Music Review: Eight Moons – Omnimi

Hi again!

Have you ever seen a movie where music composer John Williams did a movie score? His film scores for movies such as Star Wars, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and so on have entertained us for more than four decades. Some of his influences for the first Star Wars soundtrack may have come from a particular work by composer Gustav Holst. Holst’s most famous piece is “The Planets,” which was a suite of seven movements, each named after a planet and its corresponding astrological character.

In “The Planets,” the seven movements correspond to Mars (War), Venus (Peace), Mercury (the Messenger), Jupiter (Jollity), Saturn (Old Age), Uranus (the Magician) and Neptune (the Mystic). Each movement has a different character to it. For example, Mars is heavy and insistent with horns and drums, like a general marshaling his troops for a battle, while Neptune has a lighter, more mysterious feel to it using woodwinds. And each movement also is tied to the astrological character of the subject.

A new group has taken a similar approach to Holst in their new CD Eight Moons, composing songs about eight of the major moons with names of the gods – from Mars to the distant dwarf planet of Eris. Omnimi seems to seek a blend of classical, choral, and world music to evoke some of the same powerful feelings as Holst’s work – from the dramatic to the relaxing.

And, like Holst, each track feels as though it should be part of a movie soundtrack. “Phobos – Mars I” with its merging of a choir and driving percussion would be at home in a film like the upcoming Conan reboot starring Jason Momoa coming to theaters in 2011. There’s almost a desert feel to some of the percussion, giving it a vaguely “Arabian Nights” flavor.

From Phobos we move to “Io – Jupiter I,” which has a less insistent beat but somehow manages to fill the room with power with higher voices and strings building and building. What’s intriguing is there’s a rock guitar in the middle punctuating the lighter vocal performances, bringing this tune into a more modern era. Parts of the melody would feel right at home in the recent trailers for Chrisopher Nolan’s Inception.

My favorite of the tracks is “Neso – Neptune XIII” which manages to capture an ethereal, almost fairy-like sound and merges it with the incessant roll of the sea. Neso in Greel mythology is one of the goddesses of the sea and one of the 50 Nereids – one of the sea nymphs. Through a use of interesting beats behind the scenes along with the strings and voices it truly feels as though you are rolling along the waves.

Ultimately, I think Omnimi has done an amazing job in composing some truly unique songs in a Holst style. Movie directors and producers seeking full-sounding orchestrations for their own films would do well to give Eight Moons a listen to see how they might be worked into current productions. Hopefully we’ll hear more from Omnimi in the future!

For more information about Omnimi, be sure to check out their website at OmnimiMusic.com.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up the CD here:

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Music Review: Vitamin String Quartet – Vitamin String Quartet Performs Radiohead’s In Rainbows

Hi all…

In the very early 1990s, I heard Radiohead‘s song “Creep” for the first time on an alternative radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado. From then on, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard from many of their CDs – including Pablo Honey and their most recent album, In Rainbows. When I heard that the Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ) did covers of the entire album of In Rainbows, I knew I had to take a listen.

As with Per_Versions, which is another recent album from VSQ, this group of classically-trained orchestral musicians manages to tease even more magic from the already magical Radiohead music. “Nude” and “House of Cards” had been played on local radio stations for a while now, but I wanted to see what they sounded like when performed by a string quartet. Once again, I was not disappointed.

With each song, VSQ manages to take Radiohead’s already deep compositions, take them apart, and put them back together again so that not only are the songs still recognizable, but made unique again. They manage to avoid sounding like a cover band, even though that’s ostensibly what they are.

The haunting strains of “House of Cards” are made that much more haunting through the use of violin where voices were originally. You can hear the emotion seeping through from beginning to end. The same held true for “Nude” and “All I Need”, which were among my favorites of the album. There’s just something about the translation from rock guitar, synth, and voices that stays magical during this transformation.

Violinist and arranger Tom Tally, who has performed on and produced over 35 VSQ albums says that VSQ “is about applying rock & roll attitude to classical technique” and bring chamber music into the 21st Century. They do this by transforming contemporary rock songs with their innovative spirit as well as their own original compositions in which you can hear some of their rock influences.

Vitamin String Quartet Performs Radiohead’s In Rainbows brings depth to an already deep album and is an amazing experience into the transformational power of music. Be sure to pick up a copy of the album from your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer to support this innovative group!

–Fitz

p.s. Click here to pick up some of VSQ’s albums at Amazon:

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