Once in a while, a project comes along that moves mountains. As I’ve noticed, these albums are often unexpected. That is the case for Thomas Bergersen’s “Humanity”. The first chapter of this anthology was released back on July 1st, and it is breathtaking in its enormity.
Thomas Bergersen is a composer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Norway. You’ve probably heard his work through his production company, Two Steps from Hell, which makes music for films and also for their marketing campaigns. His music was featured in such trailers as: Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Twilight Saga, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code, The Mummy, The Dark Knight, and Tron: Legacy. That is quite the repertoire, and you can imagine from those examples what his solo music will offer.
Thomas’ music is a wonderful mix of various genres. Primarily, he produces epic post-classical compositions. They do sound like movie scores many times, which is probably why I like them so well. You will, however, also hear plenty of pop, electronic, rock, and ethnic music. Thomas weaves all of this together into a grand symphony of light and rising hope, even though he isn’t afraid to explore darker themes, too. I find that this music creates a swelling tide in my chest, one that leaves me feeling hopeful and nostalgic.
“Humanity” itself is more than just one album. Thomas has seven albums planned for this project. “Humanity” seeks to explore us, for lack of a better word. He hopes to capture various themes that directly relate to who we are, where we live, where we’ve been, and where we are going. This music is pure, undefiled expression about a topic that is as close to home as can be.
On this first album, Thomas seems to be exploring the beauty of our humanity, and the stain of death that can snuff out even the brightest lights. The music is appropriately epic, shining like a beacon of hope and worth. Some of the songs are more nuanced, leaning on folk influences or choral arrangements. Other songs are unrelentingly massive, soaring without any restraint whatsoever. Still other songs have a strong pop influence, including vocals from Cinda M, Audrey Callahan, and Merethe Soltvedt. Piano, strings, powerful drums, and electronic accents bring all of these tracks to life, and the results are passionate and stirring.
Thomas released one single for the album, called “L’appel Du Vide”, meaning “The Call of the Void”. The desperate music video showing a composer feverishly trying to save his lover’s life by the power of music is effective, to say the least, and the music itself hovers and burns subtly until Merethe’s vocals launch the song into a monolithic climax that will bring tears to your eyes. What a song!
There are eight tracks to the album itself, though there are bonus tracks, too. The first couple songs, “Eleutheria” and “We Are One”, are basically intros to the album. The former is choral and orchestral, feeling somber and promising. The latter is more world-focused, sounding folksy and organic. These tracks together introduce us to both the wonder and culture of the human experience. I think that is brilliant.
“Beautiful People” and “Wings” come next. These songs are both mighty in scale. The former is so full of hope that your heart might burst. Merethe’s vocals sound as if they are speaking a collective language for humanity, promising us that we can thrive together, and only together. The pipes and musing moments, too, bring everything down to Earth. “Wings” starts slowly, but soon the horns come sweeping in to create one of the most engorged, colossal moments on the album. It is such an effective track.
After the single, we get three more tracks, “Orbital”, “Mountain Call”, and the title track. All three are absolutely stunning. I like to use that word quite a bit, but I literally mean that these tracks will leave you speechless. “Orbital” rests upon a pop vibe with electronic beat and Cinda M’s vocals. Huge punches of electronica are the name of the game on this song, and I love it. “Mountain Call” takes things in a totally different direction. Pipes, soaring vocals from Audrey, and folk vibes set the tone here, but a thrilling electric guitar solo that sounds equal parts rock and neo-classical is what really blows my mind. The careful layering of sounds and climactic expertise are on full display.
The title track technically ends the album. It feels intensely cinematic, like a grand vision is unfolding before us. Through its many transitions and builds, it never fails to arrest my undivided attention. The final moments feature huge percussive blows that only add to the effect. Now, there are some bonus tracks, but I want to highlight one specifically. “Beautiful People (EDM Mashup)” might not be what the serious metalhead crowd can appreciate normally, but there is something addictive about it. This version is actually almost four minutes longer than the studio version, and it seems to mix in some of Merethe’s vocals from “L’appel Du Vide”, creating a vast soundscape of voices, emotions, and dance beats. Yet, this is an eight minute track, so it has plenty of down time and building melodies, too. I find it brilliant.
Thomas Bergersen has a ridiculous amount of music to his name, but this album might be the best thing I’ve heard from him yet. I’m intrigued by this “Humanity” project, too, and will be following it closely. This music is dense with emotion, beauty, and light, and I don’t think that anyone who truly gives it a chance will come away unimpressed. What a journey and what a start!
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