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  • Writer's pictureTal Yaniv

Xtasea - a journey into a music track

The ending track of my debut album is Xtasea. This is the only cover-version track in the album. The original track was released in 1979 by Pierre Moerlen's Gong, in the album Downwind.

Here is my version and the story behind it.

My first encounter with Pierre Moerlen's Gong was when I was 15, somewhere in the early 1980s. My musical passion at that time was towards Progressive Rock. Among favorites such as Genesis, Yes and Camel, I had a special spot for Mike Oldfield. I learned to like his music starting Tubular Bells and every record he released since. Through his discography I learned about his collaboration with Pierre Moerlen (1952-2005). Moerlen was a gifted musician - drummer, percussionist, Vibraphone player and composer. In his early career he joined Daevid Allen's Gong. Later on he spun off from Gong and with his own Pierre Moerlen's Gong. In contrast to Allen's psychedelic music, Pierre's music was more jazzy and instrumental with touches of folk, rock and latin music.

Pierre played the drums and vibraphone in a few Mike Oldfield albums, and joined Mike's tours along with his brother Benoît. Mike then collaborated with Pierre in Downwind, contributing to the title track. This is a 12:30 long Jazz-Rock-Progressive instrumental piece, in which Mike's contributes the main section, playing bass, guitar, Irish drum and keyboards. It's a demanding piece of music, and I remember myself listening to the entire album hundreds of times.

Here is a step further to my track. I would not cover Downwind. It has its unique style. It's a track to be performed live, and there are quite good performances out there, but not one to be covered.

Xtasea, on the other hand, is a hidden gem. The original performance starts smoothly from Benoît's vibraphone, Pierre's drums and Hansford Rowe's bass. Pierre joins with a lush synthesizer pad, and Didier Lockwood plays a sombre violin solo. The track evolves into a more energetic part and ends with a guitar solo played by Ross Record.

Trying to give it my own interpretation, I used electronic instruments such as Moog's Mother 32 and DFAM, and an array of virtual synthesizers and percussion instruments. The solo part, originally played by a violin, was played on a grand piano. I finished most of the part at the end of 2021. Something was still missing. I couldn't find proper replacement to the original guitar solo. The track waited for the right moment, and then it came.

In early 2022 I came across this beautiful performance of Mike Oldfield Crisis track. Two Spanish musicians, Manu Herrera and Diego Cebrián perform a short, energetic version of the original long piece. I was stunned by their performance and then it hit me - that such a solo would be a great closure to my Xtasea. I made contact with Herrera and asked him whether he would like to contribute a guitar solo a-la-Oldfield to my Xtasea. Manu happily agreed. We exchanged a few musical ideas over email and a few days later I had his solo track to mix into mine.

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