Transcend With Time: A Haunting Presence (2009)

Bio (from http://www.facebook.com/pages/Transcend-with-Time/151988104855849):
Transcend with Time’s music can be best described as Progressive New Age/Ambient. So expect Prog intricacies interwoven with New Age/Ambient atmosphere. Transcend with Time was started on 2006 by Mark Mendieta. He wanted to do something different, so he decided to focus on writing music for a different genre other than his main project: Subject to Thoughts, a Progressive Rock band. His influences are Dream Theater, David Arkenstone, Symphony X & Jon O’ Bergh.

Musicians:
Mark Mendieta – all music, Brandon Strader – vocals “In Loving Memory”

For a while, I was big into electronic music; my favorites were Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, µ-Ziq, basically the more experimental stuff out there.  I actually got so into electronica (don’t you dare call what I like “techno”) that I started writing my own music under a few different monikers – SCG, Yellow #5, endofpop, and h**vyd*wn – and made a few albums of my own.  You can hear some of it at http://soundcloud.com/dryanmowry if you’re at all interested.  After the weirder stuff, my tastes moved more towards DJ Shadow and hip-hop, and my later stuff was less ambient and more beat-driven.  Anyway, enough about me, and some about Transcend With Time’s A HAUNTING PRESENCE.

Transcend With Time is relaxing, calming, haunting (hence the appropriate CD title) music, somewhat in the vein of Aphex Twin’s calmer, less strange fare.  More than anything else I could think of, what AHP reminds me of are scores to Japanese video games.  Much of this album would be perfectly at home playing in the background of a Final Fantasy or Resident Evil game… well, in the less-creepy parts of a Resident Evil game.  Please don’t interpret that statement to mean that this music is bad or cheesy; I happen to like most of the music in those sort of games.  With it’s sweeping synths, pretty piano, and overall cinematic feel, AHP just reminds me – over and over again as the album progresses – of background video game music.

While I do generally enjoy the aforementioned background music, I don’t enjoy it enough to listen to a full length CD of it.  That was my issue with AHP – the music was well done, but repetitive, and just didn’t have enough going on to be “foreground” music. I just can’t imagine myself putting AHP on just to listen to it; I might put it in while I’m writing, or reading, or doing something else, but not just for the sole purpose of listening to it.  Truthfully, “new age” is not my genre of choice, and it is far removed from the electronica I personally enjoy, except for a few bits here and there.

The music in AHP is a lot of the same thing; many of the tracks are synth strings, piano, and ambient background – some with drums, some not – and while there is some variation between tracks, there wasn’t a whole lot that made one stand out from another for me.  The exception to this is “In Loving Memory,” which starts out like most of the other tracks, until a minute in when the vocals begin.  The fact that “In Loving Memory” is the only song with vocals on the whole album made it seem very out of place, and I really could not get into the delivery of the vocals… they sounded very, well, “public musical theater” to me.  They weren’t bad; they just did not do anything for me.

Overall, AHP was enjoyable, but not gripping.  It is decent for something in the background, but it just didn’t engage me enough as a listener to be foreground music.  I truly feel that this is an album of songs that need to find there way to a video game, where they can be appreciated for setting a mood without overpowering what needs to be seen.  On a CD, they just seem to be missing something.

Overall 6 / 10

AHP for sale: http://transcendwithtime.bandcamp.com/

AHP site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Transcend-with-Time/151988104855849

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