In a world where music is often reduced to a commodity, a product to be marketed in ways akin to cans of beans or the latest trainers, where fad and fashion is king, it is easy to forget that such creativity is at its best when it is made for more honest reasons. You can’t get more honest than making music which seems to be not just about trying to describe the grandeur of the universe but which feels very much part of the thing that it is trying to sonically capture. And that might seem as if I am placing Michael’s music on too high a pedestal but there really is something, well, majestic about Stargazer, something writ large…galactic even but I guess that is the whole point.
I have come late to this musical party in the sky, Michael already having four albums of critically well-received music under his belt but better late than never I guess. And the fact that he has been at this a while isn’t lost on the listener. It is music which takes ideas from the best sources, it works with the scope of classical music, it takes a sort of futuristic grandeur from the electronica school, has the soothing ambience of a film score and is cinematic in its moods and musical musings so as to take you from the intimate to the universal (literally,) from the microscopic to the massive and back again in a single breath. And that takes some skill.
And like all instrumental music, it communicates on a different level than its lyrical counterpart. Remove the direct communication, often a distraction anyway, that words provide and let the mood and movement of the music talk for you and that dialogue with the listener takes on a different form. It is an open conversation, one that the listener can interpret for themselves, one that they absorb perhaps by osmosis rather than linguistically. And in doing so, though the song remains the same…pun intended…each individual conversation with each individual listener is different. Now that is what I call mass communication!
Tracks such as Moment M border of nightclub chill outs, heavy on the groove but threaded through with delicate sonics and gossamer light electronic soundscapes but some of the most gorgeous moments come when the music is at its most fragile such as the gentle piano lilts and electronic washes of Fly With You or the Neo classical futurism of the title track.
Stargazer is a gorgeous suit of music, one with seemingly limitless scope and even without the titles or artwork in front of you, it is hard not to picture the depths of space, of worlds ending in stellar dramas, of the birth of planets. And as you do so you also can’t help be reminded of our insignificance, as humans, in the grand scheme of things, both in scale and time. Music can make you feel many things. Happy, sad, optimistic, melancholic…but when was the last time music reminded you of just how small you are when compared to the universe you inhabit? Perhaps never, I’ll wager.