17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
It's about time!,
This review is from: Fresh Aire 8 (Audio CD)
It's been ten years and several inferior albums since Fresh Aire 7, but the Steamroller is finally back on track. While Fresh Aire 7 is still the undisputed champ of the series, Fresh Aire 8 is one of the stronger competitors, with a rich, full sound that offers a well-balanced blend of synthesizers and orchestra.
The topic this time is "infinity," and this allows for some rather bizarre musical pieces. "The Big Bang" (Infinity in Cosmology) is an extremely effective piece. I don't normally like pieces that are so heavily laden with sound effects and so light on melody, but this one actually works quite well. Listen to it in the dark through big speakers for the best effect.
"Circle Of Love" (Infinity in The Wedding Ring) is one of the best pieces of music Chip Davis has written in several years, showcasing the fact that he does, indeed, still know how to write great music without using MIDI keyboards.
"Leonardo" (The Infinite Thinker) is classic Mannheim, opening with some solemn Renaissance-style chord changes and then going into a style of music similar to earlier pieces like "Four Rows Of Jacks" and "Baroque A Nova."
"The Heart And The Feather" is an overly long Egyptian-themed piece. It's not bad, but there's a lot of wasted time. The piece is close to 8 minutes, but you can skip to the last four and get your money's worth.
"The Waterfall" is based on M.C. Escher's painting. There's something oddly mesmerizing about this bolero-style piece, and again, I was glad to see Chip making use of a full-orchestra. It also does a great job of musically telling the story that's given in the liner notes.
There are a few throw-away tracks here, and they're what ultimately keeps this album from reaching the excellence of Fresh Aire 7. "The Night Party" is downright irritating, and far too repetitive with no sense of progression or build. At least it's mercifully short. "The Steamroller" is also one of the weaker tracks, which is a shame since Chip once said he wrote this with the intention of it being their "signature" song. As for now, "Going To Another Place" from Fresh Aire 2 still holds that crown. "Fractals" is an acquired taste. You won't like it on your first listen, you might on your second.
Ultimately, if you're a fan of the Steamroller, you'll like much of what you hear. I'm not sure it's all that it could have been, but it's well-worth having, and a fitting conclusion to the Fresh Aire Series.