German composer and musician Uwe Gronau’s latest album is a jazz/new age/art rock tour de force with a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks that sound like a cross between Jan Hammer and Genesis.
Gronau uses his keyboards and synthesizers to create mesmerizing melodies and textures, stinging guitar lines, and dynamic bass rhythms, and he and his co-producer Clemens Paskert keep time with standard and syncopated backbeats through the use of propulsive and kinetic drum programs, in addition to percussion by Andy Kohlmann.
American musician Martin Brom adds crazy-awesome guitar to “Far in the East,” and “Interlude” is driven by German guitarist Wolfgang Demming’s powerful fusion crunch. By the way, these two six-string slingers need to release their own solo albums. They’re that good.
Gronau’s vocals sound somewhat like a combination of Men in Hats, Modern English, Pet Shop Boys, and Andy Summers (from his XYZ days) – not what typically passes for popular singing, but perfectly suited to the quirkiness of the songs. The vocal tracks are not really about singing, but about story, character, and atmosphere, and Gronau’s subliminal, psychedelic vocalization brings out those elements in the music and lyrics, the latter of which were penned by Michael Hoeing and Ursula Goldstein. Gronau does add zest to the songs by recruiting the soulful accompanying and backing vocals of Angelique Damschen.
As the title (and the artwork, which inexplicably features the Enterprise E from the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies) suggests, the album is quite the trip through time and space, and it’s a trip well worth taking.