Sonic Pulsar - Playing The Universe

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

The initiative of independent bands must always be encouraged, especially when it is a very good independent band. From Portugal comes Sonic Pulsar, a band described as a "Portugese Progressive Rock Project" and the brainchild of Hugo Flores and Carlos Mateus. The idea started out in Belgium, where the two friends met at school. Despite the fact Flores went back to Portugal and Mateus first went to England, the desire to create music together did not diminish. Flores made an album on his own, although Mateus contributed some lyrics, called Atlantis. In early 2001 they started working on their joint project and now we can enjoy it: Playing The Universe

From the start, "Radio Silence," you feel the energy with which the songs fly out of the speakers and it is evident these guys are not only enthusiastic, but also good! The album shows a mix of styles, from rock to ambient, from acoustic to metal and the whole is melted together with the ambient synth sounds that are omnipresent on the album. The booklet [reveals that] Hugo Flores is responsible for most of the instruments (guitars, synths, bass guitar and drum samples) as well as the vocals, while Carlos Mateus mainly wrote the lyrics, but plays additional synths and guitars, as well as acoustic guitars. Unfortunately they used samples for the drum parts and not real live drums, that would make the sound even richer and fuller.

Nevertheless, it is a very strong album, with good compositions that are well played. Although I find Flores a much better guitarist than a singer, his voice is not bad and quite OK to listen to. The songs range from a minute and a half to over eight minutes, hence the long playtime of over 70 minutes. The only song that could have been shorter is "Wasting," as eight and half minutes is a bit long for this one. In between there are also some nice instrumental songs, like "Sonic Pulsar" and this add to the variety on the album.

Playing The Universe is a strong album that keeps pace and does not slow down anywhere. The compositions are good and played with skill. The only downside of the album is the production, that is not very good. Still, even then it is a nice album to listen to. So if Flores and Mateus keep up this songwriting and playing and improve the sound quality of the (next) album, they are a band with a very good future ahead. So keep an eye on them, as their website tells they are already working on a follow up. But for now, Playing The Universe is a very good album.

[This review originally appeared May 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

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: November 30th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 443
Language: english


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