jeudi 3 septembre 2015

TIME BEING: A Place to Belong (2015)

“This is another nice ambient gem out of the Spotted Peccary landscapes”
1 The Wind has Called 8:21
2 Every Memory 6:45
3 From Where we Are 5:15
4 State of Being 7:29
5 Farther Worlds 9:35
6 The Elements Melt 5:51
7 Here is Life 6:22
8 An Infinite Home 12:34

Spotted Peccary | SPM-9084 (CD/DDL 62:19) ****
(Esoteric ambient soundscapes)
Intense! Moments of intense ambiences. It's the most precise qualifier which comes in mind to describe the universe of soundscapes which flow out between our ears with “A Place to Belong”. Defying the parameters of serenity which poured out into A Dimension Reflected, released in 2011, Phillip Wilkerson and Jourdan Laik modulates this time a work, always so ambient, propelled by superb surges of intensity which try to prove that the rhythms can be born as much from the push of winds and of its elements as by the sequences and the percussions, set apart the brief pulsations which clone the small passive rhythm of "The Wind has Called". This 2nd opus of Time Being is a real one story of atmospheres with a backdrop stigmatized by the noises of a nature imagined by our senses where the shadows of the quiet rhythms, these moments of implosion which define the character of “A Place to Belong”, rumble beneath a nice meshing of drones and synth larva which float slowly like those long and elegant flights of pterodactyls or yet like the slow wrapping from the rollings of the celestial waves and of their singing prisms. The approach is very American esoteric with influences of Steve Roach and Robert Rich as well as a hint of ShaneMorris & Mystified for the noises of nature.
Some menacing winds buzz and perturb the quietude of the carillons which tinkle with a sensation of panic in their sonic glimmerings. From its first seconds, "The Wind has Called" spreads all the amplitude of the ambient spaces of “A Place to Belong”. The hummings sound like industrial explosions of which the threat is amplified by the military drones which sound so much like these warning sirens of disaster. And nevertheless, the calmness will assail our ears with an azure wind which shares its sound drizzle on the curves of synth lines full of remorse. The paradoxes which encircle this 2nd collaboration of
Time Being are in the heart of the charms of “A Place to Belong”. The winds transport their thick clouds of prisms while the synths harmonize their sonic horizons with the bipolarity of Phillip Wilkerson's breaths and hummings. We  even hear onset of rhythms which will challenge the moments of ecstasy as here, around the 7th minute. "Every Memory" hangs onto the finale of "The Wind has Called", the eight tracks are linked into an immense mosaic of atmospheres, with a mass synth lines filled of brilliant colors which defy the threat of winds and of which the hummings will never pierce its wall of serenity. The sound image depicts some waves of cosmic water which roll on the vestiges of an arid ground. This strange fusion of the secant strengths weave an intense soundscape where the drama is hiding in every denouement; passive or stormy. Like here, where these contrasts wrap the delicacy of a piano which scatter its pensive notes in the din, fading in and fading out, of a delicious concert of crickets which in the end are being discreet in face of this threat dressed in sibylline charms. The atmospheres of "State of Being" transports us towards another level. We are a little like some souls lost in a cave where the mooing and the iridescent chants of the winds are buzzing like immense singings separated by the passages and the faces of the caves. Intense that I told you from the beginning! And I would also add, dark! Somber and charmingly seducing.
A Place to Belong” is a perpetual fight between the tenebrous and dark
Phillip Wilkerson's windy rustles against the delicate harmonious envelopes forged in the celestial prisms of Jourdan Laik's synths. Just as much meditative and introspective but astonishingly brilliant, "Farther Worlds" offers a different sound pallet. Here the crickets are replaced by the effect of radiance of the cosmic waves which roll over the ringing of carillons as much pensive as the piano notes. The title ends with a beautiful effect of intensity, weaving a slight duel between tragedy and esoteric romance. "The Elements Melt" is feeding of the same elements, this same fight of contrasts than on "The Wind has Called", while that "Here is Life" is definitively the most seraphic track of “A Place to Belong”. The slow larvas from the synth are flowing here with the fury of engulf a sonic fauna filled of multiple jingles. It results from it a very beautiful relaxing piece of music. The ambient noises which mark out the structures of this 2nd opus of Time Being are even more alive and more sparkling "An Infinite Home". This long track which leans on ashes of "Here is Life". but with more time to exploit the celestial harmonies of the synth lines, concludes an album which is a nice little sound delight for those who like the genre. Another nice ambient gem out of the Spotted Peccary landscapes.
Sylvain Lupari (September 3rd, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album or a link to order it on the Spotted Peccary webshop here

mardi 1 septembre 2015

TANGERINE DREAM: Mala Kunia (2015)

“Yes! The Quantum Years sounded so much promising...”
1 Shadow and Sun 7:54
2 Madagaskunia 6:51
3 Madagasmala 7:04
4 Beyond Uluru 7:49
5 Vision of the Blue Birds 8:39
6 Snake Men's Dance at Dawn 5:51
7 Power of the Rainbow Serpent 8:03

Eastgate ‎| 071 CD (CD/DDL 52:14) ****
(E-rock)
Here is the first and the last album, although it is listed as being a Cup-Discs, of the latest version of Edgar Froese's big project; Quantum Years. And as much unjust as it can appear in the eyes of the first fans and of those who worshipped the sonic vessel of the 80's, this delicious reorientation of Tangerine Dream, always according to the words of Edgar who specified that the group would get back to its basics with purely electronic equipments, would give only a slight overview of all its potential. Because the potential was well and truly there. This “Mala Kunia” shows it amply. Exit the percussions without souls and the saxophone without fate, place to the electronics! Exit the guitar, except for its riffs! And exit the violins! Even if listed, one hear them hardly here. Place to EM! And especially, let's make room to Ulrich Schnauss whose fame is not overrated and whose collaboration with Froese/Quaeschning reminds me vaguely this wind of freshness that the arrival of Schmoelling breathed into Franke and Froese at the turning of the 80's.
A dark, lively and stirring rhythm emerges from the synth waves which dance slightly and glitter deeply like the reflections of auroras borealis caress the opening of "Shadow and Sun". We sense here a duel between these rhythms stamping with uncertainty of the
Dream from the Eastgate years and the more harmonious rhythmic approach of Ulrich Schnauss who cosigns this track, as well as "Madagasmala", with Edgar. Smothered in its heavy structure, "Shadow and Sun" sways between a heavy electronic rock a la TD sauce, cooked with voice pads and hard riffs, and these electronic harmonious structures of Schnauss which are decorated with ringings and with fragments of melody a la sauce Jérôme Froese. Is there a red flag rising somewhere? The rhythmic signature converges with this thick cloud of small sequenced steps which skip and fidget as a concert of ducks' steps stirring fervently under agitated waters. This is good EM, even solid, which actually let glimpse beautiful possibilities, I prefer the more cheerful and more harmonious approach of "Madagasmala", but which also seems to look for itself in this new direction that Edgar wants to breathe into his Dream. A direction which is very visible with the very good "Madagaskunia" where everything, but everything, returns us in the Stuntman and the Pinnacles years, but with a wonderful contemporary envelope. It's signed Edgar and this is magnificently good. "Beyond Uluru" wears the Eastgate years with a hopping rhythm of which the quavering forges a discreet but an effective stroboscopic structure. The sound effects are dominant while the somber harmonies meet this touch of gloom which characterizes Edgar's last works. It's good, but there are no effects of intensity. Everything is linear in this Cup-Discs, set apart the compositions of the Froese/Schnauss tandem which seem to have more arcs and more rhythmic depth. "Vision of the Blue Birds" will have on us the same impression we had on "Madagaskunia". It's a good piece of music where the Edgar's old flavors throne as this effect of essentiality which torments the fans from the very beginning of his sound ship. We shall never know the suite, although the whole album is promised for the beginning of 2016 with the teamwork of Peter Baumann (sic!), but the windows of the Froese kingdom were wide open here. And even if "Snake Men's Dance at Dawn" does kind of an electronic Western filled with pastiches of the Eastgate years, we like! It's good Edgar who makes whistle his synth such as the harmonies whistled by a relaxed cowboy. Written by Thorsten Quaeschning, "Power of the Rainbow Serpent" offers a superb increasing tangent with a thick cloud of sequenced keys which deeply flicker in the sound caresses of beautiful arrangements. These violins weave ethereal harmonies on a structure of half ambient rhythm, almost a cinematographic down-tempo, which leaves its imprints on our feelings with good smothered pulsations of which the resonances flirts with a beautiful meshing of sequences and percussions. It's some very good Thorsten Quaeschning who, at times, sounds so much like Edgar.
We make a big fuzz around the arrival of Ulrich Schnauss. And with good reason! The sound of
Tangerine Dream changes literally with "Shadow and Sun" and "Madagasmala". Except that the jewels of this “Mala Kunia” are well and truly the compositions of Edgar who is more seducing here than ever. But this Cup-Discs, also has this big default of the last works of Edgar's legendary band; it's too linear. There is no explosion in the rhythms, nor in the emotions, set apart Quaeschning's track. Taken individually and played track by track here and there, the music sounds very good. It's when we listen to “Mala Kunia” in its entirely that we realize its deep lack. But yes, I think that great things were to be expected here. Except that we shall never know it! Edgar left too soon, too fast. I hope sincerely that “Mala Kunia” will find its conclusion. Regarding now the shape of things to come, I do trust that Eastgate will have the decency to respect the memory of its main reason for existing and that Tangerine Dream will go joining Edgar in his new cosmic address.
Sylvain Lupari (September 1st, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

dimanche 30 août 2015

TANGERINE DREAM: Booster VII (2015)

“I'm going to miss you, Edgar. Well, it already started”
CD 1: 70:09
Tamago Yaki 2015, Industrial Life, Diary of a Robbery,
Chilly Moons, Rotcaf Neila, Pilgrims to Elysium,
Apparently Lunatic Hierarchy, Gate of Saturn, Dnammoc Su (Neat Mix), Light Cone 2015

CD 2: 77:35
Parallel Worlds, Polar Radius, Heart Throb,
Matter of Time (Red Canyon Remix), Rim of Schiaparelli,
Barnabas the Messenger, Burning the Bad Seal, Silvery Ice Lake, Shadow and Sun, Morning Sun, Le Combat des Épées (Director's Cut)

Eastgate ‎| 072 CD (CD/DDL 147:46) ****
It's over! The end of an era! Here is the very last compilation of the Booster series. I always liked these compilations, even if at the beginning I questioned the artistic character of the project. Afterward I let myself charmed by the main idea behind these compilations which is to introduce the greenhorns to the music of Tangerine Dream while giving to the aficionados some rare, unreleased, remixed and new music. And throughout the seven volumes of this series, the goal aimed was always respected, even if sometimes the new tracks were not really new and even if the remixes had this knack of scratching my patience. And I don't know why, but here I find that this “Booster VII” is bloody better done.
It starts with a new version of "Tamago Yaki 2015", a track that we find on the Kyoto released in 2005. It's an album loaded with music forgotten in the vaults which was composed by
Edgar Froese and Johannes Schmoelling around 83. I had found this album good, nothing more. A little bit disappointing, considering the impact of Schmoelling's departure on the direction of Edgar's band. But no matter, here it sounds quite good. The arrangements make very Froese  of the Stuntman years, while the moods flirt with the era of The Keep. Always from the same album, "Industrial Life" is more dynamic, but leaves me a little bit cold. It's a lot of noises for not much. But surprisingly, after some listening (especially in my car) it flows pretty nice. "Chilly Moons" is a delicate ballad which is also the fruit of this collaboration. The wild race of "Diary of a Robbery" (oh do I hear the skeleton of Silver Scale here) comes from GTA5: The Cinematographic Score
 which is a strong album. "Bad Seal" is a good track also taken from this album where the play of sequences and the sequenced rhythms plunges us in the Franke/Froese years. I never liked Chandra: The Phatom Ferry, PartII, but inserted here the ambiospherical ballad that is "Rotcaf Neila" appeals me a little more. That's what makes the strength of the Booster series. Everything becomes different, as if by magic! And guess what? I also quite liked this surprising remix of "Dnammoc Su (Neat Mix)". The melody which roams in the background throw me a heck of an earworm for days after. "Pilgrims to Elysium" is a new composition and a very good one of which the peculiarity is to cross marvelously the bridge between the Schmoelling and Haslinger years. A little more dynamism and it would have given quite a whole result. The track grows ceaselessly but without ever overflowing really its minimalist road. The effect of violin on the other hand embraces the ethereal atmospheres of the more contemporary years. Afterward we are entitled to "Apparently Lunatic Hierarchy", pulled out from the Franz Kafka:The Castle album. It's a short intense track filled with strong atmospheres while "Barnabas the Messenger" is rather average. Let's say that there are far much better tracks on this album, making of this selection a debatable choice, except if it's for Edgar's six-strings solo.
"Gate of Saturn" doesn't need any more presentation. It's an inescapable track in the most recent years of the
Dream. "The Light Cone 2015" closes the first CD with a beautiful remix of this piece of music pulled from the very good Pinnacles, a wonderful album solo that Edgar signed in 83. This track is at its third version and the work is fine here. Its key point? It gives this taste to hear again this all time EM classic! We find "Parallel Worlds" in The Keep and its presence seems to serve much more a hidden introduction to the surprising "Polar Radius" which is a very interesting new track from Froese and Schmoelling. A track which plunges us back into the ambiences of Flashpoint and The Keep with a cheerful finale which throws us literally in the golden years of the Dream. This is as unexpected as very good. "Heart Throb" and "Shadow and Sun" are two tracks written by Edgar Froese and Ulrich Schnauss which let glimpse immense possibilities for the Quantum Years. It's a good mixture of e-rock where the EDM approach floats in structures which bicker constantly between ethereal phases and others more boiling ones. There are Jerome's perfumes in "Shadow and Sun", the best, according to my tastes, of these two tracks here. That's always pleasant to hear "Matter of Time (Red Canyon Remix)", and this no matter the flavor that we give to it. Its remix doesn't manage to destroy this delicate morphic lullaby which hesitates to lull and to perturb our idea of sleep. "Rim of Schiaparelli"? It's a powerful track pulled out of the brilliant Mars Polaris album; one of the very good albums of the TDI era.This I have to write about one of these days. "Silvery Ice Lake" is also a new track which wears the seal of the Sonic Poem Serie ambiences with very dark, very melancholic atmospheres, surrounding a rhythm which grows gradually without ever exploding. Other real newness, "Morning Sun" is a beautiful very gloomy ballad which follows an always aggressive tangent. That reminds me the kind of the Melrose years. But it fits very well here. In this big envelope of diversity which surrounds the 21 secrets of this Booster, it flows very well. "Le Combat des Épées (Director's Cut)", written by Thorsten Quaeschning was always my favorite of the Jeanne d'Arc album. This reorientation offers additional minutes but modifies not at all the structure of the music where  Picture Palace Music's aromas float all around it. It 's a good Electronic Post Rock, as Quaeschning  likes so well describing his music style.
Go get this without hesitation! This “Booster VII” is quite a sonic and a musical cream where all the flavors of
Tangerine Dream, periods 83 to13, float with this irresistible desire that the fans from the very beginning have to blubber as to cherish. Damn Edgar, I am going to miss you!
Sylvain Lupari (August 29th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

vendredi 28 août 2015

CHRONOTOPE PROJECT: Dawn Treader (2015)

“Here is a nice first opus from a newcomer who seems to have plenty of good EM to offer in a very diversified style which goes from progressive New Age to good ambient Berlin School sequencing”
1 Dawn Treader 7:56
2 The Scent of Evening Flowers 7:06
3 Basho's Journey 9:24
4 Ocean of Subtle Flames 10:03
5 Omphalos 6:30
6 Canticle of the Stars 7:15
7 She Who Hears the Cries of the World 7:33

Spotted Peccary | SPM-2803 (CD/DDL 55:52) ***½
(Ambient, tribal ambient and progressive New Age)
I like well the productions of the American label Spotted Peccary. They are neat. The music is gleaming and agreeably stylized. The styles are always astride the limits between the ambient music, tribal ambient, the contemplative soundscapes, the progressive New Age and the Berlin School. This is exactly the sound pallet of this first album from Chronotope Project. Project of the American cellist and multi-instrumentalist native of the Oregon, Jeffrey Ericson Allen, Chronotope Project offers a highly esthetic approach where a panoply of acoustic instruments which marks out the furrows of “Dawn Treader” surfs marvelously with an electronic approach which seems to be inspired as much as Steve Roach's silences as the ethereal movements of the Berlin School signature.
The title-track sets the tone with a structure of sequences which takes forward its keys by brief movements of jerks. That gives an effect of ambient Berlin School with  sound effects which brings us near  of cosmos. The introduction is then transformed into a kind of ethereal ballad with a structure of mid-tempo where the elements sparkle throughout the soft caresses of the effects of a guitar and its clothes of Lap Steel just as unctuous as these cosmic choirs which will feed the last phases of the slightly spasmodic rhythm of "Dawn Treader"."The Scent of Evening Flowers" follows with a more ambient structure where the sequenced keys sparkle on the slow movements of the synth lines which make the cosmos crying. There are essences of 
Robert Rich in there. "Basho's Journey" leads us in some very introspective territories with a nice Kyoto of which the strings resound in the tears of a Chinese violin. It's especially ambient and very meditative. "Ocean of Subtle Flames" is going to wake us a little with a structure of rhythm which makes its keys gallop on the vast sonic territories of the East. Still here, the effects of Chinese violin invade the moods loaded by long occult hummings. But not as much as the black winds which moo in "Omphalos" where a tick-tock teases our ears with a timer which will never explode. We are in Steve Roach's very dark ambient territories here, even if the carillons try to whisper an aura of Tibetan monastery. "Canticle of the Stars" bears well its naming. It's a nice spiral melody with ambient voices and clouds of interstellar mist which haunt the senses and of which the warm breaths caress  the rotary and  minimalist unreeling of the sequences whose movements embrace a little those of the ambient rhythms of the Berlin School. "She Who Hears the Cries of the World" ends this first opus of Chronotope Project with a carillon approach which reminds me the delicacies of the music of Sensitive Chaos. It's an ambient piece where the sequenced keys are ringing in a shape of small bells ballet pushed by lushes of woosh and wiish. Each luster is reflected on Chinese shadows which spread their harmonies in a more or less sibylline envelope, reminding that the music of Chronotope Project has borders only the limits of our imagination.
Sylvain Lupari (August 28th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album or a link to order it on the Spotted Peccary webshop here

jeudi 27 août 2015

ARCANE: Landers (2015) E.P.

“This is yet another great sonic voyage through the analog equipments of Paul Lawler”

1 Viking-1 6:12
2 Lunar-9 5:30
3 Pathfinder 5:14
4 Venera-7 3:45
5 Philae 8:32

Paul Lawler Music (DDL 29:15) ****
(E-rock for picture minded)
"Viking 1" starts this new Arcane sonic adventure with a series of harmonious loops which roll on the jingles of the percussions adorn of crotale effects. Breezes of synth with a soft Hispanic lunar perfume (I hear Vangelis here) coo like electronic nightingales, revealing melancholic solos which make counterweight to the cheerful approach of the minimalist loops. From ambient and floating, the start of "Viking 1" switches for a beautiful electronic ballad with a suite of whistled solos which wave such as the harmonies of an ethereal waltz. Paul Lawler exploits completely the six minutes of "Viking 1" by binding his music with percussions of which the slow flow draws the lines of a good lunar down-tempo where stroboscopic sequences hiccup in parallel and a suite of lost chords arise from the limbos while the synth always manages to whistle its ghost harmonies. Ah.... The beautiful sonic universe and musical (I insist on this point) of Paul Lawler. All in contrasts and yet always so homogeneous. Even if his music is strongly inspired by the 80's era of Tangerine Dream, the prolific English musician/synthesist is before all a real precursor who likes experimenting his new equipments with an approach which is always so magnetizing. Composed after the last jets of Perihelion, “Landers” offers around thirty of EM which is nevertheless all its opposite.
"Lunar-9" plunges us into a cosmic film environment with the movement of a metronome which weaves a minimalist ambient beat. Sound effects, synth lushes a bit fluty and very relaxing as well as fragments of vampiric solos knit an atmosphere of loneliness and decorate an interstellar landscape where the time seems to be short of seconds. It's very ambiospherical. It's also very wrapping. "Pathfinder" inhales a few these ambiences while being very near the repertoire of
Tangerine Dream at the level of sequencing pattern. The sequenced keys skip in a shape of a spherical ballet with wide loops finely hatched where the synths spread tearful harmonies and layers as dreamy as melancholic. The percussions which fall weigh down the step and remodel the status of "Pathfinder" for a good slow dance-tempo hypnotic as we like them. "Venera-7" exploits also a series of melodies which coo in loops over a cascade of chords of which the tone resounds as that of an ancient harpsichord. The structure is magnificently attractive. Ambient and relaxing, the melody oscillates between our ears such as the wavelets which bicker on the surface of a lake filled by a crystal clear water. What strikes the most is this duality between the darkness and the brightness and of which the resultant offers a splendid ambient electronic ballad with a stylized approach which is reminiscent of the atmospheres of the Phantom of the Opera. This is a great track! And as very often, Paul Lawler keeps the best for the end by amassing all the principles of his first 20 minutes to condense them in a track which is going to nail us in our armchair. "Philae" begins with a lively rotary movement of the sequenced keys which encircle a wall of electronic tones of any kinds (I adore these effects of gas of spatial machineries). Little by little, these keys form a pattern of rhythm which challenges the parameters until then imposed on “Landers” by accelerating the pace. A very good bass line makes a first appearance here, propelling the rhythm of "Philae" towards a strong up-tempo of which the effects of contracted jerks weave a stroboscopic approach. This long onset of rhythm turns into a good and a more livened up phase which is adorned by these solos so ethereal which paint all the corners of “Landers”. And quietly, "Philae" will join this delicate metronomic structure of "Lunar-9", concluding so another chapter of Arcane which will never stop seducing us as amazing us.
Sylvain Lupari (August 27th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Paul Lawler Bandcamp page here