Apochs.net Reviews and Rates Solipsistic 9/10

Jason Apoch Weiss is an online blogger who reviews metal music, movies and games.

Here’s the full review

Semantic Saturation is a Canadian Progressive Rock and Metal instrumental act that formed back in 2012. This four piece group, founded by former Nu.Clear.Dawn guitarist Shant Hagopian, wasted no time in recording and issuing their debut full-length album Solipsistic, which finds a home through Cornless Unicorn Records. Aside the active four members, this release finds additional keyboards from guest Progressive legend Derek Sherinian, formerly of Dream Theater fame, as well as some guest vocals from Vanden Plas singer, Andy Kuntz. But, with such a small window to write these nine often extensive performances, does Solipsistic prove to be a Progressive fans wet dream that should be sought out, or is the band’s name more of a warning than anything else?

Despite having some Progressive Metal traits, the production of Solipsistic doesn’t make it all that heavy an offering, which ends up a positive thing for the sake of atmosphere. The guitars have a cleaner distortion to them more akin to the Rock aspect of the style, though can be a bit heavier when lower notes come into play. The bass is a mid-range twanging approach most of the time that helps carry the groove of some songs moreso than just act as an aid to the rhythm in others. However, sometimes it can be played a lot deeper, which is usually during the heavier Progressive Metal songs or passages. The drums sound fantastic, having clear cymbals that sound like they are right there in front of you, along with the tight snaps of the snares, though the bass kicks are pushed back slightly with more of a thud. Then there’s the keyboards that appesar throughout. Most of the time it’s just small passages, but they vary from electronic distortions, to a much cleaner style that tries to replicate an actual piano in a clearly digital manner.

Even though the band mixes together the Metal and Rock worlds of the Progressive style, some of the best material comes more from the latter of the two. “Ambivalence” is the perfect example, and kicks off the album in the right direction. Some of the riffs, such as at the start, do carry a Metal touch as far as the distortion and bass presence goes, but the groove the track has does eventually carry into some lighter riffs from the guitar that offer additional technicality that is simply infectious with an upbeat vibe that continues to grow the further you get into it. This is easily one of the most memorable songs off the album, and thankfully not the last as “Make Believe” comes right in afterwards and offers a far more atmospheric offering. Showing traits of early NWOBHM influence, this track has some simpler, emptier passages that allow the mid-range bass to really take over, and it sounds great. There are additional cleaner chords in some of these spots that give it more emotion, aiding the passionate, catchy, and sometimes upbeat track in really standing out.

“Blessing in Disguise” offers a beautiful ballad piece, one you could see being the final song at the high school dance, or even a conclusionary kiss between main characters one might expect from a dramatic film or television show, such as The Wonder Years. The only difference is that there’s more complexity in the chords for an extended guitar solo style offering. The keyboards also sound fantastic here, and the cymbals help to fill this passionate performance without going too overboard. But, then there’s “Stardust,” which is a much heavier offering for the first half. The bass-rich track carries a darker tone through most of the Metal-drive riffs. Around the half way point, the slight burden the music conveys shifts over to a more astral, somewhat Space Rock approach that the listener can easily be wrapped up in. The additional clean keyboard notes are very subtle, but well played in a Jazz inspired manner for a brief period before going tighter and more electric. The song closes merging both heavier and lighter worlds into a sense of danger, as if cast out into a sea of darkness just to meet an abrupt end that does end up suiting to the track’s conclusion.

But, for all the priase, there’s some material that doesn’t quiet have the same impact. First up is “Point of Singularity,” which is similar to “Blessing in Disguise” in my ways. The main difference is that the acoustic riffs take center stage moreso than the bass, which seems rather muffled and restrained. That being said, the song is still pretty good, sometimes carrying a Spanish touch to it, giving this a vibe more like a serenade without the vocals. The keyboards end up really unneccesary here, presenting more of that astral tone that just doesn’t work with the atmosphere present. This is also the shortest song, and, while it’s still enjoyable, it does end up sounding like a filler composition unfortunately. Finally there’s “What We All Stop,” which features Andy Kuntz on vocals. Aside some various passages and guitar solos, this one doesn’t have the atmospheric bite many others have. The singing isn’t really all that great, but suits the toned down and restricted music outside the richer chorus. In the end, it’s not that unique an experience, and comes off more like a typical Progessive song with a bit of an identity crisis, finding some Power Metal environments here and there that feel forced due to Andy’s presence, all concluding with a very weird keyboard performance after a few moments of silence. It sounds pretty bad, and feels tacked on, as if Derek provided it for a song, and it wasn’t used, but they decided to throw it on as a bonus to make sure it was used.

Despite the two songs that don’t have the same bite or impact as the others, Solipsistic is a fantastic, varied Progressive journey fans of the style are definitely going to eat up. This doesn’t go off into the showmanship-like performances some bands in the style today seem to love doing, instead offering up some well constructed songs rich with atmosphere and talent in a way that flows smoothly from start to finish. One spin through this recording makes it pretty evident that Semantic Saturation is poised to go pretty far in the genre, and it wouldn’t be surprising if labels like InsideOut Music were to take notice of the group after this stunning debut. Easily one of the most important entries for the style in 2013, Solipsistic by Semantic Saturation is an album that needs to be included in your collection. It’s just sad that, given the underground nature behind it, this will probably be heavily overlooked outside the Candian territory of it’s birth, a true crime for a release of this caliber.

01. Ambivalence – 6:33
02. Make Believe – 5:06
03. Lost and Found Insanity – 5:26
04. Stardust – 6:49
05. Blessing in Disguise – 4:48
06. Armchair Activist – 4:10
07. Point of Singularity – 3:50
08. Time is an Illusion – 5:43
09. What We All Stop – 8:44

Initial Pressing Score: 9/10


Suffocation guitarist buys his own CD

Suffocation guitarist posted a video of him buying his own CD and delivering a message to all music fans.

It’s no secret that musicians today are suffering the effects of online piracy. There are a lot of debates whether free music and file sharing has positive or negative effects on the artists, on one side of the fence are the record companies, on the other side are the file sharing fans, and musicians are stuck on the fence in between.

Semantic Saturation is an independent band/project, which means no record company or label has supported the project financially. So be sure that every dollar you spend will go directly to the artist as a contribution towards the thousands of dollars spent in creating this record.

Online piracy and illegal downloads are destroying a lot of musicians and artists.
Support the bands and music you like if you want to hear more.
Here’s how you can support us: http://bit.ly/buycdbundle

Here’s the video from Suffocation guitarist Guy Marchais.

And in case you don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, I’ll summarize his message for you.

We’re not Metallica, we can’t afford giving away CDs to everyone. If you download the album online, it’s ok to check it out, but then go and buy it, it’s easy and it’s only 16 bucks,??support the band, don’t be a cheap motherfucker.

Interview on Soundlyfe – French Magazine

Here’s the English version of my interview with Soundlyfe, the French music magazine.

Semantic Saturation

1. Where does this project come from?

Semantic Saturation is progressive metal project founded by me, featuring world class musicians and progressive masters, such as Virgil Donati on drums, Ric Fierabracci on Bass, and special guests, ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian, and Vanden Plas vocalist Andy Kuntz. So there is no particular base for the project as everyone comes from different part of the earth, I’m from Canada, Andy is from Germany, and the rest; Derek Virgil and Ric are from LA, thanks to the powers of the Internet and all the technology available to us today, otherwise it would’ve been impossible for this project to be born.

2. You are surrounded with big world references of the rock or metal scene : Does it mean that Semantic Saturation requires to evolve in a band? Or certain opportunities just appeared?

It’s really a great honor to work with these guys, they are all virtuosos and amazing people. Semantic Saturation is currently only a project, my project to be precise, it would be awesome to become a band but that depends on a lot of criteria, and since the project is relatively new with the debut album Solipsistic that just launched two weeks ago on January 21, I believe it’s too early to say at this point, but you never know. And again I don’t know if I’d want it to be a permanent band, as I’m planning to work with different musicians in future albums, but that doesn’t mean that I also don’t work with any of the current musicians. A lot of people are asking if there would be any live performances too, again at this point there are no plans for any performances, but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to play live shows if I have the chance, the biggest challenge then would be adapting and meeting everyone’s busy schedules, as you may know Derek, Virgil and everyone else have their personal projects and bands, they’re always busy touring or recording in the studio.

3. What are the events in the coming months of Semantic Saturation?

As an independent project, I’m currently focusing on promoting the album “Solipsistic”, I’ve been working on it since December 2010 and I’ve put a lot of effort in making it as perfect as possible, so I definitely want to promote it as much as I can, otherwise all the effort and hard work we put in this record will go unnoticed. I had planned a music video for one of the songs from the album, and we are still trying to make that happen. Also I have plans to make a single dedicated to the Syrian people and all the crimes against humanity that are happening there right now, but it’s too early to talk about it.

4. Does Solipsistic have a main thread? What do you speak about musically?

Solipsistic comes from solipsism which is a state of mind, a philosophical idea that can only proves ones own mind or self to exist. The idea came to me as a kid and I kept thinking about it, until I started working on the album and thought it’s the perfect chance to use it. Musically I’m trying to deliver strong expressive melodies and stimulating music that speaks to you and keeps you wanting for more, there are a lot of bands nowadays who tend to forget that music is actually an art and not some kind of competition, a lot of them have overlooked and forgot what music actually is, they’re constantly trying to concentrate on the technical side only. For me that is not music, and playing thousands of notes a minute will not make them any better.

5. Besides Dream Theater or Vanden Plas, represented in your project by current or old former members, what are your musical influences in any kind of genre?

I grew up listening to Pink Floyd, so they have been a major influence, besides Dream Theater with all their side projects and Vanden Plas, bands that have influenced and inspired me are Rush, Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, Muse, The Gathering, Steve Vai, Ayreon, Joe Satriani, Transatlantic, Opeth … I can keep on going but I think I’ll just stop by saying thank you very much for the interview! And I’d like to thank you (the reader) for your interest. If you’d like to support the project get your copy today at www.semanticsaturation.com (CDs include free guitar picks and posters signed personally by me).

Source: http://globalgame.wix.com/gam3#!home/c14yj

Interview and Review on MusikReviews.de

MusikReviews.de is a German metal ‘zine. Andreas Schiffmann has already reviewed the CD last month, and today my interview with them got published, they have translated it to German, but I have the original in English.

Tell me a bit about yourself: How were you socialized with music, and what do you want to achieve as a solo artist – or are you looking for a stable band?

I started playing guitar when I was 15, my interest in music started when I heard Pink Floyd for the first time, as a teenager the many great bands I have discovered along the way made me fall in love with the guitar and the sounds and music you can create with the instrument, thanks to all the technology we have today, from effects processors to amps and software. In 1996 I started jazz guitar studies and graduated in 2003, Frank Gambale was another inspiring jazz musician, not that I wanted to specify in jazz, but there were no rock guitar courses in the school I attended, so jazz for me was definitely an amazing style to complement my music as a progressive rock guitarist. At this point I can’t say if I’m looking for a stable band, but I wouldn’t mind being in one either, I’m pretty happy working as a solo artist, and my plans for the future is to play with different musicians on every album, but that does not mean that I don’t want to play with the same musicians, again at this stage it’s too early to tell.

How come high profile players like Ric or Virgil got interested in a quasi-unknown artist like you?

Ric, Virgil, Andy and Derek are all amazing musicians, I admire everything they do. When I asked Derek if he wants to play or be a guest on my album I sent him some demo tracks and after he gave them a quick listen, he gave me a call and he was more than happy to help. The same thing happened with Virgil, Ric and Andy, they were all excited. It’s really a great honor to have them all on the album.

How did the collaboration with your guests happen logistically, also since Andy, for example, wrote his own lyrics?

Coordination was one of the biggest challenges for me throughout the process. These musicians are all on busy schedules, they have tours, clinics and work in the studio. But thanks to the powers of the Internet, connecting with them was very easy, we had many sessions on Skype and then I’d send them my tracks with the demo drums or bass and every one of them adds their part in, and then sends me back their files and so on. For the lyrics on “What if We All Stop” I have sent Andy the idea and story of the song as well as some verses , then he added his parts based on the music making sure he has enough words to fill the lines and we shaped it down together to the final version that is on the CD. Andy also helped me in the song structure musically, and as a vocalist and a great producer.

What does your project’s name Semantic Saturation mean to you?

Semantic Saturation also known as “Semantic Satiation” is a psychological phenomenon where repetition causes a word or phrase to lose its meaning temporarily; words are then processed in the mind as meaningless sounds. The idea is much deeper than that, and it doesn’t just stop there. Even though unapparent, but our brains are being saturated on a daily basis, and fed by multiple sources, they may look slow but the effects are the same on the long run.

How do you come up with names for your instrumental tracks, and is writing instrumental music a necessity because you do not have a band of your own?

Track names are inspired by the music I write, and the music I write is inspired by many different sources, it can be a musician, and artist, an article … anything really. The idea is the same when you are writing a song with lyrics, how do you choose the track name of a song? Based on the lyrics and story of course. Writing instrumental music is not a necessity but more a desire, as a guitarist I felt more fulfilled having a (mostly) instrumental album, but that does not mean that future albums will all be instrumental. I love songs as much as I love instrumental music; they are all music in the end.

What do you try to achieve with this project, and where do you see yourself as an artist in the long run?

Semantic Saturation is my baby, and It means a lot to me of course. It’s the result of more than 2 years of hard work. What am I trying to achieve… I’m trying to deliver great music to the music lovers, combining the most appealing elements in rock, prog and metal and mixing them with new styles like jazz and electronica. It’s a very early stage to tell where I do see myself, but for now having a descent fan base, and fans who appreciate the music and the effort I put in creating it is just what I need. And I hope more people will discover this project and enjoy listening to the album.

source: http://www.musikreviews.de/interviews/18-02-2013/Semantic-Saturation/

And here’s a link to the review (only in German) but you can always use Google Translate.

Bruce Dickinson Says it Best

Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson

” I don’t understand these kids auditioning for X-Factor claiming they ‘just wanna make music’. Cut the Crap!
Let me introduce you to the kid teaching himself how to play guitar, the busker in the train station, the guys and girls recording their own demos and playing the small venues, the unpublished songwriter with countless books full of lyrics, the people who just want to be heard, who want to express themselves, their creativity and their artistic worth.
They are the ones who just want to make music! They are the real artists!
Anybody auditions for X-Factor it’s because they want to be famous. Period! Otherwise they’d already be out there ‘making music’ “

– Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden frontman


I couldn’t have said it better myself, the man is a legend and his wise words scream louder than words.

I don’t watch a lot of TV myself; I try??not to, I already have much better things to do, but I always thought how humiliating it must be for a person to go up there on stage in front of millions, to be monitored and judged by three old farts; mostly pop ‘artists’ that I call auto-tune artists, and then possibly end up being sent home crying and crashing in front of millions with nothing, talk about destroying self-esteem.

Why do you think people enjoy these shows ? Because once in a while a clown shows up and makes the viewer laugh with their horrible performance, could possibly be a hired actor to make the show??funnier, at least I hope they are, otherwise it’s 15 seconds of fame turned into a nightmare, I mean just try putting yourself in their shoes.

Sigh… end of rant.