This album by Dutch artist Michel van Osenbruggen is dedicated to the atmosphere of our planet Earth and each track is named after a specific gas layer above the surface, starting from the lower ("Troposphere") and going up right until "Exosphere", where the gas molecules are so sparse that it is almost like outer space already. Some tracks are named after specific types of clouds. The first track begins with whooshing wind and subtle synth effects. Little by little a nice relaxed rhythm develops and a nice melody is played by a Mellotron-like choir. A louder, symphonic theme dominates the second part of this track. Nice relaxed stuff. "Cumulonimbus" begins with subtle rain effects and a mysterious synth theme. A laidback rhythm starts, joined by tinkling sequences. A somewhat melancholic theme is introduced, but everything then calms down for an atmospheric section, dominated by great synth effects. The rhythm returns after a few seconds as the main theme reappears towards the end.

"Stratosphere" begins with excellent synthesizer effects - very atmospheric (no pun intended). A rhythm slowly develops among the sparkling clusters of synths. A rather serene melodic theme is then introduced. The track is rather upbeat but is nevertheless quite relaxing. The theme that comes after 3 minutes is very effective. And it's rather unique, too. certainly has his own style. One can hear various influences in Michel's music but the overall sound and presentation are fairly unique. "Stratocumulus" begins with some effects and a simple bass sequence. A rhythm starts, joined by phased pads. A rather melancholic theme played by a violin-like synth patch is introduced. The track then gets quite spacey and serene, with symphonic melodic synths all over. "Altocumulus" starts in a symphonic way with mucho pads and synth effects. This is bright and yet somewhat melancholic stuff. An upbeat rhythm starts, as the track brings in some decidedly Jarre-like flair to the proceedings, with strident melodic themes alternating between the atmospheric and the full-blown epicness. The sequences are present but are not dominating. The title track begins with echoing synthesizers and rain sounds. Very soon, a sequence develops and the rhythm then joins the proceedings, with choirs, bass synths and various pads being the main melodic ingredients. Again, it's a bit similar to Jarre without sounding derivative. An excellent solo appears in the second half of this track. "Mesopshere" is the most mysterious-sounding track so far. All kinds of bell-like synths and a phased pad (ala "Oxygene") provide a rich backbone upon which a nice melodic theme is installed. The track then transforms into a rhythm / melody combination that's as effective as ever. Michel really knows how to write good themes. Some of the bubbling synth effects are taken straight out of "Equinoxe". "Nimbostratus" was inspired by the dullest of cloud - you know, the sort of grayish type of cloud that covers the entire sky and brings continuous snow or drizzling rain. A bass sequence is joined by yet another resonant pulsation, as the synth pads sound fairly melancholic. There are also some great unusual synth sounds. It is nice to see that Michel actually spends time programming his synths, without resorting to the factory presets. There are a lot of rain effects throughout this track. A slight Classical (Baroque) influence creeps in towards the end before it all returns to the spacey synth melody / pad / rhythm formula. "Altostratus" sounds a bit mysterious with a touch of menace. Some expertly programmed sequences appear on this track. The synths are superfat and the stereo field is used to its maximum, with various sounds and spacey effects appearing around you all the time. "Thermosphere" is introduced with radio chatter beneath a menacing pad. Soon, some bright sequences develop, as the same type of rhythm that dominated a lot of the tracks on this album appears. An excellent melodic theme enters. And again I cannot resist the Jarre comparison. Mind you, it's not a copy, far from it, but that's what comes to my mind. "Cirrostratus" is next. Synths as airy as said clouds are lulling you and inspire you with their cosmic chant. Excellent melodic sequences are joined by silky pads. Beautiful, beautiful and once again, beautiful, both melodically and sonically. Absolutely cosmic, serene, airy, crystal clear, it feels like you are floating in the air, leaving the earth behind. "Exosphere" is the last track, as we are approaching space in our journey through our planet's atmosphere. Out-there effects and are joined by menacing synths. A relaxed rhythm begins, as the arrangements are relatively sparse on this track, consisting mostly of a melodic line, some additional sounds & textures and subtle bass. "AtmoSphere" is a nice album of melodic and spacey EM that should appeal to most EM fans. Best track: "Cirrostratus" - there's nothing like it.


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