If you think it is impossible to make gold, think again. Crystalline Dream’s new album proves that it is possible to make lead into gold – or at least the musical equivalent of that wonderful, shiny metal. “Alchemy” takes us on a journey to a world far, far away. It is powerful and relaxing at the same time.
Crystalline Dream started in 2006. “Alchemy” is the third release in this music project (see the others here). “Alchemy” was nominated for ZMR Best Electronic Album 2016 and OWM Awards Best New Age Album 2016. “Alchemy” is in many ways Crystalline Dream’s breakthrough release. Hopefully this will give lots of attention to the previous albums as well – which are all highly recommended.
Whenever you have an album with electronic music and the band is named something with “Dream”, it is natural to think that there are at least some Tangerine Dream, Berlin school inspirations here. That is also the case with Crystalline Dream. In terms of sound though, it is just as easy to compare with Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo or Suzanne Ciani‘s more ambient work.
The album stars with the title track. The first effect, a rising, clicking synth chord, immediately sets the mind on track to another dimension. The first half minute is simply incredible sound design. Suddenly we hear a couple of flutes (soprano and sopranino recorders), bringing with them a feeling of melancholy, foreboding even. It is a remarkable image; flutes tend to make you think of forests, streaming water and nature in general. Yet here they are, rising, falling, helplessly lost in space, crying out an ambient, kinda disharmonious melody. It is wonderful and inspiring, like a modern painting where nothing is “right” – yet each part is delicate and beautiful.
On a molecular level, Au is the term for gold and Pb for lead. The song “Pb-Au” has an almost metallic sound, and if Crystalline Dream were to make a music video to this song, a ton of gold – and probably a good deal of lead too – would be needed to capture the song’s atmosphere. It is wonderfully slow and meditative. Then there’s an interesting contrast; “Enhormonium” has a gentle melody built around the structure of chords. There are some nice strings in the background too, adding colors and life.
My favorite track on the album is “Contrapuntos”. A counterpoint is always a fascinating effect. “Contrapuntos” has both an interesting rhythm and something which sounds like a conversation between the lead synth and a cool electric guitar. Again the magic is in the contrasts; chilled like a tropical beach, lifeless like a planet made of nothing metals.
Even Edgar Froese would have been proud of the next track, “Aelous”. It reminds a bit of his most famous solo work, “Stuntman”. It is, in my opinion, just as good. The ambient melody is impossible not to like, and the song has both speed and drama. “Sojourn” is something quite different. A vocal synth and strings create thought provoking ambiance, if only for a moment.
A planet made of gold
I must mention the beautiful cover by Corey Ford (see his website here). It is a vision of how a gold planet might look like. Even the sky is golden, colored by the reflection of shiny metal. The cover is also an indication that we are off to a one-way trip into deep space.
“Musica Universalis” picks up where “Echo” left off. The rich pads are like waves, washing over the listener. Fans of Liquid Mind and Ashaneen will feel right at home. The flutes are back on “Sectio Aurea”. They make me think of Deuter, they are that good. The melody is comforting and eerie at the same time. “Alchemy (Reprise)” is a welcome return of the first track. It binds the album together, making it into a consistent work of art.
In conclusion: “Alchemy” by Crystalline Dream is close to a perfect ambient release. The album requires active listening. It is at the same time incredible relaxing, built for reading, thinking or creative work.
In other words; “Alchemy” is gold, 100 % pure and highly valuable.
Conclusion: 94/100 – See how I rate music here
Sample and buy the album on CD Baby. Make sure to sample the band’s other albums too!