Andrew Steck – Theater

Andrew Steck is a composer based out of Athens, GA – yes, the home of R.E.M. His instrumental work is classical inspired infused with a modern pop sensibility. He’s been putting out albums at an aggressive rate, each with numerous highlights. Like so many others, my 2020 went a bit sideways so I did not get to review the album he released late in the year. Inner Loop / Outer Loop is a complex orchestral ballet – but it is so much more. As chance would have it, I ended up with a few vinyl copies and turned my Dad into a fan. One of the pleasures of moving home to Philadelphia after 18 years in the Pacific Northwest. But I digress – that’s last year’s news. Andrew’s new album is called Theater and is the equal to – if not better than – last year’s album. Conceived as a set of one act plays, each piece stands alone and also contributes to the overall vibe. Having seen my first Broadway show in New York City in over 20 years a few weeks ago (The Book of Mormon, thanks for asking), this record really spoke to me on a visceral level.

Curtains: Parting With Pomp is designed to mimic the feeling that the audience has right before the show starts. The lights are dimming, voices fall silent. The mix of the song includes snippets of other songs, which creates a circus vibe. Quite an impactful opener. Tracks 5 through 7 are a suite entitled To The Movies. Each movement evokes a different emotional response out of the listener. The first, Proposition, follows a couple on a date to the movies. The 2nd, Feature Presentation, is the suspense film the couple decides to see. The music matches the theme quite well as the strings swell and crash with abandon. The final part, Afterglow, is after all is said and done. It has a dream like quality to the proceedings, and perhaps a surprise or two in the narrative. Flash Bulbs & Film is the longest piece on the record and left me wanting more. Percussive elements intertwine with the strings and mournful horns perfectly. A bit of Hollywood, a bit of tragedy. I could see Mr. Steck scoring an old silent film, I’d quite like that. The album closes with Big Red Cardinal which has a forward sounding electronic beat which is a subtle change of pace. As a grand finale, it works wonders.

I’m looking forward to what comes next from Andrew Steck. You can listen to and buy the album here.

Verdict: Theatrical Delights

For Fans of: Brian Eno, Stephen Jones (Babybird), David Bowie

Tracks:

  1. Curtains: Parting With Pomp
  2. Plane at an Angle
  3. Flight of the Witness
  4. Curtains: Quick Set Change
  5. To The Movies: Proposition
  6. To The Movies: Feature Presentation
  7. To The Movies: Afterglow
  8. Mercury In Cardboard
  9. Curtains: A Busy Intermission
  10. Flash Bulbs & Film
  11. Curtains: Wake The Stagehand
  12. Ugly Secrets
  13. Curtains: Parts to Mirrors
  14. Big Red Cardinal

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