Exposé Online banner

Solaris — 1990
(Gong HCD 37310-11, 1990/1996, CD)

Solaris — Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
(Gong HCD 17819, 1983/1995, CD)

by Mike Grimes, Published 1997-02-01

1990 Cover artMarsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) Cover art

At long last, The Gong label has stepped forward and re-released Solaris' The Martian Chronicles and 1990. While both these titles have been previously available on CD, both have been out of print for quite a while, not to mention extremely difficult to find. To make these recent reissues more attractive, each CD set is augmented with not one, but two bonus tracks. Actually, the double CD reissue of 1990 contains the entire contents of the original double-LP plus the two bonus tracks. Since earlier CD versions of this album only offered three of the four sides of the LPs due to the time constraints of fitting everything on one CD, this offering has several "bonus" tracks in a way.

Solaris originally released The Martian Chronicles in 1983, and 1990 in (you guessed it) 1990. Despite its title, the latter album is primarily a compilation of four sessions recorded at different times in the 80s and packaged together. The opening notes of "The Martian Chronicles" illustrate much of what is to follow on that album — a chorus of Moog synthesizers. At times the band has three keyboardists, and all of them staunchly analog! Glides, filter sweeps, sounds ten feet thick... all the joys of analog. The music is all instrumental with a few choral-type exceptions, and the interplay between the flute, guitar, and analog synths is well orchestrated. Each instrument gets its share of the spotlight, and the music is quite diverse. Clearly, there is a strong folk influence, but there's an abundance of spacey synth sounds and rock guitar riffs to augment the ethnic aspect of their sound. The songs can go from sounding like a Brahms Hungarian Dance to the Dr. Who soundtrack to Euro-surf music before the blink of an eye. Imagine space music played in Eastern European scales by Dick Dale! Solaris doesn't play wicked-fast, complex music in complicated time signatures. Their strong point is in their arrangements and ability to create swirling instrumental textures. Their music is more fun than challenging. Like all the best albums, The Martian Chronicles comes complete with a whistle solo.

The 1990 album contains some compositions and performances on par with the tracks from The Martian Chronicles, but it's more varied in quality overall. By the mid to late 80s, Solaris acquired some digital keyboards (Rolands and E-mus it sounds like) and incorporated them into their music. This diversified the band's sound, but perhaps defocused the musical direction of the group too. For example, "Solaris 1990" is a collection of samples of several famous classical music pieces put to a disco drum machine beat. What the...? Both albums contain some great material, but The Martian Chronicles doesn't have the variance in quality that 1990 does, and is surely the "classic" album by the band. Fans of analog synths should pick up both these for the keyboard tones alone.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 11, 1996 releases, 1990 recordings, 1995 releases, 1983 recordings

Related artist(s): Solaris

Latest news

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Klotet - En Rak Höger – En Rak Höger is the debut release by a progressive rock quartet from Uppsala, Sweden formed in 2004. The CD opens with cheesy sounds and rhythm, but soon evolves into a progressive –...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues