How will we react to the discovery of extraterrestrial life? It is impossible to say, but one thing is certain; it will be incredibly exciting! Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s new release Call & Answer communicates this excitement in a fantastic way. The listener will experience a delightful mix of amazement and confusion, dread and a sense of endless possibilities. It is a boost for the imagination, much like a well-written Sci-Fi novel. The topic fits perfectly with Hanslik and Moniz’ eclectic yet melodic style – and is a great addition to their discography. Call & Answer is storytelling on the grandest of scales.
Alan Hanslik is an American composer, musician, and producer (see a complete list of his albums here). Alan has also composed soundtracks for feature films and movies. His most recent releases are Courage to Sail, Precious Memory, Space Anomaly and In The Moment. Steve Moniz is a songwriter and guitar player. He has written songs in just about every style, from folk, fingerpicking, rock, blues, and contemporary.
Call & Answer is Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s fourth release (others are Evolution, Side Show and Friendly Planet), plus the EP Gell’n and single Outside Man.
The album starts with a few careful notes that resemble voices. They sound both alien and human-like at the same time. Perhaps it is a Hello, anybody out there? And suddenly there is a reply with a distant guitar and a deep drone in the background, which might indicate transmission over long distances. Then the channel of communication is established. The magnificent chilled guitar indicates a high degree of harmony and positivity at this early stage. The textures are beautiful, and the piece ends on a high note. Perhaps Stephen Hawking was wrong after all, that contacting aliens really is a good idea? I don’t know, but Call & Answer is a terrific start to the album!
Next out is The Weight of Truth. It is Berlin School-ish kind of track with analog-sounding synths. The strings and the rhythmic, deep bass are terrific! Given the track’s title, it seems like the knowledge space communication brought with it is not all positive. With more knowledge comes more responsibility, perhaps? A great narrative unfolds, as in a Ray Bradbury novel – and the somber melody makes the listener pay attention. The track went straight into my personal all-time favorite playlist. I could listen to it all day long, it is out-of-this-world amazing!
Now it gets serious; the stage is set for a face-to-face rendezvous with the aliens! Judging by the sound of Serene Encounter they are friendly enough – but very mystifying. The lead instrument is a harp, giving the piece a pleasant atmosphere. But listen carefully, and you will notice some quite sharp sounds in the background. It might seem serene on the surface, but something is going on, something eerie. I guess it sums up the atmosphere when the destiny of at least two worlds is being decided. As usual, Hanslik & Moniz balance humor and drama perfectly. The ever-evolving ambient melody is a winner from the first listen.
The relationship with the aliens is entering a new phase on Reaching Out. Sharp notes and scary textures indicate that we – or they – are arriving. It is a rich and complex track that puts the listener’s imagination in hyperdrive, worthy of a big-budget movie. It might seem chaotic – but listen carefully and you’ll pick up on its structure.
Did We Miss Anything
Life will not be the same after the discovery of extraterrestrial life, that’s for sure – and the thoughtful Did We Miss Anything indicates that we on our journey to the stars have lost something along the way. Human history is based on life on earth. Would we lose our sense of humanity when we become inhabitants of a galaxy far away? Did We Miss Anything is a crazy but very entertaining track with guitar, harmonica, and Rhodes piano that twists and turns delightfully.
Willing is a short piece with a jolly-sounding zither. Its easygoing nature is an interesting contrast to the challenges of space travel and the spine-chilling alien encounters. Before long it fades into a slow-evolving ambient piece called Conversation Interrupted. Fragments of several melodies form and dissolve, indicating a break in transmission. It seems like the age of interstellar travel is even more stressful than ours. The track features a lovely sounding theremin. Conversation Interrupted is quite a ride and it is impossible to say where it is going to end. It is experimental, but there is a healthy dose of humor here too.
One of the best tracks on the album is Exoplanet. Humanity has discovered an inhabitable planet – or perhaps the friendly aliens have given it to us – and Hanslik and Moniz take us on an expedition to learn more about its wildlife and geology. Prepare to be amazed by this friendly planet; it makes the imagination run wild.
Major spoiler alert; the album does not end on a high note. What We Missed is the reply to the previous Did We Miss Anything – and the answer is a resounding yes. It is not a dark piece, but it feels empty somehow. It indicates that little is left of what once was.
In conclusion: Call & Answer by Hanslik & Moniz Experiment is a well-made and deeply entertaining album. Its experimental nature might scare away some listeners, but when you start to receive Hanslik & Moniz’ message, a stunning Sci-Fi story takes shape. Its philosophical nature is food for thought, underlining that a lot will change if (or when) we make contact with extraterrestrial life. What we will learn from them will probably change our very concept of existence. Hanslik and Moniz do a terrific job of describing such a historical event. Also, if you enjoyed Friendly Planet, you will love this release too.
I believe Call & Answer communicates a universal truth; When you call, you never really know what answer you will get. That is especially true when it comes to calling out into deep space. The answer might change everything – and to put things into perspective; radio signals from earth can be picked up 60 light-years away.
For more information and music samples, visit alanhanslik.com.