|Project Creation: Floating World
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-25 00:53:34
Hugo Flores's previous works with his band Sonic Pulsar have been well received on these pages, and we describe them as "somewhere between Ayreon and hard rock ... lightly metallic, very technical, well constructed and characterized by good melodies". Oh - and we added a "Well recommended". With Project Creation Flores takes a huge leap forward - this record is very melodic, well performed, reasonably complex and nicely structured - and above all, it's a damned nice listen.
Imagine a less-bombastic Ayreon album - or a more proggy version of Aina or Missa Mercuria. Like those, Project Creation is one man's vision, performed by a number of the genre's luminaries - it is a well coordinated collaboration of nine different high-caliber musicians and vocalists that sets it among the ranks of the better progressive rock operas. An interesting side-note - this is the first 'project' of its kind to emanate from Portugal, which is home to Flores and all of the guest artists.
The Floating World tells the unlikely sci-fi story of a dying planet whose inhabitants float off on some craft described as an artificial satellite (a 'floating world', you see) in search of a new world to occupy. Opening track "The Floating World" describes the planet-like space ship, track 2 "Living Under A Blue Sky" is the travelers' recollections of home, track 3 describes "The Desert Planet" they've discovered and plan to revitalize, and track 4 "The Civilization" describes the culture that has developed on their floating world craft thingy. Together, these form a 21-minute introduction to the record's theme, and the piece evolves from there - both musically, and in the storyline. Flores won't expect any offers from Hollywood for his scriptwriting, but as with all good concept pieces, the story adds an important dimension and cohesion to the whole album. Click here to view an interesting video 'teaser'. Hugo plans to have "The Floating World" as a single, and has spoken about making it into a 3D/CGI video.
Every song is different, although all share a slightly spacey feel, good melodies and a very full sound. The variety is enhanced by contributions from cello, flute sax, imaginative synthesizer sounds and three separate vocalists. Flores makes good use of the rich female vocal tones of Alda Reis, and the multi-part choruses - particularly the female choruses - are some of the more pleasing components of the record. The English-language lyrics are lightly accented, and male vocalist 'Linx' delivers a clean, well controlled performance - not the strongest you'll hear, but the songwriting has been crafted around his style. Good piano work yields some of the nicer moments, and the only instrument that is surprisingly under-utilized is the wonderful guitar lines that were so central to the success of Flores's previous albums. And unlike Sonic Pulsar, when wearing his Project Creation hat, Flores thankfully uses a real drummer.
It is impossible to describe this music without making comparisons to Ayreon. Project Creation is more contained, not as over-produced, and it doesn't share quite the same flair, but it shares the pleasing melodies, diverse songwriting and imaginative compositions. There's nothing new here, but it's a well constructed, very enjoyable body of work. This was Part 1, and Flores has plans to release parts 2 and 3. And if he continues the growth we've witnessed since the first Sonic Pulsar album, expect big things from the Iberian peninsula. And like our closing comment on the last Sonic Pulsar album - we'll close with a "Well recommended."