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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RUBÉN ALVAREZ: Solstice (2017)

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

“Solstice is an hommage to Jarre for fans of Jarre from a fan of Jean-Michel Jarre”

1 Solstice Part 1 4:16 2 Solstice Part 2 3:47 3 Solstice Part 3 4:05 4 Solstice Part 4 4:31 Rubén Álvarez Music (DDL 16:41

(French cosmic rock) (V.F.)

Here is a totally unexpected pleasant surprise! Who knows Rubén Álvarez? This Spanish guitarist is known for his progressive rock touch with a hint of heavy metal. He realized an E.P. which went under all radars at the end of 2017, SOLSTICE. And notice the artwork! We are not far from Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene 7-13. No? Abandoning his usual style, Rubén Alvarez has, against all odds, traded his guitar and his style for synths and a turn to cosmic rock in a much Jarre style. Rubén Álvarez insists on one point; SOLSTICE is not a mini album containing Jarre remixes. Although the music sounds exactly like that, it's an EP of nearly 17 minutes which pays tribute to the music of the French musician. And what a tribute my friends ...

Between Oxygene and Equinoxe, Solstice Part 1 leaps between our ears with a mad rush of arpeggios hopping with fluidity. The bass gives a support to a more harmonic structure with layers of synths that are very Jarre. The effects of rattlesnakes in percussion, the cosmic decor and the lines of harmonies which get transformed in these synth pads are all elements that make this Solstice Part 1 an anthem that pays tribute to the commercial and very FM music of Jean-Michel Jarre. SOLSTICE is a vibrant tribute to his music with 4 compositions structured on the model that the musician took to compose his huge planetary hits in the 70's. The cosmic and percussive elements which have charmed the ears of millions of fans in Oxygene and Equinoxe are ubiquitous here, as are these melodious approaches which have planted timeless earworms. Solstice Part 2 is more in the genre of electronic trance with a heavy rhythm which pulses at a good speed with the adjacent melodies from two synth lines. We are in Oxygen 7-13! In a well detailed cosmic setting, the pace of Solstice Part 3 oscillates with a good flow from the sequencer. A heavy bass line signs a dramatic approach while the synth puts down these lines of melodies so similar and yet very independent of each other that lie on the 4 too short structures of SOLSTICE. The rhythm slows down after the effects of ghostly songs on the Ondes Martenot, crossing this boxed electronic rhythm, so dear to the finals on Jarre's first albums, to a more e-rock pace. Solstice Part 4 exploits the laser harp tones and the Zoolook effects on an evolving structure which makes us realize that only 4 tracks and 17 minutes of SOLSTICE is really not enough. A must have for fans of Jean-Michel Jarre, Oxygene to Zoolook zones with a light look at Oxygene 2 and 3.

Sylvain Lupari (February 1st, 2019) ***½**

Available at Rubén Álvarez's Bandcamp

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