Terminal Velocity is a three-track instrumental EP that is fairly certain to get your heart racing. Steve Wheeler is a composer who drives with energy and passion, so these somewhat neo-classical, audio dramatizations, hit with intense impact – particularly the opening and title track, which leaves you no time whatsoever to gather your thoughts or prepare yourself for the experience. A wise choice in hindsight as it makes the journey all the more unique and interesting.
Terminal Velocity is mesmerising, it takes your breath away a little on first impact. The soundscape has the familiarity of a final movie scene, in some ways – in other ways you can focus in on every element, every building block, and genuinely appreciate the complex and precise musicianship that has let this music be so powerful. As a creative there’s no question regarding the skill or intentions of Wheeler as he crafts this listening experience around you.
Fist Of The Heavens is equally as tense and epic as the opener, though the sound here leans off in something of a more Vangelis-like direction – there are definite touches of electronic musicality in among those that sound distinctly organic. During that first piece you can visualize a fully orchestral performance, this second one feels much more possible as the work of a solo artist. In either case, your mind wanders freely among the organised chaos and volume, paving the way beautifully for the uplifting aura of the final piece.
Wheeler utilises the time and space within which this project exists by fully showcasing a wide range of attributes that make his work desirable. The Endless March Of Time settles things down in terms of the pace and rhythm, initially, but it’s no less captivating or big. On the contrary, the piece grows more intense with every few bars of music. A slight Lux Aeterna vibe comes through in the descending string sound, and the latter half sees a layer of distortion and some manic drums reevaluate the situation and remind you not to get too comfortable or complacent.
In many ways, this final track is the most enjoyable, perhaps a personal favourite. The whole thing builds in a way that entrances the listener – there are various stages to the intensity, to the vibrancy of the soundscape; as if the story is unfolding before you, page by page. Every track on the EP offers multiple layers of detail and emotion but this final one seems to do so in a manner that gradually surrounds you more and more. The opening moments invite you into the process, perhaps luring you into a false sense of security.
By all accounts, the second and third times you listen to these compositions, the experience becomes notably more immersive and mighty. Those unexpected hits of drama are a little more familiar now, so you can lose yourself more freely in the journey, subsequently appreciating to a new degree the skill and consideration that has crafted it. Absolutely worth a listen, at volume. A fascinating composer and creative, and a memorable, inspiring short collection.