Signal To The Stars
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“Signal to the Stars”
A beautiful and wonderfully crafted album of inspiring electronic music, full of uplifting melodies and spacey, atmospheric depth. “Signal To The Stars” is the perfect mix of melody and mood, old school and new school, delicacy and dynamics, passion and power. Delving into influences from the past such as Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, the duo have come out with a seventy minute album of classic, and classy original “electronic music”, choc full of memorable themes and hypnotic rhythms, with plenty in the way of inventive sequences, atmospherics and spontaneous keyboard solos along the way.
Combining the respective trademark skills that have graced a collective 50+ albums, David Wright and Dave Massey merge striking melodies with strident rhythms and sequences in the best tradition of Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and other luminaries of the genre, while retaining a fresh and original soundscape of electronic music.
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3 reviews for Signal To The Stars
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Jeffery K. Matheus –
Review by Jeffery K. Matheus – Amazon review.
An astonishing debut from CALLISTO! Rates right alongside the great artists/albums of electronic instrumental music!
Once in a while you discover an artist or album that takes you completely by surprize. For me, this was one such album! I’m a huge fan of veteran artists like Kitaro, Tangerine Dream and Patrick O’Hearn, and over the last year or so I’ve been trying to discover new, exciting, younger artists in that same field of instrumental synthesizer music. Sadly, my search has mostly turned up a lot of duds! Much of the “new age music” being released today is either far too sparse and minimalistic and for my tastes (i.e. Ray, Liquid Mind), or includes operatic and/or “wordless” vocals (i.e. – Amethystium, Aria), something that sort of defeats the whole purpose of buying instrumental music – don’t you think?? : )
I also found a lot of ambient “space music” (i.e Between Interval, John Serrie), but most of it lacks the very things I loved most about the early electronic pioneers – namely melody and structure!…Well, I was just about to give up on finding any great new synthesizer artists, and was even contemplating moving to desert island with my Kitaro collection, when I found an interesting-looking CD in the “used” section of a local record store.
The CD was CALLISTO’s “Signal to the Stars”. I had never heard of the group, but after looking over the track titles, and reading through the insert booklet, I decided that for only $5.99 I should at least give this band a chance. Later I popped the CD into my player and strapped on the headphones, not knowing if I was in for a gem, or yet another dud. All I could say after the CD finished was “WOW! Now THIS is the kind of music I’ve been looking for!!!”…Born in 2004, Callisto is a UK-based duo comprised of keyboardists/composers David Wright and Dave Massey, both of whom maintain their own solo careers, as well as serving as members of the popular electronic group Code Indigo. According to the liner notes, their collaboration as “Callisto” began when the two Davids found themselves with some strong leftover material that just didn’t fit in with another project they were working on – material that was inspired by their common love of artists like Vangelis, TD, Klaus Schulze, & Jean Michel Jarre.
The music here does indeed show those influences, but it’s much, MUCH more than a clone-like “tribute” to any of these artists. Rather, Callisto interprets the influneces of their musical heroes with a more updated, contemporary array of synth & percussion sounds – and there is something in their compositional style that displays a lot of creative ingeninuity all their own.
The 5 featured tracks, often divided into multi-part movements, all have an “epic” scope to them, and allow plenty of room for the musicians to breathe and show their wares. One thing that stands out immediately is that these guys know how to write strong, memorable melodies, and then back those melodies with rich arrangements full of detail and nuance (something that is totally lacking in some of the more “minimalist” genre artists.) There is also a healthy amount of variation in terms of mood, tempoes, and synth sounds/styles – from plantive piano, to percussive “Berlin school”-style backdrops, to lush symphonic flourishes!
I also find that there is something in Wright & Massey’s keyboard playing that is very distinctive – in particular, a spontaneous, very “human” feel to the synth solos. Although sequencers are used, this does not feel like overly-“programmed” electronic music at all!…With over 69 minutes of music, this album certainly gives buyers their moneys-worth. But even better yet is that fact that it holds the listeners rapt attention for its entire duration – or at least that’s what it does for me. I quite honestly like every track here, so it’s hard to pick any stand-outs, but if I was hard-pressed I would say that “Setisphere”, in just under 17 minutes of running time, nicely sums up everything that is great about this duo, while “Iosphere” contains a main theme/arrangemnt of such haunting beauty that, once heard, it will not be forgotten!
All in all, if you love melodic electronic music, this album is not to be missed! In fact, I would say that this album rates right alongside some of the finest artists & albums of the entire electronic genre (and certainly beats the pants off of Tangerine Dream’s recent “Dante” series!) I now look forward to Callisto’s upcoming 2nd album, due sometime in 2007. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful when buying “Callisto” CDs. I have found that there is another band by the same name, who play gothic death-metal of all things!!! The electronic/new age outfit Callisto only have this one title, “Signal to the Stars”, released so far, with their follow-up album to be titled “NYX”. Any other “Callisto” titles are that of the completely-unrelated death metal group…so buyer beware!!!) – See more at: http://www.admusiconline.com/main/CallistoIndex.php#sthash.N3ZScaIg.dpuf
Review by CDS
Easily one of the finest “Synth” music albums to be released in 2004 and certainly some of the best music Dave Wright has been involved in since his highly acclaimed “Walking with Ghosts” album!
“Signal To The Stars” is the perfect mix of melody and mood, old school and new school, delicacy and dynamics, passion and power. Delving into influences from the past such as Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, the duo have come out with a seventy minute album of classic, and classy original “electronic music”, choc full of memorable themes and hypnotic rhythms, with plenty in the way of inventive sequences, atmospherics and spontaneous keyboard solos along the way.
Yes, Signal To The Stars is one of those albums that captivates right from the start, as you begin a journey that takes in a lot of gorgeous musical scenery along the way. “Sycorax-Part 1” starts the trip on a high note, and the thing you first notice is just how much is happening in the mix, as you take in a perfectly produced sound where electro-percussive rhythms, twinkling backdrops, expansive synth strings, loping electronic bass and flying, Dyson-esque keyboard lead melody lines are all evolving into a musical panorama of horizon-stretching proportions. As the rhythms slowly drive and the lead synth melodies gradually appear on top, the mood is almost tranquil, but the sound is solid and the effect is enjoyable as this promising musical journey begins.
Rhythmically, it”s a mix of past and present, sequential and ambient, and evocative to the point where you can”t help but sway like a palm tree in the breeze to the so addictive rhythmic base. The sequencers take center stage over the electro-percussive elements, but then switch slowly back as echoed synths and soaring lead melodies are left in a completely atmospheric finale at just past the seven-minute mark, when it segues seamlessly into the next section of the 2-part, thirteen-minute “Sycorax” suite.
The mood and pace continue as before, this time more subdued initially, but then a swooshing synth comet gives way to a meatier mix of electronic and electro-percussive rhythms, as more and more layers of synth backdrops, Vangelis like melodies and moods are added. The journey is now accelerating as the scenery flashes by, all like a train-ride through unfamiliar, but just gorgeous musical terrain, as synths solos take to the skies and back.
The 3-part sixteen-minute “Iosphere” starts with distant choral effects drifting on the breeze, then a beautiful, emotional melody line (a bit Vangelis this!) fills the air against a backdrop of string synths. Just over three minutes in and the sequencers, again mid-paced and seriously languid, follow in almost unnoticed as the melody line wails into the heavens.
The mood and structure of the music is maintained for “Part 2” as it seamlessly rolls in, and here, the theme really hits a point where the sound is pure vintage Vangelis, and seriously expansive too, as the synths and rhythms slowly flow by in quite glorious fashion. Although it is in a slightly different synthesized setting, the thematic qualities of the 1st part are still running through it like a vital artery. There”s even a touch of the later period instrumental Mike Oldfield about it, as the melodies take on a more anthemic role and the whole mood becomes serene and uplifting, and there”s almost not a dry eye in the train.
The seven-minute “Part 3” then builds up to become a thing of symphonic greatness as the journey moves upland to reveal the vast expanses of the plains far below, a (musical) landscape that takes your breath away.
Atmospheric space waves introduce “Elara”, a delicate five-minute tune that starts with a light sprinkling of sequencers and phased string backdrops. Then a beautiful Vimal style synth melody and a flute-like lead come in amidst a backdrop of string synths to provide a positively charming break as the journey briefly comes to a temporary halt.
“Part 1” of “Setisphere” is drifting, cool and spacey, with a crystalline melody that comes in on top, evoking passing through an expansive stretch of wintry landscape. A rhythm strikes up to slowly accelerate through the icy cool climate of the current setting a little faster, starting as a slowly pumping heartbeat at first, then as mallet percussion-like synth tinklings further in. As swathes of gorgeous phased string synths enter and deep choral voices are added to fill out the background, this web of soothing melodies slowly covers the horizon, almost like going through a mist where the scenery remains evident throughout, and somehow it”s so tranquil and ethereal, yet the rhythms continue to pick up speed and continue our journey on towards the next passage.
Another seamless crossover takes us into “Setisphere”-Part 2 with high register synth melody lines over a light backdrop of Mellotron like sounds and spacey strings. Half-way through this part of the 3-part, seventeen-minute piece, the pace picks up as beefy sequencers and meatier electro-percussive sounds increase the rhythmic force, and the vast expanse of strings and melodic synths all gather together to form a richly textured collage of melody and rhythm that spills over into the final stage of the journey, where, after a brief rhythmic break all these massed sounds become all the more intense and powerful. The synths sizzle and squirm as they try to pierce the edge of the massive sound cloud from all angles, swirling this way and that, as this fantastic, huge-sounding mix of melody and rhythm continues to build to dramatic proportions, with keyboards, sequencers, ambient rhythms and melodies flying towards a destination with purpose and determination, eventually emerging from the scenery in the closing moments where the suite ends in a pool of clockwork rhythms and background effects.
The next 3-part suite is called: “Naiad” (of which one part features as a completely different remix on the current, issue 18 of “Inkeys” CD), and the travel is slow at first, as strings, tinkling piano melodies and deep bass are set at the heart of things, with more layers and textures appearing as the movement begins. The ambient rhythms eventually gather pace as the journey commences, and the whole canopy of synth strings, Mellotron waves and other various keyboard textures is so gorgeous as it all unfolds before you.
As “Part 1” draws to a close the sequencer comes up in the mix and for the 2nd part, then things get distinctly beefier, as the rhythms really let go and swell up with synth melodies towering over the top as the pace intensifies. You can feel the train having one final charge as it sails ever closer to journey”s end with increased levels of rhythmic torque driving the musical machine harder and faster than at any point before, with strings and lead synth tunes flying out on top, as destination point is reached. The 3rd part, with its four minutes of gentle piano and delicate synth violin textures, allows you to leave, reflecting on the amazing experience you have just undertaken – A journey of epic and breathtaking proportions, as you sit there, looking back, almost tearful and oh so eager to repeat the journey.
Luckily, you – the listener – can do just that by just pressing that “play” button again.
A “Synth Music” album of pure class and quality!
Ashley Franklin –
Review by Ashley Franklin
Music broadcaster/writer (BBC Radio, Saga Radio)
“Some artists reach a creative peak and thereafter never replicate past glories. Not David Wright. His music just seems to get better all the time.
Having achieved a new zenith with Continuum, his Callisto project with Dave Massey transcends even the beautiful dark atmospherics of his Code Indigo band.
The overall sound reminded me why traditional synthesizer sequencing makes for the most exhilarating music on the planet but, better still here, there are strong, mesmeric melodies; and Dave Massey”s evident understanding of rhythms in electronic music makes Signal to the Stars an even more pulsating ride.”
It”s my fervent wish that every Tangerine Dream fan gets to hear this. David Wright and A.D. Music deserve that”.