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Space Solo 1

Rafael Toral

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Album Review

Space Solo 1 is Rafael Toral's follow-up to Space (released by Staubgold in 2006) and is both the second album in his so-called "Space Program" and the first in his "Solo Series." Let's explain. The "Space Program" is the overall title of Toral's experiments with electronic music performance using self-built devices triggered by light, movement or other forms of interaction that engage the performer on a deeper level than a computer mouse. Space — the album — featured pieces played on several of these instruments. Space Solo 1 contains five pieces, each one focusing on a single instrument. "Portable Amplifier" and "Portable Amplifier 3" feature portable amplifier feedback with light-controlled filter. The first of these two pieces accounts for half of the whole album. The shorter pieces involve a delayed feedback empty circuit, another modified portable amplifier and a portable oscillator. The equipment is rather crude and the means used to control it are simple. As a result, the music thus produced has a "stark naked" quality to it and often evokes early electronic experiments, somewhere between a sci-fi "bleep" and childish experiments with feedback on a portable radio and microphone. Toral is doing the best he can to develop a musical vocabulary with this material, but that vocabulary remains very limited. He manages to create enough dynamic and diversity to sustain the listener's interest in short pieces, but the 22-minute "Portable Amplifier" simply gets too long too early. Maybe this music would work better on a DVD, with the visual component of the performance still attached to it. In any case, compared to Toral's past guitar soundscapes or even the more generous Space CD, Space Solo 1 is disappointing and thin. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Space Solo 1, Rafael Toral
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