Project Creation - Floating World


Year of Release: 2005
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: PRR320
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:45:00

Hugo Flores, solo guitarist and member of Sonic Pulsar (his collaboration with Carlos Mateus, who contributes lyrics here to one track), has another iron in the progressive metal fire - Project Creation. The first creation from this project is Floating World, the first chapter of a planned three part high-concept sci-fi trilogy. High concept indeed and I'm not being cheeky in saying that. Floating World posits just that - a floating world. The inhabitants of a dying planet must flee and search for a new world to colonize, and do so in the titular floating world... a floating city really, if you look at the artwork (imagine the NY skyline in a domed over spacecraft). The image is iconic in science-fiction, and certainly in science-fiction themed artwork, though I'm not sure they've ever been interstellar. We've visited this theme with Flores before, in Sonic Pulsar's Out Of Place, where I mentioned Dyson spheres, though I don't presume that my comment sparked this project's concept ... as the idea of a floating world, or city, is so iconic).

The world they find is barren, they create a sun that sparks life on the planet, and... and this leads into the creation part of that title. It's a not-so-new new approach to the creation myth, the idea that maybe our ancestors were from "off-world." We are descendants of these travelers (only we've forgotten), the Great Pyramid having been a marker set to remind future generations of our origins. Well, someone's been watching Stargate, eh. Or is dipping from the same mythos well, at least. And isn't the city of Atlantis supposed to be an interstellar craft? (Flores' solo CD, incidentally, is called Atlantis (2000)). One thing you'll observe is that our past selves look much like our future selves might be if we continue on the path we're on (cyborg beings fleeing a dying planet), and thus also becomes an allegory for our times.

This project includes the vocals of Linx, from Portuguese progressive rock band Forgotten Suns, and Alda Reis, with additional guitar from Vasco Patricio (ptRocker) and Allen Vasconcelos; bass and cello from Nuno Silva and drums from Carlos Bateras (both of PlayLoudInsane); Baroque recorder and percussion from Fred Lessing (DayMoon); and flute and sax from Paulo Chagas (Miosótis). Not only is this a music work, but a CGI film is also in production, based on the story.

Project Creation shares the heavy, churning metal feel with Sonic Pulsar but adds to it lighter touches - namely flute and sax, which at times give this a new agey feel (in a good way), especially in the intros to "Arrival" (soprano sax, and what sounds like muted trumpet) and "Artificial Satellite" (mainly flute and flute like tones in an atmospheric, spacey environment), the latter of which has, for a moment, a Middle Eastern feel. Here the flute gives way to synthetic and chilly tones of keyboards (and deliberately so, of course). The satellite here is a sun (so technically not a satellite, as that's usually a term used for moons; am I being nitpicky?), though not a natural creation, as we learned above.

In as much as there is a metal drive to it, there's lots of diversity in the sound - those areas of light and shadow, where light is the airy, lyrical passages, shadow those heavier moments. An example of "light" is the instrumental "The Desert Planet" -- light, but not without its own darkness (a sad cello, for one). But, there's also a mix between organic and synthetic in the sound - mimicking the mix between the organics and synthetics of the story: travelers and their mode of travel; the "Mechanical Dragonflies" (track 5) who are semi-organic beings (those on the journey, if the artwork is any clue, appear to be a mix of flesh and steel...mostly steel*). If you haven't already thought of Ayreon a few times already - high sci-fi concept, guests filling roles, it being a multi-part epic - then you will when you hear the lovely metallic vocals that open the often shimmery, crystalline "Mechanical Dragonflies," as I thought of the Dream Sequencer of the Universal Migrator pair of releases.

Darkness comes in with the explosive "Warming Up The Machines" (where that sun mentioned above comes into being, to bring life to this previously barren planet). And the all synths instrumental "Intervening" is evokes darkness as well, though here it?s the darkness of space, cold and dry... it's Flores' moment of space music, a la such folks as Kevin Braheny. Basically it's a seamless mix of progressive metal energy, progressive rock pacing and space music atmospheres... a mix that provides the depth for the lights to reflect off and the shadows to form. The closest comparison is to Ayreon, though at times I also thought of Pallas (circa The Sentinel).

The opening title track is a throbbing bass and keyboard heavy piece, soaring vocals giving this piece the vast and epic quality it needs to set forth the idea that we are about to experience something emotional and grand. All the performers can be heard here, in snatches -- a sweet cello there, a piercing guitar solo there (Patricio rather than Flores, who is instead churning away on bass), a bit of flute there. The quality of the vocals are spacey, in contrast to the pieces that are "first person narratives" (like "Living Under A Blue Sky," "Arriving") are more intimate in tone, more -- ahem -- down to earth. Flores, Linx and Alda are earnest singers, infusing the storyline with a great deal of passion. Their voices work well together, Alda's being a sweet, clear voice that has become almost stereotypical of this style, at least from the female side... Ephemeral Sun, White Willow... these are just two that pop into mind (and yet there is someone else she sounds very much like whose name escapes me)... Linx has a prog-rock voice, strong and dramatic (vague hints of LaBrie at times, mostly in the closing piece "Immortality"), as does Flores, his recognizable by its slight accent.

As you might expect, guitar also plays a grand role in the scheme of things -- the fiery leads we've come to expect from Flores are there, though some leads are played by Patricio -- but never for the sake of just being there. These are wholly composed and thought out pieces, making Project Creation's debut a strong beginning, with richly layered textures of sound, an interesting storyline that, while not entirely unique, isn't so clich? ridden that it becomes bothersome. Put that down to strong, engaging performances that make it seem fresh. Project Creation feels more fully fleshed than Out Of Place, perhaps because there are more "voices" involved, because Flores has incorporated more textures into the music, or because he has continued to mature as songwriter... or perhaps a combination of all three. Very well done.

*in another instance of two of my interests dovetailing unexpectedly, in the March 2006 issue of The Magazine Of Fantasy and Science-Fiction , the story Shambhala, written by Alex Irvine, concerns... well, I don't want to give way the story's ending, of course, but a hybrid of sorts between metal and human is at the core. You can view the cover (and order an ebook copy) at: www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook36120.htm (interestingly, the paper edition isn't available from F&SF!)


Tracklisting:
The Floating World / Living Under A Blue Sky / The Desert Planet / The Civilization / Mechanical Dragonflies / Arriving / Warming Up The Machines / Artificial Satellite / Intervening / Creating Atmosphere / First Species / The Shining Planet / Cheops / Returning Home

Musicians:
Hugo Flores - vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, bass guitar, synthesizers, additional drum arrangements, 'Berimbau,' percussion, sitar, and Variax tones; Yamaha DB50XG (13)
Tiago 'Linx' - vocals
Alda Reis - vocals
Vasco Patricio (ptRocker) - guitar solos and/or melodies (1, 6, 7, 12, 14)
Paulo Chagas - saxophone, flues
Carlos Bateras - acoustic drums (1, 6, 12, 13)
Fred Lessing - baroque recorder (5), chimes
Nuno Silva - cello; bass guitar (5, 7, 12)
Allen Vasconcelos - acoustic guitar (on the acoustic version of 11)
Carlos Mateus - additional lyrics (14)

Discography:
Floating World (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin PT

Added: April 9th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.sonicpulsar.com
Hits: 2033
Language: english

  

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