Album review by Jason Randall Smith (Impose Magazine)
15. Februar 2013
Founder and member of Disconauts Music Production in Germany, Al Rea specializes in making music that serves as window dressing for commercial projects worldwide. His work has been licensed for various uses in television and film, supplying the right mood to fit a creative need. Visions Of Love is Al’s latest full-length album, which immerses the listener headfirst into all aspects of the „chill out“ aesthetic. Its airy atmosphere can relax stressed-out workaholics across the globe while also supplying a deep mid-tempo groove that could get bodies moving in the local lounge spot.
The opening title track quickly establishes the fact that Al Rea’s compositions have life outside of a stock production library. „Visions Of Love“ is worthy of heavy rotation with deep house lovers everywhere. Warm chords and shuffling percussion stay in step with crisp drum pads and bouncy bass keys to create an infectious rhythm that’s impossible to resist. The wafting ambience of „Dancing On The Moon“ can melt the world’s cares away as zip line sound effects pepper a lightweight beat that skips across the sky. Sometimes it’s just about the right balance of aural sensuality and percussive layers. „Imagination“ strikes that balance perfectly with a romantic piano riff and computer tones that zigzag in between the syncopated drum patterns.
With no words to sway a listener’s mind in a certain direction, some of these instrumentals leave themselves open to emotional interpretation. „Forever You“ and „Sun On My Skin“ are great examples. The passionate string arrangement on the former could be part of a romantic theme, but also heard as the building block to a motivational overture. Its hushed and filtered vocals add a hint of dreamy infatuation, but the underlying punch of the snare could inspire a rapper to write verses about attaining your goals just as easily as penning lyrics regarding personal heartbreak. „Sun On My Skin“ moves the shakers and cymbals to the forefront, reducing the impact of the drums to that of a muted firecracker. The strings are more solemn in tone, yet still possess an amorous quality, leaving the piano melody to represent for love with a sentimental motif.
It could be argued that Al Rea’s greatest strength lies in his love for jazz and how he’s able to incorporate that love into electronic music to enhance the quality of his chilled out grooves. „Moments“ pays homage to the laid back quartet in smoky jazz clubs, its foundation held in check by the drum kit and low-key rhythm guitar engaged in a need to swing. Keyboard-generated horns add canned accents that could be considered cheesy if it weren’t for the unquestionably cool instrumentation surrounding said horns.
Meanwhile, „Piano Bar“ is a harmonic hammock of a tune, caressing the listener’s ears with sexy chimes, reflective chords, soft bongo taps, and drum programming that suggests a subdued funkiness. It’s the sonic equivalent of lying in a beach chair on an island while the waves crash in front of you, one hand nursing a tropical drink with an umbrella in it.
As long as there is a need for royalty free music, Al Rea will always find work. However, Visions Of Love is proof that his music stands on its merit. Whether the compositions on this album supports someone else’s project or not, they will find their international audience on the dance floor and in the listening room. In a world full of people desperately looking for ways to decompress from the everyday stresses of life, Al Rea has supplied them with their soundtrack.
Artist: Al Rea
Title: Visions of Love
Reviewed by Jason Randall Smith
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Based in Mount Vernon, New York, Jason Randall Smith is a contributing writer for Impose Magazine. In addition, he maintains his own website, Both Sides Of The Surface, and is also the creator of Radio BSOTS, a podcast featuring independent hip-hop, soul, funk, and electronic music. Jason was also a World Music Community Blogger for the 52nd Annual GRAMMY® Awards. Under the pseudonym Macedonia, he served as a member of WCDB Albany 90.9 FM, hosting shows and producing promo spots during the 1990s. Jason collects vinyl, treats liner notes like canonized literature, and still equates the term “mixtape” with actual cassettes.