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A Crossover Breakthrough                          


The title says it all. Modern electronic sounds overlaid by the lyricism of the Italian aria. Dmitri Silnitsky , the project�s producer, composer and arranger: �I wanted to extend the idea of crossover and reach a wider audience by combining arias and great operatic singing with the sounds and moods of the concept albums of the 1970s.

To his surprise, Silnitsky found that his ideas worked better by using the sounds of vintage, 1970s synthesizers and melletrons, rather than contemporary digital instruments or a full-blown orchestra with string and wind sections. So if AriaPhonics becomes successful, it could mean not only a renaissance of the melletrons and synthesizers, but also of the moods beloved of progressive bands in the 1970s.

But Silnitsky also wanted to move on from the tired formula of most crossover music. �Crossover performers,� he says, �sound more or less the same. Easy pop rhythms, some strings and a couple of well-known arias. An awful lot of people like crossover, but the format has become boring. So I wanted to experiment and try to get a completely different sound. At the same time, I wanted to present totally new material, rather than falling back on the old standards, and take advantage of the resurgent popularity of music from the 1970s.�

So instead of recycling the well-know operatic arias yet again, Silnitsky has written and arranged entirely new music for his AriaPhonics project. A classically-trained composer and descendent of the famous Russian composer Mikhail Glinka who also owns his own record label in Moscow and has worked with Russian classical and electronic artists, he thinks there is a huge potential audience of over 30-year olds who would appreciate the combination of great vocals and extended, spacey sounds.

Silnitsky�s synthesis works. This first maxi single has five tracks, linked by various intros and bridge passages to form a complete unit and concept. Silnitsky sees each track like an aria, but wants to create the sense of a mini-opera for an hour and transport the listener into an atmosphere of mystery.

The single opens with Divina Luce, a piece Silnitsky says was inspired by a Bach string sonata, rather than a classical vocal composition. But he changed the harmony completely, composed the intro and bridge from scratch and had the lyrics written by an Italian poetess.

A bass riff and synthesizer sounds reminiscent of the 1970s make it clear right from the start that this is no ordinary crossover piece. A whispered quote from Genesis, �Let There Be Light,� soon gives way to Italian opera-style vocal underpinned by a contemporary arrangement on analogue instruments. Divina Luce has all the potential to become a new crossover hit like �Anytime, Anywhere� by Sarah Brightman, but combines current sounds and nostalgic moods in a different way.

The spirit and mood of AriaPhonics really begin to come into their own on the second and third tracks. It seems strange at first to hear operatic vocals after thoughtful chords more in the style of album rock, but you soon begin to understand that the drama is much closer to opera singing than traditional pop arrangements and emphasizes the theatrical mood Silinitsky wants to achieve.

The maxi-single finishes up with two remixes whose sound will be more familiar to fans of traditional crossover.

Silnitsky hopes that the instrumentation and arrangements will avoid the monotony of much crossover music.

�First of all, we�ve used only electronic instruments rather than a full-blown orchestra with string and wind sections. We�ve got melletron sounds instead of strings, for instance. Secondly, we make sure slow arias are interspersed with intermezzi, instrumental compositions where we up the tempo. And on the full-length album we�ll be using several female singers, each one having a distinct voice and a distinctive performing style. Masha Maksakova, the granddaughter of the famous Russian opera singer of the same name, will be the featured vocalist on some of the tracks on the full AriaPhonics album. So we�ll probably do five tracks featuring a soprano and a couple of pieces with a mezzo-soprano.�

But Silnitsky isn�t just aiming at the over-30s, the traditional crossover audience. He points to groups like Air and Zero 7, which are looking back to the 1970s, but using modern instruments. He hopes that this trend will mean <AriaPhonics> can also attract the younger generation.

AriaPhonics was recorded in Moscow during 2002 at �Format Studios�. At this early stage, Silnitsky is keener on promoting AriaPhonics as a brand, so there won�t be a frontman for the time being.

He�d like to see live performances of <AriaPhonics> evoke the excellent visual quality of Pink Floyd or J.M. Jarré concerts by employing the full range of light shows and laser effects, with video clips projected on to the backdrop. This should contribute to a mysterious ambience and ethereal atmosphere to make an <AriaPhonics> concert an event to remember.

Silnitsky is already working on an alternative version of the full album. As the title suggests, AriaPhonics 51 is aimed at owners of home cinemas equipped with DTS spatial sound and is being recorded as a straight DTS album in 5 + 1 format.

Silinitsky says that crossover by definition means a mixture, a fusion of different genres and styles. �Crossover is probably the best form for experimentation. You can do much more with it than just compose pop operas.�

Ian Pryde

Divina Luce (Album ver.)
Canzone d'un messagger
Incanto (Album ver.)        
Divina Luce (Remix)       
Incanto (Remix)               



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