1. Run Away
2. Hot Air Balloon
4. Raise Yourself
5. The Ballad of Crotchety Powns
6. Floating Wilderness
7. I Wanna Party
9. Reminded Of You
Alfred Sage is the stage name of young musician Al Berman. In November of 2011 he released a full length album titled Floating Wilderness. It is a relatively interesting album that draws influence from a variety of musicians, including: Sufjan Stevens, Regina Spektor, John Mayer, and Kimya Dawson. Additional influences include the music of crooners from the early 20th century: Bing & Bob Crosby, Cole Porter, and the great Al Jolson. As a result, we are treated to an album that is heavy on piano, very folk influenced (especially in the melody lines), and is overall a treat to listen to for listeners who are into peculiar and not always perfect sounding music.
Al Bertman describes Floating Wilderness as "the bubble each of us exists in as we pass
one another in a crowd. All of us are technically on the same plane, yet we can’t
connect because we’re trapped in this sphere. We're trapped in a floating wilderness." As is fairly evident from this quote, the theme of the album is one of longing and a movement from what appears to be a depressed state to one of more joy and happiness. On this level, I can certainly relate to the concept of Alfred Sage's music. He wrote these tunes during a dark period of his life, in which his first girlfriend left him. As a musician myself, I can sympathize and fully understand how music can be created out of hard times. Most art in general stems from difficult times in life, and as a result Alfred Sage's album has been released so we can all listen to a little part of his own life. I view this album as a reflection on an individual, but the sentiments relayed throughout the lyrics and compositions are one's many people will easily be able to get into.
I am now going to break down his music and pull out what I deem to be the pros and cons of this album.
The overall sound of this album is rather interesting. It is very clear and quality in terms of recording, and the compositions on the whole are relatively interesting for the style of music. The third track on this album, titled "Run Away," immeditely caught my attention because of the interesting vocal melody, as well as the rather strange synthetic instruments. I am not sure if this is a fact of the album, but many of the instruments sound like they are MIDI programmed; which results in music that is unique sounding, though the MIDI sounds may sound brasive, dull, and uninteresting to some listeners. This is one of the primary flaws with this album as far as I am concerned, however if you are able to look past these sounds; you can find a very interesting album for sure. Still, for a first release on a tight budget, the recordings are actually quite well done on the whole. I was particularly drawn to tracks on this album that feature acoustic guitar and light synthetic tones behind them, including the formerly mentioned "Run Away" and a few others tracks as well.
As already mentioned, acoustic guitars and piano drive this album. On occasion, some electric guitars with very atmospheric effects come into play, as well as a variety of synthetic sounds as well. Actually describing the sound of this album is rather difficult though, in all honesty. Some points are very quiet and just utilize piano and vocals, whereas others points are much more complexly layers and switch the dynamics up very well. Ultimately, the sound of this album is very solid; despite the few flaws I have already mentioned. It is nothing unbareable by any means.
LYRICS AND VOCALS:
The lyrics and vocals on this album are on the whole very well done, and probably the best part about this album as well! The lyrics are very easy to get into, with choral phrases that are made as if to be sung along with, such as in the track "Run Away" where he sings:
Come on, hurry run away with me
we can sail to a place where
no one has been
just us, out on the sea
oh baby won’t you
run away with me.
As is evident, the lyrics on this album are generally very simplistic and straightforward; however that is by no means a bad thing. Considering the influences for this album and the poppy atmosphere, this style of lyric writing just makes perfect sense. Moving on to the vocals, as already mentioned, they are the highlight of this album. They are well done and well recorded, and the vocal melodies are what make these tracks come to life. These tracks are very vocal dominant. Consider the track "Raise Yourself" which primarily features honky-tonk style piano rhythms with vocal lines and lyrics that just create a very well constructed track. The only flaws I can find in the lyric and vocal department is that on a few occasions the vocals sound a bit "weak," though it does not matter very much in the long run and actually adds to the "real" feeling of these tracks.
Overall, I feel that Alfred Sage's album "Floating Wilderness" is very well done. It touches on a variety of different musical styles, from easy to access folk and piano to tunes to some light rock and synth driven tunes. While I would not admit that this is a perfect album by any stretch, it is definitely worth a listen; and perhaps even a purchase if you enjoy it as well! For most music enthusiasts, the ideas presented on this album will feel very familiar; but done in such a way that the music feels a little different and a little unique as well. In my book, this album receives a 7 out of 10 if I were to give it a rating.
I would suggest checking out Alfred Sage and his music at the following links below:
Main Website (you can purchase/stream the album in full at this link as well!)