First, let me just say how wonderful it is to hear new music from Ronnie. Truly a delight to the ears, simply no matter what.
The overall style seems reminiscent of the JE track "The Envelopes Brigade" and I must admit I was a bit shocked at just how minimalist of an approach he took on this album... it may very well rank as the purest form of minimalism he's ever achieved. This dedication towards absolute melodic simplicity is something I admire but, having heard some of the early demos, I can't help but feel like too much was sacrificed in the process. Squeezing each song through this minimalist framework has resulted in either purifying some tracks to their glory, but others to shredded degradation.Horse of Faded Grandeur:
Being the third version of this song now released, I was very surprised to find this ended up more like the original "version 1" on the EP, but it still holds up quite well. I'm not certain dropping his vocals an octave lower on all of these tracks was the best of moves either, but there does seem to be some kind of vocal layering going on – though mixed in so incredibly faint... can't decide if that's part of its charm or not.Ice Blankets the Landscape:
I think I'm most disappointed with this track. The original demo on the EP held a lot of promise, and it has truly suffered the most through its conversion. The effects for "ICE"
and the amount of presence it is given across the track is puzzling at best. The original used it sparingly, and with a much subtler, icy vibe. And the ending "our hearts will melt together"
lyrics could really benefit from being more of a background element than with the same amount of prominence as a verse. I feel this could have benefited with utilizing the same style of vocoder/effects used on "Her Solitary Migration" and "Creatures of All Tongues" instead.When Roman Columns Fell:
Really enjoy this one. Simple and pure. I only wish the moment leading into each chorus wasn't so empty... The little random noise that hits right beforehand is so oddly placed... it just makes me smile at this point. It interesting what Ronnie chooses to leave in despite cutting so, so much out.Her Solitary Migration
An excellent track that really uses the album style to its advantage by continually building in elements before hitting the finale with an absolutely delicious synth line. He really transformed this track into something special. Cool stuff, and such a vast improvement on the original – listening to the demo version just feels like a mistake now. Creatures of All Tongues
Absolutely amazing. Easily the best song on the album, and worth the price of admission – without question. Haunting lyrics, ultra-catchy melody, a perfectly balanced drive throughout the song, great supporting synths on the chorus, really snazzy effects used on that first chorus... I honestly consider this a perfect song.The Hours Unfolding
It's almost too simple for its own good, but it has been growing on me. Those constant bass notes feel a bit too aggressive and overpowering for this otherwise light and floaty tune. Reminds me a bit of the same lovable qualities as "The Confectionary," but lacks its sense of gentleness and naivety. There's some really interesting atmospheric sounds starting at 2:14, but it is completely buried in the background of the mix. And that random screaming noise... what's the deal?!The Chariot of God
I am still somewhat nervous that this may be the final song R. Martin ever releases, so I really focused on treasuring my first listen of this song... closed eyes and took it all in... good stuff. Incredibly powerful for being so minimal – the style and format really works here. And clocking in at 8:28? What is this, Roolundria? It's longer than it really needs to be, but then again do I ever actually want it to end?
Despite my overall misgivings, I am so thankful for this new release, and it is such a pleasure to find myself singing these tunes in the back of my mind throughout the day. The question is... what's next for Joy Electric & Said Fantasy?
Demo versions, for reference:
Horse of Faded Grandeur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAFYGtJBzrs
Ice Blankets the Landscape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9TB1hu9S5A
When Roman Columns Fell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2aMfYuRzcA
Her Solitary Migration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpaqiyIHCcE
The Hours Unfolding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HkD3XpUSbI