I was a huge fan of the first album Perpetual Energy - I never felt it got enough hype - and the live sets I saw them play at in 2017 and 18 were both strong. Between this and their consistent VA releases in recent years, Celestial Intelligence have become the new school act I have the most hope for.
Before this album release I had heard it live twice in Portugal this past summer. I knew I was getting more of the same melodic morning power, but with a much tighter low end and generally more refined mix of sounds. It's not often a release you hype in your head lives up to that hype, but here we are.
Alteration starts the album, and if I am honest it's not my favorite. It's decent but feels a bit like filler. The melody is not quite enough of a stand out to me, and everything thing else feels perfectly good without being great.
Forking Paths is the first one to really catch me. I quite like the unique sound that comes in at ~1:45, this whole track really feels like it goes places as the melody grows in to dominance. It's not their best but it doesn't need to be, we're suddenly right back where the last album left off.
Three tracks in we find something special. The spacey intro of Deja Vu leads in to a beautifully up and down opening half: trademark Celestial melodies, a nice level of complexity, and engaging 303 sounds lead us to the stunning main melody. Comparable to Filteria's The Big Blue or Crossing Mind's No Event Horizon, it's a psychedelic morning trance anthem that carries us through the last 4 minutes.
Galactic Journey is a worthy follow-on. I remember this vividly from the live set - at the time it felt like the re-announcement that Celestial are back - and that remains my feeling at home. The core melody is fun and just powerful enough, and the way it builds up and reappears at the end in classic goa trance style really scratches that itch. Overall a strong track.
Owl originally did not grab me (maybe it's the cliche samples at the beginning?) but it's since grown on me. Not as strong as the last tracks but a worthy addition. When listening to the album in sequence it can feel like a slight come down, but on repeated listens it holds its own as a perfectly strong morning track.
On first listens to Blueberry the unique main melody sound in the breakdown (almost like a violin) is all I came away thinking about, but on repeated listens I've really come to appreciate the whole track. Another one that is the right mix of engaging and trancey throughout, building nicely to its peak.
Ummo doesn't grab me as much. It's a testament to this album that it's one of my least favorites but is still a worthy addition. I think it's the mix down that doesn't quite get me, it feels a bit too noisy, the balance is not to my tastes.
The 1001 Reasons remix is interesting. A proper rebuild rather than a minor edit. The key change makes a big difference. It's a little stripped back for me, I prefer the original for it's melody, but this is is a great example of their improved production skills and goes particularly well played out live.
Thankfully Psychic Transference takes us out with a banging journey track. A lovely mix of melodies and again a nice long build over >8 minutes. The power sequence that starts with <4 minutes left is peak Celestial Intelligence, as is the last peak after that.
This album excels in showing off their improved production skills and a refinement of the Celestial sound with more variance in the song-writing.
If you don't like their style of powerful melodic morning goa it's still not for you, but lovers of the first album should be well pleased. Those people who found the first album too loud and hectic may find this more to their taste.
If I were being super picky I'd like to have one more mega power anthem track like Gray Matter or Anapa, there are times where I miss the blasting anthem sound from prior tracks, but that's a tiny gripe on what is an excellent release.