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Simon, Alan: Big Bang

Recent times have seen a number of releases come my way from French composer/songwriter Alan Simon and if this man is one thing, it’s many things. Songbook was a compilation of classical work and random rock opera pieces that left me rather nonplussed. While Excalibur IX was a full on, star studded (as Simon’s works tend to be) rock opera that completely redressed the balance by being hugely exciting in scope and execution. Mere months down the line and we’re moving in another direction once more, Big Bang a fourteen track suite written as a soundtrack for the ‘city of space’ in Toulouse, France. It also finds Simon being allowed full access to NASA’s sound archives to pull together a suitably space age piece that charts the Big Bang, and well, everything that came after. Add in the contributions of over 200 musicians to this album and to suggest we have quite an undertaking here would be a massive understatement on an almost universal scale!

And yet, for all Simon weaves clever little pieces of interstellar dialogue into this mainly instrumental album and cooks up a dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere through the blending of strings, synths and a more obvious rock push, without the ‘city of space’ to accompany the whole thing, it does sound rather lost (in space, no doubt). Don’t get me wrong, this is beautiful music, crafted and cared for, but it feels much more like the backing for a visual piece than it does an album in its own right. There are however, some more obvious, lyrical moments, Alan Stivell taking up the vocals on “Solarius” and adding a little more interest, while Roberto Tiranti (of Labyrinth) does likewise for “Seven Moons In The Sky” and, the rather out of place “The Journey”. Oddly, the latter, while being surrounded by a collection of pensive, atmospheric pieces, takes on the guise of a 70s string laden disco anthem, thumping, bumping and grinding as it bursts into what you could imagine being a Euro dancefloor hit from decades gone by. It’s a decent enough stab at a hand clapping, hip gyrating thump along, but what’s it’s doing on this album? The final vocal piece, “Fools”, finds ex-Saga man Michael Sadler (a frequent guest on Simon’s work, as is Supertramp’s John Helliwell, who also shows up here) unveiling a trademark vocal full of melancholy and passion. It’s by far and away the best thing on show.

When you take into account the sheer scope of what Alan Simon has attempted here it’s difficult not to be at least a little bit impressed by his courage and ability in bringing together all of the different elements. What it’s a little harder to get excited about are the actual results. Big Bang may be grand in vision but in the end it isn’t particularly memorable.


Track Listing
1. PROLOGUE OF THE FIRST DAY
2. CHAOS
3. ALPHA CENTAURI
4. SEVEN MOONS IN THE SKY
5. INTERSTELLAR
6. SOLARIUS
7. THE SOUL OF THE STARS
8. STARLIGHT
9. MOON
10. ANDROMEDA
11.SPACE TIME
12.THE JOURNEY
13. FOOLS
14.THE WALTZ OF THE UNIVERSE

Added: June 18th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Big Bang at Cherry Red
Hits: 108
Language: english

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