Practice makes perfect and New Jersey composer Michael Valentino has kept busy honing his songwriting craft. His latest work is the score to the new independent crime drama BESA based on the 2011 novel by Louis Romano. The Albanian and Italian mafia clash in the Bronx over broken family ties, double dealing and racketeering. Typical to mobster stories there is murder, crooked cops and the patriarch’s struggle with family honor. Valentino delivers a teaser that is exceptionally fitting to such a plot without sounding cliché.The sound quality of the ominous dark opening is first rate that evinces foreboding. Unlike other suspenseful Italian thrillers, there is no operatic aria, but rather an Albanian singer which has a more Eastern flair. The use of these distinctive vocals is similar to the work of David Arnold on his soundtrack to The World is Not Enough. It differentiates this crime drama from other streets of New York power struggles by encompassing more of the ethnicity of the city dwellers. Instead of relying purely on eerie sound effects, Valentino also makes good use of musical implements to propel the piece. A splash cymbal heralds in an eighth note driving sequence raising the level of intrigue. The momentum continues with a diminution into a clever sixteenth note rhythm. As tensions rise a bell peals the downbeat. Then the pace quickens with bell tones on beats one and three climaxing into a continual hammering on all four beats. By using subtle layering and appropriate tones, Valentino has expertly created the aural scene expected of this genre and has a more firm grasp on song structure resulting in a piece that is both ascending and gratifying. BESA is a captivating work and Valentino’s finest yet.Artist: Michael ValentinoSingle Title: “BESA”(Jersey Flix Productions)Reviewers Name: Kelly O’NeilRating: 5 stars” - Kelly O' Neil

Cyber Music

 Michael Valentino is an orchestral, instrumental composer with an emphasis on film scores.  For the special single release here, Michael reinvents Trevor Jones’ original film score for The Last Of The Mohicans, during an action-driven third act of the film.  The specific track titled “Promontory,” is a sub-five-minute, orchestral masterpiece that encapsulates classical, nostalgic, ambient, and atmospheric elements indicative of new age realms. The song begins with a triumphant, metallic “drum” beat, and ambient keyboard effects with a militaristic influence.  The jaunty rhythm pulsates with swishy drums, layered swooshes, ambient buzzing, and classical influences that ebb-and-flow with a cascade of aural pizzazz. Mid-song, a few cymbals clashes signal a brighter, keyboard medley with ambient delight set to a higher register than earlier in the song.  However, the track returns to its earlier roots in a rather sweeping manner that keeps a rather steady rhythm and melody.  The entire track is void of vocals and the entire instruments meld together to form a rather cohesive musical unit.  The music fades out in the end without any major note changes. The majestic overtures and classical arrangements in a contemporary manner are paramount for the track’s overall stature.  The music incorporates just the right amount of atmospheric subtleties and keyboard nuances with industrial taps for percussion.  The track is plenty long enough and reinvigorates the original film score with a new life.  The majestic mid-song melody is emotive to say the least.  Anyone familiar with the film will love this song.  In addition, anyone into film scores should add this interpretation to their listening collection. Michael does a valiant job with such an iconic and award-winning film.  Everything comes together here.   Artist: Michael ValentinoSong: “Promontory (The Last Of The Mohicans Theme)”Review by Matthew ForssRating:  5 stars (out of 5)” - Matthew Forss

Inside World Music Blogspot

 Soundtrack composers have the challenge of being confined to a limited timeframe within which to capture the emotion of a scene and paint a landscape.  With his work in the film industry, Michael Valentino has multiple scores under his belt as well as solo instrumental works.  His latest venture, Fog Chaser continues to showcase his affinity for aurally depicting a landscape but also his need to determine the destination for his ambient journeys.All of the pieces on the album are created by layering multiple keyboard textures in with competing repetitive rhythms with some possessing a sizzle of pent up excitement but ultimately failing to climax.  Valentino’s propensity for shimmery reverb and heavy echo chorus effect is heard in full in “The Seven Pools.”  While initially capturing the listener’s attention, the piece is riddled with anticipation of something greater to happen.  It would be suitable as the titillating soundtrack to an adventurous movie teaser preview in a dark theater leading up to the bold culmination when the title of the film explodes onto the screen.  “Inessa’s Journey” holds the potential to go somewhere with the dramatic repetitiveness relishing a ticking time bomb.  Halfway through the song enough layers are added to the mix to finally elevate the song but it remains stagnant and goes nowhere.Not only is it frustrating that these songs begin wonderfully and then fail to produce, but it takes a while for this notion to come to fruition.  The vocal work on “Fallen” sounds like one of Howard Shore’s elfish eulogies from The Lord of the Rings soundtracks and while it is beautiful, the piece would be more effective if it were half as long.  “Lost River” features interesting cavernous effects and the quick percussive sounds are like flat feet running across stone, but these initially good qualities are drowned in annoying repetition.  The whirling wind and eerie tones on “Haunted” are well done with the quick interjection of the staccato melody making one jump in surprise.  However, the choice of the piano for the simplistic melody may not be the best since it takes away from the opening mystique of the piece.“Spiral City” is a busy tune with driving percussion that is yet another waiting game for something to happen.  A modern dance beat, like in an Enigma song might add some spice to this piece.  The title track opens with a rushing sound of sea spray that fades into low menacing chords that chant under a percussion layer capped off with a bell tone.  This piece exudes a tingling thrill that fades away too soon.  In “The Highlands” it is evident that Valentino wishes to take the listener to Scotland with the bagpipe patch, however the melodic structure is too disjunctive to the point where it is unbelievable.  A different sort of Celtic instrument like a fife could play such a melody, but not a bagpipe.  Despite the creative motives behind the song, the choice of instrumentation needs to be switched around.  Additionally the continuous agogic drum beat is wearisome.The best conceived song on Fog Chaser is “A Life Relented” with its reflective piano melody.  Valentino takes his time drawing out the piece culminating in the extended coda that slowly swirls around and leaves the listener hanging on to the very last chordal resolution.Valentino’s music is a work in progress in that he knows how to produce good sounds and evoke emotion in his music, but he needs to have a destination in mind for the songs.Artist: Michael Valentino Album Title:  Fog Chaser (independent) Reviewers Name: Kelly O’Neil Rating:      3 out of 5 Starts” - Kelly O' Neil

— ChrisMusicPlanet

 Michael Valentino is an ambient composer with minimalist tendencies.  Inspired by artists such as Tangerine Dream, Enya and Vangelis, Valentino has earned over 1,000 fans on Jango Internet Radio.  The winner of three composition awards from the VH-1 Song of the Year International Composition is also the head composer and music supervisor for Jersey Flix Productions.  His latest album, Fog Chaser, is written in incidental style, as if the album is a collection of cast offs and orphans from film projects that have found a home together. Valentino kicks things off with "The Seven Pools", a minimalist wave of sound that's more atmosphere than construction. There's a certain stoic beauty here that's very reserved and distant. "Fog Chaser" begins in musical darkness, setting an intemperate pace through the simplistic electronic orchestral arrangement. "The Highlands" appropriately explores Celtic sounds in a composition with the feel of incidental music. Unfortunately the sound is too thin and flat to seem genuine. "Inessa's Journey" once again treads on the form over function motif, passing out of earshot almost before you're aware that it’s done.  Fallen" features a faux vocal line that sounds like gibberish. The effect is quite lovely, but would be more affecting either with actual lyrics, or without the word forms utilized here. "Haunted (Ghostly Mix)" never quite achieves the atmosphere or creepiness one might expect, instead sounding disconnected from its own musical essence. "Lost River", on the other hand, strikes a remote and tense tone from the outset.  The composition is overly simplistic, but Valentino seems to capture his intended atmosphere.  Red Skies (Hollow Mix)" seems to be chasing the sound of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". Valentino gets the rhythmic component right, but there's little sense of creation here, rather just a slow pattern of up and down the scale set against a backdrop of undulating chords. There are some pretty moments captured in the process, but there's little for the listener to dig into.   "A Life Relented" gets points for atmosphere and simple beauty, but it’s ultimately too much of the same. There's little sense of progression or build here. Valentino closes out with "Spiral City", which falls into its own loop and gets stuck there.  Michael Valentino shows the capability to find the occasional stitch of melody and making something beautiful out of it. There are a couple of true moments on Fog Chaser, but much of the album is lost in the funk of too little: the offset of electronic music that encourages an artist to loop instead of leap.  Artist: Michael Valentino Title: Fog Chaser Review by: Wildy HaskellRating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)” - Wildy Haskell

— Wildy's World

 Michael Valentino is a U.S.-based electronic musical genius that borders on magnificent.  At the very least, Dreams Of Escape attempts to enlighten listeners with a range of auditory impulses that sparkle with a futuristic presence in the vein of the instrumental works of Tangerine Dream, Enya, Michael Stearns, Robert Rich, Steve Reich, and Vangelis.  Michael utilizes dark, as well as light moods of human existence with entrancing, ambient washes, stereophonic soundscapes, and electronic blurbs that are as majestic as they are beautiful. “Dreams of Escape” opens with a washed out, symphonic sound with light reverberation and a film score-like appeal.  The electronic melody wavers little throughout the entire song, but the song’s title connotes dreams as a form of escape.  In this manner, a feeling of weightlessness and floating signals an appropriate summation of the sound.  The entrancing appeal is also rather somber. However, the song does not contain any vocals or a drumbeat.  The gentle, electronic swishes of “October Moon” move into a crystalline and electronic medley of melodic, yet slightly diffused tinny pulsations.  The escalating electronic washes effortlessly wrap around the melodic, tinny sounds that are generally uplifting and not as somber as the previous song. “Starboard” opens with a mix of crashing waves on shore and cackling sea birds.  A few electronic washes bleed into the faded bird sounds and waves, before a distorted keyboard rhythm takes over.  At times, the instrumental song is a bit suspenseful and always beautiful.  The arrangements are carefully executed with a few gentle washes interspersed with the catchy melody that does not need drums or guitars to keep the beat.  Perhaps the undulating and catchy melody, as well as the title, is characteristic of being at sea.  In any case, Michael creates a pleasant journey that is quite uplifting and does not need to be rescued from the ocean’s undertow.  Structurally, the song is similar to “October Moon,” but slightly more subdued as in a Thomas Newman film score. “Haunted” is more of a piano-centric song with an ambient introduction and slightly tinny accompaniment that seems to match the piano playing.  If the tinny accompaniment was not present, then this would seem more like a Ronan Hardiman composition.  The echoes of the tinny sounds reverberate with the piano and electronic washes.  Still, the music is void of vocals and drums, but that does not mean the music is any less worthy.  “Rain” does not open with water sounds, as the title suggests.  Instead, electronic washes and a few reverberating keyboard sounds play throughout the song.  The slower, Enya-like melody could serve as a New Age anthem or film score hit, because all of the musical elements come together.  “Dusk” is the darkest song with distorted organ or keyboard effects with electronic washes that seem to ebb and flow from beneath the Earth and then slowly rise to the surface as the sounds lighten up. “Valley Of The Kings” is one live track that opens with a raucous applause before Michael plays a piano melody that is masterfully produced.  However, the song deviates from the more electronic-focused songs on the rest of the album.  Though, it allows the listeners to sample a live concert feel.  “Mansion III 2” begins with a thunderstorm before it fades into a blurb-driven, upbeat, electronic tempo with ambient washes and echoes characteristic of some of the other songs. Michael Valentino’s latest electronic and atmospheric release is full of ambient melodies, dark effects, and majestic soundscapes.  The complete absence of vocals, guitar, and drums provides a format for a more richly textured and experimental album.  Thankfully, Michael’s electronic effects did not stray too far into the world of boring piano music.  Nevertheless, the only problem was most of the songs contained similar melodies.  The progression and impact of the album’s content was diminished to a point, because of the lack of dissimilarities.  However, Dreams Of Escape is still a good production of instrumental, New Age music.   Review by Matthew ForssRating: 4 Stars (out of 5) ” - Matthew Forss

 Innovative and mathematical are two words that describe the ambient music of Michael Valentino's latest album, Dreams of Escape.  His striking compositions follow an intriguing formula that is both original and percussion-centric.   October Moon" is a series of recursive percussive-like bells and hollow pipe synths that fan out during the song. The synths whistle and flail smoothly as they surround themselves with sky reaching ambient repetitive rings.  "Sun Is Rising" peaks and troughs in volume with long synth notes held until the banging percussion breaks up each longer measure. The frenetic rhythms along with the keys illustrate a musical math that keeps the arrangement tight and disciplined, building up in new variations over the course of the song.   Another great example of Michael's mastery of percussive moods is the Irish folk-tinged "Starboard (Nautical Mix)."  Sure to be a fan favorite, seagulls and ocean waves scour the beginning of the song along with a percussive heartbeat and staccato string section, which rings a beautiful Irish folk-like melody. Its crystalline production quality and benign arrangement make it one of the best tracks on the album. The bridge of the song has the melody moving up an octave and then reaching a plateau on that octave. It's that musical journey which is so innovative and gorgeous that will woo smartly ambient fans.  The title song, "Dreams of Escape," also has a percussive stance but in a more subtle manner.  It starts off with an enormous shadow of synth echoes and delicate percussive noises, as if a plane is awakened from its hangar. The short loop of measures has the unassuming and epic quality of background music for a television commercial or, better yet, a documentary.   Michael's showmanship swiftly arrives on Dreams of Escape with his live rendition of "Valley of the Kings."  The intensity and depth of Michael's piano composition is potentially fatalistic in terms of his attention to detail. "Valley..." could easily be used for documentary film or cinema soundtracks.  During some portions, the melody echoes traditional Jewish folk music, while other portions have a pop sensibility.  The ebb and flow of tempo combined with his unabashed energetic musicianship would make this a surefire repeater for a follow-up live album or EP.  More vengeful pianos ensue on "Past Has Gone (Sorrow's Mix)."  With the same deliberate rage and drama as "Valley...," the blaring pianos along with a large dose of reverb and black-and-ivory retort, the notes shake and smack the listener in the ears. Michael's musical moods and styles will woo fans of Yanni; they will need no readjustment and will feel right at home.   Moods shift with "Dusk" and "Mansion III." The former is a dreary, cold and windy two minutes. The synths are somber and crestfallen. Choral layers add a somewhat infernal hue to the already downtrodden melody.  "Mansion III" starts off with the patter of rain and thunder as the liquid laced synths dot the cinematic sweeps of orchestral flourishes. The song repeats itself several times and would make for a great loop as an intense scene in a drama movie or documentary.  Rays of optimism also peer out from time to time on the record.  "A Lullaby for Memories" is a string composition whose melody is sweet and rolling. The hopeful blend of strings and synthesizer is quaint, fulfilling and reaffirming.  "Passage" is an additional example of bright light hope.  The slow moving pipe organ march that gives the listener the sense of an ongoing and deliberate exodus. The heavenly choir voices (think Enya) like many of the other tracks on Dreams of Escape also contribute to the song's elevated mood.   Fans will be lulled and inspired, uplifted and earthbound after listening to Dreams of Escape.  New age and ambient sound aficionados along the likes of Yanni and Enya should not miss this record.   Review by Michael Morgan Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)” - Michael Morgan

 Released six months after his debut Diary of a Libra, Michael Valentino’s Hymn to the Unknown is a more atmospheric, melodic, and technically superior album than its predecessor. The performance on here is clearer, tighter, and far more appealing than on Diary. It opens with its beautifully calm and somber title track which puts the listener in a trance-like state and never lets go.  Tracks such as the memorable swashbuckler Starboard, the Yanni-inspired Valley of the Kings, and the catchy pop synth-driven Sands of Time use distorted piano and synthesized keyboards to create echoing, haunting emotions reminiscent of breakthrough artists such as Enya and Harold Budd, clearly his top inspirations.  The piano work on here seems to set up mood rather than act as the driving force this time, which adds to our enjoyment.  Tracks like the humbling Past Hast Gone and the ambient and pulsating Mansion II further the air of dark and moody mini soundtracks without overstating the piano sections.  Overall, second albums usually showcase a musicians’ artistic growth and maturity and Hymn to the Unknown appears to be a step forward. -William Hartford (Indi-Sounds)  Review by:  William Hartford Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)” - WIlliam Harford - IndieSounds
 “It was finally time to sit down and vomit out all of these melodies from my head onto a CD.”  So says Michael Valentino regarding his debut, Diary of a Libra. Released in the fall of 2008, Valentino’s Diary is a rough, unpolished, and amateur attempt consisting of eleven dark and mysteriously uplifting tracks which were written as Valentino puts it “...while hard at work lifeguarding under the New Jersey sun.”  From a production standpoint, the album has many flaws but there are a few moments of delight and appreciation.  October Moon, the albums strongest track, uses layers of distorted piano and synthesized strings to create a textured, haunting melody which is quite beautiful.  Other tracks like Mansion, The River, and Forest Dawn take simple piano melodies, choral layers, and multiple change ups that create certain cinematic overtones which indicate a hint of theatrical background music, not of new age.  All in all, Diary of a Libra comes across as a first draft demo tape, and a nice try. Review by:  William Hartford Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)” - WIlliam Harford - IndieSounds

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