“Euler’s Number” is often written as e and expresses an important mathematical constant that is equal to 2.17828. It’s a number that underlies mathematical theory and is used to explain compound interest.
For those not of the mathematical inclination, Euler’s Number now also refers to a musical project consisting of Italian keyboardist and composer Giuliano Vangelista. Not only is Vangelista a talented musician, but a mathematician and fan of science fiction. Euler’s Number is a convenient way for him to combine all his interests in one package and Escape To Eurybia is an ambitious musical concept album consisting of 26 separate tracks that tell the story of mankind’s conquest of the alien planet Eurybia.
The album is a keyboardist’s dream. Don’t look for guitar heroics here, the instrument is virtually non-existent except for bass guitar that underpins the music. The keys range from piano to powerful Hammond organ to charmingly retro synthesizer sounds reminiscent of the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, there’s a definite “throwback” feel to Escape To Eurybia that will appeal to fans of the classic spacerock and prog epics of the 70’s. If you consider those classic concept albums corny and overdone, this album is not for you.
Like a lot of projects in the age of CD’s and digital recordings, Escape To Eurybia is overlong and could do with some pruning. 26 tracks is a heck of a lot to absorb, even if almost half of them are brief narrated segues. Vangelista tries manfully to give each proper song a different feel and succeeds more often than not but the songs are going to blur together every time you have such a huge undertaking.
It’s mostly a relaxing album to listen to, with very little that’s harsh or dangerous sounding. Some of the solo piano work has the jazzy feel of a Vince Guarauldi and should appeal to fusion fans. When the B3 organ work kicks in, the mood changes and the songs become more powerful, with an epic feel. The synth work is redolent of 70’s SF flicks like “Logan’s Run” but there’s a certain corniness and naivete that permeates it that gives it a dated feel, most notably on the disappointing final track “Bittersweet Epilogue”.
Almost half of the tunes here are swirls of cosmic sounding synth with the soothing tones of our female narrator filling us in on the Eurybia story. The songs themselves lack vocals so this woman is our touchstone for the advanced story. She is very pleasant to listen to, but mangles some of the English badly (“De ship comes sailing from out of de vortex”). As for the story Vangelista has come up with, it’s the old chestnut about an ark of human beings leaving a dying Earth, surmounting space obstacles like a black hole and finally colonizing the planet Eurybia, where they engage in war with the native inhabitants. Sounds a lot like the old “Earth 2” TV series.
Favorite tunes here would be the epic and exciting “Terraforming” and “Settlement” as well as the ominous sounding “Underground Creatures”. The top of the line has to be the driving “Raze To The Ground!”, which almost sounds like Deep Purple with its powerful Hammond riffs.
Primarily of interest to SF fans and devotees of keyboard-oriented prog rock, it remains to be seen if Escaepe To Eurybyia can appeal to wider audiences.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5 stars)