Album Review: SiL en ce ‘Of Fallen Worlds’

68971_461861040517380_1168185725_nOf Fallen Worlds, the first full-length album from Maryland-based composer/producer Mike Baker’s project, SiL en ce, offers an intriguing look into life after Earth, with central character Marcus descending onto a bright blue planet somewhat resembling the Earth he had been raised to believe still exists. Though Of Fallen Worlds is primarily an instrumental album, Marcus’ tale is clearly told through the soundscapes presented, and the music evokes all of the emotions one would expect to experience during an intergalactic quest to reclaim one’s homeland.

Opening track “The Hammer” begins with a dialogue between character Okran and the Council of S-6, serving as an exposition of Marcus’ story and is reminiscent of the spoken word introduction to Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” in both tone and delivery. However, the similarities to Maiden end there, as Baker’s celestial soundscapes carry listeners beyond the stars while simultaneously pummeling them with driving guitar leads and pounding drums in the following track, “Enemy of the Isolated.” Here, the heavy synths combine wonderfully with the guitar work, working at once to defamiliarize listeners and prepare them for what’s in store for the rest of the album.

Baker’s heavy progressive influence, combined with classical leanings, shines through on Of Fallen Worlds, with several tracks approaching and breaking six minutes. However, rather than act against the strength of the album, these longer songs serve as set-pieces, offering greater depth than the shorter tracks and providing Baker with a greater degree of freedom to take listeners on a journey.

If anything, the most impressive thing about Of Fallen Worlds is its cohesiveness. A compilation of material written over the course of several years, the album moves from track to track, maintaining a tonal consistency often lacking in albums composed over the course of a few short months. While there are definitely stylistic shifts (particularly with regard to the excellent use of chiptunes in “Birth of Sector 7” and other late-album tracks), these do nothing but emphasize the overall togetherness of the album.

Perhaps the only detractor to Of Fallen Worlds would be the fact that the album is almost too cohesive, with each track both standing on its own and fading into the greater structure of the album; and while each is beautifully composed, there is a noticeable lack of variety over the course of the album’s 76 minutes. However, this speaks more to the circumstances of the album’s composition than to the composer himself.

Standout tracks: “Enemy of the Isolated” “Digital Spiral” “Birth of Sector 7”

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