by Michael Hill, Arts Writer
(c)Denton Record Chronicle Newspaper
With all the trouble it can be to get-and then actually keep-a band together, many musicians have no doubt pondered the notion of doing it all themselves. Well, that self-contained approach is exactly what provides the creative flow behind the "The River," the new CD from Decapolis. Composed and entirely realized digital synthesizers, the 12 tracks contained therein are the product of Denton resident and one-man-band Riley Roden.
In the spirit of such synthesizer kingpins as Vangelis, Roden (or is it Decapolis?) has avoided the hassles and ego clashes that characterize so many musical ensembles and come up with a sonically diverse, extremely listenable and engaging work-all on his own. "The River" opens with "Cross Country," a pleasant musical trip guided by a supple percussion track. Luxurious chordal washes create an appropriately rich backdrop for the slippery bass melody, which winds along on a cross country journey of its own.
"The Experience," meanwhile, features what sounds like a large, submerged church choir bubbling up thick-yet-warbly patches of sound while a bouncing bass line and an incessant hi-hat and snare pattern provide rhythm and propel the track forward. While the influence of both Vangelis and Tangerine Dream can certainly be felt on this recording, "The Chase," with its pulsating rhythms and big screen bravado, seems to owe something of a debt to Jan Hammer, the man behind numerous scores for both movies and television, including "Miami Vice."
In direct contrast to "The Chase," the whooshing streams of synthesized sound that introduce "Moon" help to give the listener the impression that he or she has just touched down on a distant lunar surface where surreal-ness is the law of the land. Fittingly, the title track opens with trickling water sounds and swirling synth patches that are eventually overlaid with a delicate flute melody. The introduction of a drum track then takes this natural spring of an idea on its own little journey. As this rushing sonic current rolls, it picks up other melodic voices such as a piano, a fretless bass and a wispy, bell-like patch, which push it oceanward.
While the perussion-driven "Good Vibes" pivots off a slapped bass part and a floating electric piano sample, "Kim" sets the listener smack dab in the middle of a futuristic paradise where a distant melody weaves its way through cottony clouds of sound. "Smooth Sailing," for its part, is exactly that. Set to a subtle drum and bass pattern, fluttery chords create a subtle melody that slowly slithers out of the lush backdrop. S pseudo-blues-rock bass line provides the foundation for the CD's closer, a deceptively simple tune called "Back in Business" that uses clipped melodies to bring "The River" to a thoroughly satisfying final destination.
cd info: 12 tracks; about 70 minutes, [ADD]
Check out the artist's website:
1. Cross Country
2. The Experience
4. The Chase
6. The River
7. Good Vibes
10. Smooth Sailing
11. The Third Journey
12. Back in Business