Our German friend, Guido Meyer, has been rather productive this past year. Shortly after releasing the excellent "Towards The Blue Horizon", "Lightyears" is his new recording.
His tasteful mix of guitar music over layers of keyboards and drum machine rhythms is well-known by now, yet is nonetheless very welcome. It still sounds very smooth but, especially, the guitars regularly contain enough sting, although they could have been mixed more into the foreground (they are occasionally drowned out by the rather dominant drums). "Lightyears" is an instrumental concept album about the extinguishing of the sun in the distant future and how humanity by that time will save itself.
Without doubt, this event will happen under accompaniment of this nice soundtrack!
André de Waal
Self taught guitarist Guido Meyer now offers us a concept album called Lightyears. Based around the idea of what happens when the sun reaches the end of its life, and what mankind could do to survive, the music is primarily electric guitar with electronics, drum effects, and percussion. Melody is very much the order of the day, so that this work compares well to other guitar led albums by artists such as Maxess and Shaped Signs. Guido is ably assisted by Alexander Seewald and Manuel Bumb who created samples and sounds to connect the musical parts.
The first of the ten tracks (all of which are under eight minutes) is "Flashback" - incidentally, the shortest. It's basically an intro with a commotion of various wind like sounds being swept around and a simple keyboard melody that all build up to a climax before easing down at the end.
It's in the next track "Apocalytic Birds" that the electric guitar comes in, the riffs are exciting as pacey drums and percussion provide the rhythmic element. This track is one of many where the guitar lead is exultant.
In some tracks like "Black Hole" the sounds becomes even more excitable, on this piece it's as though gravitational tidal forces are carrying us into a cosmic maelstrom we're struggling to escape. Though the whole album has a grand theme and delivery, some tracks are "pretty" - relatively speaking.
In "Solar Sunrise" a stuttering and echoing sequence and synth pads start off and are then joined by an almost cacophonic rhythmic passage. Voice like refrains and deep notes build up an increasing sense of expectancy. This is music that celebrates the sun rising as it casts more and more light dispelling the darkness and grey aura of early morning.
Into the next track "Starglancer", airy and somewhat choral pads and saxophone like refrains start off before a ticking percussion, drums, and particularly nice guitar boost the piece.
There's no respite from the big and bold feel of this album, and that's perhaps as it should be considering the awe inspiring theme. Indeed, even the quieter aspects still have a certain amount of energy and power. In my opinion Lightyears further goes to show that German musicians are the masters of grandiose melodic music. The guitar coupled with electronics should appeal to anybody who enjoys bold instrumental music.
It's also a great excuse to dust off the air guitar!
"Lightyears" is a musical story of how our Solar System could probably end in 7 billion years with the Sun collapsing and humankind escaping to another nearby system using a spaceship. The tracks segue into each other forming a continuous journey, according to the album's concept.
"Flashback" starts with various noises & samples provided by Alexander Seewald and Manuel Bumb. Similar sounds are used during transitions between all tracks. Dramatic synth chords can be heard as the intensity of the piece grows, although it never becomes threatening. The chords are pretty much all we hear in this track but it manages to come up as something quite effective.
Upbeat drums herald the coming of "Apocalyptic Birds". The drums are joined by excellent improvised guitar and we are straight into trademark Guido Meyer sound that was first introduced on "Towards the Blue Horizon" which means driving melodic synth / guitar combination. It's a great track and a perfect choice for when in the car. The piece ends with abstract noises and next in queue is the title track - and what an awesome number it is! Starting with low bass throbs it flourishes with melodic laid-back sequences and skillful rhythm programming. It's the best track on the entire album and one of the best melodic EM pieces I've heard. Synths and guitar really compliment each other on this one. Gorgeous stuff indeed!
"Black Hole" is rather mysterious, with fast sequenced notes which morph into a laid back rhythm / chunky sequence / deep bass notes combination. The guitar wails on top - a strange but very enjoyable concoction. The fast sequenced notes return now and then, making it a very intense track. Simply superb! (I'm listening to it for the second time as I write this and it's interesting to note that I didn't like this track very much upon first listening)
Strange spacey notes end the track and lead us to "Cosmical Beauty" - a piece that for some reason reminds me a lot on 90's Tangerine Dream output. Although I've never been a fan of that peri! od in TD's career (to put it mildly) Guido Meyer's piece sounds very cohesive and enjoyable. One of the most "rocky" pieces on the album with guitars put upfront and synths taking a back seat, mostly providing background pads.
The next piece is called "Solar Sunrise" and a pretty cheerful number it is too. Arpeggiated synth notes are combined with heavy Simmons-type rhythms with background synth atmospheres bringing in some spaciness to the proceedings. There is no guitar on this piece, it's all synths and it comes as a very serene and bright number expressing the feeling of hope that we feel when watching the birth of a new day.
"Starglancer" features sampled sax - something that rarely works for me. Well, it does here actually, and although the track is not so evocative of its title in my opinion, it still features nice atmosphere and expert guitar playing.
"Class M" continues where the previous track left off - mysterious synth notes and great synth programming make this one of the most effective compositions on the entire album. If you like 80's Tangerine Dream - this track will be right up your alley - great melodic electronics with some tasty guitar thrown in!
"Second Chance" is a relaxed number in a familiar style but slightly darker than the average Meyer affair, with urgent guitar notes played on top of the somewhat mysterious-sounding synth music.
"Reprise" is indeed a reprise of the first track with added programmed drums.
"Lightyears" is another winner for Guido Meyer. No weak tracks here, with the highlights being "Apocalyptic Birds", the gorgeous title track and "Black Hole".
Highly recommended to all fans of melodic EM and instrumental rock.
2005. Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music