13 Songs, 46 Minutes

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

MDiamond ,

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

The act of “wishful thinking” is something we’ve all done at one time or another. For some, it remains purely in the realm of thought, while others may act on those desires to bring them into manifestation. Keyboardist/composer Samer Fanek is one of the later. “Wishful Thinking” is Samer’s debut album and features 13 original compositions on which he played all the sounds including piano and sampled instruments such as violins, guitars, horns, flutes, ethnic sounds, and percussion, from over 50 different virtual instrument libraries and synthesizers. I must say that my initial response after pressing “play” on the opening track was, wow! I was taken by surprise at the musical maturity of the piece coming from someone so young and completely self-taught as Samer is. I was greatly impressed by his melodic sophistication, exquisitely layered orchestration, and sense of dynamics in knowing when to dramatically build the composition and when to bring it back down to let it breathe. The title track, with its obvious Yanni influence certainly makes for an auspicious introduction to the album.

The next song, “Universe,” taps into Samer’s love of progressive rock music and can best be described with the word “epic,” featuring a full rock drum track, lush orchestration, and a soaring guitar solo played on keyboard. Another facet of Samer’s musical spectrum is heard on “Lost Waltz,” which evokes images of finely dressed people in flowing gowns and formal wear moving elegantly on the ballroom floor in 3/4 time. While most of Samer’s compositions are big and bold, a couple such as “Remember Me,” and the appropriately titled final track, “Finding Closure,” express a softer, more nostalgic ambiance.

I must say that Samer’s playing and compositional skills totally exceeded my expectations. He also has a great ear for arranging the highly detailed orchestration that he uses to embellish his piano work and animate the stories within his songs. Samer certainly has a flair for the dramatic and there is a cinematic quality to his music that could easily lend itself to film soundtracks. I was greatly impressed with how Samer, with his relative lack of experience and humble home studio production was able to assimilate the complex and emotionally evocative musical influences of an artist like Yanni and create his own highly original and imaginative compositions that compare surprisingly favorably. I can only imagine what he will be able to create given time and more advanced studio facilities. When Samer left his lucrative professional career in software development to focus on his music, most people around him accused him of “wishful thinking.” But after a stellar debut album like this, it shows that wishes certainly can come true.

To read a full-length feature article on this album, as well as others, please visit: MichaelDiamondMusic.com

CandiceMichelle1 ,

Review from Journeyscapes Radio

“Wishful Thinking” is the debut album from pianist, composer and arranger Samer Fanek. Drawing upon musical styles ranging from classical to rock, Samer’s influences include composers such as Yanni and Nobuo Uematsu (who scored the “Final Fantasy” series), as well as hard rock bands like Dream Theater and Muse. Comprised of thirteen tracks spanning forty-seven minutes, “Wishful Thinking” conveys a central theme of having romantic hopes and dreams, which ultimately give way to mournful remembrances until eventually moving on.

The title piece opens with gentle piano and light synthesizer that are soon followed by a fuller orchestral arrangement. Romantic and emotionally tender, additional musical elements soon gather up into the fold. The next piece, “Universe”, bears subtle rock nuances with a hint of exoticism, as piano and strings are set to a steady drumbeat, lending powerfully bold expressions to the composition. Soft piano and chimes open up “Freefall”, a distinctively neoclassical piece that soon morphs into a dramatic and sweeping composition full of colorful strings and symphonic drums. “Lost Waltz” is an especially notable composition which conveys an element of intrigue, as fluttering piano and synthesized voices are set to a waltzing pace. One can easily imagine a lone couple dancing to this reminiscently romantic tune, along with the rising and falling nuances of its neoclassical orchestration. The melancholic “Left Behind” is another particular highlight full of multi-layered strings, as a lead piano melody seems to convey a pining for love that has been lost. The two-minute “Remember Me” is a wistfully lovely interlude-like piece, with its elegant strings and slower-paced stanza lending a moment of pause. Closing out the album is the aptly-named “Finding Closure”, another personal favorite that hints of finally letting go. Beautifully bittersweet, twirling piano and airy synths soon give way to cinematically swelling strings, before winding down with tip-toeing piano notes that signal the curtain has closed.

“Wishful Thinking” leaves no doubt that Samer is immensely talented at crafting highly engaging compositional arrangements. He frequently alternates dramatic exertions with intermediate pauses of gentleness, employing this formula throughout the album which quickly becomes its signature motif. His Yanni influences are perhaps most apparent, with much of this album bearing similarities to the aforementioned artist’s “Reflections of Passion” and “Tribute” albums. Likewise, Samer’s music could make for a grand live performance, being best-suited for active listening with its multi-melodic stanzas constantly moving and filling up every space with sound. While listening, it was easy to envision a ballroom dance at some sophisticated venue complete with crystal chandelier, bubbling champagne, tuxedos and sparkling gowns. A rising star with lots of potential, “Wishful Thinking” will greatly appeal to many fans of Yanni and Nobuo Uematsu, as well as to those who enjoy highly expressive neoclassical and piano instrumental music.

BT Fasmer ,

Ambitious, complex and truly inspired

“Wishful Thinking” by Samer Fanek is an ambitious, complex and truly inspired album. It makes “Wishful Thinking” into one of this year’s finest debut recordings in New Age music.

The album starts with the title track. “Wishful Thinking” is a great introduction to Fanek’s style. The gentle piano has center stage, backed by carefully crafted orchestral arrangement. His inspirations are easy to pinpoint; Yanni and Hans Zimmer.

The production qualities on “Wishful Thinking” are very impressive. The lay-out of the album is well balanced, and there’s nothing here to indicate that this is not a major label recording. Indeed, the mixing and mastering has a high-end feel.

That Fanek is a master storyteller can be heard on the tracks “Fairytale” and “Fantasy”. They have all the magic and mystery we can expect from such titles. I like the speed and wonderful acoustic atmosphere of “Fairytale”. It is like stepping into another world. But my favorite song is “Finding Closure”, which concludes the album in an elegant way. It is a brilliant neoclassical piece.

Wishful Thinking is an extraordinary debut album. The only limitation is the lack of a live orchestra. Hopefully these songs will be played live one day. With so great material, that somehow doesn’t feel like wishful thinking. It is bound to happen. It is written in the stars.