Album Review :
Constella - s/t

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Band: Constella
Title: s/t
Label: N/A
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2008
Review By: Scott L

Tracklisting:

01. The Sound
02. We All Fall Down
03. L.O.V.E.
04. Take Me Away
05. Amsterdam
06. Running
07. Dancing to the Music
08. Risk It All
09. Polyphonic
10. Captivate Me
Constella is a 3-piece electro-pop outfit from Palm City, Florida. Their MySpace bio gives a glimpse of their formation and focus, “In the summer of 2005, Blake Clements (vocals/acoustic/synth) and Noel Thomas (synth, keytar) got together to create a brand new style of music. They were both tired of all the same old sounds and wanted to share their message of faith through a new medium. In a tiny candle lit room with computers, keyboards, an acoustic guitar, and a microphone, Constella was born. Blake’s brother Cody Clements (guitar, synth) was later added to the band completing and enhancing the entire sound. The fundamentals of the sound are electro based with indie rock and acoustic worship undertones. Exploring the modern world of MIDI controllers and soft synth based computer programs…”

Personally, I found Constella’s 10-track digital download release to be hit or miss. Some of the music I really dug. Some of the music… not so much. Some of the lyrics were creative and touching. Some of the lyrics… sophomoric and way to repetitive. Now don’t get me wrong; for the most part I enjoyed this CD. And in spite of it’s shortcomings, I thought that these guys did a good job crafting catchy, danceable songs. I also thought that they did a stellar job at presenting the gospel. Which, unless I’m missing something, is the driving force behind Constella and their reason for being.  Big props for that.

Let me pause for a caveat. While it’s certainly not my intent to give any band a ready excuse for not putting everything they have into the product they offer to the public, I realize that the indie market is vastly different than the mainstream market with it’s pallets of cash. So bear in mind that indie bands do what they can with what they have and we respect that. That said, the technical side of the music was pretty much everything you would want in groovy, electronic techno-pop. Multi-layered beats that get you up and moving. Well balanced and creative. The weak spot for me was the vocals. They were just way to raw on some of the songs and he seemed to struggle at times to stay in his range. This can work, but needs some vocal effects to soften it a little. And by effects, I’m talking about your typical reverb or sustain type of effects not auto-tune or something primarily for altering the voice. Good effects can soften the rough spots and mask the edges. Raw works for rock… but electronic needs polish. I think that with better production, this issue would most likely become a non-factor. He’s actually got a good voice. You can see this on “Polyphonic” and “Amsterdam”. So a good mix would do wonders for these guys. All the necessary ingredients are there.

One of the things that I appreciated most about Constella was their heart for ministry. They love making music… but even more than that, they’re hearts are in it for a purpose beyond CD sales. And they’re seeing souls come to Christ. I can’t think of a better review of these guys than that. God is using them in the harvest field to bring the lost into His kingdom. Praise God for that. Even a casual glance at the church world reveals all to easily that Jesus’ words were never more true than they are today… “the harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few.” So remember Constella in your prayers that God would continue to move through them as they venture out in His purposes.

Lyrics ran the gamut from songs geared for dancing like “Dancing to the Music” to songs that unashamedly proclaimed the gospel like “Captivate Me”, which says, “does anybody feel the emptiness inside / burning bright / that longing for something more / for something better / let me see you hands in the air if you are there / if you need Jesus / let Him come into your life / come into our lives”. As I mentioned before, some of the songs were lyrically stronger than others. And I don’t just mean that the message of the song was stronger, but some felt like a lot more time had been put into them. Some just came across a bit patch-worked and repetitive. But for the most part everything was pretty good.

Hands down, the standout track for me was “Running” which is a beautifully crafted electro-pop praise song. After an intro that sounds like you’ve wandered into an old-school video arcade, it kicks in with some nice ambient grooves and powerful lyrics, “in the ocean view / the deepest blue / your beauty shines so true / in the open fields and the peaceful winds / I feel your gentle touch / won’t You come down / and fill this place / Your love surrounds me / I feel You right now / run, run, running after your grace / so we can see, see, see / see your face / we want to know, know, know / know your ways / guide us to your heavenly place”.

Overall: There’s a whole lot to like about Constella. And obviously a whole lot of potential. They are definitely worth your time to check out. I think that with some fine-tuning and an upgrade in the production department, these guys could bang this thing home.

www.myspace.com/ConstellaMusic

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