I don’t do this often, but I decided to review two albums in one post. These two albums are very different in every way, besides, obviously, the progressive nature of the music. The first album is actually an EP from Pontus Gunve, an instrumental composer with loads of technical chops and wonderful taste.
Pontus Gunve is an artist out of New York, and he simply goes by Pontus now. His style, according to his press release, is similar to that of Dream Theater, Yes, King Crimson, blah blah blah. I’ve seen that a million times. I really don’t care about the influences, but I do care that this EP is quite good. He plays the electric guitar here, and the other musicians include Tripp Dudley on drums and tabla, Eric Allen on the cello, and Bryan Percivall on the bass. These guys are incredible on their respective instruments, putting out flurries of notes that would make any metal musician jealous.
The five track EP is simply called “IV”, being his fourth release, and what really impresses me about this release is that each song has its own character and sound. The first track, “Ten”, gets a little too Dream Theater for my taste, being a driving, technical montage of sorts: a wall of sound, if you will. I don’t feel like it has any real purpose behind it. It’s impressive, though. I’m not so much a fan of the second track, either, as it is a cover of the Middle Eastern tune “Misirlou”, which you would know because of The Beach Boys. It really sounds like that same tune, and that’s about all there is to say about it. This issue plagues much of the EP: a lack of personality and of anything that really grabs you. This track, however, is representative of the world music theme that fills the rest of this EP.
The final three tracks are more my speed, however. All three of them feature rich tapestries, lots of space, and elegant performances. World music is the heart of this EP, and we get tracks with Latin and European flair. Now, I’m a fan of the Finnish band Apocalyptica, and I have to admit the last two tracks here remind me greatly of their elegant cello-based metal music. This is a really good thing, as I love the neo-classical effect and the emotional performances. The style of playing is beautiful to hear.
Pontus has composed a rich, eclectic EP, then, with great performances and an obvious eye for detail. Sometimes, there are too many details, but the music is impressive nonetheless. It is, however, one of those albums that won’t really affect me going forward, and it’ll never be part of my regular playlist. I like it and it’s obviously very good, but I feel it’s missing quite a bit of personality to make it stick with me.
The second album I wanted to review is the new effort from Statua, an electronic artist hailing from the Philippines. This guy is the complete opposite of Pontus, utilizing warm electronics and echoing piano passages to evoke feelings and soundscapes. The album’s name is “Celestial Bleakness”, and it certainly describes the album well, as it feels ethereal and grey at the same time.
The artist’s actual name is Samuel Fianza, so I assume he plays any and all instruments himself. His style ranges from delicate and warm to cold and hardened. His style is also very cinematic, like a moody soundtrack of sorts. The textures are ever throbbing; feeling organic, psychedelic, and very alive. His electronic music, then, is not in your face or brash. It is flowing and warm, with peaks and valleys.
As with any electronic music, the loops can get a bit repetitive. I am impressed, though, that there is always some sort of melodic progression going on along with the loops, providing something of interest. The songs all are named very appropriately, sounding exactly like their names. My favorite two songs on the album are “Dark Suns” and “Sculpted in Stone”. The former feels immense, like floating in an expansive void while a dying sun descends below you. It’s awesome. The latter is the rawest piece of music on the album, but then it transitions into a truly celestial peace that ends the album with “Ghost Town”. The album ends in such a gentle way, and really just feels good from beginning to end.
“Celestial Bleakness” is a wonderful example of how enjoyable electronic music can be, not to mention how great it feels to hear and experience the highs and lows. It has tons of character and personality; shrouded in mist and warm with familiar feelings. So, technical wizardry (Pontus) versus electronic warmth (Statua). Progressive music is truly diverse and I’m so happy to be a part of this community. These two albums both make perfect sense to me, and I hope they can help you expand your horizons.
Find Pontus online at:
Find Statua online at: