emulated instruments also leave some calling cards of a less than impressive nature. But when Mueller use his keyboards and synthesizers to their strengths, the end result can be borderline brilliant at times as well. When using the best quality sounds, blending details with nods to symphonic progressive rock explored within more of an ambient music framework, flavored with rock music style rhythm section, those creations can be truly endearing and compelling. Material where the strengths overcome the weaknesses, so to speak. On this occasion we are also presented with a creation much closer to progressive electronic music, in the shape of 'Intercity Express'. In my view one of the stronger and more accomplished compositions penned by Mueller, with a less is more approach explored within a framework that reminds me a lot of early 80's Tangerine Dream, this is a joy-filled and uplifting creation. And arguably a song one could actually dance to as well.
Conclusion. The Soniq Theater albums have a tendency to be something of a roller-coaster experience, with high peaks and deep valleys in terms of how interesting the individual compositions are. Most are well made in terms of melodies, harmonies, moods and atmospheres, while the end result can be anything from excellent to good to lacking and occasionally abysmal. Much depending on what type of sounds that are used and how well they fit the totality, and especially the quality of the emulated instruments used. But if an uneven album experience can be tolerated, and the thought of exploring an artist that blends symphonic progressive rock and progressive electronic music elements inside a framework of ambient music, this is an album that merits a check.
Progmessor: July 27th 2019
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