A.M. Samurai "The First Element"
Review by Saul
Marek Adamczyk alias A.M. Samurai is a well known spacesynth musician from the several past releases. This year he completed his debut album and released it through Space Sound Records. It has been about three months since the release so it is about the time to review it.
The album cover art picture somehow hints this album is about detailed electronic music. But even though that is the case, it is not like what we have seen in spacesynth previously. The image has very symmetric, harmonic, three dimensional background with lots of fresh white and blue. It is in contrast to the warm colorish foreground where a young woman who holds a CD with mysterious signs on it. The woman has some kind of element around her head too, maybe some kind of audiovisual unit? The colors are well thought and the idea is very simple but nice. The only thing what comes to my mind is that symmetry tends to be a bit boring in times. Anyway, I think this album cover is good for the album with mind images about cyber-interactivity becouse when I listen the album the music doesn't give that much images about spaceships and planets. More than that, I think the music leads to the mysterious worlds and to the technological possibilities in the future. More value to the cover brings that it is done by the artist himself, Marek Adamczyk.
The First Element includes 17 tracks with lots of new tracks and some tracks that are familiar to us from several past releases. For example Contest Theme and Star of Happiness are familiar from Spacesynth.de music contests and Welcome to Space, Exploration and Cold Memories are familiar from Axis Megamix. The album includes also the remix of Space Project's single The Return of Space Raiders. About new tracks, there is one co-operation with another artist Position High and another one that has voices and lyrics by Aneta Antkowicz. So we except something new along with the well known older tracks. 17 tracks is alot, so let's see how they work out together in the album.
The album has a great start with the beginning track Welcome to Space. It has very catchy melodic fragments and it works fine as an introduction for the album. Secret Entrance follows, and I find it even better. Actually I think it is the best track on the album. Strong melodic theme, intelligent structure. All works just perfectly here. The next one is Theme From Another Planet, and it doesn't feel that good, although it has just brilliant intro and some interesting melodies. It just trails on. Very nice Cassiopeia follows next, and it is done with Position High. Good one, but a bit flat in general (I'd like to hear some kind of climax, but it never came). Anyway, refreshing with happy mood unlike the general atmosphere on the album that is melancholic. The next three tracks doesn't bring much attention to me. Works well in the background, but somehow stays there. Nice melodies, but they don't really stand out enough in my opinion. Actually I'd like to hear more strong melodies. Fields of Glory feels best of thosed three tracks, but lacks a bit of variation.
Now we are in the middle of the playlist. The following track Flying Between the Stars is something I've been waiting for happening earlier- it has faster tempo and refreshing mood. Good track in general, brilliant distorted Korg Wavestationish leads. It is better than the following Exploration, Forgotten Base (faster tempo which is good) and Galaxy Five that starts with tasty delayed bassline without fade in. That is noteworthy becouse almost all the tracks starts from fade ins. Game 42 , on the other hand, has nice female voice singing the lyrics. It differs very much from the rest of the album tracks. I'd like to have heard more spacey version for the album, and this version might have worked better for alternative eurodance remix. Okay, it is variation, but not like I'd hoped for. I think this album has a lot better tracks too. The following It's Not a Space is like an answer to the previous track. Vocoder and female talking, improvized melodies. Not much to say about this. Ok, not great but not bad. Lost Moon and Technological Madness keeps the same course as the previous tracks. They are ok tracks, but doesn't stand out. Works as interval play. Happily there is Star of Happiness, the best track of the later half of the album in my opinion. Nice mood, rememberable even though the melodies are pretty simple and repetetive like melodies of Laserdance. Works great as ending track of the album. Ok, I know, there is one track left, the good remix of Space Project's single The Return of Space Raiders. To me this sounds like as bonus track. I like the remix very much overall, it has personal touch. Well done.
As a summary the overall atmosphere of the album is somewhat dreamy, like on Enigma releases, which is good value itself. I respect mr. Adamczyk's visions and his skills as musician and creating wonderful atmospheres very much. But the side effect for this is that it feels like there is a bit too much of this. There are 17 tracks on the album and many of them sounds alike each other. For so many tracks I'd like to have heard something more powerful and different tempo more often. And the fade ins: they sounds good in individual tracks, but when there are almost all the tracks starting like the same, it really is starting to sound a bit frustrating. Endings of the tracks are perfect IMO though. When softer and slower tracks has some similarities with Enigma's music, the faster tracks has more Laserdance feel to them with just different instruments than LD. This is ok as this is about spacesynth we are talking about here, even though I find this album more deep and dreamy than spacey.
The sounds on the album are great and mixing/mastering is great too. I'd like to give a special note about the drumsequences of this album: I love it in general. This is something new and welcomed in this genre. Maybe I'd like to hear something different sounds aswell, becouse the soundpalette sounds like very much the same in every track. On the other hand the soundpalette links the tracks more together, but this solution doesn't give any possible surprises for the listener. The best tracks on the album, in my opinion, are Welcome to Space, Secret Entrance, Flying Between The Stars and Star of Happiness. I liked Cassiopeia too. These tracks are in my opinion worth five and four stars and I have to admit I play them with loop several times, successively. But this review is not about individual tracks itself, - this is about the album as whole. The First Element is a stable, good album, but I guess with 12-14 tracks and more variation this could have been better. And it depends on the listener's taste if this album is either good or really good. So I recommend you to listen the album yourself and make your own judgement. But, in my opinion, like there is written in the rating scale description, "enjoyable solid effort and well made but has some flaws and comes out a bit average". And as the title for the album fortunately hints, "no first without the second". And I definitely want more.