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The Speed Of Sound
Image © 2000 Speed Limit 35

Judilynn Niedercorn (vocals)

(25 January 2001) The first album from Speed Limit 35 is entitled The Speed of Sound. Available from mp3.com exclusively as a Digital Audio Music (DAM) CD, the album contains ten tracks that vary between guitar-laced instrumental onlys and light progressive numbers with Judilynn Niedercorn's stunning vocal work. Steve Rabeler is responsible for guitars, bass and drum programming while Mitch Gorman provides keyboards, guitars, bass, drum programming, synth programming, and mixing/production.

The Speed Of Sound is a lovely album of average to short length tracks that collectively form a progressive rock-oriented project. Several of the themes could easily be drawn together into a cohesive epic. We were naturally drawn to the vocal tracks however the two-person instrumentals present the lushness of a "full band." Several numbers are extremely reminscent of Renaissance in their construction especially when amplified by the sweet texture of Judilynn's voice; excellent examples are "Siren Song" and "Memoria" which like many of the tracks from the album can be downloaded for free from the band's mp3.com website. Instrumentals span from the light acoustic sound of "Binky" to the driving guitar rock sound of "Throb" and "Phuzz" and experimental nature of "GuiTarPits." The album concludes with a tremendous progressive instrumental entitled "HTML."

Hailing from Mt. Laurel, NJ, Speed Limit 35 was formed during the summer of 1997. Mitch and Steve met at work, and discovered they both owned and loved Saab automobiles. Steve had not been jamming with anyone for some time, and out of boredom frequently found himself sitting in front of his TV, accompanying the music of programs and commercials. Mitch had decided he needed a new hobby to occupy his time besides Star Wars computer games. Discussions of cars turned to discussions of guitars, Steve bought a new four-track mini-disc recorder, Mitch picked up a new acoustic guitar and a synthesizer, singer-songwriter Judilynn joined up, and they've been making music history ever since!

Judilynn told us, "I sent a copy of the Persephone's Dream CD Evening Mirage to Mitch, who I had worked with back in the early 1990s. Mitch shared it with Steve and we agreed to work together on some music that Steve had in his pocket and some music that they had been developing together." She continued, "Steve sent me a tape, and I began to work crafting lyrics and vocal melodies. I was initially insecure in my lyric work, having never had free reign to do what I wanted before. Most bands I worked with in the past were far more controlling than Steve and Mitch are. I was somewhat hesitant with my work for the Speed of Sound."

"Our musical influences are very diverse and far ranging," says Judilynn. "Mitch and Steve both have lots of talent and excellent musicianship. Our creativity plays off each other well, so much so that we get so inspired to keep going that its sometimes hard to finalize a piece. We have begun work on the second CD and I am very excited by the direction it is taking. It is difficult for us to work together being in three different states, but we are working on making the creative process more efficient." We're certainly quite keen to hear their next album.

Judilynn's voice is truly stunning and her professional training is evident in the gently soaring textures she produces against the instrumental backdrop. We were especially impressed with the care taken in mixing and production to ensure her work is properly featured. The album opens introducing the full lineup with the "August," a light rock ballad where Judilynn's vocals have been multi-tracked. Her soaring vocals shine above the lightest arrangements in "Siren Song" and the symphonic theme of "Memoria," one of the album's standout tracks. The rocking 'Americana' textures in "Lean A Little Closer" are completely different and demonstrate the trio's virtuosity.

The Speed of Sound is a tremendous debut album from Speed Limit 35. While we would have preferred to have more tracks with Judilynn's vocal work, it's clear, based on the origins of the tracks included, why this album did not. Fortunately a followup is in the works and it's just a matter of time before further tracks with her contributions will be heard. As illustrated in the richly produced "HTML," the band are equally impressive instrumentally. Those visitors interested in Judilynn's vocal work should seek out the now-deleted Evening Mirage by the Pittsburgh-based progressive band Persephone's Dream. Speed Limit 35's work can be sampled at their mp3.com website. The Speed Of Sound is certainly worth a journey and is a must listen!

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