The Henry Saiz star is one that continues to rise. Over the last five years, he’s gone from relative obscurity to ‘one to watch’ status and, finally, to an international star. His approach to a unique brand of progressive and melodic techno has won him a wide and adoring fan network across the world; as has spectacular productions like Madre Noche and Our Discovery, his work with the like-minded Guy J on tunes like Meridian and Lamur and his upbeat yet humble and emotional approach to music. With all that and 2011’s breathtaking Balance 019 under his belt, his debut album has been a much-anticipated affair.
Measuring in at over 90 minutes, Saiz has crafted an opus that crosses genre, style and tempo for an album that is, if nothing else, something truly different. His true love of music and its ability to be packed with emotion is well known to his fans. Engage with Saiz on social media and you immediately sense how deeply he feels for his music, and music at large. He talks of his music being a ‘style that is a combination of his love for all things electronic with a deep passion for art’. What he’s produced is testament to that.
The introductory Moonlight Wolf is a light yet emotive offering, a female voice telling us of this ‘wolf’. The back third of the tune prepares us with an upbeat tone that permeates the album completely, before moving into Sleepwalk, a down tempo yet easy listening number, replete with sultry saxophone. Love Mythology and Of Muses and Slaves are melodic uplifting beauties, and both belong in the middle of a very happy, cruisy dancefloor (I’d say more Rainbow Serpant, less Future Music Festival.) Spiricom (See You Soon) with acutely autotuned vocals (rather liberally repeated throughout the album) brings more of the uplifting stuff, while ballads like The Light and Fill Me Up provide for long dreamy vocals and melodies, and as a clever foil to an otherwise action-packed journey.
Saiz speaks of a love of adding soundscapes to his music, allowing him to “explore the visual and psychedelic aspects of electronic music that is so important” to him. In and of itself, it adds another level of intensity to his music. Nowhere is the journey more intense than in Death Drive, sounding exactly as the title suggests. Crafted together to seemingly sound more like a soundtrack than a tune by itself, fast paced and at times frenetic, you can almost hear the suspense. Pausing some 2/3 into it, we gather pace, rest, and complete with doors being slammed, the jingling of keys, a male’s deep (and frightened) breathing, it is all perfectly placed to sound like part of the musical structure, rather than distracting from it. It’s clever, and entirely consistent with the notion of combining music and art on yet another level.
Rave Flute stands out for a simple yet effective syncopating ‘rave’ beat, which when coupled with the earthy woodwind sounds of a flute, create an amalgam that is a real treasure, and one of many high-points of the album. Natura Sonoris (also the name of Saiz’s own record label) drops in with its perhaps surprising touch of calypso, while Hymn to Nowhere, starts calmly, before a string-heavy but oh-so-delightful-crescendo takes us into a thundering bass line. The strings return, making for a cleverly crafted tune that is a real delight. The end of this tune could easily have been the (fitting) end to the album, the female voice providing a nice synergy to how it all started some 90 minutes earlier. But instead, finishing honours are left with All the Evil of This World, the heavily pop-infused and uplifting debut single from the album. As the album reaches its end, and the lights beam on the dance floor for the last time, it would be all smiles from his adoring fans.
Over no less than 17 tracks, Saiz has provided his fans with some breathtaking musical moments, and plenty that they will truly delight in. It is little coincidence that the album has been on repeat since I got my hands on it, and while I’ve pondered whether some of the tunes could’ve been left on the production floor (sometimes less can indeed be more), what Saiz has created is something quite special. He has thrown away what might be considered the normal album formula, producing something that creatively combines art, emotion and music, and with it a message of his own.