So this will definitely be the most unique review I’ve ever done. Why? Because the creator of the music on this album does not “play” the music in any traditional sense. The solo musician here is Italian, Mario Contarino and he’s had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy since the age of five and has very limited (or no) mobility now so all of the music on his debut TBP album, Universe Of Emotions (which you can hear in full via the Spotify playlist below) was composed and performed by him using, “Steinberg Cubase SX and some VST-plug-ins (of which: Native Instruments Abbey Road Modern Drums, Bornemark Broomstick Bass, Native Instruments B4, MusicLab RealLPC, Native Intruments Guitar Rig 4, IK Multimedia Amplitube 2 and more).” Got all that? I really doubt that anyone hearing this album would even think that it wasn’t performed by “real” instruments and fully-abled musicians. Such is the world we now live in that, for all of the alienation and ridiculously fast pace of modern life, we have the technology that allows people like Mario to produce music that is in his heart just the way he hears it.
All that said, the music is solid instrumental rock with aspects of metal, fusion, funk and blues. For me, the music works best when it’s hard driving. Take the first song, That’s Enough, with its hard rocking opening and joyous keyboard melody. There’s a lot of variety in the songs, from the fun of Bluesy Screams to the passionately melodic Jungle Island. Mario started as a drummer (electronic drums I believe -- back when he could actually physically use his arms) so his music has a lot of rhythmic diversity and energy that always keeps it well-flowing but is always structured around the melodies. Given that he’s using computers, he could “shred” as fast as he wants to but never does, preferring to always stay within his melodic themes.
Overall the quality of the music is great and really grows on you the more you hear it. Renee is a gorgeous ballad and Damn War is the heaviest and most intense song on the album (which of course makes it my favorite!). You can tell that the guy really has listened to a lot of music as he can effortlessly throw in a great fusion number (with a killer organ sound) on The Power Of Mind before closing out the album with the majestic Is For You.
The best thing about the album is just knowing that there is so damn much joy coming from a musician that has a disability that we pray would never afflict us or our children. I’m very thankful that I get to interact with remarkable people like Mario and I hope that he continues to bring forth his music to us for many years to come and remind us that music, like all other art, does not come from our bodies but from our heart and spirit. You can purchase the TBP album from the Amazon link below and I encourage you all to do so. Mario most certainly deserves our support!
Review by Jeff Stevens
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