From the title and the press release that came with the CD, I was expecting new age music suitable for a strictly platonic massage. What I got was a soundtrack for an epic sci-fi film that’s yet to be made—the synth-soaked grandeur of Blade Runner meets the big-beat swagger of The Fifth Element. Unlike a lot of “ambient” albums, it simply never gets boring. Synthesist and composer Derrick Stembridge is a master of his craft, and Lifesounds is way hipper than anyone intended. (Labile | driftinginsilence.com)
Warmen Japanese Hospitality
Ever wonder what happened to the archetype of synth player as swaggering heavy metal hero? It’s alive and well in this latest effort from the solo band of Janne Warman, keyboardist of Finnish metal monsters Children of Bodom. The title track opens the album with a baroque blast of instrumental excess that sounds like what might have happened if Glenn Gould had been around to compose the soundtrack to the original Doom video game — then things get more fun from there. Lyrically and attitude-wise, there’s none of the nihilistic posturing some might associate with Scandinavian metal. On the contrary, Warmen seem to relish not taking themselves too seriously, as deft covers of both Journey’s “Separate Ways” and Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” (two words: more cowbell!) suggest. But a good listen to the blistering Minimoog solos, micrometer-tight timing, and overall sense of craft proves they do take themselves quite seriously — they just save it all for the music.