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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Midnight Odyssey - Echoes of a Celestial Ruin [I, Voidhange - 2022]

Aussie synth dreamer Midnight Odyssey began his "Biolume" trilogy in 2020. Vast, engaging synth-scapes cover the loose theme of "ruined civilizations," but also follow the flow and feel of 1970's sci-fi books and films. The first two albums were available on the artist's bandcamp (ruins of a Celestial Fire and Ashes from a Terrestrial Fall), with the final act in the trilogy being available on Echoes of a Celestial Ruin for the very first time (Echoes from the Thalassic Deep). Pulling together all the elements (air, fire, and water) to create a synthy, sci-fi version of Thomas Cole's The Course of Empire, this ambitious and atmospheric trilogy provides many hours of distant, explorative inspiration.

The Biolume trilogy covers air, fire, and water, and the old school, 70's RPG-esque cover art makes sure to cover all the bases. Starting with the first album, Ruins of a Celestial Fire, one can almost feel the beginning of life on a planet from an explosion in the sky. Seemingly from a spaceship not making its destination, "Celestial Fires on the Path to Antares" kicks off both the first album and the three CD compilation. Slowly building, letting the oscillations drift and weave, the opener sets the stage and scope for what lies ahead. With this first installment being the "air" element, one can assume that the tracks will be a bit more flowing and ethereal, and that assumption is correct. With four songs all close to the 15-minute mark, the set up is perfect for free, floating, sky-fueled bliss. The second half of the album brings the tone down a tad, and we're reminded of the overarching theme of the albums and trilogy: ruined civilizations. While still sweeping and atmospheric, the close of the album does have a more cinematic and somber feel, and the first third gives a nice bit of closure.
 
Ashes from a Terrestrial Fall shows Midnight Odyssey working through the earth element. A bit thicker in texture, there are a varied bit of synthesizers on display and a darker tone put forth. Similar in setup to the first album, Ashes uses more of a choral approach with its synthesis and these extra tones bring a thicker, fuller sound to each pattern. Feeling a bit closer to the Software releases of the mid-80's, Midnight Odyssey pulls away from a safter, more cinematic synth approach and brings the harsh, grim, cold war era into play. Even the song titles tell of a more serious and grim tale that has befallen the subjects. However, it's usually the second part of a trilogy's role to seem like all is lost so that the third act can have a climax. But knowing the theme of the trilogy, this is most likely not the case. 
 
Currently unreleased, Echoes from the Thalassic Deep is the final installment of the Biolume trilogy. Tackling the water element, there is a bit more of a bubbling, aquatic feel to the instrumentation. "Under the Alien Sea" starts it off and makes this sound very clear, and draws the listener into the watery world. Using many of the same sweeping choruses that precede it, the scale is shown and the world unfolds, before being dipped back below the surface. "Moonbeams on the Sunken Graves" plays in the wistful twilight and plays less cinematically and more individually, really settling into the listener's mind's eye, and giving this thalassic tour real purchase.  Using the echoes to instill the watery windings, "As Death Rises from the Thalassic Deep" brings a heavy tide from the deep in a quick, cacophonous cataclysm before settling out and presenting the listener with "The Tombs of Legends Past." Bright and reflective, one can hearken back on not only the events of the third album, but of the entire trilogy. While the civilizations may have been ruined, lives and deeds can be remembered. And maybe there's something beyond the body and the ending tones are a final apotheosis from Biolume and onto another set of adventures.

With three CDs of music on hand, the listener is given free reign to interpret and enjoy. Dis Pater (the mind behind Midnight Odyssey) states, "there is no real narrative, the song titles and album artwork will hopefully enable your own imaginations to run wild and fill in the lines in between." Built for dreamers, the lush synthesis and cinematic approach will engage and inspire, and the long run time allows for even the biggest imaginations to run wild. The Biolume trilogy is a fantastic collection and allows many fans, old and new, to clamor for whatever Midnight Odyssey has in store. 

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Paul Casey
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