Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

seedsower
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Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby seedsower » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:05 pm

So...

Who's had a chance to give the new Said Fantasy album a few listens yet?

Thoughts?


...
raybobindustries
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby raybobindustries » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:22 am

First, let me just say how wonderful it is to hear new music from Ronnie. Truly a delight to the ears, simply no matter what.

The overall style seems reminiscent of the JE track "The Envelopes Brigade" and I must admit I was a bit shocked at just how minimalist of an approach he took on this album... it may very well rank as the purest form of minimalism he's ever achieved. This dedication towards absolute melodic simplicity is something I admire but, having heard some of the early demos, I can't help but feel like too much was sacrificed in the process. Squeezing each song through this minimalist framework has resulted in either purifying some tracks to their glory, but others to shredded degradation.

Horse of Faded Grandeur:
Being the third version of this song now released, I was very surprised to find this ended up more like the original "version 1" on the EP, but it still holds up quite well. I'm not certain dropping his vocals an octave lower on all of these tracks was the best of moves either, but there does seem to be some kind of vocal layering going on – though mixed in so incredibly faint... can't decide if that's part of its charm or not.

Ice Blankets the Landscape:
I think I'm most disappointed with this track. The original demo on the EP held a lot of promise, and it has truly suffered the most through its conversion. The effects for "ICE" and the amount of presence it is given across the track is puzzling at best. The original used it sparingly, and with a much subtler, icy vibe. And the ending "our hearts will melt together" lyrics could really benefit from being more of a background element than with the same amount of prominence as a verse. I feel this could have benefited with utilizing the same style of vocoder/effects used on "Her Solitary Migration" and "Creatures of All Tongues" instead.

When Roman Columns Fell:
Really enjoy this one. Simple and pure. I only wish the moment leading into each chorus wasn't so empty... The little random noise that hits right beforehand is so oddly placed... it just makes me smile at this point. It interesting what Ronnie chooses to leave in despite cutting so, so much out.

Her Solitary Migration
An excellent track that really uses the album style to its advantage by continually building in elements before hitting the finale with an absolutely delicious synth line. He really transformed this track into something special. Cool stuff, and such a vast improvement on the original – listening to the demo version just feels like a mistake now.

Creatures of All Tongues
Absolutely amazing. Easily the best song on the album, and worth the price of admission – without question. Haunting lyrics, ultra-catchy melody, a perfectly balanced drive throughout the song, great supporting synths on the chorus, really snazzy effects used on that first chorus... I honestly consider this a perfect song.

The Hours Unfolding
It's almost too simple for its own good, but it has been growing on me. Those constant bass notes feel a bit too aggressive and overpowering for this otherwise light and floaty tune. Reminds me a bit of the same lovable qualities as "The Confectionary," but lacks its sense of gentleness and naivety. There's some really interesting atmospheric sounds starting at 2:14, but it is completely buried in the background of the mix. And that random screaming noise... what's the deal?!

The Chariot of God
I am still somewhat nervous that this may be the final song R. Martin ever releases, so I really focused on treasuring my first listen of this song... closed eyes and took it all in... good stuff. Incredibly powerful for being so minimal – the style and format really works here. And clocking in at 8:28? What is this, Roolundria? It's longer than it really needs to be, but then again do I ever actually want it to end?

Despite my overall misgivings, I am so thankful for this new release, and it is such a pleasure to find myself singing these tunes in the back of my mind throughout the day. The question is... what's next for Joy Electric & Said Fantasy?

– Ray

Demo versions, for reference:
Horse of Faded Grandeur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAFYGtJBzrs
Ice Blankets the Landscape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9TB1hu9S5A
When Roman Columns Fell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2aMfYuRzcA
Her Solitary Migration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpaqiyIHCcE
The Hours Unfolding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HkD3XpUSbI
seedsower
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby seedsower » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:23 pm

Raybob, you pretty much summed up my thoughts on this release.

I was also disappointed/saddened with how the first two songs almost "regressed" from their previous sound.

I will say that I love the return to imaginative and abstract lyrics! This was one thing I disliked about DMA. Almost all the verses in nearly every song started with the word "You.."
You this, You that....
It's just my opinion, but it came off a little "preachy".
So, Said Fantasy was a much welcomed return!

I will also say that there isn't really a "bad" song on the record. Even if some of the production leaves something to be desired.

After a few listens, I was able to get over Ronnie's different vocal style. It was jarring at first, but it's okay now. Not my favorite, but not bad.

The album gets better as it goes along, with the exception of "The Hours Unfolding" in my opinion.

I would say "Creatures of All Tongues" is probably my favorite of this release.
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Jono
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby Jono » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:34 pm

It's very hard, perhaps even impossible, not to judge this release against the live versions we've gotten to digest for seven years. I don't think the album is too bad, but I think it would've been much better if the songs had been recorded closer to how they were originally conceived. Luckily, that live recording isn't going anywhere. :)
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IanTheBlueMan
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby IanTheBlueMan » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:51 am

So far I can say that I prefer the original versions of the first two songs, especially Ice Blankets the Landscape. Hearing Ronnie sing much lower than he usually does works in the more mellow songs like Creatures of All Tongues and Her Solitary Migration but feels awkward for the rest of them. It'll take some getting used to as I listen more, but I guess since Said Fantasy is supposed to be distinct from JE it kinda makes sense? Anyway, the record as a whole feels most like Curiosities & Such EP and the darker, "spookier" tracks from Cubist.

Her Solitary Migration is probably my favorite song on the whole record. I like the progression of it, while still being an excellent head-bopper, and the subtle vocoder in the chorus. I only wish he had different lyrics for the second and third verses; in this way the song still feels like a demo, but it's a classic Ronnie song to me.

Creatures of All Tongues is pretty good too. Has kind of that May All Saints anthemic quality, and I agree that the effect in the first chorus sounds cool. I wonder how he did it.

Hours Unfolding...I just can't get into. That screamy sound just takes me out of the song, but his lower-pitched vocals do work pretty well here.

Chariot of God kinda takes me back to Ronnie's cover of Say It Right, though it's not as icy cold. I like the sequencer jamming that alludes to Ushering in of the Magical Era from Otherly Opus, but I wish it didn't fade out in the last couple choruses. And the way that the echoes go on for so long and die like that...I wanted something more uplifting to end the record with. It feels like Ronnie is leaving his musical career to die rather than going out with a bang and having fun. That being said, it is good to hear some new music from him, music that isn't afraid to experiment and take risks. I hope Ronnie keeps writing and recording more in the future, even if we have to wait a few years like we do for most artists.
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nordic fox
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby nordic fox » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:54 pm

I've got to go back in my brain a bit. I missed the initial release by about 2 weeks. I guess that's what happens when you're never on social media. I generally tried to check PQMQ somewhat often, but since it would go for long periods without update...well, I missed out on the signed poster versions, etc.

I will say I was a bit taken aback at first listen. Very odd to hear Ronnie's vocals so low, and things slowed down a bit in general, especially (as others have mentioned) after hearing most of the songs over the years.

That said, I also remember many Joy E albums taking some adjustment at first. I figured this would be the same. I find myself listening to it more often lately. I enjoy the more minimal arrangements. In a way, I like that his vocals are lower (in general I am sick of male vocalists singing so high), though I'll be honest...the first time up, listening to Horse of Faded Grandeur almost seemed like listening to a vinyl record on the wrong speed! I prefer his normal vocals, but I'm getting past it.

All things considered, I'm just glad he released music, and I hope he continues to for years to come. I completely understand the change in his life/time priorities though.
upnadam
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Re: Said Fantasy "Chariot of God" Discussion Thread

Postby upnadam » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:09 pm

Okay, so, I finally got a proper chance to listen to this album last night, and I don't know if it's because I didn't listen to the demos at all (besides the Horse EP, but even then, only a few times), but I absolutely love this record. I was gonna wait and write out a whole thing after I'd heard it a couple more times, but after coming back and re-reading some of these reactions, I (respectfully) disagree with some of it and cannot resist adding to the conversation.

Entering into this release, I was thrilled not only because it is a new album from Ronnie Martin (as we all are), but because it's a new project entirely. I tried to completely clean-slate myself, not allowing any expectation of a JE-but-not-JE album, but rather something absolutely new in almost every way. The songs had been meticulously tweaked and tested for years, and I look forward to backtracking and studying the demos, but now come the "intended" versions. And I was not disappointed for a second.

I knew this thing was going to be minimal, but dang. I'm blown away by how little there is going on at any given moment. It relies almost entirely on the strength of the melodies, or when it doesn't, there are only one or two things happening and no more, and where this could have easily fallen into a misstep of being a brittle and hollow collection of sounds that hardly sound like songs actually translates as a confident artistic achievement. Oh, and personally, I think the deeper vocals sound fantastic. Sure, it's way different than anything he's done before, but I think it lends itself to the overall ambition of the project. Said Fantasy doesn't feel like pop music, but an intentional exploration of electronic minimalism from an artist that has studied the craft for years and now has confidently created a separate project to finally pour that knowledge and passion into without the weight of past releases. If Chariot Of God was released under the Joy Electric moniker, I would be SO confused, but under a new banner, it makes sense. If Chariot had to be compared to Joy Electric, I think IanTheBlueMan said it best with how it feels most like Curiosities & Such and Cubist, which are (in my opinion) easily the best two post-Legacy Series JE releases.

Also, I see a lot of speculation that this is Ronnie's final album, and though no one truly knows that except the man himself, I'd like to submit that this is simply a new facet of the textured tapestry that is his vast discography, and one that comes across as being full of passion and excitement beyond any of the "one-off side-projects" over the years (though those are all great too! I mean, come on, it's Ronnie). I don't believe someone who has spent the majority of his life creating music can just let that go (I mean, Miyazaki has "retired" from filmmaking how many times?) even if he's planted a church and written some books and has a different life than he did 20 years ago. With the release of the Christmas EP so soon after the album was finished, I suspect that we'll be seeing more Said Fantasy in the future, even if we have to wait a little longer for it. Who knows, though? Maybe we'll get another one next year.

Like I said at the start of this post, I've only heard the album once, so much of this is subject to further criticism with future listens, and I'm sure certain songs will grow on me or fade and whatnot the more I listen to it (especially with Winter finally arriving in Michigan - prime atmosphere for this), but I had such a strong positive reaction to the initial listen and I wanted to get this all out since I've been absolutely overflowing with reaction since last night.

So. Phew. I feel better now. haha

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