Apollo - Bert Strolenberg

After a beautiful and well-rendered sonic journey into the sea, Synth.Nl (aka Michel van Osenbruggen takes his listeners into the fascinating aura and wonders of space with his fourth album "Apollo", inspired by the various moon missions. The first drafts of this album were presented by Michel on "E-Day 2011" along some catchy visuals, on which occasion he confessed there still was a lot of work to be done on the music. Well, the final 70-minute outcome that landed on cd at E-Live 2011 has an appealing melodic and groovy approach along an excellently mastered spacious sound design and an occasional Jarre-esque sonic rim. More than once, I also heared Michel joyfully play two solo-voices along each other in one piece, and am much pleased by the various deep, groovy bass lines.

The album offers an inviting kick-off with "Launchpad", followed by the tantelizing, highly atmospheric "Apollo 7" that I like even better. Beside the mid-tempo compositions, I personally rate the five "Apollo" pieces on this release above the other seven tracks, as they mostly are less song-structured and melodic in style, airing a mellow state and a descriptive sense of awe. That quiet, immersive sense is also nicely settling down on "Earthrise". A special note on the 8-minute "Orbit", the longest piece on the cd, where Michel creates a mellow, heavenly sphere in the firsty minutes as we (indeed) smoothly orbit, later slightly moving into a grander design with a symphonic interlude. I also imagine Michel is especially pleased with the well-tempered "Apollo 13" and the energetic "Reentry" both found at the end of the album. While "Apollo" proves to be another mature release by Synth.nl, I also think his music would benefit from less melodic solos and the occasionally extensive pitch control used on them (e.g. on "Splashdown").

 

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