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Soundtrack Saga

Peter Benisch
Soundtrack Saga
(Turbo Recordings)

Although he's still just a wee bit over 25 years old, Soundtrack Saga is already the third full-length release from Peter Benisch. A musical prodigy of sorts (as a lot of these young electronic musicians seem to be), he joined a touring boys choir when only 9 years old and was accepted into Adolf Fredrik, one of Sweden's most prestigious music schools. He attended that school for awhile, then went onto another music school, switching his focus from vocals to instruments and picked up classical percussion alongside the marimba.

At age 16, he became friends with Joel Mull and Adam Beyer and purchased his own sampler. Within a couple years, he had been bitten by the Love Parade bug, as well as put together his own music studio with the friends. On Soundtrack Saga, (his first domestic release in the United States) Benisch dives into ambient territory and creates a pretty varied album that, as the album title suggests, feels like it could easily be the score to a film.

One of the things that Benisch isn't afraid to do is mix things up quite a bit. The opening track "Skymning" combines some breathy vocals alongside some slick percussion, but the track also features some angelic chorus sounds and a bit of strummed guitar and some chime sounds. It definitely comes out on the lighter side of things, and although it's not quite retro sounding, it does sound like it has a bit of Art of Noise influence. "The Wireframe Fields" takes some lush synth sounds another ethereal chorus, as well as adding in some flute-sounds. Again, it hints at darker things, but still reminds one of the darker side of Enigma (without the cheesy vocals).

"Temple Of Opposites" is probably the darkest track on the album. With orchestral flourishes that weave behind more female vocals, the track is downright spooky for the first half, before breaking off into a quiet and sparkling second wave (hence, the title). Benisch tries several different things from there, including the also Art Of Noise-esque "Love Theme" (mixing piano, vocals and some light percussion into a quiet ballad) and the sparse synth-fest of "Interstellar Superstructure."

Overall, it's an interesting album in the genre, mainly because it doesn't feel like much of the ambient that I've heard lately. Instead, it sort of feels like a kick-back release, encorporating elements (like the soaring female vocals that aren't really saying anything, but simply adding another light element to the tracks) that feel a little bit more retro. With the current rage being glitch and minimalism, it almost feels like 1993 again on parts of the release. That's not to say it's not interesting though. Benisch definitely has an ear for nice, melodic tracks. It's not anything startlingly new, but it's nice.

Rating: 6.75