A frequent criticism of today’s music is that it is soulless and without passion. It is mass produced, uninspired and easily forgotten. Perhaps it is a symptom of the decline of the music industry, or a result of too much computerized music? It is hard to say why, but it is a sorry situation. But then it is even more refreshing to find an artist who creates music rich with feelings and emotions. Marc Enfroy’s debut album from 2008, Unbounded, is filled to the brim with emotions of love and joy, but also of loss and grief. It connects with the listener and becomes a soundtrack for both new and old memories. When you press play, it will all come back to you. In this way Unbounded is an incredible release.
Marc Enfroy style can be described as Cinematic Piano. The music is visual, and it makes you think of beautiful sunsets or romantic scenes from movies. It is without a drum beat, like classical music. The rhythm is in the steady stream of tones, sometimes faster and sometimes slower. I am a fan of synths and electronic music in general, and I love the sound on Unbounded; the el piano, synth strings and the other orchestral arrangement (like oboe, cello, crash cymbals and some vocal pads) sound great. Perhaps some listeners would hold that keyboardish sound against the album; it is not as popular as it used to. With a live chamber orchestra and a Steinway piano in the middle, Enfroy’s magnificent melodies would perhaps have had greater appeal. But to me, as a fan of electronic music, the arrangement on Unbounded is more than good enough.
The album consists of 12 tracks, most of them around 4 minutes long. The opening track, Night on the Seine, is a perfect introduction to Enfroy’s style; first you hear the piano, played in a gentle and elegant way. After a minute or so you are introduced to the orchestral arrangements, with several layers of strings and some distant oboes. It is, needless to say, a powerful combination. Here is room for feelings of love or sorrow; it is your state of mind that decides if this music is happy or sad.
In the song’s title, Night on the Seine, is a hint to the Cinematic Piano aspect. When you listen to the song, you almost feel like sailing on the Seine. The boat is silently floating on the river, the warm summer breeze is in your hair and the sun is setting over the glittering water. Close your eyes, and Enfroyâ’s music will take you there.
The title track, Unbounded, is a marvelous track. It starts quietly, slowly gaining more power with both strings and oboes. The ending, three minutes later, has that larger than life-feel, like Chariots of Fire and Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis.
The track number three, The Summit, is a positive song. It has the feel of victory and success, like finally reaching the mountain top after a long and hard climb. There is a very interesting shift of energy around 2min25sec, where Enfroy’s talent is obvious. It has a fantastic ending, filled with positive emotions. I can only imagine how that would have sounded with a full size philharmonic orchestra!
Empire Bluff and Mare Nostrum, track number four and five, are also happy and warm songs. This is music that I think describe the beauty and greatness of nature, either seen from a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan or on a boat on the great Mediterranean Sea.
Kalliopeâ’s Courtyard, track six, has an intro that reminds of classical music, almost like listening to the woodwind section of an orchestra warming up before a concert. The main part of the song is also highly positive. If I were a movie director, I would use this music for the most romantic part of the film. With music like this you don’t need the actors to say the words I love you. It’s already been told by the movie score.
The first time I listened to Unbounded, I had to replay track number seven, Taken Away. I listened to it many times. When I later interviewed Marc Enfroy about the album), I was not surprised to find out that this was in fact the track that started it all. It is so sad and so powerful. It is filled with the feeling of loss, but at the same time an immense gratitude of all the positive memories that will continue to live. Memories in the Sand, Forbidden Island and On to Forever are songs with pleasant melodies. I especially like the sea samples and vocal pads on the intro to Forbidden Island.
The last two tracks on the album, Solitary Journey and Moonlit Dreams, are a little bit melancholic as you can see from the titles. But they are not sad if you don’t want them to. Again it is your state of mind that decides, and I think this is what makes this album great. On Moonlit Dreams Marc uses two new instruments, a low organ and a xylophone (or perhaps the sound of wine glass?). I think the ending is perfect, and it leaves you feeling relaxed and happy.
All in all Unbounded is a truly great debut album. Some may say that it is too much feelings here, too new ageish if you will. This is clearly not an album for everyone. But I think it has lot of potential. Unbounded reminds me of Enya’s piano songs, like From Where I Am on The Memories of Trees (1995) or Miss Clare Remebers on Watermark (1988).
Unbounded’s combinations of piano melodies and orchestral arrangements are perfect for movies, but it can also be the soundtrack of your life. Believe me; you will be moved…
Also check out Marc Enfroy’s later albums; Awakening, Unconditional and Dreams of the Forest.
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