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Char-El, a.k.a. Charles Thaxton, is an Ohio-based musician who describes himself as a prog/new age mix, which is probably a pretty fair description. 1996's Worlds Without End is actually comprised of recordings made over the preceding decade, and reminds me more than anything of a sort of occidental Kitaro. The material is pleasantly melodic, and drifts along in an agreeable kind of way without ever really impinging itself on your consciousness, but then I think that's probably the point. There's some sampled Mellotron here and there, but of the four tracks containing the real thing, The Miracle's imposing choirs and Heart Light's flutes are the most impressive.
There are an awful lot more samples on Heaven and Earth, but the tracks noted above, according to Charles, are the ones containing genuine 'Tron. Despite the lack of real 'Tron (Charles sold his a few years ago), the Heaven half of the two-disc set has more very relaxing synth stuff (more Kitaro comparisons here and there), with some excellent 'Tron choir samples on the title track. The Earth half is more prog than new age, with Thaxton backed by a full band, although the material that works best (to my ears, anyway) is the slower, more reflective stuff that's nearer the sound of the first disc. The emphasis is on melody throughout, with much piano, and impressive guitar work from Larry Clark.
There's a fair bit of real 'Tron to be heard here, often mixed in with samples. Ethereal choir on Visitors, powerful strings and choir on Destiny, overlaid with a searing MiniMoog lead. Age Of Light and Requiem For Planet 3 probably have the best Mellotron use on the album, though, with the choirs on Age Of Light bursting through the mix like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Even the samples sound good, particularly on Santa Fe; it's a shame that there isn't more of the 'real thing', but Thaxton makes good use of the tools available to him.
It's 2009 and Charles has dug into his archive again, releasing the results as Resurrection. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the album's more new age than anything, although a handful of tracks have full band arrangements, this time more in an 'instrumental AOR' vein. Charles uses either his own Mellotron samples or Chamby samples from the Mike Pinder CD-ROM on several tracks, but I'm assured that there are six tracks of genuine 'Tron, with choir on opener Cry Of The Spirit (alongside string samples), choir on There's A Better Place and Myths Of Ancient Realms, strings on Ancient Temple and Remembering, and the album's standout 'Tron use, string section, flutes and a trumpet/trombone split on Awakening, with a particularly nice solo part on the latter sound.
So; more for the new age crowd than the proggers, although there are definitely more than a few prog moments on Earth. Worlds Without End is currently only available as a CD-R, but both albums are available from the Char-El website.
Worlds Without End (1996)
Heaven and Earth (2000)
Char-El - Heaven And Earth (2CD) (2000)
A dynamic double CD divided into two sections: HEAVEN- a collection of celestial new age soundscapes for deep space journeys, and EARTH- symphonic and progressive instrumentals for terrestrial explorers.
1. Into the Infinite - 10:51
2. Timestream - 5:45
3. Release - 2:27
4. Higher Realms - 11:56
5. The Secret Grotto - 4:57
6. Heaven - 6:44
7. Forgiveness - 3:18
8. Solar Wind - 9:53
9. Ecstasy - 7:49
10. Lightworlds - 3:41
11. Beyond the Farthest Star - 3:33
12. Full Circle - 6:18
13. Earth (All One Tribe) - 4:26
14. Mysterious Valley - 4:31
15. Vision in the Skies - 3:23
16. Skyspirit - 3:57
17. Visitors - 4:22
18. Molecular Dance - 3:39
19. Southwest Winds - 3:45
20. Seasons Will Change - 4:17
21. Destiny - 4:11
22. The Gift - 3:31
23. Santa Fe - 3:50
24. On the Wings of the Eagle - 3:54
25. Breaking Free - 5:05
26. Age of Light - 5:53
27. Requiem for Planet 3 - 4:02
CD 1 - Доступно только для пользователей
CD 2 - Доступно только для пользователей