Artist Brian Vassallo (Composer). Title BEYOND Label Brian Vassallo MUSIC // ASCAP UPC Barcode.-No. (634479320033) CD Manufuctured By Polygram Mastering: Temple Studios // MALTA Cover Design: Duane Laus Author © Bill Binkelman - Wind & Wire . Brian Vassallo's debut recording, Beyond,may be short (it clocks in at just over 31 minutes long) - but what a fantastic 31 minutes it is! If you love classic spacemusic, Beyond could become one of your favorite recordings of recent memory. Six tracks are divided between soaring drifters full of all manner of retro synths evoking the golden era of the Hearts of Space record label, and quasi-Berlin EM cruisers. All of the tracks are solidly engineered and produced, with a spacious sound field (headphones are a must, in my opinion). 'Are We Alone?' opens the album in grand jaw-dropping fashion - swooshing synth washes, whooshing sonic effects, echoing tones, and dramatic analog chords combine to evoke a true sense of the cosmos. Minor key undercurrents and lush drones are carried along in a current of bouncy Berlin-like drum rhythms and soaring synths on 'Out There' (one of my favorite tracks on the CD). 'Distant Stars' reverses field with it's plaintive and heavily echoed digital piano (notes seem to go on forever - receding further and further into the distance) evoking the vastness of deep space, helped along by whooshing solar wind effects and subtle drones deep underneath the piano. 'Where Are We Going' returns to the bouncy rhythms of 'Out There' but this time the mood is emotionally lighter and also more of a straightforward homage to Berlin school music. Warm melodic keyboard chords flow over percolating sequenced beats and synths. Later, more retro synths enter the track, yielding an even warmer sound and bringing a smile to my face, as I recall the LP recordings by Larry Fast (a.k.a. Synergy) that I first played way back in the '70s. Two more floating spacemusic tracks remain on Beyond: the serene 'Heartbeat Above Earth' (Michael Garrison meets Jonn Serrie perhaps?) and the uncharacteristically more sparse ambience of the title track (which is a dark formless scary short trip into forlorn synth choruses, strange reverberating rhythms, and mysterious drones). Beyond, indeed! The only fault I can find with the track is that ends very abruptly - almost too much so. Brian Vassallo will hopefully be encouraged by a positive response to this fine recording. Beyond may signal the start of a great spacemusic artist's career.If you're a fan of the golden age of spacemusic (mid to late '80s), you will be too. BRIAN VASSALLO: BEYOND Author © ERIC MONTFORT -The Sunday Times . 'THE atmosphere of this album is greater achieved when started from the begining and played to the end without interruptions,'states the opening of this album,to wich one should add 'in a closed dark room'. Beyond is Brian Vassallo's first album and is a montage of electronic instrumental sounds.It also follows other occasional releases in this mould,notably Nicky Falzon's Masque projects in 1992-94. Beyond's base is the electronic music advocated by the likes of Pierre Schaffer and his most successful pupil Jean Michel Jarre.There are also influences from KarlHeinz Stockhausen and even draws on Berio's latter-day serial music experiments. As the name suggests,the album's theme is on our vast mysterious universe and the music is suited to create an aura of mystery.Themes like Are We Alone,Out There and Distant Stars are enough to make the listener realise this. Beyond also provides an ideal backround for meditation. Beyond is impeccably produced and although it is essentially instrumental and incidental musiCathere are also some moments where technical ability and musical creativity are evident. This debut release has opened at least two options for Brian Vassallo-either to continue delivering this this kind of specialised and rather popular electronic atmospheric new age music or to direct his creative abilities towards more experimental arrangements.
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