RESURRECTION

Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion, Netherlands

After quite a long absence of almost a decade, August 2009 marks the return of Charles Thaxton (aka Char El) to the music scene with "Resurrection", his third album. Composed with a variety of analogue and digital synthesizers and digital drums, the 79-minutes of music present a nice blend of progressive, symphonic and electronic music with occasional orchestral and new-age flavours and even some fine electric and acoustic guitar by Bob Baratta. The fine blend of 19 instrumental symphonic songs on "Resurrection" sees Charles play music which sounds reminiscent to the distinct style  developed on his previous albums "Worlds without End" and "Heaven and Earth". The text in the cd-booklet explains why, as this collection of tracks originated from many analogue tape mixes, some as long as twenty years ago, Of all pieces, "Dawn of Atlantis" is the only weak spot, sounding as an experiment, lacking body and direction. Those who know Char-El's previous mentioned albums can buy this release unheard, but this music might also be a good choice for all who love the '80 's and early '90's music of Gandalf.

 

Backroads Music, USA

Years later, and after reviving the classic "Worlds Without End" release, we offer a new Char-El title. And this time it's two CDs, with appropriately titled themes, "Heaven and Earth". The "Heaven" CD is what you would likely expect from Char-El, with gorgeous shimmering space music and celestial soundscapes for deep space journeys. Primarily a solo work by Char-El, he exceeds his previous excellence with a masterful touch on his digital and analog synths, samplers, mellotron, etc. And to round it out, the "Earth" CD is filled with symphonic and rhythmic progressive compositions for terrestrial explorers. Adding drums and percussion and the fluid, elevated guitar of Larry Clark on half the tracks, this is soaring, high-flying music for guitr and prog Emusic fans alike. You can visit both sound worlds at will with "Heaven and Earth," making this 2-CD set by Char-El well worth the parallel journeys that are mapped out.

Phil Jackson, Acid Dragon Magazine, France

Char-El (Charles Thaxton) uses digital and analog synthesisers, samplers and 'Mellotron Archives CD-ROM' to create an aural landscape that is truly awe inspiring. The stunningly hypnotic chromatic / voice swirling stereo effects of the 10 minute plus opener 'Into the Infinite' could easily conjure up mental pictures of spiral galaxies with headphones on late at night - my type of relaxing music for sure! Charles is joined by co-writer and fellow synth player Gary White on 3 of the 4 ensuing tracks while on 'Release' a big Vangelis influence is evident (remember he did 'Heaven and Hell'?). Harps, voices, bells, lengthy arpeggios dominate the album - the music doesn't seem to go anywhere in particular but then again it doesn't need to! The sound of running water and gorgeous string and 'flying soul' synth, harps and handbells deepen our relaxation as we enter 'The Secret Grotto'. The title track has harp (to be expected!), pan flutes and a 'choir' with some added orchestral percussion sounds.

On disc two Charles is joined by two drummers and guitarist Larry Clark on some of the tracks. 'Beyond the Farthest Star' is classic soundtrack music that would grace an episode of Star Trek. I also particularly like 'Full Circle' and 'Mysterious Valley' with its memorable bass line, strings and cascading piano. 'Visitors' is very 50's sci-fi tailor made for a UFO film and Larry Clark returns on 4 consecutive tracks, his clean fluid style complimenting Char-El's musical vision perfectly on tracks like 'Molecular Dance'. The standard is very good throughout this 27 track 139 minute double CD. 'Heaven' is described as 'celestial landscapes' while 'Earth' is 'symphonic rhythmic' - fair enough descriptions, the latter disc being more dynamic, the former ideal for quiet meditation. Spellbinding music that comes highly recommended.

J.J. Iglesias, Atropos Magazine, Zaragoza, Spain

Since the majestic Worlds Without End ('96) we have not heard anything from synthesizer keyboard artist of Ohio, Charles Thaxton AKA Char-El. Now the absence has been broken and we have a double CD with two very distinct themes. While the first, "Heaven" has been defined as "a collection of celestial soundscapes for deep space journeys", the second "Earth" is conceived as "symphonic and rhythmic progressive compositions for terrestrial explorers". Certainly the descriptions are accurate. Both contain the personal style of Thaxton: resonant majesty and grandiose melodies. He would have to be compared to Vangelis of the 70's (my favorite and I think a favorite of everyone). Moreover, Char-El frequently uses similar keys with great intelligence to project his style. He uses a glorious mellotron that is heard throughout the CD and forms part of the sound he is hoping to acheive.

And I have to point out a real Mellotron is used, along with samplers and other modern technology. Also he has relied on the unquestionable experience of Gary White (synthesizers), Doug Bonnell (drums and percussion), Chris Stoll (drums and percussion), and the David Gilmour-esque guitar of Larry Clark that fits like a glove on the spectacular sound of Char-El. Like a glider and with the most progressive symphonic manner, Thaxton moves about with exquisite wisdom. In close to perfect compositions and that typical pleasant beat of the North American synthesists, Thaxton takes the opportunity to produce mini-symphonies of a sentimental praiseworthy magnificence.

With short symphonies (Char-El does not give us long, involved pieces on this CD), but taking advantage to the maximum, he unapologetically approaches the art of the resonant cinematographic composers. Featuring an exceptional mastery of the piano (sometimes with Rick Wakeman in mind) he completes an extraordinary work of melodic electronic music. A true master whom I recommend to all keyboard enthusiasts, Char-El is one of the most accomplished musicians, both in style and in sound, that I know. These CDs are a double pleasure to be enjoyed with ample time and tranquility.

Bert Strolenberg, KLEM, Netherlands

This follow-up to Char-El's critically acclaimed debut album Worlds Without End is divided in 2 sections: a space-trip and an overall symphonic tour-de-force. Heaven offers more capturing space music in the tradition of Charles' former album, moving further on into unknown regions of our galaxy. But then there's Earth: which is something different. Here we encounter more rhythmic, symphonic music put together by Charles and 3 of his fellow friends he knew from projects he had done in the past. Earth is 72 minutes of thrilling sympho-rock music, a very strong effort which will please a lot of listeners, not only those familiar with Gandalf's early recordings, but also those familiar with Jim Pietkivitch's 2nd album Spiral Journey. A really exceptional track is "Full Circle", which really swept me away with its emotional guitar-lingerings put into a soothing tapestry of synths. An absolute must-buy!

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Backroads Music, USA

Even though this spellbinding CD has been on our "Essential Space Music" list for three years, it is past time to bring it to anyone's attention who might have passed it by in the past. You might hear traces of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Synergy or Lightwave in this music, but you will also find elements of true Space music as found in the music of Jonn Serrie or recent Spotted Peccary titles. Lush, dreamy soundscapes prevail, with colorful yet patient symphonics and vibrant effects. From Mellotron to Minimoog, the different synthesizers used alternately probe, bliss out, and even develop rhythmic touches that shimmer and pulse at the right times and places. This one will appeal to fans of progressive electronics, Klaus Schulze aficionados, and those who seek out pure space. We are hoping for another release from this Ohio-based composer in the not too distant future.

Phil Jackson, Acid Dragon Magazine, France

On 'Worlds Without End' a short biography of Mr. Thaxton is given describing his background in the natural health field. An interesting list of keyboards is also given. This CD lacks the 'dynamic' of the double set [Heaven and Earth] being intended more for relaxation with titles like the 14 minute 'The Ascending Light', 'Aurora' and 'Nebula' defining once again the musical paintings this talented composer / musician chooses to create.

Bert Strolenberg, KLEM, Netherlands

Worlds Without End is the debut CD of Ohio-based musician Char-El alias Charles Thaxton. He is convinced that his music has a positive influence on both spiritual health and the soul. I must confess Charles has put out some very nice space music that can compete with some of Jonn Serrie and his followers. Nine tracks capture the listener, taking him or her on a journey into a far-off galaxy as the overwhelming synthwashes roll on and on in an exiting manner, which give the feeling that you're swept away in a very delicate way. This inviting cosmic encounter, including some great Mellotron sounds by the way, is a something you have to experience in its full length, I think you won't be disappointed at all!

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