Skip to main content

INDEPENDENT EP RELEASE: Versal, “Self-Titled”


By age 17, Versal (aka Javier Velez) could already play the piano, organ, trumpet, trombone, and guitar (both electric and classical.) By 18, he was arranging a famous hand bell choir in his native San Juan, followed by numerous TV and live show appearances. Versal now works as a composer, CGI artist, and programmer, except now he’s added even more instruments to his talents. The guy is a one-man orchestra. 

He’s almost a one-man film crew, too. Versal has been editor, colorist, visual FX artist, director of photography, composer, and director on several films and documentaries. Still, the dream has been this EP, which he has released this month. This collection of instrumentals contains ideas from as long ago as childhood. The need to make a living and a thirst for global travel were previously in the way but no longer.

The album is “self-titled” and starts with the track “Eternal,” a soft piano piece ushered in by an angelic chorus. Swelling strings swoop in, creating an atmosphere of tranquility but never boredom. “Flamenco en Culebra” is a mellow, flamenco guitar arrangement with drums and strings added, apparently as a musical homage to the Puerto Rican island city of Culebra. I imagine their style of flamenco is a bit different than Argentina’s. Grittier.

“Dawn” is the most New Age track of the group. It’s carries a deep, steady note and morning bird flute, which transitions from brass to wood halfway through. The last movement is particularly strong as one instrument after another is gracefully piled on in a manner that’s very soundtrack-friendly. You can picture this music being played over rolling credits at the conclusion of a film where the good guy didn’t necessarily win. “Carousel” (Included below) is the stand out piece. It remains ambient like the rest but attempts an upbeat catchiness. The child show synthesizers and other electronica noises make the track spacey and playful, but not in a weird way. Just odd enough to be interesting.

The last two tracks—“All Together” and “El Camino a Montserrat”—are full-on classical orchestra affairs with string sections and the works. Both are enjoyable as demonstrations of their composer’s mastery but are more fitted for fighting to lift sails against towering storm waves than any slow stroll through a hazy meadow. 

Overall, this album is a fine lineup of powerful contemporary instrumentals. It’s quite cinematic in places, though it’s easy to understand why with Versal’s background.

Soon, he plans to release two more songs as bonus tracks. The dream continues...

Enjoy this article? Please, comment and share!

Please, listen to the EP on Spotify HERE

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

INDEPENDENT SONG RELEASE: Elise Hayes, “Giving Up”

“You never wanted me to get that tattoo,” sings Nashville recording artist Elise Hayes . “I’m going to get that tattoo.” This the start to her new single “Giving Up,” (co-written with Johnny Mo ) which is about not giving up, an ode to post-relationship defiance. There is freedom in being your own person again, even if you were the one dumped. The music itself is a tapestry of sorts: sonic styles patchworked together into a compact yet pleasing mix. Pounding drums and sitar give way to softer guitar, then back to drums, which sometimes beat rapidly as a door knock. A wake up call. The song often stops and starts as if her thoughts are coming to her in jagged fits as she’s singing them. “You never wanted me to have that haircut / Well, now I do…”   It’s a hard style to pull off but Hayes does it effortlessly. She is a strong singer/songwriter, doubtlessly helped in her confidence from being featured in TV shows, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” MTV ’s “Siesta Key,” and other

INDEPENDENT ALBUM RELEASE: Sarah Schonert, “Songs About Sounds”

I know a few too many people who have set aside their hopes for a career in art and/or music because their spouse came along, then the kids. Now there’s laundry to do and bills to pay. Making art seems trivial now. Besides, after looking into the eyes of your child, how could you ever hope to create anything more amazing than that anyway? What other point is there? All you have to say to the world is in this little human being you helped invite here. Bullshit obviously. There are plenty of projects which transcend chores and species duplication. Sarah Schonert is a musician and mother from Peoria. She writes, records, and produces her own music from her home studio. This is how her newest release, Songs about Sounds , became her fourth official LP and TENTH (!) album. Sarah is also an engineer, designer, and painter, so shut up about how busy you are to do that stuff anymore. Her music could be described as Kate Bush or Tori Amos reinterpreted by Jean-Michel Jarre. Sarah m

INDEPENDENT ALBUM RELEASE: Robertas Semeniukas, "Backstage Stories"

Robertas Semeniukas’ new album Backstage Stories is a 20-track tour de force of grandiose, crunching guitars occasionally accented by his Lithuanian vocals, delivered rapid-fire on the opening track, “Kai nieko nebelieka,” as if he’s rapping. During certain points he snarls his lyrics with such emotion that not being able to understand him is actually a little frustrating. You have no idea what he’s singing, but he certainly seems to mean it.  Google Translate helps with the titles at least. The second track is a pleasing, softer standout number that includes (as many do) a duet with a female singer. It’s entitled “Nesustok,” which means “Don’t Stop.” “Kai Tu Sugrisi I Namus,” another melody-heavy duet, is translated into “When I Return You Home.” The songs titled in English are predictably instrumentals. The best of these is “Flying High (S.V.J.S.),” a showcase for Semeniukas’ nimble fret-hammering. (To be exact, only 8 of the songs have vocals.)  An album titled Backsta