The Secret: ,Music Inspired By is a reflexive journey, very alluring, and very compelling listening to those who want to try a 'different' sort of music. I am saying 'different' and not alternative, because the latter implies a genre in itself. Sladek, who hails from the Czech Republic via Weybridge, in Surrey, SE England, comes from an area which was known its brand of experimental bands. Canterbury, the old cathedral city not so far away, spawned the likes of Atomic Rooster, Kevin Ayers, Wild Flowers, Soft Machine and many others. All of these bands possessed a flair for delivering their own brand of so-called 'progressive music' and quite a few progressed into even more experimental, at times obscure sounds.

That was almost 40 years ago. Back in this present day and age, one David Sladek enters the fold and comes up with an album that does not recall the eclecticism that characterized those heady days but it does say so much about clever, well-wrought experimental music that fuses incidental, cinematic themes, neo-classical, ambient sounds that characterised the likes of Gong and Soft Machine. At times as on Receive, there are even hints of Mike Oldfield.

The Secret: ...Music Inspired By is essentially a song-cycle that moves along perceptions, introspections and emotion. Sladek seems to have placed a lot of commitment into delivering instrumental songs that do not sound clinical, or worse still derived. The title song, a mixture of industrial sounds coupled with terse, orchestral sounds says so much about man trying to pursue his own self in a hectic, cold and clinical society. It is a question of an artiste trying to come to terms with himself, his creative self and other creative selves too. In Energy this quest comes about with a quirky sequence of synths sounds, which are then punctuated by some experimental playing which again conveys an impression of escapism from the monotony of a secular, grey post-modern world. Energy is full of colour and sounds more like Saint-Saens re-charged for the 21st century. Two other arrangements, Health and Wealth relate to man’s concerns about security, and as such convey a very wistful aura. The arpeggios on Health sound so sensitive as they lend themselves to a more complex set of arrangements, and Happiness sounds more abstract with its blends of synths harps and orchestral pomp, which draws it closer to Ennio Morricone’s or Vangelis’ film soundtrack contributions. Its grandeur implies peace of heart and mind, under God’s watchful eye, and as such it allows for Sladek’s more extravagant side as a musician and arranger.

For fairness’ sake The Secret: ...Music Inspired By does show restraint on pomp and pretence, and as such, should help it reach out to an audience that really wants to find a good chill-out album with a difference. Intelligent music can come out in a different way, not least when a musician like David Sladek himself seems to have done a lot of soul-searching. Meditation which closes this anthology is a quiet tune, interspersed with un-discernible glibs and discourse, implying man’s difficulty in coming to terms with himself. As an epilogue, it reveals Sladek’s concerns in this modern world, alienated by so many issues. In his sleeve notes, David Sladek states that 'this album is dedicated to all who fight for the good, for their life, for the future and the future of us all. May they never give up on their dreams,.' Life is full of unpredictable twists and quirks, at times pleasant, but occasionally sad and bad.

The Secret: ...Music Inspired By attempts to find a mystery behind all these but ends up as open-ended in a manner that is expected, in the sense that one cannot solve mysteries, at least spiritual ones, not least those connected with suffering and injustice. It does however convey such thought-shapes in a very versatile and warm, empathic manner.


www.davidsladek.com

www.f2fmusic.co.uk

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