CD Review

Joe Renzetti - "Discovery"

By Marcus Pan

DiscoveryDiscovery is Joe's third album and the first Joe recorded in his home studio built around a Macintosh system. His first break from the synth-pop style he recorded previously, Discovery contains his first trek in the more electronic-ambient style of musical soundscapes. Following this his highly-acclaimed Talking To The Dead lead him further into this realm to create breathtaking music that can instill moods and feelings in the listener - or heighten those already there.

Discovery has been dubbed by Mr. Renzetti as "a sonic journey to the heart of inner space." Whether the name chosen for this release is based upon the discovery of this space by the listener, or instead based on Joe's first initial movement into ethereal electronic music, is unknown - but I have a feeling that both could apply here. Discovery is an MP3.com D.A.M. (Digital Automatic Music) CD. It includes a rather short and uneventful data track upon which you can read a bit about Joe, but otherwise provides nothing in the way of usefulness. MP3.com needs to get their act together - I love data tracks on audio CDs as much as the next geek, but if there's nothing worth writing then don't bother. Contact information for the artist is plenty - the information MP3.com did have here was nothing more than a reprint of The Astral Plane, Joe's website, anyway.

Joe's a master at capturing moods. In both his available ambient works, he shows a unique capability to be true to the mood and environment he's trying to convey. In Discovery it's an outer/inner space he's trying to surround you with, and all the sound structures, layers and aural imagery he provides on this 12 track disc remains true to this scene. He's definitely a master of moods and his concept albums stay on track and in the realm he means them to go.

Joe starts off the album with a muted countdown and full-blast take-off at the outset of Night Voyage. This is one of the few times you get jolted throughout the sounds he weaves on Discovery, presumably to strike your mind clear. It's a good start - probably a bit cliché - but it works here on Discovery because it clears your head enough to take in the ambience to follow. The second track, Nebula Waltz, is a pretty piece of toy pianos, slow rhythms and warbled strings. The song is one of my favorites here - as it moves along you'll notice how the notes and melodies become further warped, almost clashing, just a little at a time until at the end of the track it's almost disturbing in its tone and melody - a lightwave bending around the gravity of your mind.

The next highlight track is the fourth, Rain Of Colors. This is a windy and complicated ensemble with common chords woven together into a busy tapestry. The track name is wonderfully accurate, the windy background providing a falling sensation as the synthetic melodies hold you and keep you from striking the bottom of whatever abyss Joe's created so that he can throw you into it. Most of the other tracks on Discovery are layered and lush, like a shag carpet of sound. Nothing here (other than the outset of Night Voyage) will strike you or beat into you - it's all music done to an ethereal muse. Some of the songs, like Monoliths which closes your voyage, has an ominous feel to it, but for the most part it is quite comforting.

Discovery is Joe Renzetti's first attempt at ambient electronics and is quite successful. For anyone who has looked up into the sky and wondered at the billions of stars peeking down at them; for anyone who has watched a shuttle take-off and wondered what it was like to be in it when it did; and for anyone who reviews Hubble images for fun and learning - Discovery is a disk that will help take you to all these places on the fringe of time and space.

Contact Information:
Post: Joe Renzetti, 14 Moss St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 861-4345
E-Mail: admin@joerenzetti.com
Web: http://www.joerenzetti.com/