Electro, Female vocals, Guitar-Hero, Melancholic
"Outlanders, a project led by Tarja Turunen and Thorsten Spenzel, attempts a mix of electronic music and guitars that shines above all through its illustrious guests."
PROGRACER (12.10.2023)  
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Outlanders is the new musical project from Tarja Turunen (Tarja, ex-Nightwish) and German electro artist and producer Torsten Stenzel. The album of the same name was recorded and produced on the Caribbean island of Antigua, where Stenzel lives. They have been working on this partnership for years, and finalized it this year with the aim of offering a creation combining electronic music, Tarja's ethereal vocals and acoustic and electric guitars.

In this respect, they've thought big, even very big. Al di Meola (who needs no introduction), Joe Satriani, Trevor Rabin (Yes), Steve Rothery (Marillion), Marty Friedman (Megadeth), Vernon Ried (Living Colors), Argentinian Walter Giardino (Rata Blanca), Ron Thal (Sons Of Apollo), Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson) and Mike Oldfield.

The result is atmospheric music, often bordering on movie music, with subtle arrangements that can only be appreciated through headphones or high-end equipment. Apart from a few narrative phases, Tarja's voice is mostly employed in the form of ethereal lyrical choruses supporting the main melodies. She does, however, sing on 'Closer To The Sky', whose keyboard theme reminds Anathema's "A Natural Disaster" period, as well as on 'The Cruellest Goodbye', alongside Al di Meola, who adds a Hispanic touch to the track's melancholy overtones. The presence of Walter Giardino also helps to establish this Latino aspect on 'Outlanders', which opens the album.

With electronic ambiences and backing vocals often following the same patterns, it's in the guitar performances that we should look for reasons of variety. The prestigious guests always contribute to the ambiences, with magnificent solos and their own musical signature, often recognizable from the very first notes. Such is the case of Steve Rothery on 'Mystique Voyage', who deploys his languorous, ethereal playing for a track with a new age ambience. Even more typical is Joe Satriani's performance on 'The Sleeping Indian'. The track is one of the most seductive on the album, with its swaying rhythm, Sat''s Dantesque solo and the interesting contribution of local rapper Nkoye Zifah. Take a look at the video at the end of this review to see for yourself.

Despite some outstanding performances by prestigious guests, such as Vernon Ried's very successful solos on 'World in My Eyes' and Trevor Rabin's on 'Closer To The Sky', there's a feeling of redundancy halfway through the album. This is due to a cruel lack of dynamism in the main melodies and the repetition of lyrical backing vocals with little real nuance from one piece to the next.

"Outlanders" is a pleasant album, rich in subtle arrangements and featuring Tarja's inimitable voice. The mix of genres works well, with guitars adding warmth to each track. However, a certain monotony caused by a lack of variety in themes and moods could end up tiring the listener. But fans of atmospheric ambiences, polished arrangements and guitars will get their money's worth.
- Official website

01. Outlanders
02. Closer to the sky
03. The cruellest goodbye
04. World in my eyes
05. Mystique voyage
06. The sleeping Indian
07. Land of sea and sun
08. 1971
09. We own the sky
10. Never too far
11. Echoes
12. A peaceful place (Return to the oasis)

Tarja Turunen: Chant
Torsten Stenzel: Claviers / Programmation
Ron Thal: Guitares / Invité
Al Di Meola: Guitares / Invité
Jennifer Batten: Guitares / Invité
Joe Satriani: Guitares / Invité
Marty Friedman: Guitares / Invité
Mike Oldfield: Guitares / Invité
Steve Rothery: Guitares / Invité
Trevor Rabin: Guitares / Invité
Vernon Reid: Guitares / Invité
Walter Giardino: Guitares / Invité
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Du Jean Michel Jarre/Vangelis avec un solo de guitare...
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