The opening months of 2017 brought the release of Solarstone’s . – – – – album. Widely praised as a standalone item, its ultimate purpose was (and is) yet to be fully clarified. With one less dash, but an extra Morse dot, one album becomes two next month, and with it another sizeable clue to its endgame.
From shocking pink, we go into the blue: so what’s changed and what’s maintained between the albums? One constant is that ‘2’ is again made up of eight pieces of music, trading between instrumental compositions and vocal ones. As with all musical series worth their salt, continuity and balance is key. In regard to its overarching feel, ‘2’ interlocks seamlessly with ‘1’. That aspect in fact goes farther still – threads from Solarstone’s wider canon are picked up, with track arcs continued and open single loops resolved.
The mark of a true artist, Rich progresses album matters in many ways, while ring-fencing the core elements of his musical culture. And yes, the ability to surprise and catch the listener unawares is still one of them. Thematic strands are drawn from numerous time periods, influences and disciplines – both musical and otherwise. Each is woven, with differing degrees of presence into the album’s fabric. Some stand totem tall. Others become apparent only over time. Each though provides micro-clues to what is undoubtedly now an album sequence.
Tonally, the release also pushes the needle into what Rich classifies as “the second half of a Solarstone club night”. The tempo receives a kick, prog-trance elements ebb, while uplift – both vocally, musically and spiritually – flows.
The dots are starting to get joined: one album has become two, 8 tracks, now 16 – a potential magnum opus is afoot.