“Looking for an alternative to the music of Vangelis? This is the answer!”
1 Synaptics 4:57
2 Meet me in your Dreams 5:56
3 The Space Race 6:26
4 May 17 2022 7:07
5 The Age of Discovery 2:12
6 Propulsion 3:45
7 First Light of the Cosmos 3:30
8 Ripples in Time 5:25
9 A Shade of Silver 5:12
10 The Cyclic Model 6:56
11 The Equivalence Principle 2:50
12 Implications of the Cyclic Model 3:04
13 Deep Blue Descent 11:47
14 The Colors of Time 4:16
(CD/DDL 73:22) (V.F.)
(Symphonic E-Rock, Soundtrack, Progressive New Age)
Damned that music can be so beautiful! That is often this reflection that came to my mind while discovering this very beautiful CD which is impregnated with romanticism and the perfumes of Vangelis, one also finds musical fragrances of Mannheim Steamroller (Fresh Aire V and VI), that is THE COLORS OF TIME by The Amnis Initiative. As with his previous works, Dennis Lodewijks offers a panoply of electronic symphonic rock anthems, with phases of New Berlin School, which are centered in a cinematic universe. The colors of time belong to our perceptions and the imagination that stimulates them. The Dutch multi-instrumentalist and synthesist does not suffer from any complex at this level. He presents here a solid album well balanced between its lively structures and its atmospheric daydreams that are always guided by an innate sense of a melodic vision built around musical itches, around haunting airs.
Synaptics starts this new musical journey with a structure that is not without reminding some rhythmic phases in the Antartica album. The structure is a kind of mid-tempo and is propelled by a very tight pairing of an undulating bass sequences line and of semi-slow percussion hits. It's a Babylonian cinematic flavored track with an earworm-like melody that is dragged along by the slow staccatos woven into the honeyed orchestrations that surround the majority of the 14 tracks in THE COLORS OF TIME. Meet me in your Dreams emerges from silence with a droning beam that traces a long circle from which various scarlet embers and more dramatic shadows escape. These embers become hums conceived on the principle of ghostly chants with a very emotive sibylline scope. Bass pulsations structure a too slow flow that a line of spasmodic arpeggios makes twitch in symbiosis with the soulless chants. This track, especially its sound effects, makes me want to hear Mannheim Steamroller and its Fresh Aire VI again. I love it when a musician is able to connect his music to the meaning of the title he gives it. To that end, Dennis Lodewijks shows a very visual sense of composition by linking his music to the various themes of his new album. The circular rhythm of The Space Race is the first example that jumps out at me. It's a New Berlin School set on two lines of sequences, one fluid and one bouncy, that support the Gregorian chant of the synth. The arrival of the percussions whips the structure which becomes more in electronic rock mode. The synths are always of apocalyptic-futuristic colors of the Blade Runner kind. The Dutch musician takes advantage of the 6 minutes in the title to make it transit in an ambient phase and to propel it again in a more dynamic final, as much for the rhythm as for the melody. Another longer title, May 17 2022 proposes a slow atmospheric opening, which stretches on almost 4 minutes, fed by winds, drones and finally by astral voices. The synth weaves melodramatic elements before that some pounding of metallic percussions and explosions of timpanis structure a well-paced and above all highly motivated war march, under Vangelis-like horns and breezes of Gregorian voices. The rhythm is in ascending lento mode but strong, almost of Babylonian blood, and also quite steady. The orchestrations and explosions as well as the percussion rolls, and those brassy synth chants vary their intonations to make our souls shiver. The Age of Discovery reminds me of those piano interludes by Jackson Berkey in the Fresh Aire universe of the Nebraska Mormon band. It's tender, melancholic and quite poignant. The music of Propulsion is consistent with the meaning of the title. It is a big orchestral electronic rock with solid percussions, nervous pads and keyboard riffs and especially very good synth solos.
It is a rumbling mist that opens the slow structure of First Light of the Cosmos. The synths have a pharaonic dimension with huge chants whose harmonies remain quite striking. Even if the title uses percussions, its rhythm remains mainly driven by orchestration momentums which make very Vangelis in the Antartica style. Ripples in Time follows with a catchy rhythm in a more electronic and slightly spasmodic texture born from a good fusion of drums and sequencer. The synth weaves good lines of melodies and nice orchestral outbursts with a cloud of violin's cadenced tunes. A Shade of Silver starts with a splendid flute ode. The airs are emotive, flirting with a poignant New Age style, with modulations in the march of the bass layer. And as if that wasn't enough, a choir of astral nymphs and a splendid melody strummed by a nostalgic pianist make the track a must if you want to make a compilation of melancholic music to make you cry. So much emotionality! The celestial horns and trumpets take us back to those contemporary New Age classics, I think of Vangelis' albums Voices and Oceanic among others. A lively pulsating bass line and the curt flow of the percussions propel The Cyclic Model into a spasmodic electronic rock phase. It's very catchy and the incisive hits of the electronic drum make convulse the rhythm into an orchestral mists that let out solos filled with sorrow. Dark and melodic, The Equivalence Principle is a short atmospheric interlude that is laid over a layer of drones on which floats a wailing synth melody with the musical flavors of Blade Runner. A rhythmic circle built on a solid bassline pulsing in a symphonic electronic rock which is bouncing on its rubbery texture, Implications of the Cyclic Model is another lively track that is propelled by a good electronic drumming and harmonious synth pads. Very accessible and catchy, it precedes the most atmospheric track on the album in Deep Blue Descent whose introduction, a spheroidal descent, respects its cinematic vision. Water bubble effects sparkling of oxygen, a descending processional melody, arpeggios with broken melody, bursts of broken rhythms, breezes that draw us into the deepest oceanic blue and synth squeaks fill the dimension of this track that flirts with the 12 minutes and whose immersive quality is undeniable. The title track ends THE COLORS OF TIME with a structured rhythm in a catchy ballad mode. The synthesizers do everything right with arrangements and harmonies that weave an incurable musical itch. Once again, we are in Vangelis' frontiers, from 88 to 96. Especially the period from The City to 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Impossible not to like, if you like melody!
This last sentence applies to the 73 minutes of THE COLORS OF TIME which is an album as impressive as its pharaonic orchestrations. From symphonic electronic rock to progressive New Age melodies and a slight flirtation with the New Berlin School, this new album of The Amnis Initiative offers a very intense music with good rhythmic impulses that do not prohibit at any time the innate sense of melody that besieges the 14 structures of this very well realized album that is available both in manufactured CD and in digital from March 10th. I find it slightly superior to Alternate Timelines and Ejection, Dennis Lodewijks' 2 previous albums that confirm his immense talent as a composer, melodist and orchestral arranger. Looking for an alternative to the music of Vangelis and the best moments of Mannheim Steamroller? The Amnis Initiative is the answer to that quest!
Sylvain Lupari (March 5th, 2023) ****¾*
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