Monday, March 29, 2010

Alchemystic - Never Thought Ft Yolandé Strauss

Hear The Track Here

It was only by the purest chance that this track was back to back with Reflexion X because the leading players in both cases are wizened Soundclick electronica veterans, deepndark and Alchemystic are names very familiar to us and not always because of the music :) Mind you, Alchemystic now has his own very snazzy site and no longer seems to be on Soundclick per se so its no good looking for him and - much more to the point - he seems to have changed musical direction too. It started a while back when I reviewed Destiny's Fire (February 2009) which is where we first encountered Alchemystic the musician and arranger for (gulp) a female vocalist. Now, if I've got this right (Ed: he'll undoubtedly be wrong then), the vocalist on that track was Yolandé Strauss with the lyrics written by Katherine Wong. Exactly the same combination then came up with Sweet Sorrow (January 2010) which is where the change became most pronounced. Here is what I wrote at the time while raving about 'a straightforward, three hankie tearjerker of a power ballad'.

Yes, yes, the eyes do bug, don't they?

If you had used the words power ballad and Alchemystic a few years ago, I would have laughed myself silly, No longer, because BOTH of the tracks I have mentioned got a Must Have rating from me and believe me, I don't usually hand them out to ballads, let alone to (makes the quote sign) power ballads. Now I know that Alchemystic is a very talented and competent musician (more so on this kind of material surprisingly enough) and Katherine Wong's lyrics are classic examples of the art, the real glue holding this together rests in the vocals of South African singer Yolandé Strauss. I compared her at the time to Karen Carpenter because she has that same inviting warmth in her vocal that helped a philistine like me to appreciate Ms Carpenter and it certainly did the same with Yolandé.

Now you wouldn't think it to look at me but I'm a deep, deep cynic so it would have to be a rare talent that could move me enough with a ballad, and indeed very few do. On that score Never Thought has much the same instrumentation and feel of Sweet Sorrow, all extremely tasteful which says much about just how good Alchemystic is at what he does. Without the killer ingredient though... That's where Yolandé steps up to bat and knocks it right out of the park. As clean, classy and elegant as the music is, Yolandé's vocal is all that wrapped up in the kind of vocal sound that sends shivers down my spine. None of the Whitney Houston histrionics either which mar a lot of modern ballads, what we get is pure tone, beautifully phrased lyrics and a soundtrack that could definitely stand on its own. The major part of that music backing is Yolande herself on piano, or at least I think so. Not only can she sing like an angel, she can tickle the ivories like one too. Now, I'm not sure which is the stronger track, this one or Sweet Sorrow. Tell you what, you decide by listening to both of them.

MUST HAVE ballad (damn, I could even get used to writing that!)

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