Having previously reviewed as well as being completely awestruck by Keith Richie’s album “Ambient Highways”, I received “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite” with great enthusiasm. The two-hour remastered edition of this album, originally released ten years prior, has been cleaned-up, enhanced and extended onto a second disc of completely new material for a whole new listening experience! Weaving symphonic electronic, ambient and space music elements together, notable comparisons can be drawn to Tangerine Dream, Christopher Franke, John Carpenter, Vangelis and Carbon Based Lifeforms, all of whom Keith cites as musical influences.

“The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part I” opens with deep drones, astronaut-like voices and shooting star effects, conveying a notion that one is about to embark on an intergalactic voyage. Thunderous drum intervals joined by a symphonic melodic arrangement of vintage and modern synthesizers add to the feeling of anticipation, as one gets the sense that perhaps they’re not alone on this journey, but are part of a crew of interstellar explorers. Clocking in at just under thirty-six and a half minutes, it’s the longest piece on the album boasting many twists and turns, before ultimately winding down with the shooting star sounds and astronaut speak. Ethereal timbres open “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part II”, where misty tones and gurgling swirls eventually lead into a pulsating rhythm and heavier sequencers. Influences of Tangerine Dream are especially notable on this track, with the tonal and percussive qualities bearing distinctive hallmarks of the band’s “Stratosfear” album. Dissolving at about the halfway point, the rhythm returns towards the latter part of the piece, this time revving things up at a more marching pace. A semblance of deep space exploration in a universe teeming with life permeates “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part III”, where the familiar shooting star sounds accentuate a violin-esque melody and crystalline textures that seem to spiral outwards. A steady drumbeat enters, subsequently dissipating at about two-thirds of the way through, before the melody transitions and rhythm returns for another sequence in the composition. At twenty-six and a half minutes, “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part IV” is the fourth and final composition, showcasing the finest elements of the three previous tracks. This metamorphosing composition is topped-off with ghostly operatic voices that further enhance the piece’s beautifully eerie quality, as added bleeps and signal sounds convey surreal images of alien worlds appearing on a distant frontier. Epically moving yet contemplatively serene, the composition dreamily concludes in an otherworldly haze.

An additional two-hour companion album, titled “Singularities”, is comprised of individual movements from the various parts of “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite”, ranging from a little over four minutes to just over fourteen minutes in length. Presenting sixteen tracks as individual compositions that have been edited with unique intros and outros, they make for great radio edits or a shuffle-play experience. Each track is given a separate title, such as “Naked Singularity”, which is actually the third portion of “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part I”, while the seven minute “General Relativity” captures the hauntingly beautiful first portion of “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite Part IV”.

Upon listening to this masterpiece, I concluded that in a different time and place, Keith Richie would have been the guy tapped to join Tangerine Dream in the year 2000. Being among my favorite recent musical discoveries, I am simply floored by the quality of this artist’s output, with “The Maestoso Interstellar Suite" & "Singularities” barring no exception. Playing out like an imaginary soundtrack to a sci-fi mini-series, each composition serves as its own episode or chapter in a story full of cinematic adventure, cosmic exploration and emotional resonance. Nothing short of spectacular, this is simply a must-have for fans of emotive sci-fi and classic electronic space music! ~Candice Michelle

The Maestoso Interstellar Suite: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby
Singularities: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby

Comments

May 19, 2016 @07:55 am
Thank you so much for the wonderful review Candice!
Keith Richie

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