Isn't it a really cool feeling when you discover something or someone that surprises you and simply knocks your socks? Entering the spacerock ring is Mr. Les Fradkin, armed with a synthesizers and samples including his featured instrument- Starr Labs Ztar Model Z7S MIDI Guitar. But labeling Les squarely into the Spacerock genre would not be altogether true; combine spacerock, Jean-Michel Jarre and some progrock flair and neo-classical influences and you can at least see where his music is reaching out to.
What I like about `One Link Between Them,' is that Fradkin, makes his guitar synths and the Ztar sing with amazing intonation as if Rick Wakeman was playing a classic synth. His MIDI controller mades good use of a substantial array of equipment and samples but never seems forced, as if he's showing out his new toy. Drum programming is od high standards and on ocassion reaches the height of brilliant, though many of the rythyms, remind me of a classic Jean-Michel Jarre feel.
High points to the album are:
Track 2- `Orbiter,' is a standout! Penned by Mr. Fradkin, the piece starts outs with some tasty Mellotron and settles into some amazing rhythms as well some very cool leads. Les out Jarres Jarre on this track!
Track 3- `From Venus with Love,' composed by Les and Loretta Fradkin is a gorgeous melange of taste rhythms, beauty and spicy melody. As with Orbiter, I didn't want the tracks to end, but go on forever.
Track 4- is Steve Vai's `Liberty,' Though IMHO one of the weaker tracks (due to the composition, not instrumentation), the song really showcases the skill and amazing technique that Les can do, when needed.
The next track is another cover, `Caravan,' (composed by D. Ellington, J.Ticol, I.Mills). Les combines a Middle-eastern influence with his electronic take on Ellington's classic.
Track 6- `Warp Drive,' is exactly what it is titled. Add a little Yngwie, a dash of Jarre, some Tangerine Dream and a classical structure, with a pulsating rocking rhythm and you get a wild track. This track highlights Les' brilliant combination of expression as well as technique.
`Sailing All Alone,' like track 6 was penned by Les, and slows down the pace to showcase his sense of beauty. Again, the music perfectly portrays its title. Tara Coker-Lewis's voice ascends the piece even higher. Beautiful job.
`Longing To Return' briefly returns to the melody and riffs of `From Venus with Love,' but with an amazing beauty that is simply breathtaking. This is a fantastic composition that showcases the simplicity and the sublime. Amazing work Les! I sense a little Vangelis vibe (not soundwise), to this track.
Track 9 is my favorite, perhaps because it is the more proggier of the album's pieces. Penned again by Les and Loretta Fradkin, the composition to me instills a sense of wonder, some nice interplay with the Mellotron flute, oboe and some tastily bass and digital drums. The song gets stronger as it goes though its 7 plus minute length. The Ztar married with electric guitar is breathtaking! Images of triumph permeate this song- and well it should.
Joe Meek's `Telstar' finishes up the CD. Again, like Vai's composition, I feel that this one of the weaker tracks and personally, I like Les' penned pieces better, yet I do admire his daring as well as giving a nod to tunes and/or performers that he admires.
Did I mention any lows? Nothing to talk about really, the few weaker tracks (IMHO), are still solid because of Les' musicality.
All in all, I really liked this album. The CD has enough change and interest, as well as technique to keep Prog rockers interested. Mellotron sounds are not redundant and over-used, and Mr. Fradkin's musicianship marries well with the (especially his), compositions. If you are a fan of Jean-Michel Jarre, bands such as- Tangerine Dream, or just like new technology; check out this artist- now! But there is more to this man than simple synths; Les combines and transmorphs the new technology with feeling, passion and old-fashioned gusto. He knows how to rock, and can even get you on the dance floor; but also, the music is brimming with intelligence, emotion and care.
The only weak-point I see is the album art. It's bad; top-heavy thus giving it a poor composition. Music of this caliber deserves better.
I can't wait to hear what this talented performer does on his next venture. It would be neat to hear a few longer tracks, so Les could spin his array of textures with a larger palette. I can envision a modern Supper's ready-like epic piece coming from Les' Ztar. Also, it might be interesting to add a few traditional instruments into the mix, as a highlight or accent.
A recommended buy!
9.2 out of 10 rating