Mojo (Publisher) (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n epic, in no way ironic record whose tart electronic tones belie its emotional warmth and musicality."
Audio Mixer: Chrome Canyon.
Moving to a new label just before the release of Elemental Themes, Morgan Z (aka Chrome Canyon) made a "Soundtracks" mixtape that compiled classic themes by artists such as Tangerine Dream (Risky Business), Giorgio Moroder (Cat People), and Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange). It was the simplest way to explain the inspiration for his instrumental, analog synthesizer-filled debut, possibly the most far out release by Stones Throw. What's craziest about Chrome Canyon is that he sticks so tightly to his John Carpenter-esque vision that his music sounds flat-out authentic. The act of re-creating sounds of the `80s is typical for James Pants or Dam Funk, but modern-day recording trends generally creep into their music. Not here. This puts Elemental Themes in a weird category. As cool as The Warriors soundtrack is to some, a replica is inessential. Still, it's these types of artsy, left-field risks that make Stones Throw a special outsider brand. Add the fact that Chrome Canyon performs this style with complete perfection, and it's hard not to be impressed. The compositions are in an icy cool mood and carry a true-to-form, threatening ambient undercurrent, with exquisite details. Especially the "real" contributions by studio musicians -- guitarist Aaron Hyzen, saxophonist Maxwell Olesbee, Theremin player Jen Rondeau, and session drummer Tyler Thacker -- who play throughout. In some of the best upswings, they manage to take some of the midtempo grooves from Krautrock to prog rock territory, in a late-`70s Genesis sort of way. Once again, probably not a highly sought-after sound, but then again, when an album is this well put together, who really cares? ~ Jason Lymangrover