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Album Review: Vertigo
Stephen Peppos
Cover image of the album Vertigo by Stephen Peppos
Stephen Peppos
2008 / Tarvin Music
72 minutes
Review by Michael Debbage
Vertigo is an utter musical potpourri bender blender touching on elements of electronic, nu-jazz, smooth jazz, and the occasional softer shades of new age. Peppos is an adventurer who peppers his craft with a multitude of musical herbs and spices resulting in a freshmen effort that is as colorful and busy as the artwork found on the cd booklet.

Though Vertigo represents Stephen’s first solo effort, he has produced over two thousand tracks largely for television production. While the former were mostly jingles there is very little indication of that formula on Vertigo which is creatively demanding and at times almost outrageous. Though a very unique and innovative artist, check out “Lazy Day”, “The Blessing” and “Atmos” to uncover the influences of the Rippingtons, Yanni and Mars Lasar, respectively.

However, if you are looking for innovation and originality, check out the progressive nature of the title track that clocks in over six minutes. It is here that Peppos excels pushing the musical envelope with cascading effects and arrangements within a composition that includes several moods and shades. The twin engine ambitious drive comes from the father-son combination with Dad’s powerful majestic keyboard string effects complimented by the bold guitar work of his son Kevin Peppos. The results are a tour de force. One can only imagine the linear improvements if this song was manned by a full orchestra. If progression is the name of your favorite game then the jazz fusion of “Snowball’s Chance”, that also includes the flighty saxophone work of Tommy Loyola, will also catch your attention.

In complete contrast you will find solace courtesy of the beauty ballad “Forever” where Stephen reveals his tender side. The song is precise and passionate giving you as a listener a time to breathe and recover from the musical aerobics. Similar themes are played out on “Air Floats”. There is also additional pastoral relief via “The Way Home” though this time around this ballad is a little more complex and challenging then the aforementioned. Concluding with the mid tempo ballad entitled “End” that begins slowly and gently blooms, it will only leave you realizing what an array of musical landscapes Peppos is capable of creating.

With very little musical boundaries placed on this very impressive freshman effort, the exploration on Vertigo is at times dizzy, living up to its namesake. That said, there are occasions when Peppos tends to clutter some of his songs such as “End” to the point of excess, but overall Vertigo is energetic and entertaining. Needless to say, it is very doubtful that this is the last we will hear from this musical adventurer who is willing to take risks that are richly rewarding.
February 17, 2008
This review has been tagged as:
Debut AlbumsMichael's Favorites: 2008
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