Extended Horizon is the debut release by Neodrone, a trio that makes music combining elements of electronica and classical music.
Neodrone is Magnus Tak, the composer/producer; Johanna E Martell, vocalist; and Brent Swarthout, lyricist. The three make music with a neoclassical symphonic electronica feel. Martell is classically trained and brings an operatic style to her vocals; Tak seems to be as comfortable exploring the Vangelis-style world of orchestral electronica as he is making techno grooves; even Swarthout’s lyrics have a classical quality about them.
Opera and electronica have a long history, ranging from the music of Philip Glass to Operatica to Malcolm McLaren’s take on Madam Butterfly to Eric Serra’s score for The Fifth Element. When done well, the mix can work stunningly, but locking an opera singer to a rigid beat can also deprive a vocalist of one of opera’s most important expressive elements – a fluid, rubato approach to rhythm.
Fortunately, Neodrone largely avoids the potential pitfalls of the combination and creates some attractive, expressive music on Extended Horizon. At its best, the electronic orchestrations and classical vocals play off each other perfectly, creating a blend that seems to extend the worlds of electronica and classical music both.
The music on the CD is a mix of classical pieces arranged for synth orchestra and orginals. The CD gets off to a mixed start. Solar Storm features some lovely arranging, but strays a bit too far into lite new age territory.
Neodrone seems to hit its stride, though, with Aurora Borealis. The track features an attractive neo-classical melody, gorgeous symphonic electronica arrangement, and ethereal wordless vocals. It also doesn’t shy away from mixing more traditional-sounding imitative synthesis with some more bizarre electronica sounds, which gives the track an expanded orchestral feel.
The highlight of the CD is Lascia Ch’io Pianga, a classical aria by G.F. Händel. Tak’s arrangement is fairly traditional, but he doesn’t shy away from introducing some unexpected elements. Tak also makes great use of dynamics, dropping from full synth orchestration to simple accompaniment in a beat. Martell seems most comfortable with the more classical pieces, and this arrangement very effectively showcases her vocal performance.
Another highlight is I’ll Find You, a fairly straight-ahead trance track that sounds huge because of Tak’s combination of symphonic electronic orchestration with trance beats. Enjoy The Ride is a solid minimal techno/trance track, and Vengence Aria answers the question of what Mozart might have done if he’d had a TB303.
Overall, Extended Horizon is an interesting mix of electronica and classical vocals. Martell’s vocals throughout are throughout and the arrangements are often gorgeous.
You can preview the music at the Neodrone site.
- Solar Storm
- Chasing Shadows
- Extended Horizon
- Aurora Borealis
- Lascia Ch´io Pianga
- Used To Be
- I´ll Find You
- Vengeance Aria
- Enjoy The Ride
- What They Want