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LABEL: Aardvark Records/Lightfall Records RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2011 GENRE: Ambient, Electronic, Chillout
// review by Jeff

A journey of extreme soundscapes.

Meteo Xavier, known as well under the unique alias of 12 Followers, has delivered what could be considered a significant contribution to the oft-stagnating electronic music universe with his latest album, "Espers". Though the album doesn't directly reference the famed Espers of legendary Final Fantasy VI fame, it very well could have some close relation as the music presented here reflects an otherworldly influence not unlike those digital creatures. "Espers" is an amalgamation of new age, electronic, and most prominently, ambient themes that together form an hour-long journey of the senses beyond merely sound.

The entire album feels as though it has been torn directly from the golden age of role-playing games, within the same calibre as legendary soundtracks such as Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. Their connections to the album are undeniable; a name like "Sagetellah" oozes of Final Fantasy IV's charm. Espers, however, takes on a voice of its own, though driven by more than mere advanced technology. 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier has injected each track with a crystalline experience, showering the listener simultaneously with the wonder of an immense world and the halcyon of a microscopic existence. From the forefront of the introductory track, "Tritochiark - Vestigial Dreamcatcher for the Heavenly Integer" (and this, surprisingly, is not the longest track name on the album) to the denouement of "Sagetellah" featuring Michael Huang in a touching solo piano performance, it is immediately clear that the journey will indeed be filled with transcendental mystique.

12 Followers/Meteo Xavier effectively utilized natural sounds to the fullest, ultimately resulting in an organic work. Tribal percussions in "Amenemhetopelzai", for example, or the wind-driven clashes and bellows of "Icidina" leave the listener with the feeling that they are no longer in their own location and that they have travelled without really travelling. Aside from the ability to help you save money on airplane fares, the artist has provided a simple yet compelling method of escapism. As well, the album boasts high production values, a compliment of which Meteo will be the primary antagonist. Rich, full tones are dotted throughout, making for a pleasant treat for the ears.

Espers provides a generally relaxing experience similar to that of famed new age artists such as Enigma and Mike Oldfield. in his own heyday. There are certain overwhelming sections to the album, though; parts of "Icidina", in particular, may require you to lower your volume for a short while. However, barring such incidents, which are few and far between, Espers is a novel way to chill out from the many unnecessary stresses of life. Every song has character. It is a highly-recommended work of art and indeed a solid addition to any aficionado's music library.


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