Blue Stone's music is very unique and may seem very strange if you've never heard it before. That may turn many people away from it before they've given it a chance, which was my first impression with them. However, once I listened to a few of the songs, I realized how bizarre and fascinating they really are, and that grew on me. Blue Stone is now top on my playlist and a lot of that has to do with the fact that there is no other sound out there (that I can find) that is quite like theirs.
Blue Stone is electronic and new age oriented with a dash of pop. They present their music in a way that I feel, by and large, is tactful and reflective, and for the most part feels very sincere and well thought-out. One thing their songs are known for are their throbbing bass lines. Surrounding this deep intensity are intriguing electronic pulses, glued together with sexy female vocals and topped off with catchy piano melodies. This type of music is great for meditation and easy listening. It's the kind of music that will put you into a trance while you're driving, riding the train, jogging, and so forth, and it helps you to relax and release stress. Plugging in this album is an excellent way to unwind; but, it's also intense in its own way, so prepare yourself.
I tend to enjoy Blue Stone's instrumental songs the most. Lotus Bloom is one of their best in that category, and, in my opinion, the best from this album. It contains an interesting blend of heavenly female vocals layered over ethnic drums and electronic effects that weave in and out throughout the song. This song is similar in its feeling to Contact from Blue Stone's first album, Breathe, and both songs have become my favorites. The crowning compositional achievement of much of their music involves the blending of both the natural and the electronic. Lotus Bloom hits the spot, and has all of the best Blue Stone elements rolled into it. For example, there are some African hand drums in this song, some elegant piano melodies, but also some deep and synth-like electronics.
Wait For the Sun:
From time to time, Blue Stone puts a bit of sensuality into their music and Wait For The Sun has some of that. Listen to the clip for this song and you'll understand. Needless to say, it's subtle and introduced through the mood of the song, but not explicitly, which is part of what makes this song so enchanting. The bass line is simple and yet very catchy and the chorus is excellent. Blue Stone's Voleti and Set Adrift, from their previous album, Worlds Apart, also contains some of this as well in the form of lush female vocals and an overall deep and eerie mood. Another example is the title song "Breathe" from the first album, which contains whispering at the beginning. Wait for the Sun doesn't have whispering, but instead works on the seductiveness of the lyrics and the sound of the mouth. Blue Stone pulls this off with a certain level of tact. The language is an old form of German. Not knowing what's being said only adds to sensuality of the whole thing.
This is another of my favorites from Messages and a good example of their bass-heavy sound. The song has a nice mix of the right elements except for one part. The one part I don't like is the bridge between 2:30 and 3:15 where the singer begins talking about "love emanating her body" and "surrendering completely to the universe." I'm not saying the lyrics are bad, but something about the presentation and the wordiness of it doesn't seem to blend well with the rest of the song. If you can get through that, then this song is one of their best. As with many of their songs, the piano segments here and there add tremendously to the composition.
In a way, Open Skies sounds closer to songs from their earlier albums, Worlds Apart and Breathe. It's good to have some of the familiarity of their earlier albums connecting them to this one, and Blue Stone has done a commendable job of keeping the distinctive sound that they're known for, while also experimenting with some new styles to keep things fresh. With many artists I've loved in the past, each album was very different in sound and style, and being so drastically different from album to album can lose those musicians their fans. Blue Stone, however, understands their fan base and strikes a gentle balance, enough to please long-time fans and newcomers alike.
I'll be honest, I didn't like the teen-pop feel to this song. I don't think it's one of Blue Stone's best, nevertheless, I still enjoyed the song overall. However, this part cracks me up: "And you'll see we can be free. We'll dance like the gypsies and kiss like we're surrounded by a fantastical movie... the secret's inside the rainbow." I don't like that whole section in how they put the vocalist's voice through a metallic reverb/filter. This song is still fun to listen to, it has a good beat to it and I enjoyed the chorus.
There are some interesting synthetic sounds going on in this song that are complimented well by the inflection in the voice of the singer. I also like the lyrics in this one. The lyrics explore the journey through time and ask questions about where life began and it's purpose. There's a refreshing optimism to this song. It's the bright side of the spectrum, which acts as a respite from some of the darker moods of other songs.
Set Me In the Sun:
I overlooked this song at first; however, once I listened to the whole song, I realized it was a lot better than I'd first thought when I'd only heard the 30 second clip. The vocalist has a very beautiful voice and I enjoyed the piano arrangement. I also enjoyed the breakout at 1:46. I felt they should have focused on the piano and echoing tape-delay there for longer instead of going into the "erase the things I said," chorus afterward; but that's just me, as I'm a big fan of the digital delay effect.
Come Alive is more pop-oriented than most of the others, with a catchy chorus. Pandora Radio calls this sort of a thing a "Headnodic Beat," in that it's not designed for the dance floor, but will still get you bobbing your head at times. In fact, most of Blue Stone's songs fit into that category.
"Bridges" offers an interesting background mood, but, in my opinion, the emotion presented in this song don't reach the same elation as the others. I felt like the chorus didn't offer enough of a punch. It still offers that distinct Blue Stone sound and feel, but climatically falls short.
"The Silence" does intentionally what Bridges seemed to do accidentally, that is create a subtle background mood. It features a common Blue Stone call-and-response style of lyrics during the verses. It was interesting to hear the bass slides at 0:44 to 0:52 and I found myself wishing that they would've continued to play with that some more. The bass-work in The Silence is its strongest point. I think they picked the right vocalist - that part was well done - but like Bridges, I don't feel like the chorus fits with the rest of the song. It feels out of place. The verse builds a mysterious anticipation with the slap-bass, slides, and the "oh's." It has this "tick... tick... tick..." and is building and building, and you're getting lyrics like "the shadows hide me," "the coldness holds me," "the flames can't warm me," "fight off your demons," which is just awesome. This is then squashed by the chorus, which transfers into a resentful love story, with chiming sounds and a flat presentation.
Like Lotus Bloom, Ancient Echoes is mostly instrumental. This one starts out slow and then has a couple moments where it really picks up. I really liked Ancient Echoes - the verses build a certain suspense and feel like they would fit into a fantasy/adventure movie or game, but then, unlike The Silence, Ancient Echoes really delivers during the chorus. Like much of what you'll find in Messages, Ancient Echoes contains layer upon layer of very creative effects, making it and others interesting to listen to many times over because each time you'll pick out something different to focus on.
Open Your Eyes:
Open Your Eyes actually gets a little spicy in its lyrics. "Touch my face in the night, made me feel it was right to play along. You're too scared to arise, afraid to open your eyes with all you've seen. Won't you understand, grab a hold of my hand... when the lights go out?" Again, Blue Stone never gets very explicit, but many of their songs have this sort of deep pervading mood to them that explore both the dark and the light.
This is a chill and relaxing song full of harmonic "ohs" and "ahs" that create lush layers of female vocals. There are some lyrics here as well. The end of this one glides smoothly, finishing out the album with a restful ambiance.
With a stronger groove than some of the others, Midnight Tides features a pronounced snare and kick during the chorus. At certain points there is an oscillation effect going on that speeds up and slows down - kind of a cool effect if you ask me. There are some throat-like vocals that lay in the middle of this song with some softly presented lyrics over the top.
Blue Stone's music is, by and large, very moody. "Moody" in that most of the songs are deep, sensual, and mysterious - layered with mostly minor chords, it seems. I love that style, but I also enjoy some of the "cheerier" music originating from Neurodisc Records, as seen with Sleepthief and Amethystium. Blue Stone has explored their sunnier side from time to time as well, as with the song Break of Dawn and Forgiven, from Breathe, which provided a respite from the darker moods of many of the surrounding songs. An acceptable balance still exists. The songs Moving Forward, Lotus Bloom and Ancient Echoes explore brighter emotions, and I would like to continue to see things move in that direction in the future, although I enjoy both, and sometimes the darker moods are really cool. Messages was brighter in its mood than previous albums, sometimes these two moods didn't blend well, such as during the breakout section of Deja Vu and Hypnotized, as well as the chorus for The Silence. Other than that, I can say that Messages has been my most-listened-to album for several weeks now, and has become an all-time favorite of mine.
That's it! It takes a few listens to catch on to their style, but once you're hooked, it's hard to free yourself.