Soniq Theater - Soniq Theater - 2001


Alfred Muller, the keyboardist for Rachel's Birthday has self-produced a space/symphonic CD that is closely aligned with current works by the likes of Bjorn Lynne and Fonya and recalls, at odd times, bits of Mike Oldfield and Vangelis. While Rachel's Birthday was clearly a group oriented symphonic rock outfit, Muller does every thing on his solo release, even put together the guitar sampling. There's an UN-credited female singer at odd moments.


The CD begins with "Rondeo" and "Unicorn" two up-tempo, rousing openers that are guaranteed to wake you up in the morning. These tracks and the vibrant urgency of the tracks that follow define the lively, flighty mood of the album.

Song 4, "Minka e rano" has some female vocals that reminds me of Mike Oldfield's "Ommadawn" album. The track also introduces the use of analogue synth which carries forward into the next track, "Excalibur" - a song whose sinewy synth passages are augmented with a nice chunky guitar. Though the guitar work is minimal in this keyboard-layered extravaganza, when it is used it is very effective.

The album lapses into a thinner, wafting use of digital keys for the next two tracks, but the lengthy "The Power and Glory" has a nice spacey refrain that allows Muller some room to roam. There's also some analogue keys thrown into the mix near the end.

Waves wash us into a light, new age-ish piano intro to "Tseunami" and despite a steady drum beat, the song reveals one of the album's weakest moments. This is just to close to new age for most prog rockers even with its use of sci-fi treatments through out.

Track 10 "Laughing through my tears" is sandwiched by a few short instrumentals and stands out as the CD's funky track. There's some nice guitar work and space rock embellishments to give the track an oddball, almost avant-garde flavor.

A classically influenced symphonic passage takes us to "Hydra" which is strongly reminiscent of Bjorn Lynne's work. There's lots of changes and great percussion here and this track brings the CD back to the heights in which it began. The best is yet to come.

Four well developed, lengthy tracks ends this 69 minute CD in a rousing manner. The seven minute "Riders of Rohan" is true space rock with a hint of new age, but explores areas of fusion as well. It may not be as speedy as ArsNova in their prime, but I love the changes and moods the song creates. "Cinemagic" is another strong track that sweeps us through a endless sea of melodious symphonic rock. The odd female voice keeps things organic as well. We even get a bit of synthesized accordion in the closing track.


All in all, if you are a fan of keyboard driven symphonic space rock, this CD is for you. The recording is excellent and sound mix is bright and sprawling, giving a fine clarity to each instrument in use. Though there's some weak moments in the CD's middle, there's still more than 50 minutes of great instrumental symphonic rock here. My review copy was a CDR with minimal packaging so I can't comment on what form the CD will come in. 

author - date - rating - label

Richard Zywotkiewicz - October 2001 -   - Independent Release