Brian Vassallo, Memoirs of a Lifetime

It has taken me several listens to come to something of an appreciation for Brian Vassallo’s Memoirs of a Lifetime. The short explanation of the disc is that it’s a spacey, classic-style synth album filled with textbook sequencer work, whooshes of electronic sound and a healthy dose of swelling, cinematic passages. Vassallo wears his influences on his sleeve, and you’ll hear them all clearly. What kept surprising me as I listened is that for an artist whose background, at least according to his website, is so extensive, the music on Memoirs seemed at times to be shackled by an almost amateurish hesitancy that often felt heavy and ponderous. I hear it first in the beginning of Part Four, and that may only be because Parts Two and Three are noticeably smoother. Part Two is a lush, richly arpeggiated spacemusic piece, spot-on in every genre regard. Part Three immediately shifts into a mechanical rhtyhm, crisply angular where Two was wave-form smooth. From there, Memoirs becomes a so-so ride for me, but Vassallo recaptures me late in the disc with Part 8 (out of 9), which carries a nice low-end bounce, a cool rhythm that Vassallo eases his melodies over. It’s catchy. With the closer, Part 9, Vassallo hits that cinematic aspect, skimming dangerously close to the edge of being bombastically New Agey–but I have to confess that he catches me with the big, bold synth lead that feels like a full-on arena-rock guitar. Memoirs of a Lifetime is a decent listen that, for me, thrives better when it’s mixed in with other music. Vassallo has clearly picked up a lot from his influences, and his playing, when it feels more free, is excellent. The music here suffers only from being too familiar at times, and I’ll be the first to admit that it may be due to me hearing a lot of this type of music lately. If your tastes run strongly to the J-M Jarre side of things, it’s definitely worth a listen. (Hint: You’ll want to head directly to the high-energy thrust of Part Six.)

Find it at CD Universe.

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