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Meisel, Hubi: EmOcean

"The album title EmOcean suggested itself to me all of a sudden, and I immediately saw pictures of an enchanting underwater world in my mind. It was quite clear that it would become a concept album- inspired by nothing but my dreams"

Hubi Meisel

German vocalist Hubi Meisel may have borrowed a page from the Arjen Lucassen sci-fi progressive handbook with EmOcean, his first release of purely original material. No, he doesn't have a revolving door of vocalists parading through the tracks ( and once you hear the man's range you will realise just how superfluous it would be if he did). He has, however, assembled an all-star cast of musicians for this conceptual gem. Joining Hubi on this Homerian odyssey are : Vivien Lalu ( Shadrane) on keys, Marcel Coenen ( Sun Caged) on guitars, Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye) on drums, and Jean B. Affonco on bass.

The tale is one of a solitary mariner who has an unusual encounter while traversing the Sargasso Sea. The sea god Poseidon appears before him and beckons him to gaze at the stars where he sees the constellation of the Dolphin , which appears to be staring at him and smiling. Heeding this as a sign, our hero hails to the dolphin, thus attracting the attention of a real dolphin, which entices the mariner to climb upon it's back. He is carried under the sea to an enchanted realm he comes to realise is the long lost Atlantis. Although the inhabitants of the fabled continent have long since perished, the mariner is brought to a temple where he feels the presence of the lost souls of Atlantis telepathically conveying a message to him. The meaning of all life and the nearly irreperable damages brought forth by man's killing hand become clear to him. Armed with this message from the ocean floor, our mariner is returned to the land above the sea to spread his message to the world.

Although this concept was the brainchild of Mr Meisel, the project went from being merely an idea and becoming a reality when he encountered keyboardist Vivien Lalu on the internet and the two musicians found a similar passion for music.

So , what about the music already ! EmOcean is a beautifully crafted musical journey where melody and harmony meld coherently. Hubi Meisel's high pitched crooning showcases a well trained voice. He shows both great range and restraint as he's never over-the-top. In keeping with the themes brought forth in the concept, he keeps his vocals mostly to throaty whispers, only occasionnally reaching for , and hitting with ease, the higher notes.

Keyboardist and main musical composer Vivien Lalu is an excellent craftsman of melody with a great flair for the dramatic. The music unfolds with a symphonic pomp and grandeur, firmly rooted in the melodic side of progressive metal.

Drummer Daniel Flores and bassist Jean B. Affonco supply a very precise bottom end, while guitarist Marcel Coenen fills in the gaps with some technical and fluid shredding, and performs admirably when asked to take the lead.

Fans of melodic, progressive metal will be well served here, this disc does the genre proud.

Track Listing:
Part I:
1) Lost in the Waters of Sargasso (4:48)
2) Poseidon's Trident (5:19)
3) Nocturnal Breeze (4:23)
4) Dolphin's Wake (4:24)
Part II:
5) Underwater Fears (3:33)
6) FantaSea (4:06)
7) The Souls Of Atlantis (12:57)
8) Sapienta Vitae (5:51)
9) Azure Dreams(instrumental) (2:07)
Part III
10) Aqua Phoenix (3:42)
11) Aero Nautical (4:18)
12) EmOcean (6:15)

Bonus Tracks:
13) Crystal Moon (3:23)
14) Tears of an Enchanted Sea (6:06)

(Final note: the 3 parts of this concept have names, yet they're all spelled in Greek and my keyboard does not have that capablility. My apologies to Mr Meisel for not being able to insert them in this review. Go to his web-site for all the info you need, including a very detailed explanation of the concept as well as a little history concerning the Sargasso Sea, the Bermuda Triangle, and Atlantis.)

Added: March 21st 2005
Reviewer: Yves Dube
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Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Meisel, Hubi: EmOcean
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-21 20:01:52
My Score:

Hubi Meisel is mostly known for his stint with German prog metal band Dreamscape. He sang on their second album Very in 1999. He also appeared in Italian symphonic prog band Maeve of Connacht in their 2001. Afterwards he decided to go solo and released his debut album CUT where he paid tribute to the 80's covering classics. Finally he returned to his prog roots and released his first concept album EmOcean with top-flight guest musicians helping him out. The subject themes vary from Atlantis to the Bermuda Triangle to Greek Mythology and the whole album has a very complete feel to it. It's like one huge track divided into 12 songs plus the bonus material.

This is a great prog metal album inspired by nothing but Hubi Meisel's dreams. I haven't deciphered the plot yet because I really dig the music so much that I haven't been able to get to the concept yet. Being primarily a solo album, Meisel's vocals are understandably the centrepiece of most of the songs, yet the songwriting leaves a lot of room for other instruments to make themselves felt. Hubi Meisel wrote the lyrics and vocal melodies only on EmOcean, the music itself was composed by French keyboardist Vivien Lalu of the band Shadrane. Therefore the general flow of the music is mainly keyboard and piano driven but that doesn't mean there's no room for guitars and bass. With former Lemur Voice and current Sun Caged guitarist Marcel Coenen playing, it is quite hard to imagine a prog album where his distinctive rhythm work and tasteful solos do not stand out. On drums is Mind's Eye drummer Daniel Flores and the bass player is another French guy I'm unfamiliar with, Jean B. Affonco.

I really like Lalu's approach to writing. Meisel and he met on the internet and realised they both shared the same musical vision and it came to the point that Hubi placed his entire trust on him to compose the music for his solo album. Lalu's keyboard and piano work avoids being too flashy or domineering - to the contrary, it rounds out the compositions out and gives them their finishing touch. Marcel Coenen lays down intricate rhythms and occasional guitar solos completely different than his work with his former bands or solo material. I have always been fond of Marcel's playing and this disc is no exception.

Hubi Meisel has a very smooth and tender voice but he can also shift to a more aggressive vocal delivery if necessary, although the general vibe of this disc doesn't call for it because the songwriting is so powerful and the artistic messages are conveyed so effectively. I must praise Hubi's production work as well. The awesome wall of sound, the detailed and crisp mix, the fresh approach to the production value... it's really fascinating. Most bands reach their peak in production after a couple of albums, while Hubi has done a killer job so early in his career.

The vocals remind me a bit of Andy Kuntz circa The God Thing-era or the song "Healing Tree" of Beyond Daylight. James Labrie and Geddy Lee also spring to mind but not to the effect where you can actually place it. Maybe it's a combination of them all with Hubi's own personality added in the mold. Needless to say his voice has a style all his own and I can't think of a more fitting vocalist for this kind of music. The subtle bass lines with Coenen's fierce playing simply provide a fascinating dichotomy with Meisel's laid-back but very powerful vocal delivery.

It's pretty pointless to pick any favourites from this album, because each track is as good as the next one, but you might like to check out the 7th track "The Souls of Atlantis" which clocks in at nearly 13 minutes and presents every aspect of EmOcean from the symphonic touches to the sublime bass and drumming to Marcel Coenen's ripping solos and on top of it all Hubi's fantastic vocal harmonies. This is over 70 minutes of prog metal at its finest and I am positive we'll be hearing more from this talented musician for years to come.

» Reader Comments:

Meisel, Hubi: EmOcean
Posted by Marvik on 2005-10-24 15:49:17
My Score:

Ok. First, I must say that I'm not very good to review CD's. I never really did that before but well, I'll try to do my best, here, and describe the album simply as I FEEL it (I cannot explain all the technical/musical sides and parts, as professional reviewers do - I'm not an expert and I just don't know HOW to talk about it…), because I really think "EmOcean" deserves to be discovered and appreciated by as many people as possible. It's one of the most wonderful prog. CD's I have in my collection and I sincerely hope that my comments will be useful to you...take it as a "simple comment" ;-)

I heard about this CD for the first time (and bought it) about three months ago and what I can say about it is that I really got impressed by the amount of work that was invested in this album ! About 15 months, I think ! There was a lot of research and time invested, as lots of feelings. It's definitely not the kind of project you write in 2 months. It's a FANTASTIC album !!!!!! My favourite one, in fact ! I would qualify it in one word: magical.
The huge concept idea is very deep, complex, meaningful, beautiful and interesting. (All that was inspired by the singer's dreams). It's related to "water worlds", "the sunken continent", "Greek mythologies", "the above" and much more ! I let you discover it - this huge and marvellous story - by yourselves, as it really worth !!! It's like a whole big story that continues itself through the songs...This is like a dream...and you'd only wish to be there...If you close your eyes, you really can "feel" and "see" everything that happens in the album. You "fly" in that in a fantastic movie...That's M-A-G-I-C !!!

This perfect piece of work is very special, original (never seen that kind of work before, I must say, you can't compare it to something that already exists), mystical, spiritual even relaxing, in some way ! It's a very positive album, too !!! Makes me happy, relaxed and feel good every time I listen to it. This is the kind of album that makes your skin shivers to every note, every line, every sound. Also, the lyrics are so well written, the words so well chosen, this only adds more strength to the album because you can "see" clear images of every song in your mind...Hubi Meisel has such a way to describe things ! It's very easy to picture everything here...

Of course, I like Hubi Meisel's voice very very much too !!! It sounds so sweet and he's able to make all the "changes" he wants with it. He plays with his voice very well, which I especially love. This album is musically and vocally incredible and will leave you wordless, I can promise you that ! There are a lot of interesting variations through every song, for any aspect. More you listen to it, more you discover new sounds, new things that you didn't get at the first hearing because it's well hidden. I like the piano and keyboards very much, as there is a lot !!! The music is just amazing anyway !!! The album is simply "Emotional", haha.

But honestly, it's very difficult to say which song is the best !!! ALL OF THEM are great equally - but for different reasons !! (There are 2 bonus tracks too = 14 songs in total) I tell you, EVERYTHING is great !!!
Personally, if I had to tell you which are my 4 favourite songs, I'd choose:

1- "EmOcean" (so sweet, so beautiful, my favourite vocals, just made me cry...)
2- "The Souls of Atlantis" (great musical, vocal changes and much more !)
3- "Sapientia Vitae" (great music, meaning and more too !)
4- "FantaSea" (you'll understand when you'll listen to it !!)

But REALLY, all of them are AS GOOD AS each other and deserve to be listened to !!! I recommend it to everyone !!! That's gonna make you see things in a way you never saw them before...this album REALLY changed my way of seeing some things and opened me to different "horizons", "new worlds".
Basically, "EmOcean" touched my heart and soul in a way I can't describe and that's now my favourite album.

One more major thing: the sound quality is SUPERB !!!!

In my opinion, Hubi Meisel and his musicians have done a "meticulous" job, here !!!! I just can't wait for the next album !!! I'm really trustful that it's gonna be quite "delightful" !!! Thank you very much Hubi, Vivien, Marcel, Daniel, Bamby and Chris (the art worker) for your great work !!! I wish you good luck in everything you'll do in the future.

Thanks for reading me ! :-)

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