Versal’s self-titled EP inspires happiness in each of his expertly crafted tracks
Reviewing new age music can be a challenge for a writer — simply because it’s not always the type of art that lends itself to verbal criticism. There’s a certain amount of emotional currency, for instance, that might be worth more, or less, to you than to me.
Anytime there’s something wrapped in any kind of enigma, my job becomes to ask and answer two important questions. What did the artist(s) try to achieve with this, and how well did he/she/they accomplish this?
Versal, also known as Javier Valez, is a Houston-based musician/composer. This EP, his first solo release, he writes was the result of almost 50 years of “experiencing a constant flow of music through (his) head, like water running through a never-ending river of melody, harmony and rhythm; all magically intertwined in the here and now.”
This seems to indicate that it’s been a work a long time in the making. He continues explaining his creative process, writing, “The best melodies have always come to me in dreams, though it happens constantly. Every place I visit, every person I meet, every experience, even the simple and mundane, is accompanied by new and fresh music in my head.”
Seeing as the type of music he’s performing here, instrumental sound with a little electronica mixed in for contrast, Valez successfully expresses that this work isn’t just something he put together over a week, or month, or even year. It’s a work that has taken a considerable amount of time to put together.
Comparing it to words, it’s a novel rather than a poem, and not just in sheer length, but also in terms of how it was created. From the first note to the last its evident that Valez has put a ton of thought into how it should sound and the feeling it provokes.
Which leads into the next question. What IS that feeling Valez is attempting to convey here, and does he succeed in expressing that, as well?
For this question we’ll need to again rely on what he’s said about the EP. He explains, “I hope everyone enjoys this music as much as I enjoyed creating it. May all beings be happy!”
It doesn’t take much to figure out, then, that Valez is hoping to express a certain amount of happiness with these songs. It’s also not difficult to figure out after listening to said album that he’s hoping that after listening to these tracks that you leave with happiness. So, in that regard he succeeds there, as well. He does this with plenty of expertly crafted piano tracks along with plenty of beautifully performed organs and other orchestral instruments.
While some songs sound happier than others, with perhaps “Carrousel” and “All Together” and “Flamenco en Culebra” being the standouts, its undoubtedly the most identifiable emotion on all the songs.
Then, interestingly enough, there’s also a few songs that sound like what you might hear if you’re playing a big open-world Role Playing video game such as Skyrim or the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.
While I wouldn’t say that these songs take any of the actual types of songs from those games, there is a feel you’ll get while listening to Versal that you might also get while exploring a dungeon or talking to a healer in a game. Especially the track “All Together,” but also evident on the other songs.
That probably plays into the fact that New Age songs can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Perhaps the fact that I’ve been playing some video games here recently makes me go to that place. Perhaps whatever you’ve enjoyed doing recently will appear in these songs, as well. Whether that’s traveling, reading, exercising, or whatever else you do when you’re wanting to find joy.
Valez has been a lifelong musician, with his mother having taught him to read and write music at the age of three. By the time he was 17 he had mastered several instruments, the piano, organ, trumpet, trombone and guitars both electric and classical. He’s added several more over the years, and he can now play eight instruments.
He became the conductor and arranger of “one of the two prominent Hand bell choirs in his native San Juan at the age of 19 and appeared on multiple TV and live show appearances” his online bio states.
If you’re looking for some laid-back music that will leave you with a smile on your face that’s similar to such artists as Enya, Vangelis, Yanni, Dave Arkenstone or David Lance, give Versal a listen.