Jesse James Allen’s Powerful Tribute To Cassini

jesse james allen

Jesse James Allen is a composer with an eclectic and impressive resume. He is an award-winning former AAA video game composer and sound designer for 53 well-known games. He has composed music for museums, theme parks, virtual and augmented reality. However, the artist’s latest work takes him far beyond the terrestrial concerns of gamers and computer scientists. “Cassini: A Musical Tribute” pays tribute to the 20-year Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and to the scientists who made it possible. 

In many ways the 15-track album also pays homage to the musical pioneers that inspired Jesse James Allen’s career as a musician. With a lifelong love of Classical and electronic music he stands on the shoulders of giants in both fields. As a teenager he became obsessed with early synthesizers and the pioneers who championed them. Allen cites legends like Jean-Michel Jarre, Wendy Carlos, Vangelis, Michael Stearns, and Rick Wakeman as his early heroes. Later his passion for classically inspired and choral music was born of his early years working for the prestigious Denver Center for the Performing arts and National Theater Conservatory. On “Cassini” he uses all of the tools in his arsenal to paint a remarkable musical image of the journey from Earth to Saturn.

I have been a lifelong fan of space exploration and no other mission has inspired my imagination more than the 1997 Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons.  

Jesse James Allen

On its 20-year mission, Cassini traveled more than 4.9 billion miles to and around Saturn and its many moons. Over 260 scientists from 27 nations came together to make the astonishing feat possible. In its 294 orbits of Saturn, the spacecraft captured hundreds of thousands of images. These awe-inspiring scenes are the conceptual backdrop to Jesse James Allen’s remarkable record. The album follows the mission from launch to completion. Along the way we find the brilliant ambient vastness of space, fiery and furious terrain of planets and the majesty of asteroids and other celestial bodies. Jesse has created a powerful and deeply emotional soundtrack that brings to mind other classics of our solar system like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Gravity.” However, this isn’t Hollywood. He is scoring the real accomplishments of man and science.

Throughout the album, Jesse James Allen delivers inexplicably visual scenes. From the wild percussion of “Rendezvous With Venus” to the ominous and foreboding tones of “Winter At Jupiter,” we can almost touch the reality of his vision. For instance, “Huygens Lands On Titan” feels impossibly real, as though Allen had a microphone planted on the giant moon. Similarly, the track “Ring Dancer” conveys so many emotions that we can’t help but anthropomorphize the Cassini craft as it floats through sites never seen by man. “The Great Storm” is exactly that, while “Pale Blue Dot” tells us everything we need to know about seeing our little watery planet from afar. The composer’s ability to create such an organic reality with electronic synthesizers is inexplicable, and beautiful.

On the album’s corresponding website, Jesse James Allen provides scientific, musical and technical background for each track. He also includes some of the images from the Cassini mission which inspired his work. The site is a must-view companion to the record, and it is an excellent starting point for listeners’ obsessive Cassini investigation which will inevitably follow. Check out Jesse’s introductory video and listen to “Cassini: A Musical Tribute” below. You can also hear the track “Ring Dancer” on the Deep Indie Chill playlist. And follow the links below the video to connect with Jesse James Allen. Visit his website and explore the mysteries of the Solar System.

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