Jan Schipper "Spiral Galaxy"
Review by Kaisu Airaksinen
Strange things are happening in a spiral shaped galaxy. Jan Schipper has transformed this mysterious galaxy into an album – Spiral Galaxy, something that brings up many images. As a whole the album is OK but I have to admit that already the cover art hinted that this album won't go beyond OK.
Cover art is representing a view of a New York-like city that lies next to the sea. Main figure of the cover, convex circle, symbolizes oddity but in the end this figure doesn't represent the name or feel of the album at all. Furthermore, back cover is lacking decent art completely which simplifies the nature of the album even more. Cover art certainly doesn't go beyond OK.
While listening to Spiral Galaxy it was impossible not to miss the punchy and firm feel of the tracks. All tracks are done this way, which on the other hand isn't solely a good thing. Sometimes it feels like this particular punchy style has been overdone to such an extent that it makes me feel uneasy. By using softer sounds and drum beats it might make the tracks sound more pleasant. Compositionally the tracks are sounding nice but some have very odd melody lines. For example in I.S.S. the melodies are bouncing around a little bit recklessly and randomly. Each artist have their own melodic style but I wasn't really convinced by this one. The album has its good side too. I especially like Rising Sun which has a few of my favorite synth sounds. They have been used spontaneously with varying melodies. Definitely the most emotional piece on the album.
What comes to mixing, the tracks have this dry feel to them. It feels like a dry piece of bread has been stuck in your throat. I can't quite pinpoint why it sounds like this because I do not have producer's knowledge of mixing theories but something has gone wrong with mixing.
It is a pleasure again to get to know a new spacesynth artist. However, I am missing variety on this album because now all tracks are sounding very similar. But this can be always improved until next time!
by Jouni Airaksinen
Artists usually like more constructive criticism of their work as it helps them to improve to do better work next time. This review is more from a producer's and a composer's point of view so I may sound harsh, but I want to point out the places and things I would like to hear fixed on the album. Surely listeners want the same - that is better music in the future!
Jan Schipper's new album "Spiral Galaxy" gives out quite mixed feelings. Even after listening to it several times I still think this is below average album. I have not listened to Jan's first album so I cannot compare how well he has improved himself as a composer between the album releases.
Most of the songs sound like they have been produced in a big hurry. The songs sound similar, very repetive and the melodies don't really catch your ear. Some of the similarity feeling is because of the melodies and synth stabs are using the same sounds all over the album. Some variety would have definitely made it better and not just go with the presets from the first song. For example the same bell sounds are used almost on every song. I don't want to sound completely negative, but Jan has work to do as a composer because his melodies aren't the best ones I've heard in this genre. As a producer he's rather good already, mixing is solid although to my taste stabs and certain sounds are mixed quite cold way. The basslines are very good on some of the songs and especially the bassline in the song "Spiral Galaxy". I'd say that if he manages to make the melodies as varying on sounds as his basslines and if he can improve the melodies, he will have some good songs to present.
On this album there are three, or maximum of four, songs which are worth of a album release. I liked the songs "Robots We Are", "Rising Sun" and "The Sound of the Future". Even though those songs are good, they are not perfect.
In the song "Rising Sun" at 2:43 there's this really good sequence which could even be in a Macrocosm album. To my disappointment the stabs, which follow the sequence, are more like random notes played around. Completely breaks the feeling. The bassline has good rolling drive, while the drums are quite basic and nothing special in them.
"The Sound of the Future" is mostly saved by the vocoders which are very nicely done. Stabs are fairly good melodically when compared to the rest of the album. The melodies are generally good and occasionally even catchy. One of my favourites is the melody starting at 4:12.
The best song on this album is definitely the "Robots We Are". The melodies are good, stabs do work and there are no melodies which would kill the feeling of the song. The drums have a bit more variation than most of the songs. The sequence at 2:47 is simple, but really catchy. The only bad thing I can say is that the song is at the end of the album and is using many of the same sounds as the 10 songs before it did, so the song may not sound special anymore if listening whole album from the start to the end. I really recommend checking this song first if you're listening the album first time.
As a tip for Jan, I recommend you spend more time on a song and make more songs to choose from to an album. Not every song is worth of a album release. If you had album full of songs like the last three, you'd have much better album. I'd also like to hear some slower songs to compensate the energy on the album.
It feels a bit waste to buy full album for just a couple of songs. Luckily Hypersound provides MP3 downloads as well, so you can choose to buy only the few best songs. Cover art on this album is nothing you really need to pay for. I know the cover art is not Jan's doings, but the cover art is horrible. If I would see this album on a shop I probably would not even bother to look at it. The art looks as if it has been done in a one minute. One Photoshop effect applied on a stock-image and text added on top. Personally I think a album should be a pleasure musically and visually. So, please Jan, for your next album try to find some artist to do covers for you. Internet is full of talented artists who will make covers for albums with no pay or just want copy or two of the album. This is something I really recommend for every artist.
As final words I don't really recommend this album as an entry album into the Spacesynth world, but instead only as a fan collector's album. It does not have enough good songs beside the couple ones mentioned and the cover art is not special enough to show up for your friends. This album is just one more Spacesynth album for fans to keep their Spacesynth collections complete.