Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roman-Blue Moonbeam (1991)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 17, 2014

Weird and unusual—that's always to be expected here at "The Music Spectrum", and my latest find in my ongoing 90's music explorations could be added to that category. At the least, I can say that it's very different from the norm of the popular music mainstream. That find would be "Blue Moonbeam", the only album released by the obscure German artist who goes by the single name Roman. Had no idea whatsoever on who this guy was or what he was all about when I discovered him more than a week ago, but I've learned over these past months to give anything a chance. Glad I did, because Roman and the songs he's crafted here on his album are a gem waiting to be uncovered! Alternative synthpop—that sums up his music style in two words, but it does take a while to catch on and get with the flow. Firstly, you gotta get used to his quirky singing technique, which is like half spoken word and half soul. Then once you've ingested that into your system, you can appreciate what he has to say in the lyrics. Then after that, the marvelous melodies and the fine instrumental arrangements—namely provided by the accordion, which is depicted on the cover artwork pictured above—wrap it all together into one nice easy-listening package. In fact, the instrumentals by themselves are, in my opinion, the most attractive aspect of this album; they certainly pulled me into the opener, "Cross The Border" (one of the coolest songs because of its odd, unorthodox arrangement) and enchanted me all throughout the lovely title track (one of those lonely nighttime tunes that you can cuddle up with like a warm blanket) and the concluding cut "I Need You", which grows into quite the powerful ballad by the time that one's all said and done (I just adore the romantic atmosphere on this one, and doesn't it sound like Roman is saying 'ya' instead of 'you'?). The title track, in particular, has this scintillating, movie-quality orchestral score that absolutely astounds the senses! "Strange World" is just a strange song, what with more of that quirky spoken word style and those distorted deep-throaty vocals in the background going 'ow ow' and 'uh' (and whatever else you can distinguish) and just the whole theme of the song itself. But it sounds so good once the groovy beat and that semi-jazzy/funky rhythm step in. If you'd heard everything else on this album before listening to Track #5's "The Move", you would almost be in a state of shock. It's like the oddball within this oddball album, being the only true Eurodisco-inspired dance track.....and I love it! The fluttery flute intro is a nice touch, but when that downtempo groove slides in....well, let's just say "The Move" just makes me want to get up and move! Perhaps the weirdest thing about "Blue Moonbeam" is how the ninth and tenth tracks are similarly titled—"Ria" and "Aia", respectively—yet have absolutely nothing in common, with "Aia" itself being especially strange. 'Ria', as evidenced by the lyrics, is in reference to a woman, but as for 'Aia'? I couldn't say. Never seen this word before, if it's even a real word. Thought it was a typo or something. Maybe I need to listen to it again to know for sure who or what it is? Could be a German word for something. Despite the weirdness, both are good pop tunes, with "Ria" having a really nice hook and the low key, downtempo beat to "Aia" closely resembling that of "The Move". I may be calling this 'alternative synthpop', but there are moments where the music does have that mainstream vibe: "Mysteries Of Love", which is jazzed up ever so nicely, and "Echoes Of My Heart" are pretty much straight up synthpop while there's a touch of rock influence on the light pop number called "Nothing". I think it would take the average listener a few rounds to fully digest all that is presented here, but in the end, your ears will have enjoyed every morsel:

1. Cross The Border
2. Rainy Day
3. Strange World
4. Nothing
5. The Move
6. Blue Moonbeam
7. Mysteries Of Love
8. Echoes Of My Heart
9. Ria
10. Aia
11. I Need You

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