CD REVIEW: Blow up Hollywood - Take Flight
By: J.D. Stefan
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Blow Up Hollywood
Take Flight is an ambient/electronic release from the New York-based group Blow Up Hollywood. This is the band’s 5th release and the 11 instrumental tracks were composed by band co-founder Steve Messina and Rich Kern. The album was apparently derived from songs that Messina and Kern composed for a documentary called “Mustang – Journey of Transformation” which was filmed in the Kingdom of Mustang in Nepal. The songs are performed entirely on analog synthesizers and support the theme of taking flight be it literally or within one’s own thoughts and dreams. They are songs of expression and a feeling of freedom.
Take Flight opens up with a short track titled “RKK” and then moves into the longer, more ambitious composition “Eos”. The songs immediately convey a sense of space and openness. A couple of the tracks are a bit long, “Areal Shift” surpasses 9 minutes in length but for me, as a fan of the ambient, atmospheric genre, it’s terrific. The music on Take Flight is deep, evocative and compelling in a way that lets the listener bask in the atmosphere while your thoughts wander. The analog sounds on the album are a refreshing throwback to artists like Vangelis and Eno at their peak. Analog synths have such a warm quality and the whole album benefits from that warmth while still preserving the sense of space and freedom. It’s tough to pick out a favorite track, there isn’t an abundance of repetitive, catchy phrases or hooks and the album works best to listen through from beginning to end. I could easily see Take Flight used for relaxation or meditation. I didn’t have the benefit of seeing the artwork and packaging for the CD but I’m sure the imagery would match the music. Blow Up Hollywood know what they’re doing and have clear goals and inspiration in order to create a great work like Take Flight.
Take Flight is certainly not aimed at the commercial mainstream but the compositions are well-thought out and executed brilliantly. I could easily see it tied to images of flight or video of wide panoramas shot from airplanes. It would certainly work as a film soundtrack as well. The sounds are interesting, the songs evocative and compelling. They are however, all on the slow side. For me, I think the flow and slow rhythm of the album works but I could see some listeners wanting to hear a few more upbeat tracks in the mix. The synth tones and sounds are fantastic, again evoking Brian Eno and there’s enough variety in the sounds to maintain interest and dynamics. The production is excellent without overdoing reverbs or other effects and ultimately maintains a warm sound throughout.
Take Flight isn’t an album for everyone. Fans of the genre will certainly find a lot to like here but don’t expect to have catchy melodies resonating after a listen. Rather, one will find their thoughts wandering on and a feeling of relaxation to continue long after the last track “Because of Eva” ends. Great work and composition from Blow Up Hollywood.
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