Meteo Xavier harnesses the power of the computer to carve out eight distinct soundworlds on his first full-length release, Espers. Xavier’s touting of the disc as “a unique, professional, conceptual album of music [made] on a single computer” could be seen as a warning sign, the worrisome “look what I can do at home!” mindset that sometimes plagues electronic music, but as Espers moves through its octet of identities, the statement becomes more “this is what can be done with a single computer.” Not only are Xavier’s creations workably distinct from one another, they also alter their appearance as they go along, like movements in a set of 8-minute electronic symphonies. The first track, “Tritochiark–Vestigial Dreamcatcher for the Heavenly Integer” (each track here has a novel-length title) begins in darkness with minor-chord choral voices, temple bells and discordant flute–but only for 90 seconds. A silent pause of nearly 10 seconds and then it restarts with lighter, chime-like tones and a subtle beat. Late in track a guitar takes the forefront and eases the flow down to its finish. The first taste of Xavier’s diversity comes as soon as the second track kicks in. “Ornamekias–A Slight Wave from the Hill Above” drops in with a club-friendly beat and a chill attitude. Airy pads support the background as Xavier lets the drumbeat control the feeling. Everything else takes a quiet backseat, all the elements getting brief moments to step forward. The shift here comes with just under 90 seconds to go. The beat drops, the airiness falls away, and we’re left with a simple combination of a sequenced rhythm cadence and a melody riding on a sound somewhere between an electronic sax and an electronic voice. None of these changes, whether between tracks or within them, ever come as an unpleasant jolt. They make sense. The changes between tracks are just a matter of looking out a new window. “Amenemhetopelzai–Ancient King Lost in Memories” takes us to the rainforest with hawk-circle flutes and, for lack of a better term, a Central American feel in the percussion. It has a strong New Age feel (my brain is racing for the reference, and it’s escaping me). “Icidina–Royal Highshiva of the Glacierplains” grabs hold of a spacemusic feel and bolsters it with more flute and glistening chimes. It builds in drama, gaining power and imagery as it goes. When this one hits its breakdown point, it almost comes as a relief. (And reminds me, with its bass-pulse bottom line and whistling higher tones, of Ministry of Inside Things.) “Navi Whisperwilde–The Forest Sprite and the Mana Spirit in Eternal Recurrence” offers a combination of bouncy sequencer and windswept pads that reaches into my electronic-music-listening brain and pulls forward feelings of Ray Lynch crossed with Suzanne Ciani–the playful meeting the graceful in a relaxing combination. Espers closes with a 10-minute piano piece, “Sagatellah–The One Who Waits for the Life to Come,” featuring pianist and composer Michael Huang. It’s pure New-Age pleasantry, a nice organic touch at the end of a long electronic voyage. Even here the feeling shifts as the piece progresses (it’s nearly 10 minutes long), a wind-down concerto that moves through Winston-esque passages and neo-classic frameworks with equal grace.
With Espers, Meteo Xavier gives listeners a look into the range of his musical ideas and shows that he has the talent to fully recognize them all. This disc bodes well for future releases from Xavier, and I’m looking forward to hearing more. You need to have a listen to this disc.
Available from CD Baby.