Review Summary: Versal comes up with a promising orchestrally-oriented ambient EP.
These days instrumental music is dominated on one hand by solo piano artists, ranging from really intricate and emotion-invoking to simplistic doodlings that make no sense and on the other making a quick buck ’artists’ that churn put musical wallpaper on a daily basis for the streaming giants that are all around us now.
Doing your own thing and striking that thin balance between just simple background music and something that you can listen on its own merits is one of the more complicated things around. Still, that is exactly what Houston, Texas, composer Javier Velez, aka Versal is attempting to do on his debut self-titled EP.
Velez seems to be most interested in probably the hardest thing to do in what we could call contemporary instrumental music - orchestration combined with electronics. To be able to handle something like that you have to have both sensibility and musical knowledge, and Velez seems to have both. Not only because he started studying and playing a multitude of instruments since he was pre-school, but because after his musical studies he worked on several film/documentary productions, not only as a composer but in a number of other technical roles.
This cinematic experience shows throughout the EP, as it is the effect Velez strives, and often achieves here, like on “Carrousel” and “All Together”. Actually, while the opener “Eternal” leaves something to be desired in the sense of emotional engagement, as the EP progresses, Velez’ compositions gather in strength, with the closer “El Camino a Montserrat” giving a real promise that much more can be expected from Velez in his Versal mode.