“Horizon” the new concept album by award-winning Belgian artist, Eric Bettens, sounds like a product of its time, but its synthetic analog sounds and ambitious arrangements remain unique. The synths are gleaming and futuristic, yet come from the past when legendary instruments like the Minimoog, ARP2600, and the moog modular systems ruled the roost. Bettens has also integrated modern day plugins to forge an ambitious hybrid sound meant to take as on a sonic journey from earth to the most distant object ever created by man. In this case, Voyager 1, which in 2012 had become the first man-made object to enter interstellar space, traveling further than anyone, or anything, in history. In 2019 it was joined by Voyager 2 which had also reached a region of outer space beyond the influence of the Solar System.
The album “Horizon” which has a playing time of just over 53 minutes, consists of 12 tracks meant to be listened to as one whole piece of music. In fact Eric Bettens has also released “Horizon Continues Play”, which is a one track version of the entire album.
The recording feels like the sequencers and synths are moving through dimensions and galaxies, growing and receding, fast then slow, twisting and turning as the melodies and rhythms crisscross over each other’s paths.
This is the sound of electronic music changing in real time, capable of having its own emotional and intellectual qualities. It denotes what will surely become a landmark album for synthesizer music this year. “Horizon” is not just a collection of old school beeps and whirrs, or new electronic bells and whistles. Rather it’s a unique voyage of sound and art.
The sounds within this album not only reflect what electronic artists are capable of producing today, but also the foundations of electronic music which started out in the 70’s and grew through the 80’s and 90’s, before becoming what it is today. Much like a cinematic soundtrack, “Horizon” offers a sweeping but refined experience listening – a cerebral journey through sounds, moods and worlds.
Eric Bettens falls on the line between dedicated craftsman and creative genius. Unlike the vast majority of his contemporaries, his technical prowess and musical knowledge, is able to match both his ambitions and his dreams. All of which are fulfilled on “Horizon”. This being his fifth album, since dropping his debut “Discovery” in 2006, Bettens’ experience and musical chemistry is now able to translate his ideas into sound with far more poise and control.
The flow between each passage is spectacular, having a seamless transition, while the arrangements in “Horizon” truly show how much Eric Bettens has developed his craft. The builds, the breakdowns and the climaxes come with spine-tingling orchestrated brilliance.
It is very difficult not to be drawn into the music; to imagine the scene Eric Bettens intended to create. What Bettens does, is absorb the listener into the music, and drive home the emotion of the experience. To call any of these compositions anything short of stunning would be a fallacy.
The theme of the album is clearly defined from the opening track “Horizon Pt.1: Leaving”, right until it arrives at “Horizon Pt.11 Voyager”, and before closing with “Too Far to Talk” – Radio Edit. If you permit yourself to be immersed into the music, and allow yourself to float away into Eric Bettens’ world, then “Horizons” is quite simply one of the most spell-binding electronic albums of 2020.
MORE ABOUT: Eric Bettens is a Belgian artist, passionate about this music which has shaped his life from a very young age. Today, in addition to write soundtracks for films and the composition of instrumental and orchestral works, he combines electronic and acoustic instruments with sounds captured in nature to compose eclectic and original works which have won him numerous prestigious awards. Often asked to perform large “light and sound” concerts Eric Bettens mixes various disciplines and techniques with his music (videos, pyrotechnics, lasers, lights, and etc.) in order to offer his audience a varied and quality visual.