Path to Home
Artemis Cracker's The Path To Home is the result of growing up playing the piano and dabbling with the atmospheric minimalism of jazz, electronica, rock, and classical music. The seemingly indescribable music is rich in avante-garde, New Age and electronica in much the same vein as Tangerine Dream, Ronan Hardiman, Enigma, Air, and Waldeck. Still, Artemis Cracker's music is multifaceted, enthralling, and diverse. "Prelude" is nothing more than a three-and-a-half minute introduction to the rest of the album via piano. "Meditations On Joy" continues the piano-driven theme, but Artemis throws in a drum-beat, keyboard effects, and a trip hop element that seems more fitting for chill-laxing than meditation. Still, the bouncy piano melodies and overall beat suggests a happy or joyous state of being with each repeated listen. The electronic effects of blurbs and bleeps suggest a slightly techno leaning without resorting into a dance-driven, club beat. "The Path To Home" opens with a 1980's-like instrumental pop/rock/New Age beat with a pleasant melody with the drums and electronic accompaniment. The music is cheery, infectious, and easy to digest. The slight electronic additions do not detract from the lilting rhythms indicative of something Tangerine Dream would come up with. "For J" is a peppy, piano-driven song with darker ambient elements and other keyboard effects that coincide with the melodies. There are even horn-like effects that rise up out of nowhere during the latter half of the song. At times, the piano and electronic effects are very pronounced where all of the sounds and instruments seem to work off of each other. This is one of the better tracks, because of the way the sounds coalesce into a musical masterpiece. "Heaven Of Invention" begins with electronic accompaniment, sparkling sounds, and swishy percussion. The angelic, trip hop beat allows ample time and space for cascading ambient washes and twinkling sounds of electrified delight without resorting to a mass clutter of indistinct sounds and noises. The song is also the longest at fifteen minutes. Consequently, Artemis devotes a lot of time to the song, which allows it to showcase the various melodies, rhythms, and electronic additions. At times, the song feels filmic and almost sci-fi. Moreover, the spacey electronic shrills, drones, shrieks, twinkles, and swooshes throughout provide a thorough musical product with many moods, colors, and shapes. Musical similarities may be compared to Enigma, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, and Philip Glass. "Anthem" is a blurby electronic song with pulsating and fading sounds of spacey beauty. The blurby sounds cut in and out with other electronic accents in a piccolo-type fashion throughout. The latter half of the song breaks into a trip-hop beat with a crescendo of otherworldly sounds and a progressive percussive beat that ends in a symphonic, filmic climax with the feel of Enigma; the sound of Air; and the electronic blurbage of Ronan Hardiman. "Variations On Melancholia" is anything but a stagnant song of electronic bliss. In fact, the undulating dance-type electronic accompaniments begin the song without the addition of drums or guitars. A darker accordion-like electronic beat adds to the scratchy swish noise and various roiling sounds, before the piano adds another side of the musical spectrum. The final minute of the song incorporates all of the abovementioned musical qualities with the added bonus of a percussive drum beat. Artemis Cracker's The Path To Home is an hour-long journey to space and back. The ten songs seem to eschew a cosmic quality with a bit of classical, trip hop, and down-tempo thrown in for good measure. The strengths tend to be found in the longer songs where Artemis takes time to develop the sound into a final product that encapsulates the true meaning of a 'path to home'. For the most part, the piano seemed to provide good accompaniment without overtaking the rest of the music. The downsides are few, but primarily reside in some musical melodies sounding the same over multiple songs. Also, the piano-driven solos on "Prelude" and "Sunday Best" interrupted the flow of the album, which is particularly centered on electronica and New Age. The Path To Home is still out of this world! Review by Matthew Forss Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) ______________________________ Experimental concoctions of folk, classical and electro-ambient music permeate Artemis Cracker's latest album, The Path to Home. Alongside the highly-detailed and precise classical piano arrangements are whimsical and lengthy buildups of mystical ambient musical evolutions. 'Prelude' is a core reflection of the classical piano themes on Artemis Cracker's The Path to Home. The lone piano plays in solace with an emotional vibrance; a distinctive combination of classical and pop. The movements are brilliantly executed. It is ideal music for television movie dramas and a pop song desperate for words to paint it's empty lyrical canvas. 'Meditations on Joy' starts off with a soft piano riff à la 80s hit show 'Hill Street Blues'-- part soul, part pop. The shaker works it's way underneath the song's bare but beautiful underbelly, as a delicate rock backbeat kicks in. The potential for a lyrically artful song demonstrates the versatility of the music. The synth fusions towards the end of the song along with a soft horn sound demonstrate the artist's enormous instinct for arrangement. Album-titled 'The Path to Home' kicks off with dripping guitar strums and a slowed rock beat as if it's keeping a dirty secret from the listener; the deliberate and linear choruses of unsung melody and precise delivery of every single note scream 'where is my singer!' 'The Path to Home' drags on a bit with the thickly reverbed guitars and is not nearly as dynamic as 'Meditations on Joy' and 'Prelude.' 'Sunday Best' returns the listener back to basics for the artist: a solitary piano and a clear and understandable path to a melodic language successfully conveyed through his detailed and textured execution of notes and phrasings. There is a lullaby aspect to this song, especially as the artist's piano keys climb to a higher octave. 'For J' is definitely one of the most compelling and complex songs off of the album. The melody is carried through by a mellifluous progression of fast tempo classic-style piano flourishes that repeat and build into concentric interludes. What sounds like a French horn accompanies a portion of the song. The brass touches give the song soundtrack potential, especially for an epiphanic scene in a movie drama; gorgeous breath-taking tempo and execution. 'Heaven of Invention' has delicate ambient beats; the song's slow tempo has a dreamy atmosphere with lingering laser-like sounds and a very subtle keyboard melody. Unlike the other more classical-oriented pieces this one sleepwalks more than it meanders, diverges more than it converges, on various musical influences. Juxtaposing this fifteen-minute wonder with the eclectic virtuosity of the more classical-style pieces, this one might be worth skipping for most listeners, especially if they are expecting the more traditional classical stance played on the other songs. For adventurous listeners, the piece does have some interesting synth whimpers towards the end, like dolphins conversing in a pool of ambient waves. There is also a minor uplifting organ interlude that embellishes the end of the song. 'Anthem' starts off with a series of doppler-esque synth skirmishes and flourishes lined with spacey echoes and organ sighs. Similar to 'Heaven of Invention,' it dabbles into the world of ambient synth-dom and does not re-enter into the other album's classical aesthetic. The melody gets some help with some reenergized synth zings and sizzles that give the song more of a pop and 'anthemic' (puns aside) feel. The primary motif builds into a chorus of vast and long progressive organ lines and a primal drumbeat. Like the earlier tracks on the album, the arrangements are carried with precision and solid execution. After listening to 'Anthem,' listeners may start to battle in their own minds as to whether Artemis Cracker style sits more comfortably in the classical realm, the ambient world or straddles both in a cool, fused middle ground. 'Variations on Melancholia' is a melange of pent up classical virtuosic energy and ambient chamber-esque glitter. Listeners might find this track to be the musical glue that holds the album together. One of the most memorable sections of the song is the combination of rolling pianos and synth whines that duke it out, eventually bumping into a frolic of bongos and electro-drum clashes. 'Variations on Melancholia' is ideal for movie adventure soundtracks and perhaps even adventure video games. Once again, another great arrangement. Fans of Vangelis and Brian Eno's experimental electronic arrangements will love Artemis Cracker's latest experiment, The Path to Home. Review by Michael Morgan Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5) ____________________________ 'Path to Home' is a cross-cut sample of Artemis Cracker's creative process. Nothing is taboo - the title track ('Path to Home') has a big-hair 80's era rock-and-roll vibe, while 'Sunday Best' oozes beach-side solo piano easy listening, 'Heaven of Invention' is pure tye-dye hippy New-Age soundscape, and the synths on 'Variations on Melancholia' brood and boil in tortured, demonic sadness. With this album I made no attempt to restrict the inclusion of a track based on uniformity of style - it's just the music, standing alone and speaking for itself. And yet it works somehow - it really works. It's almost as if each track couldn't exist without the next. In some ways, each track seems to look at the same ideas through a different lens, and yet each view is refreshing and not like the last. Not coincidentally, that's exactly how this record came to be - each track is a different snapshot, taken from various distances determined by the time between then and now, of a single road, and one artist's journey on it. It's the path to here; the path to home. To the listener - this is an album best used for retrospection, for lonely evenings with no company but a glass of wine and your memories - the good and the demonic. -AC.