Once you start to listen, you can't stop.
Ariaphonics is part of the classical crossover genre and soaring, beautiful vocals abound throughout this album. Interspersed with an inspiring electronic sound, the exquisite melodies by Dmitri Silnitsky and fantastic vocals by the engaging soprano, Gloria D'Amos, make this album a stand-out.
"Divine Light" and "Summer Moon" combine distinctive orchestral and electronic sounds to create a uniqueness of sound. Operatic renditions by Gloria rival those of Emma Shaplin, Sarah Brightman, and Italian contemporary crossover artist, Filippa Giordano. But, it is the overall sound that make Ariaphonics magnetic and enthralling. Composer Dmitri Slinitsky said "Crossover performers sound more or less the same. Easy pop rhythms, some strings and a couple of well-known arias. An awful lot of people like crossover, but the format has become boring. So I wanted to experiment and try to get a completely different sound. At the same time, I wanted to present totally new material, rather than falling back on the old standards, and take advantage of the resurgent popularity of music from the 1970s."
"Sposa son disprezzata" has almost a jazzy beat due to the incredible musical artistry of the instrumentalists. Outstanding credits go to Dmitri Silnitsky on synthesizers and vocoder; Sash Protchenko on drums, bass and slide guitar, and midi programming; Slav Protchenko on keyboards, violin, piano, rhodes, hammond, clavinet, and mellotron; and Pavel Pavlov on guitar. Narrations by Natasha Shanetskaya also contribute to the overall sensation in this album.
"Intermezzo" arrives with almost an eerieness in some of the musical riffs, and the exquisite piano solos and background of blowing winds create a unique sound. Music for this track was by Dmitri Silnitsky, Slav Protchenko and Sash Protchenko. The listener is engaged in Gloria"s striking sopranic solos throughout and each track seems to capture your attention without letting go.
"Lullaby 2030" has a funky sound of its own, bringing back memories of the '70's while "A Dulcet Spell" and "Nausica" seem to fuse different sounds, narration and genres. The composer also said, "First of all, we’ve used only electronic instruments rather than a full-blown orchestra with string and wind sections. We’ve got melletron sounds instead of strings, for instance. Secondly, we make sure slow arias are interspersed with intermezzo, instrumental compositions where we up the tempo."
The album consists of two CDs, the main one with nine complete tracks, and the second, an EP with four tracks that are remixes of "Dulcet Spell," "The Knight Erreants Song," "Summer Moon" and "Sposa son disprezzata."
There is no doubt that the composer achieved his highest expectations with this superior album. Once you start to listen, you can't stop. The album remains engaging throughout and the stunning vocals and captivating music unifies the richness of Ariaphonics
These days one hardly expects anything original from a new crossover album. So another soprano or mezzo will sing you one or another of 100 well-known Italian opera arias. Light arrangement, New Age style, a few strings thrown in. It’s a well-known recipe, and it usually works. Some do it better, other not quite so well, but the final products are decent CDs that manage not to annoy the 30+ listener.
Well, some female singers tend to miss a note once in a while but so what, there’s software to take care of that, right? Who cares?
I started listening to the first Ariaphonics album in just such a mood. The truth is that track one was more or less what I was expecting. Other than the fact that it was a total crossover hit. Divine Light is based on the String Sonata by Bach, with Italian lyrics. This resulted in a totally new piece, interesting in itself. It immediately struck me that the arrangement had nothing to do with the traditional pop/New Age style. It was perhaps closer to Morcheeba, and the synthesized solo made me think of Wish You Were Here.
By the second track it was clear that this was not your ordinary classical crossover. The complete Summer Moon composition, full of fashionable electronic sounds, gradually moved into the instrumental part, which further set the mid-70s Pink Floyd tone.
Finally – what a surprise! The first pensive, and expectedly Italian, verse was followed by an English line.
«After two weeks the embryo consists of a flat disk, in the centre of which is the primitive streak, that later becomes the mesoderm producing the cells destined to make the heart, the lugs, and all the other internal organs» .
Hey, guys, this is too much for classical crossover! Way too original. So I continued reviewing the album with a translation of the Italian lyrics in my hand.
I can’t describe each separate track because, starting from number two until nearly the end they make one whole sound, gently flowing one into the next in the spirit and tradition of the best concept albums. A rare Antonio Vivaldi aria begins as a tough electronic arrangement, then gets softer till it turns into a drawn-out dynamic instrumental in an unusual 5/4 beat, finally returning to the main theme yet in a totally different form.
After the next bridge there comes an instrumental composition full of vintage instruments, such as Hammond, Thereminvox and Mellotron, throwing us back into the 70s. Excellent technique and performance: Ariaphonics’ trademark.
After an instrumental part I once again heard the solo’s magic voice. And, again, you just can’t make that fit any existing style.
One can’t help thinking that’s what a real crossover should be like. That and nothing else, with no boundaries of type or style.
An excursion into the seventies and back – that’s what it is. And Ariaphonics still has more surprises for us.
Lullaby 2030 seems to combine things that just don’t go together. A recognizably Slavic melody is accompanied by a fashionable R&B rhythm, guitars in Jamiroquai style, vocoders, and a solo violin. And remember: an Italian opera diva is singing all the while!
The greatest challenge, when mixing such stylistic elements, is not to lose your sense of proportion. Ariaphonics has met this challenge. Not a single unnecessary note. This album truly stands out because of the flawless taste and performance.
Still, there was something that bothered, or perhaps just slightly perplexed, me. It probably has nothing to do with Ariaphonics but their record label for sure.
It’s the remix at the end of the album. All right, OK, this remix sounds good. I’d even say it’s superb. More than likely it could become a hit. Yet, marketing or no marketing, can you imagine a remix at the end of, let’s say, a Pink Floyd album? No. It’s counter-concept.
It’s been a while since I wanted to listen to an album time after time. With Ariaphonics you get this urge from the very first try. It surprises me that this project is from Russia. Perhaps it is because Russia is not so influenced by the world music trends that making such albums is possible here. The paradox is that by ignoring these fashions, Russians have succeeded in making a bright and commercially successful project that will, I am sure, enjoy success world-wide.
I’m so sorry to have to write this for the “classical crossover” section. The term does not fully capture it. If, however, one is to force the album into this genre, then let it be the best crossover album ever.