It’s always intriguing when an instrumental producer creates a full length project that’s designed to give your mind something of a rush and a journey from the comfort of your own home. The details and the multiple layers of warmth, the effects, the weaving in and out of the soundscape – this is what you hope for – and opening track Eclipse alone sets a scene before you that fits the implied sentiments of this album’s title in a mighty way. Alpharaoh’s approach is calming but also incredibly impressive, from a musical perspective. You feel as if you’re at the centre of the story, which is precisely what we hope for when turning to music as our most effective source of escapism.
Alpharaoh has crafted this entire collection in a thoughtful and skillful way. There’s a somewhat retro sci-fi feel to much of it, though this is intertwined with the smoothness of modern synths and the sheer vibrancy of the completed soundscapes. Despite the precision and the intentions, the experience is one that is very much left up to the listener – you fill in the gaps, you take from it what you will, you use it as you see fit. In any case, this is the sort of project you want to let fill up the room right the way through until it’s over.
Elsewhere on Interstellar, things pick up a little more energy. It’s not all ambient delicacy and calm, there’s plenty of rhythm, and that’s something you come to appreciate and that lets Alpharaoh’s skills as a producer stand tall in a number of other ways. Dimensions follows the opener and brings a classic house beat to the stage with a spacious, enjoyably vintage vibe. Asteroids afterwards sees the experimental gaming samples drive with a playful aura, this concept in some ways being likened to the joyful aspects of nature here on Earth – they sound, to me, like electronically charged birds. As the track progresses, the beat and the movement of the whole thing hits beautifully. The music is simple but entrancing, and this contrasts well with the detail and complexity that surrounds it.
The house beats that emerge as this album plays out come with a refreshing additional layer of fascinating experimentation. The producer, the artist at the heart of this, has designed each track to be something uniquely expressive but also able to connect and entertain a listener – even embrace them in many ways. Tracks like Dark Matter see the raw energy of the beat take centre stage, and still these dashes of time and space jump in and out of view to remind you of the underlying ideas.
Keeping things interesting at every step, Invasion is a track that stands out for its chaotic structure and slightly haunting, dissonant elements. There’s a mellow echo to the riffs and this acts as something quite hypnotic and unnerving. Later on, Solar Waves is a piece that feels contrastingly joyful, still alternative but perhaps also fit to grace the dance floors of any and all night-clubs in the city. Undoubtedly one of the more mainstream or widely accessible compositions on the album.
Adding further to the eclecticism – Light Beams is a gracefully ambient moment that emerges like a blissful, delicate dream. After this, Cosmic Traveler is beautiful, hopeful and colourful but energizing and exciting at the very same time. A flicker of EDM alights itself again – a crucial building block in making this project multi-functional and an absolute go-to for fans of electronic music in general. There’s a recognisable riff here that has an addictive familiarity to it by the end.
Interstellar itself sees things through to the finish line. Surprisingly, this too is an absolute highlight – the complexity of the soundscape is mesmerising, and yet the smoothness or unity of everything interconnected within is stunning. There’s excitement and calm at work simultaneously – the synths in the distance, the pace of the thicker riff, the siren-like use of notes and the explosive sense of rising intensity. There’s something of a happy-hardcore feel to it by the half way point. Once again, Alpharaoh showcases yet another side to his creative abilities. A great way to go out. This entire album makes for a fascinating, endlessly enjoyable hour of listening. Well worth escaping into.