Sonic Pulsar - Playing The Universe

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Hugo Flores Productions
Catalog Number: Playing2003
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:03:00

Sonic Pulsar has a bit heavier sound than Flores' Atlantis, though they both mix progressive rock/metal styles with ambient textures. That is, on one track (on the ironically entitled "Radio Silent") we reference Dream Theater and on another ("Dreamscape") Vangelis.

The highlight is guitar playing of Flores, which is quite fluid when he gets going. The synthetic drums make this a little cold, although the mixing of instruments is much better than on Atlantis, though here and there, a keyboard passage will stray too far up in the mix. On "Sending Dead Flowers" we get a brief, screaming, ballsy, overdriven keyboard passage that sounds like Derek Sherinian stepped in for a moment.

"Wasting" is Queensrÿche-like with a rather nice orchestral swell, giving this piece a very epic feel. "This Is Not A Jam Session" sounds as if a new guitar riff were played over the heavy, boomy drum tracks of Rush's "Mystic Rhythms." Flores does some great soloing over this riff, though some squelchy keyboards slide in for a moment on a couple of occasions, like a poorly tuned radio. Mateus plays additional guitars here, giving some sections a crunchy sound. A breathy, sighing keyboard passage maintains the spacey theme of the album, though I think it goes a minute too long.

"New Perspective" is a killer track, just from a sonic perspective ? Flores plays a monster guitar solo on a track that has a ballsy, aggressive feel all with a vaguely Middle Eastern motif. "Made Of Dreams" is the ballad; not about romance but about the stuff of dreams (hopes, desires, etc.). It is sparse, featuring only tinkling piano and vocals (with some space synth effects thrown in for atmosphere). "Playing The Universe," is an aggressive, heavy piece with screaming guitar leads from Flores. You might view this track as incorporating all of the themes of the album to this point ? heavy, rhythmic percussion, tinkling piano, ambient keyboard effects, etc? all the sounds of the "universe," as it were.

The album ends with "Somewhere In The Universe" another standout track on the album. Aside from the overly digitalized drums, this melodic track works quite effectively. Warmer percussion would only have served to heighten the emotion quotient of the piece, which remains muscular enough to appeal to one's "masculine" side.

The tracks that don't work are "Old Man's Tale," a mellow, laidback piece that includes Mateus on acoustic guitar, but lyrically isn't very interesting -- there's don't follow through, no tale in this "?Tale." "In Slow Motion" has a techno-dance-like feel. A bit of brassy trumpet and some tinkling piano make all to brief, token appearances. It could easily be an outtake from Queen's The Works session, sans Brian May on guitar. Even Flores sings in a style, if not a tone, similar to Freddy Mercury, but it's a bit to "slow" and dreary.

Playing The Universe is a better than average release that would have been even stronger a track or two shorter. While Flores is not the greatest of vocalists, his performance is stronger than on his solo release. But Sonic Pulsar do have some really great music on offer, and I encourage you to check them out.

Radio Silent (7:06) / Dreamscapes (5:46) / Sending Dead Flowers (6:13) / Wasting (8:28) / Old Man's Tale (2:41) / Sonic Pulsar (3:56) / I Have This Stone (4:29) / In Slow Motion (6:41) / This Is Not A Jam Session (6:53) / New Perspective (5:56) / Made Of Dreams (2:58) / Playing The Universe (4:24) / ?Somewhere In The Universe (6:25) i. Endless Space ? ii. See You Somewhere

Hugo Flores ? vocals, guitars, bass and drum programming
Carlos Mateus ? acoustic guitar (5), synths, additional guitars (9)

Playing The Universe (2002/2003)
Out Of Place (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin PT

Added: October 5th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 534
Language: english


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