StarSystems – Lift
The Prog-Fusion scene is filled with many amazing talents, pushing the boundaries of guitar playing further and further as time flies.
Joseph Stevenson, and his instrumental project StarSystems, is one of them. Standing in the softer, melodic side of the genre, his new album “Lift”, marks a turning point in his musical spectrum.
‘Arrival’ is the opening song of the album. It directly propels us in a sci-fi movie thanks to its intriguing atmosphere. But it’s only when the second track ‘Flower’ that the new writing direction emerges.
A new direction, jazzy-oriented, which is even more apparent in the following song ‘Party Time’, a much more complex track, introducing the main guests of the album: the amazing Richard and Dan Blumenthal. Richard (known as Blumen) on the piano, and Dan on the saxophone.
The album flows surprisingly well, fluctuating between intense fusion noodling in ‘Party Time’ or ‘Slipstream’, and softer jazz ballads such as ‘Moth’, or the amazing ‘Vortex’, which is an ode to the “StarSystems III” EP, displaying similar themes and vibes to this record.
StarSystems – Trigger Fish (click here if video doesn’t play)
‘Trigger Fish’ is the single previously released, and is the perfect choice of a single, for the fact it manages to catch not only every different aspect of “Lift”, but also the rest of the discography.
Joseph really deserves a medal for blending all the soundscapes from a discography into one song without making it sound like a bunch of random ideas. The only thing that could prevent ‘Trigger Fish’ from being the best song in the album would be the presence of one of those long and anthemic songs commonly called epics… And well, there’s one.
‘Lift’, the self-titled track is a constant build-up starting from slow, moving melodies to Dream Theater-like chaos.
The drumming is stellar and makes an incredible job at building a tension which will be stacked, and stacked, until the moment everything is released like a rocket launch reaching the zero gravity. There begins a soaring and mind-blowing keyboard solo by the mighty Jordan Rudess.
Jordan’s work on this track is unbelievable and figures easily among the best performances of his whole career.
StarSystems – Lift (click here if video doesn’t play)
‘Lift’ is beyond any doubts the climax of the album, and StarSystems’ finest work up to date. The song is finally followed by ‘Disengage’, starting with a familiar guitar pattern already used previously in ‘Flower’, and moving to a majestic post-rock inspired finale, concluding this adventure…
In short, “Lift” is by far Joseph Stevenson’s most polished record, carefully introducing jazz soundscapes to his musical palette. This album is a journey provided with lots of elements from diverse styles, pushing Mr. StarSystems to explore new territories, in which he executed brilliantly.
The guest musicians did a perfect job adding their own touch to the music, every single one of their appearances bringing a bit of fresh air to this release. And the production is flawless, adding dynamics to this already amazing album.