Celebrating the 300th release of the Finnish record label Lion Music, founder and chief of the label Lars Eric Mattsson wanted to do something special. After the highly acclaimed Tango album that was released last year (see review), which was an album with some great vocals on it, Lars Eric returns to all instrumental music, with a little bit extra. Aurora Borealis-the title of the album-has a second line of information in the title; Concerto For Orchestra And Electric Guitar. Now this album is not the first album where an electric guitarist gets the company of a complete orchestra. I think most guitar lovers will have heard the albums Yngwie Malmsteen and Jon Uli Roth released with an orchestra. I refer to those two only, for I think those two are stylistically the closest to Lars Eric.
But the big question: Is there any difference between those two guys and Lars Eric?
Certainly, there is a big difference between the releases of Yngwie and Lars Eric. Where Yngwie most of the time is the centre of his music and takes all of the attention-in Lars Eric's case, the songs are more open and the orchestra takes a bigger part in his compositions.
In case of Jon Uli Roth, I have to say Lars Eric is a huge fan of Jon Uli, but where Mr Roth's music goes to the stars and beyond, Mr Mattsson's music is more down to earth.
For example, take the song Revolutionary Star. The orchestra is making an opening for some powerful drumming and the most furious guitar playing of the album, but they seem to interact in quite a good way. The orchestra provides the atmosphere and Lars Eric does the rest. The same goes for a song like Starfall, which closes the album. Here, the guitar plays over a cool and laid back orchestra. On the other hand there are great compositions where the orchestra and guitar go hand in hand, both taking their part of your attention. A strong sample of this can be heard in the songs; Midnight Sun, Bounce, Eternal Cycles and Cold Water Spirit. A song like The Heart, almost has a bluesy touch over it, but the stretched guitar sound tends to transform the song into a slower intriguing piece of music. Something completely different is the only one minute acoustic piece, Parisienne Etude, which shows that Lars Eric does not need electricity to show that he is a great guitarist. Perhaps my personal favourite of the album is Forward Thinking, which opens like a song from Apocalyptica. Cellos and violins take you to a superb and most of all, relaxed guitar section. This features the perfect interaction of orchestra, drums (played by Eddie Sledgehammer, who is the steady factor in Lars Eric's music) and electric guitar.
I have to congratulate Lion Music for an album that is to be their 300th. Lars Eric Mattson shows how you can incorporate guitar into an orchestra, without wanting to take most of the spotlight. The northern lights have inspired him to create a very impressive album, which is perfectly in balance.
Let's go for at least another 300 more albums of great music.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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