Soniq Theater - "Soniq Theater"
(self-released 2000)

From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)

Soniq Theater is the brainchild of German keyboardist and former member of Rachel's Birthday, Alfred Müller. As a solo work performed entirely on the keyboard, it has a startlingly full and dynamic sound. When I first heard it, I thought I was listening to a whole band with guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards.

Comparisons could be made, perhaps, to Rick Wakeman, or Erik Norlander, but that doesn't hit Müller's style right on the head. Müller remains on target the entire way, without veering into Wakeman's hammy side, or into Norlander's keyboard hero worship. He has a style all his own. Almost. What this album did remind me of was a lesser-known work by former Asia and Yes keyboardist Geoffrey Downes called The Light Program (1987), though admittedly, Müller's work bears the distinct mark of top notch modern production, and a sound that is far less "electronic" than Downes' album. Plus, it rocks a whole lot more.

From the excellent opening track, Rondeo, onward, the pace is quite high-strung and almost relentless. Müller is a technical master. His music is precise and measured, though he does throw in a few surprises, such as the Asian girl vocals on Minka e rano, and the soul-style vocals on the hyper Cinemagic. Occasionally the music borders on prog-metal with heavy, crunching guitar sounds, and would no doubt appeal to fans of that genre, but Müller also has a flair for the dramatic, with orchestral flourishes throughout the album, giving it a grand feel. Once can almost see Arthur raising his sword in the air, while listening to Excalibur. The Power and the Glory and The Riders of Rohan (both around 7 minutes long) are also both standouts, with their numerous time signature changes and varying styles.

If you like this style of bombastic, keyboard oriented rock or instrumental prog-metal, Soniq Theater will no doubt make an essential addition to your collection.

For more information you can visit the Soniq Theater web site at:
Email at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Alfred Müller; Weissdornweg 6; D-74523 Schwäbisch Hall; Germany.

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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