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Album review: Toni Castells – 2045

The home of new Opera, Tête à Tête festival held the premiere of electro-acoustic polymath, Toni Castells’ second studio album, set for release this July, 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal, named as one of The Guardian’s “Five of the Best Classical Concerts” and gained standing ovations at its double première at St. James’s Piccadilly and Cowdray Park.

The 17 track collection approaches universal questions regarding the human condition through a blend of traditional classical sounds mixed with a newer, modern approach to create a unique balance of distinctive sounds that would not be found elsewhere in a composition like his own. 2045’s opening track, “Overture” features childlike laughter that creates an eerie introduction alongside emotional appearances of feminine lyrics and a darker sounding cello to carry it through.

Despite a uniform vision throughout the entire first half of the album which stays clear to what would usually be considered classic operatic intent, tracks 12 and 13, “Diva” and “Capsule 99” take on an entirely different note to the rest, through a series of whistling winds and synths that fade into the background of critically acclaimed Oliver Gerrish‘s voice.

Track two, “Gold” stands out for another reason; being the first to introduce female to male operatic harmonies that build throughout the song in a calming, elegant manner; an accompaniment that worked together in every aspect.

The somewhat celestial sound coming from certain tracks could be seen to fit perfectly into a video game; possibly an orchestral Final Fantasy battle scene, with hard emotion and intellect, even without lyrics. “The Mission” carries this aspect as a sensory overloaded ballad. Soft piano follows Meeta Raval‘s award-winning vocals, and making stronger appearances in “Born King”, which also features Raval.

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About the artist

The London based Spanish composer is a lecturer at the Imperial College London and the London College of Music even sells sheet music for 2045, and his 2013 release, Life from Light.

Toni Castells is a composer whose sonic worlds transpire an inherited precocious classical training with an inventive use of modern technologies to create unique and distinctive soundscapes. His music has been described as “Massive Attack meets Mendelssohn” by Ben Roberts from music industry magazine London Tourdates and “Morricone meets Satie” by Michael Haas, producer of prize-winning recordings with major classical artists including Zubin Mehta, Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Beranboim, Cecilia Bartoli and Luciano Pavarotti. US label Magnatune described it as “Puccini meets Sigur Rós”.

Toni’s transcendental approach on universal themes of human condition is channelled through a unique blend of western classical music traditions with popular music ones. This quality makes his work unusually accessible within a contemporary music context.

 

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About Rhi Ramsay

20 year old internet person and attempted music journalist, studying at Edinburgh Napier University, 2017. Contact: rhiannonramsay97@gmail.com

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