Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Epic Music II by Jonathan Maiocco - Review

It is my pleasure and honor to have been given this album of music a pre-release listen, and a review. If you do not already know who Jonathan Maiocco is, do yourself a favor and acquaint yourself.

This album was sheer pleasure to listen to. Jon pointed out in a recent blog that the track titles spell out, by looking at the first letter of each, "To the great I AM." And indeed, Jon's music here is, and always has been, sounds of praise to our Creator.

I'm going to briefly splurge on each track, in order. Here we go:

The Greatest Story Never Told
This is a strong opening to the album: sweeping scope, momentum that gathers with a slow grandeur and leads to a fast-paced, high-combat air almost halfway through. The string lines about a minute to the end make one want to sing, or shout and charge into the fray with weapon held high.
The last minute felt to me like the tatters and tears after the bloody climax of an epic tale - as if all the glory was whisked away and you are left with but a single word, a fading image. It's gorgeous, epic, and tender at the end.

Yeah, have I mentioned this album is writing fodder? If you need an auditory writing prompt, something to kick that writing brain into gear, look no further. 

Organ Donor
The title is quite clever, as I realized. A blazing organ theme comes in at about two minutes - it has a whiff of steampunk and is high-energy. Like the track before, it has a simple ending that is not anticlimactic in the slightest.
What I love, always, is Jon's ability to paint a story with sounds. And that, in the end, the story is different for everyone that listens. It sparks the imagination and is gripping.

Thirteenth Hour
This one begins with a mesmerizing ticking and has strong use of percussion, strings, and vocals. Again, fast-paced like the steady, dramatic countdown of a story's time clock. A track that's easy to get lost in (in the best of ways), and in my opinion, it's only fault is being too short. The best songs always are. This is why the repeat button was invented.
Again, excellent writing fodder. The mastery of it is that the sounds are not overwhelming, the drama not overdone - it is perfectly balanced to strike one's emotions and imagination in a tasteful manner.

Hope In Our Midst
This is one of my favorites. It's fit to make your heart soar. The spirit of high adventure at its finest - pure, bold, untainted; perfection contained in just over three minutes. It whispers to you to seek out the unknown, to brave an adventure. To find courage. This one leaves me breathless and near tears. I am not in the year 2014 when I listen to it. This song is like the best kinds of books. You can be anywhere or be anyone when you are in it.

Extra Celestial
This one begins tender and vulnerable coupled with a sense of wonder. Possibly the most grand of the album and an easy favorite. The scope and depth is astounding and I wish I could stay in it forever. It is, indeed, heavenly, though it carries a serious gravity about it as well. Both beautiful and solemn, to me at least.

Gun Control
Someone decided to have major fun with sound effects on this one. Grim and intense, after floating amongst stars in the previous track, this one catapults you to earth and places you in a crossfire - between the beauty of music and the deadly sound of bullets firing. It's a treat for the ears and is seamless, but it's no walk in the park. It's a risk to incorporate sounds like that into a musical track like that, but it definitely worked.

This one is just too much fun. More fun than should be allowed. Pardon my dance background, but it would make a riot of a tap and jazz number. Personal opinion.
Almost purely percussion, you'll be tapping nearby surfaces and possibly nodding your head to the beat in no time. It doesn't go so long as to get old, and it's a nice breather before the solemn...

Earth Forgotten
Another one of my favorites. Can you tell I like the slower, serious ones?
It's hard to find words for this one. It's gorgeous, that's for sure. Hauntingly so, or perhaps in the way of an almost-completely-faded memory. There are vocals in this track as well, and they are masterfully used and don't stand out like a sore thumb the way I've noticed vocals can in instrumental tracks like these. It takes its time, builds, and carries you to the peak of a mountain range and shows you glory before fading away again in a grave farewell.

Always And Forever
Is atmospheric the right word? This track has a bittersweet air, another one that is easy to get lost in. Superb in its emotion, it's slowly hopeful, like a smile gradually earned through tears. Dare I say romantic? Aye, it's romantic, but not sappy in the slightest. Gorgeous, in a word.

That Feeling Of Falling
Heroic. You can practically visualize the hero sweeping in to save, and the impending peril. Definite excitement and intensity. Driving down the freeway blasting this one would make such an ordinary thing epic for sure. In case y'all are like me and you listen to music while you drive.

Into Battle
This one sends you reeling into combat, for sure. It's almost hummable which is a bonus. Again, not overkill in the intensity department, perfectly balanced. Stirring with bold lines of heroism and the feeling of now-or-never.

Anger Management
Reminds me of those epic trailers we've been seeing these days: giant ships looming over cities, tower toppling, people running around... you know, cool stuff.
Seriously though, this track is just. Well, epic.

And here it is, the stunning close to a glorious album. Epic music, indeed, and this one tops the whole listening experience off. Mesmerizing, it paces itself, growing like a giant rising to his feet, and we watch in awe. Utterly breathtaking. It rises to an epic climax and then goes somewhere special - a place of praise, in wonder of the Creator, the maker of music. If there was a way music itself could lift its hands and declare the vastness of God, this is it.

Okay now. You're gonna go give this album a listen or two, right?
Here's a link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/epic-music-ii/id790583927

Many thanks, Jonathan. And praise be, always, to the Great I AM, who makes beauty like this conceivable.