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Reviews of 'God of Love' by Stereo Alchemy

Discussion in 'News Updates' started by Padma, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Padma

    Padma the Inbond Administrator

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    God of Love is the debut album by electronic duo Stereo Alchemy, comprised of two-time Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin, and Grammy-nominated percussionist Kametron.

    Christopher Tin has been kind enough to stop by and answer your
    questions
    , and provide us with prizes for our Christopher Tin Competition. But wait, there's more. We've been lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to provide you with a couple of reviews of the upcoming album, due to be released next week on Valentine's Day, the 14th of February. Mine is posted here, and Camikaze's is in the next post.

    The track list is as follows:
    1. A Rapture
    2. Unbound
    3. God of Love
    4. She Walks in Beauty
    5. Is It Possible
    6. Monster of the Sky
    7. To Eternity
    8. My HeartÂ’s Fit to Break
    9. Young Lovers
    10. Love Is Love

    Stereo Alchemy are joined by guest vocalists Melissa R. Kaplan (Splashdown) on tracks 1, 3 and 6, Mozez (Zero 7) on tracks 2, 4, 5 and 7, and Lia Rose (Built for the Sea) on tracks 8, 9 and 10. You can pre-order the album here for only $9.99, which will secure you an immediate download of 'She Walks In Beauty'.


    _________________

    Let me start by reminding everyone that I am an old fart. :old: ;)

    I was prepared to not particularly like this album. After all, anything that bills itself as "trip-hop", "synth pop", and "post punk" is not likely to appeal to my generation. However, my musical tastes are quite eclectic, so I was pleasantly surprised by the music here.

    The blending of modern musical styles with old romantic poetry works very well. After all, a good love poem will speak to us no matter the music it is couched in. That is not to say that the music hides or otherwise constrains the beauty of the lyrics. On the contrary, Chris seems to have found how to wrap these eternal emotions in well-crafted contemporary music. It is not music that I would listen to every day, but I can very much appreciate both the effort that was put into this, and the end result.

    All in all, I would say this is a creditable second album to follow "Calling All Dawns". I can highly recommend it to any who like Christopher Tin.
     
  2. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    Approaching this album, one would be forgiven for not knowing quite what to expect.
    Christopher Tin, a composer renowned for his ‘World’ music, collaborates with ‘Kametron’ (Shoji Kameda), who recorded percussion parts for Tin’s Grammy Award winning album Calling All Dawns, to create what they term ‘decadent electronica’, or a ‘seductive blend of trip hop, post punk, and synth pop’. Succeeding in such a transformation would appear no mean feat, but as it proves, Stereo Alchemy are able to transcend genre to produce a polished and exciting body of work.

    The album begins with the dark and foreboding ambience of ‘A Rapture’. Immediately you get a sense of where the name ‘Stereo Alchemy’ comes from, as multiple instrumental layers coalesce, reverberating and flitting, bouncing from ear to ear, melding into what can only be described as an ‘aural experience’. As the silky vocals of Melissa R. Kaplan enter the equation, the importance of the ambient accompaniment does not diminish. It becomes clear that the role of the vocals is to complement the rest of the music, not to overshadow it.

    Gradually the tension of the song’s opening half gives way to lead the track in a surprisingly upbeat direction, making it the first of many to give you a healthy dose of foot-tapping goodness. ‘A Rapture’ admirably succeeds in drawing you into the album, confidently grabbing your attention.

    ‘Unbound’ follows, and builds upon the basis established, the vocals (this time from Mozez) acting not just as the conveyor of meaning via the lyrics, but as a carefully constructed instrumental layer of their own, melting into the remainder of the music. This is an undoubtedly heavier song than the first, with a predominantly percussive focus, allowing you to really get yourself into the album.

    The title track comes next, and takes a contrasting step back, relying more on Kaplan’s vocals and a pulsating synth. Throughout the album, words are taken from Renaissance and Romantic poetry, and it is John Donne who stars here in what is arguably the most lyrically driven song of them all, with his tale of the cruelty of unrequited love providing an intensity for the development of the song from quiet and relaxed to fixating and involved. As always, though, the accompaniment does not rest on its laurels, and continuously provides something that makes you sit up and pay attention.

    Fourth comes ‘She Walks In Beauty’, which takes a decided turn towards pop, with a bouncier tempo and noticeably more traditional form and balance. The highlight is definitely the catchy synth riff, making sublime use of pedalpoint in what can perhaps only be described as a ‘Super Mario’ timbre. Again, there is a heavy focus on rhythm, with an equally memorable syncopated undertone enhancing the fun flavour of the piece.

    ‘Is It Possible’ continues on with the same feel, with the addition of exuding a funk-like feel. If you’re a guitarist, this song will most likely interest you. A thinner texture with an increased focus on pure percussion over rhythmic synth marks a departure from the bulk of the album, but follows on well from ‘She Walks In Beauty’, with Mozez reprising a similarly vocal-heavy role.

    Kaplan returns for ‘Monster of the Sky’, and brings back with her the same instrumental focus as in her previous two outings. There is an undeniably seductive quality to Kaplan’s contributions, which fit perfectly with the supporting role afforded to them, making her arguably the most suited of the vocalists on the album to the styles Stereo Alchemy bring. This track is no exception, with all layers combining to form a cohesive whole without undue dominance placed on the shoulders of any particular department.

    ‘To Eternity’, the longest track on the album, gradually builds itself into an upbeat song leaving you wanting even more. Although you might be tempted to conclude that, because it utilises a fairly simplistic drum machine beat, the piece is not as rhythmically focused as others, there is indeed a heavy reliance on the interplay of the varying accents of the multiple synth tracks. The vocal line is anchored around a repeated pattern that interweaves adeptly, creating a work brimming with excitement.

    Lia Rose makes her first appearance in ‘My Heart’s Fit to Break’, followed up by ‘Young Lovers’ and the concluding ‘Love is Love’. Rose’s vocals provide a different feel, softening the approach taken by Stereo Alchemy, though both ‘My Heart’s Fit to Break’ and ‘Young Lovers’ exhibit heavier elements as they progress, such as the inclusion of a driving bass beat in the former of the two. The latter is arguably much more pop-like than anything else before, with the softness of the vocals again contrasting with the harsher electro-pop synth.

    ‘Love is Love’ rounds off God of Love, providing a mellowed ending to the highly energetic collection. As with ‘A Rapture’, there is a heavy focus on ambience, though the foreboding tone of the first track has by this stage subsided to an assured calmness, completing the full journey of this cumulative artwork.

    Overall, it is difficult to categorise these ten songs. Indeed, this is why Stereo Alchemy has crafted their own term; ‘decadent electronica’. It is not that the styles and genres delved into are unfamiliar, but that they cover a broad range. ‘A Rapture’ and ‘Monster of the Sky’ will strongly remind you of Depeche Mode, whilst ‘Unbound’ moves in the direction of Nine Inch Nails. ‘My Heart’s Fit to Break’ has shades of a toned down La Roux, whilst ‘To Eternity’ develops from the soulful, downtempo trip hop style of Mozez’ contributions to Zero 7 towards the indie electropop of M83, with a heavier synth focus that perfectly fits the ‘decadent’ label. There are departures into the realm of pop in a number of songs, particularly ‘Young Lovers’, of funk in ‘Is It Possible’, and even a touching pass on folk in ‘Love is Love’. There should be no worry of this album being pigeonholed.

    It is clear that there is a rhythmic dominance to the compositions. God of Love does not in general cover a particularly complex melodic gamut, but largely relies on accents to effectively and infectively produce interest. This is perhaps what best allows Tin and Kametron to proficiently enter into this new stylistic territory. Genre is to a large extent defined by sound, but beat and rhythm are far more a matter of feeling. You don’t have to be a synth aficionado or an electronica diehard to recognise and respond to a pulse or flow. Of course, holding an interest in this sort of thing (disclaimer: as I do) will certainly magnify your appreciation of Stereo Alchemy’s work, but listeners from multifarious musical backgrounds will certainly be able to enjoy listening to this album, and then enjoy listening to it some more.

    Although you may be reluctant to dive into such a dramatically different musical category, this album really is worth the time of day. It is fun, it is energetic, and it has remarkable depth. This is what you bought those $80 earphones for. This is an album in which to indulge your senses.
     
  3. Maniacal

    Maniacal the green Napoleon

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    I hope CFC is getting paid for these ads. (Not that I have anything against Tin or his musical work).
     
  4. hoplitejoe

    hoplitejoe Top fun-poster

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    :agree:
     
  5. christophertin

    christophertin <a href="http://www.christophertin.com"><span styl

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    LOL. So, uh, whom do I make the check out to? :)
     
  6. hoplitejoe

    hoplitejoe Top fun-poster

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    I will give you my details in a PM ;)
     
  7. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    Civfanatics aims to provide content that is of interest to, well, Civ fanatics. Exclusive content even more so. Given the cult-like status of Baba Yetu in particular in the Civ community, it stands to reason that some Civ fanatics will be interested in Stereo Alchemy's work. We're not doing this to advertise a product, but to provide something that's of interest to our members. If people are interested, then we've obviously gotta tell them where to buy it (which is conveniently the same place you can get a free download). ;)
     
  8. Maniacal

    Maniacal the green Napoleon

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    That would be fine if your post didn't look like it was written by a marketing agency and there are already have two announcements (that are still up and hogging screen space) and multiple threads on this. This doesn't encoruage me to buy it and I have never liked the majority of advertising anyway. Bad ads can easily turn me off of ever wanting to purchase the product. Also if CFC is going to put up such ads it should get some money so they can find a better webhost.
     
  9. Honkoid

    Honkoid Honk of the hill

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    Germany
    For what it's worth, I really like the title track and I am interested in the rest of the album. I'd propably never know of it if it wasn't for civfanatics, so thanks :)
     
  10. vra379971

    vra379971 Chieftain

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    That's patently absurd. Its a fact based post with a fair personal evaluation. Marketing agencies posts are well...you know, they said Civ 5 was perfect *shrugs*

    (And btw, while I like Civ 5, I've some minor issues, namely with the inability of the AI to conduct a half decent peace deal when they have even a minor field advantage. Or when I have one.)
     
  11. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ

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    This looks excellent. Thanks to Civ Fanatics for bringing it to my attention. :)
     

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