Interdimensional Space Commander (1996) by “Indeed” (Brian Hirsch) and Quest for Truth (1994) by Brian Hirsch, (RIP, we will miss you . . .) Self-published CDs You are a 12-year-old boy and it’s Saturday morning. Time to play “Interdimensional Space Commander” on the computer. This album is the background music for the game. You don’t know that 25 years ago, endless reels of this stuff were created by synth-rock bands in Europe and the USA. But there are plenty of cool sounds from the machine, there’s some good fast guitar and keyboard playing, and no real tunes to distract you from the game. So listen away and blast those aliens! Yep, this is basic synthesizer-driven space rock – I don’t know whether it is really a game soundtrack or not, but it sure sounds like one. Back in the old days, guys like Rick Wakeman, Pink Floyd, and the legendary “Emerson, Lake, and Palmer” did this material far better, with vocals added; Hirsch’s album is all instrumental. Or rather, synthesized instrumental. It twirls along with a lot of competently played but bland rock music-product; perhaps the best adjective for this would be “generic.” Occasionally there are moments where an interesting synthesizer sound or chord sequence makes me turn my head and pay attention, for instance at the beginning of cut 7, “In Another Dimension,” or in cut 9, “Aquamarine Terrace,” but most of Interdimensional Space Commander passes by unremembered. It is, ultimately, somewhat on the amateurish side, though it is saved from total garage-ness by the mechanical precision of the synthesizers which can’t play out of tune or count bad time. HMGS rating: 3 Quest for Truth, another effort by Brian Hirsch, is more cinematic and less rock-oriented. It is heavy on “sincerity,” featuring lots of “romantic” piano playing a la Yanni or John Tesh, accompanied by predictable electric guitar riffs, synthesized harps, artificial string sections, pompous (synthesized) drum rolls, keyboard noodling, and “spiritual” – sounding synthesized “chorus” settings. There are some seventies-synth-rock stylings here, too, though without too many spacey electronic special effects; in general the harmonies are pop-classical rather than rock. Track titles like “Pearl of Great Price,” “Peace! be still!”, “Land of Light,” and “Man’s Last Stand” point to some sort of religious, Biblical, or even apocalyptic scenario in Quest’s musical program, though I was not given any explanatory material for it. There’s obviously some agenda somewhere when one title is called “The God of Truth, Illumination, and Understanding.” But without any context, it’s hard to get this message from the music alone. The album, on the whole, has a kind of noisy, Vangelis-like heroic quality, which counts in its favor, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to it. If you do pay attention, it begins to sound both pretentious and artificial. The trouble with attempting to do “heroic” with only synthesizers is that unless you carefully mask and customize the sound-timbres, it ends up sounding like a canned fake orchestra rather than the desirable “wall of sound.” Like the other Hirsch album, it tends to pass through one’s mind without leaving any trace, despite the ambitious spiritual intent of the album’s conception. HMGS rating: 3 ~ Hannah M. G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com
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