preview-review by dalia "gryphon_spirit"
An impressive and refined concept album
around the myth of Atlantis. An emotional Prog Rock opus with many rich
influences (from Rock to Pink Floyd), velvety vocals, deep culture,
focused on ocean and sea. The few debatable moments don't eclipse anyway
the very good work.
emotion. The mythos of Atlantis, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle,
the Sargasso Sea, the fascinating stories coming from the old Greek
world with its god Poseidon, told in a concept album supported by 2 main
pillars (like the Pillars of Hercules : Progressive Rock, concerning the
music aspect, and a well detailed research concerning all myths of the
watery underworld which took place in archives and libraries, done by
Hubi Meisel himself, who, dealing with science and Greek language too
evidently shows the intellectual attitude to study in depth. It's mainly
Socrate's student Plato, who in his book Critias describes the creation
and life of Atlantis, the muse inspiring Hubi Meisel to materialize in a
concept album his vision of the lost continent. "Timaeus" and
"Critias", two of Plato's dialogues, are actually the only
written sources which specifically refer to Atlantis and to the war
between presumed ancient Athenians and the Atlantians 9000 years before
Plato's time. These mysteries, merge in EmOcean into one only thing
with the water, with the sea, with waves and dolphins. Sea water
translated into a varied eclectic Progressive Rock full of facettes and
refined sounds in which Hubi Meisel's vocals can deliver a velvety
feeling of liquid fluidity and strange "emptiness" too.
Meisel's voice is not particularly mighty, many times even thin, but
agreeable and able to "embrace" more octaves and contributes
in giving to this album a touch of distinction, which is, after
all, its main peculiarity. This music is like a film, this music is
luxury and abundance in notes, spanning from chill out and metal
heaviness. It is something to taste with closed eyes, relaxing while
your mind reaches far shores and swims under blue Mediterranean
surfaces. Or it is the ideal soundtrack for a party of class, or the
soundtrack for accompanying hours of calm study. Nothing to do with
songs that are easily consumed. We are in high spheres, which anyway can
be within everybody's reach, cause the real luxury lays in your brain,
in your culture, in your personality. Sophisticated and amazing keys
spray throughthout the work, melodic guitars are present as well as
heavy riffages, above all in the first part of the album. Modern sonic
effects of ambience alternate with sweet piano notes and orchestral
feeling. Experimental moments walk hand in hand with wide influences
coming from Rock, Prog Metal, Jazz and latest Pink Floyd era's, you can
also find a slight touch of gothic along with synthetic
modernity. This release has many lights, but some shadows too : the
second and third section unfortunately present also some moments of
boredom and self repetition in the slow melodic coils that, in my
opinion, don't deliver anything more compared with the contents of
the first half. Nevertheless it is much a matter of taste and how
mooded you are. The work is remarkable nonetheless.
The album opens with a lively catchy energetic Prog Rock full of guitar
riffages which burst after an intro of tempestoso waves. However, Lost
in the Waters of Sargasso doesn't develop into a dark song, but
into a track full of ambience and Rocking power with discrete but
effective leads, sweet keys notes and massive rhythmic section, elastic
vocals. Indeed, catchy rhythmed as it is, this track could be also
extrapolated and included in a Rock compilation. Notes of sadness
fluency disappear into a resolute rhythm. Lost in the waters of
Sargasso also provides slowing down tempo changes, a lead solo and
an intense galloping, and atmospheric gothic loops. Ocean's waves and
atmospheric Arcanum are the 2 factors that let us move on from the
first track to the second one Poseidon's Trident, another rocking
sound where Meisel's vocals get a special effect of vastness. An
electric nervous hammering guitar push runs after a massive rhythmic
propulsion and mysterious, varied keys which enrich and support the
sound in the background. On the contrary, solemn and dark is the passage
to the successive Nocturnal Breeze where a distorted lead is
towering in order to give feelings of infinite water, dolphin's crying
but strangely enough at the same time is able to share an impression of
metropolitan obsession. Our modern towns and homes swim on nocturnal
waters, and the first ambience sound of a dolphin is indeed greeting us
in a piano atmosphere, announcing the following Dolphin's Wake;
unknown and catchiness mixed together in a song that makes you
dream and think of lost time-space connections and of starry skies.
Cosmic tensions and rocking attitude, shifted even to Metal, during the more thundering
moments. And it is with a dolphin's dive and bubbling water that the
first introductive part fades in to the central one, focused on
Underwater fears scatter modern gothic synthetic techniques concerning
vocals (and backing vocals too) into the usual Prog Rock environment.
This song, though being remarkably different from their music, reminds
me anyway of Deathstars. This tells us that we are also attending many
Metal and Rock influences, opened to new tendencies of the scene.
FantaSea is a melodic Rock song with many distorted and psycho effects.
Great short solo full of temperament. Vocals get a particular
echo, supported in the final by a more complex backing vocal contribution.
Solemn and mystic choir and very melodic vibes for The Souls of
Atlantis, track that, with its almost 13 mins length is the
emotional core of the concept album. Passionate, delicate and strong,
melodic and rhythmed it is, all in all, a rich song delivering also short
moments where even psycho chords à la Pink Floyd enter in the carousel.
One shadow : this song is really too various, an opus in itself and it
is really the moment where you cannot listen as if you would make a
normal easy listening; nevertheless you would have a stronger song
: the thundering and supportive drums, the varied and intense
instrumental frame cannot avoid a certain loss of power and energy.
There, where you need high voltage in the center of this marine galaxy.
This track shows anyway magical loops in particular in its central part
where the rhythmic session becomes the main actor. In its last minutes
it reaches a point where after a pause the piano introduces a dreaming
sector with notes that remind too much of the HIM intro of Join me
The tension increases with the uptempo Sapientia Vitae, a real
Prog track which anyway i don't like but imo really tells nothing new in
the contest, but adds only a moment of length, there where we should
Infinite wings that fly among lost folks and tormenting corners of the
cosmos build the image of the great short instrumental Azure Dreams that
closes this section dedicated to Atlantis.
A pushing combination between Rock and Heavy and even a certain
touch of Death is the bursting beginning of Aqua Phoenix which
opens the third part bringing us back to Sargasso sea, the hammering
spiral leads to a rocking lead solo, but unfortunately also in a
moment of slow intellectual and moaning Prog that, frankly told, is
terribly boring for me, breaking completely the strong characteristic of
Steam hammering riffages, Rock attitude and a more lively Prog with new
ideas of experimentation support on the contrary the nice Aero
Nautical which provides us also with drops of jazz, of oriental
flavors, of varied digital effects which maybe should represent a
lost technology coming from Jason and his Argonauts, interpreted
in a fully modern way : as they were travellers of the XXth century.
And the journey in the abyss of sea and time ends with the title track EmOcean.
Seagulls and waves around us who are "standing here by the
shore", among breeze and tears that brought us back to life (why do
i remember now that pic in Pink Floyd's booklet The Division Bell
dedicated to the song Coming back to Life?")
Two bonus tracks give a final contribution to this monumental release,
which will be available as Digipack Special Edition in Europe and USA. Bonus
tracks featuring Joop Wolters's guitar and bass.
Lyrics and concept are written by Huby Meisel, who worked in cooperation
with the French composer and keyboarder Vivien Lu (Shadrane), while an
international cast of musicians is giving total support to the musical
realization of this work, finally mixed and produced by the same Hubi
Meisel in his studio in Munich. This is the second album of Hubi
Meisel's solo career, a career underlined by Rock and Prog metal, from
the moment he played, during the 90's, in the Prog metal band
Dreamscape. It is not obligatory to be a Dream Theater or in general a
Prog fan in order to get interest in this work : you "just"
need to have a soft spot for sea underworld and its lost myths. And to
be open-minded concerning music in general.
"Here was Poseidon's own temple ..." Critias