lundi 25 mai 2015

MYTHOS: Jules Verne Forever (2015)

“We wanted EM to grow in something different? Well...Mythos has heard our claims and delivers a stunning album in lands where EM has never gone before”
1 The Mysterious Island 8:40
2 Mighty Orinoco 3:57
3 Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon 6:50
4 All Around the Moon 9:08
5 Southern Star Mystery 5:20
6 A Drama in the Air 7:10
7 Off on a Comet 7:26
8 The Ice Sphinx Adventure 9:50
9 Jules Verne Forever 10:16
10 Five Weeks in a Balloon 9:31

Groove | GR-217 (CD 78:20) ****½
(Filmic, oniric, lively and new EM)
Strange and fascinating that this last work of Mythos! More than 3 years after the solid Surround Sound Evolution, Stephan Kaske returns to us with a new rather audacious musical adventure which is freely inspired by the stories of Jules Verne. In fact, “Jules Verne Forever” pulls us literally where many film-makers knew how to bring us. Either towards charming sites in a work very ambiosonic and very cinematographic where we are surprised to see images of the books of Vernes trotted in our head with the same self-assurance as its books which have been brought to cinema. The approach of Mythos respects that of the film-makers such as Henry Levin, Cy Endfield, Richard Fleischer, Michael Anderson, and recently Brad Peyton, who knew how to put in image, here it's in sounds, the magical imagination of Jules Verne. “Jules Verne Forever” is 10 stories on 10 tracks. It's also 78 minutes of EM where the structures of rhythms, so difficult to put in a review as the images of Vernes in video, more oniric than lively take us now at the heart of the imagination of Mythos who raises this audacious bet with all the panache that we know of him.
We notice the very stylized approach of Stephan Kaske from the first moments of "The Mysterious Island". A threatening structure of rhythm moves its keys which skip such as big sneaky step. A melodic line covers this start with a mixture of fluty jets and arpeggios struck on a kind of glass xylophone (Laser Harp?), spreading straight away the big wealth as musical as sonic which will be the keystone of the 78 minutes of “Jules Verne Forever”. Don't look for the rhythms. They are present but not explosives. At halfway between ambient or lively, these rhythms which will move the ambiences of this last adventure from
Mythos are as secret as the harmonies. Here we roll of the neck with this structure a bit ghostly. The glass arpeggios as well as the lines of flutes and their harmonies a bit jerky go and come as a merry-go-round which waves in a tunnel full of threats, while the basis of "The Mysterious Island" is pecked by percussions of which the strikes are so much in contrast with this marriage of flute and xylophone that our expectation towards a project of such a scale is approached with fineness. Mythos wraps all his structures of an incredible wealth So much that our ears, as well as our two hemispheres, run from left to right in order to assimilate these dark choruses, these vampiric solos, these mocking harmonies and these lines of harmonious sequences which sparkle, roll in loops and float on a structure of which the charms feed both of its ambivalence and of its imperceptible secret aim. And that will so be for the 9 other structures of “Jules Verne Forever”. "Mighty Orinoco" offers a heavy electronic structure which is hammered by an impressive meshing of percussions, pulsations and sequences. The shadows of the melodies which roam depict aptly the tensions of this unusual journey on this long Venezuelan river there. "Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon" takes a little the same bases, but with a rather Babylonian filmic approach. The deafening rhythm switches off its violence to make listen the charms whistled by a beautiful synth which sings, either in a jungle or with a Gregorian. It's quite intense that sounds very Vangelis, just like the very beautiful "Southern Star Mystery" and its tribal essence a bit phantasmagorical. The flute, the voices and the percussions blown in a kind of long blowpipe are releasing some rather poignant perfumes. By far the most beautiful track of this adventure with the solid "A Drama in the Air" and its slow rhythm which forges a fascinating ascent in an electronic setting to the thousand sonic flavors.
We speak about rhythms difficult to describe? What to say about "All Around the Moon" and of its resonant spherical approach where organic sequences and keyboard chords are dancing in circle with their contrasts. "Off on a Comet" offers quite another approach with a rhythm which skips such as goblins in a cave where sparkle thousand subtleties and hoot strange magical voices of which the union with a Gregorian choir adds a surreal dimension to a music which drinks of the imagination of Jules Verne. The kicks of sequences, delicate needs to say, and the circles that they sculpture are in the heart of these imperceptible rhythms which feed the peculiarities of this album which reveals its charms track after track. I think here of "The Ice Sphinx Adventure" which is builds a little in the same mold. The title-track is more fluid and throws at us a delicate structure of circular rhythm which invades the ears with sequences in parallel lines and of sober percussions which roll in jerks. Here, as quite everywhere in “Jules Verne Forever”,
Mythos forges a unique sequencing pattern with tones of prism which skip or brawl with others perfumed of resonances or of organic veils in the caresses of elvish voices or in the tendernesses of the fluty breezes. It's the rhythm which eventually put an earworm in the bottom of our ears. And this goes to for "Five Weeks in a Balloon" where the essences of "Off on a Comet" are more fluid, more lively and whose harmonies are also intoxicating as "Jules Verne Forever".
If to describe the structures of “Jules Verne Forever” turns out to be an exercise which can miss words, terms, the music on the other hand lack of nothing. This last album of
Mythos is at the size of this brilliant musician who tries constantly to push away his limits by improving this so unique tone that he knew how to develop over the years. The rhythms sparkle with freshness in an approach which becomes more harmonious than rhythmic. And the final effect is rather special because we constantly have the impression to hear a music which comes from another place, another dimension. Just like the imagination of Jules Verne. And in my opinion, it's the most beautiful compliment which we can make to “Jules Verne Forever”.
Sylvain Lupari (May 25th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Groove web shop here

dimanche 24 mai 2015

MARK SHREEVE: Legion (1985)

“Maybe the cradle of the England School movement such as we guess it, Legion is a wonderful album built on a wild sequencing and catchy melodies”
1 Legion 5:28
2 Storm Column 5:08
3 Flagg 8:24
4 Sybex Factor 5:18
5 Domain 7 6:29
6 Icon 3:56
7 The Stand 5:34
Bonus Tracks
8 Legion (Space Mix) 5:50
9 Hammer & Cross 3:51

Centaur Discs Ltd CENCD 006 (CD 50:05) *****
(England School)
Are you fans of horror movies and frightening tales? Enthusiastic followers of Stephen King? What would you say of hearing in music his book The Stand? It's visibly inspired by this book that Mark Shreeve has built the 7 tracks, the 40 minutes of his 8th solo album. “Legion” is distancing itself a few from the more progressive genre of Mark Shreeve's first solo albums with shorter and livelier compositions conceived at big knocks of sequencer and with superb atmospheric samplings apparently taken from the sonic libraries of the 80's horror movies. It's without a shadow of doubt the most rock album of the electronic community of this time when Tangerine Dream had charmed hundreds of musicians with its Underwater Sunlight and Legend Tour in 1986. It's also possibly the album which has introduced the movement of the England School. A movement which sent EM into some more rock bases and which has shown up its ears with the emergence of Ian Boddy, Andy Pickford and Wavestar. As for me; it's the most pop, the heaviest and the most lively album that I heard in the wonderful world of Electronic Music. With the years it became an inescapable album in my collection. An album which ages well and to which I still listen quite often, even nowadays. A heavy opus with jerky and wild rhythms set up by a brilliant play of sequencer and electronic percussions rolling to lose breath. Both rhythmic ingredients are supporting sweet, simple and effective melodies which at the end are simply frigging catchy. Using brilliantly and at the most the samplings, “Legion”  is stuffed with satanic winks.
It's thus with a strange incantation, with the looks of a Black mass, that begins the title-track. On this satanic incantation, a solid and heavy line of bass sequences opens the procession. From then on the rhythm becomes fast. It coughs in jerks on good percussions, metallic chords and a ultra heavy and powerful sequencer which sculpts a hard and heavy rhythm with the concert of a thick cloud of hard-hitting chords which tumble like furious percussions. The tone is set. Afterward this rhythm becomes kind of tribal's one. Those percussions mould a kind of speed-trance, which doubtless has inspired Juno Reactor, and push back the limits of the synth layers a bit philharmonic which even sound like riffs of guitar. It's at both times a heavy and fast piece of EM and also a totally demonic one that you would doubtless listened to from that era. Fragrances of it can be heard on the wildest parts of the 
Redshift repertoire. But some of you have already heard it, because it appeared on the Jewel of the Nile soundtrack, besides having played a lot on some dance floors, as prove its some Mixes and  the 7'' released at that time. This cannon-shot is not isolated. There are several other very sequenced and very rhythmical tracks. Like "Sybex Factor" with its hammering percussions and its long synth solos combined to those of Chrissie Bonnacci's guitar. There is "Icon" with its unbridled rhythm, with its ultra nervous and rapid sequencer toyed by Chris Franke as well as these metallic wings and these shouts of bat. Finally, there is "Hammer and Cross" which arrived on the late. It's a bonus track which appeared on the first CD edition from Centaur Discs. Melodies are always anchored on those tracks. But there are other ones more catchy. Like on "Storm Column" which rolls on a structure of rhythm as much wild, as jerky of the title-track. It's a heavy and nervous with some light and melodious choirs which are in harmonies with a very sharpened synth. Moreover this mixture of voice samplings on a rhythm so jerky is completely brilliant.
"Flagg" is another brilliant blow. The longest track of the CD opens with a very lugubrious intro, like in a horror movie B. A timid keyboard looses a melody with the charms of a threatening lullaby over a line of devilish sequences which accelerates the pace in the long sinuous lines of a magnetizing synth. The rhythm hammers a slow march, sometimes it sounds just like a walk of zombies on a high of vitamins. And still there, the samplings are superbly well used. With "Domain 7" we would imagine to be in a surrealist swamp with birds and wolves which cohabit on the jerks of violins and a keyboard of a harmonium style which glides over some splendid silky lines which adopt the long sensual curves of a dark and suggestive of Pat McManus' guitar. The effect is demonic and that's the spirit. Well...I guess! And it's even more pervasive with the strings of violins which resound on more symphonic layers. And the guitar is simply sublime. We feel its strings being deeply scratched so much the effect is realistic. Being more sentimental than rocker, it's my favorite track on “Legion”...but after "The Stand". We hear here a synth crying, suffering in an envelope of melancholy which can be feel at the tip of our sadness ropes which are hiding at the bottom of our souls. Behind a structure of a slower rhythm and effects of mist, a synth line changes its melancholic harmonies for those of a trumpet. This move makes raise the last bastion of our hairs which have resist to this desire to rise all throughout this adventure which is “Legion”. Not by its harshness, but by its sensibility and the hand put by the evil which seems to triumph. One would say some Ennio Morriconne who would have made a pact with the Devil in a finale more Mexican than Mephistophelian. But the tears of a baby returns us to the reality behind the precepts of “Legion”.
Even if closer to synth-pop, a rather progressive and a well worked one needs to be underline, than the other albums of Mark Shreeve, “Legion” remains an inescapable work. Just to see the price asking on EBay, we understand its importance in the chessboard of contemporary EM. It's the kind of setting that can please so much the lovers of a Gothic music, even if at times the melodies are hypersensitive, of synth pop and of heavy EM with a zest of radio FM's perfumes. Everything is structured well. So, no rooms for structures which deviate in random corridors of improvisation. It's a lively music filled of surprising samplings and built around a wild sequencing, the future trademark of Mark Shreeve, which preserves in spite of these two elements all its melodic dimension. Very good...Just hope that one day Mark Shreeve decides to reedit it.
Sylvain Lupari (May 24th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

vendredi 22 mai 2015

SKOULAMAN: Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past (2014)

“What we have here is a fine album filled of analog rhythms and cosmic tones which will seduce those who still miss the sweet analog years of EM”
1 Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past 11:55
2 Without Boundaries 9:18
3 Sardegna Coasts 8:33
4 Islands in the Ocean 10:20
5 Arabian Arp 7:59
6 Orbital Moves 9:06
7 Voices of an Analog 7:37
8 Sardegna Roads 6:31
9 Far Away Worlds 5:28

Skoulaman Music (DDL/CD-r 76:51) ****½
(Cosmic EM of the analog years)
The magic of the social networks! It is by means of a video published by my good friend FB Rob Hartemink that I was interested in the universe of Skoulaman. A musician/synthesist who likes minimalist movements moved by echoes and reverberations, Skoulaman is part of this generation of new artists who are influenced by the analog EM from the 70's. From Tomita to Jean Michel Jarre, including Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and even Mike Oldfield, the music of Skoulaman crosses its identity phases until “Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past”. A 4th album where the Berlin School style binds itself to an EM with a more contemporary essence. The fusion is great. The result is surprising of a freshness which resources of its old fragrances with a very cosmic approach where emerge and revolve patterns of rhythm to fine permutations. Chronicle of a very beautiful album which is going to exhilarate you until its last second, both by its movements of sequences and its very lunar synth layers.
Delicate arpeggios, molded in a little bit dark tints, skip delicately in the harmonies of a synth line perfumed of a fluty essence. From the first chords of "Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past", we feel that our ears penetrate a sound universe filled with the charms of the analog years. The approach is minimalist, delicate and even dreamlike. Sequences skip with hardly perceptible alternations in the pace, weaving a peaceful wave motion which sometimes will fit to the delicate curves suggested by the discreet impulses of a bass line. The synth divides its harmonious perfumes with tears a little bit piercing which get loose from the mist of flutes, exposing even solitary chords which sound as a pensive guitar in bank of manipulated by nice orchestral arrangements. What jumps to ears is this feeling of attention to details which livens up the musical writing of Skoulaman. Nothing is left at random and every phase grows richer of the previous one with nice variations in the tints and the tones. We thus notice hardly the progression of "Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past" which accelerates a little its pace at around the 5th minute point. The pace is more sure and enriched the perception of this ascent which is always perfumed by a synth of which the multiple fragrances are walking our souvenirs through the ages of EM. Let's says that it starts pretty good! The approach of Skoulaman is very Cartesian, on the verge of simplicity. His rhythms are knotted in the spirographies of the linear and/or rotary movements from the sequences among which the shadows, the echoes and subtle gaps between the editing command the obedience to bewitchment. More lively, more fluid "Without Boundaries" weakens its indefatigable circular loops in a more incisive pattern of rhythm, but always static, beneath the concerts of arpeggios which ring in the furrows of long twisted synth solos. After a very bohemian approach in "Sardegna Coasts", which is a relatively relaxing piece of EM, "Islands in the Ocean" throws us in
Steve Roach's movements of Empetus. Superb, the track spreads lines of rhythms which attach their harmonious approaches as in a long roller coaster of which the moderate slopes and curves are undulating in cosmos. The electronic effects a little the genre of Jarre. We follow the crazy race of the sequenced movements with "Arabian Arp" and its deep kicks which oscillate in a dense magma of cosmic tones. The contrast between the slow orchestral envelopes and the deep movements of the sequences is as much delicious as those in the movements and the evolutions of the structures of sequences, like in "Orbital Moves". Sometimes quiet and sometimes agitated, the movement shows its nuances with silvery tones which sparkle in a universe in constant movement. Here as anywhere else, the synths snivel constantly, spreading slow morphic pads whose nasal fragrances remind me of Remy, by ricochet of Klaus Schulze, and counterbalance marvelously the variable flow of the structures of the sequences. "Voices of an Analog" perpetuates the sweetnesses of "Orbital Moves", but in a magnificent lento. Although slow, the flow is furtive with more bass pulsations which skip slowly in clouds of mist. A delicate melody is blooming through the tears of synths, conferring to "Voices of an Analog" the stamp of the most beautiful ambient track that I heard in 2015. "Sardegna Roads" has nothing to do with "Sardegna Coasts". Here, the rhythm is more than lively. It oscillates, it undulates with swiftness, multiplying loops on loops in a very ambiocosmic structure filled with pads of voices and where ring arpeggios which try to draw on an anvil an astral melody. The contrasts are as much fascinating as the subtle upward gradation of the track. "Far Away Worlds" ends this opus of Skoulaman with another pattern of rhythm sculpted in its contrasts and which spreads its attractive volutes in cosmic corridors decorated of starred sparklings.
Object of seduction which wakes in us these delicate memories where EM have made compete, made sparkle its sequences into morphic and cosmic synth layers, “Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past” from Skoulaman is an album which will know how to seduce you. If some people hear sonic perfumes of
Tangerine Dream there, it is rather true with the fluty synth, and even of Klaus Schulze, for the atmospheres of ether, me I hear influences of Roach, Jarre and even Ulrich Schnauss, for the small fragments of melodies scattered through these labyrinths of skeletal rhythms. But chiefly; I have spent more than a pleasant moment with the some 77 minutes of “Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past”.
Sylvain Lupari (May 22nd, 2015)

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

mercredi 20 mai 2015

MORPHEUSZ: Tantalizing Thoughts at the Dawn of Dreams (2014)

“The music of MorPheusz is what does best in this universe where we try to join the poles of a music without concession and free of any commercial constraints that those of EM and of prog rock”
1 Psychedelic Poetry 11:54
2 Tantalizing Thoughts 13:55
3 Arousing Imaginary Vortex 7:33
4 Oriental Insomnia 18:03
5 Dawn of Dreams 15:43

Groove|GR-209 (CD 67:08) ****½
(Mix of Netherlands School and Prog Rock)
I had been very impressed by the solid Days of Delirium and Nocturnal NightMares, which was the first sonic chapter of MorPheuSz back in 2011. We looked forward to the second. We even thought that this project which unites the Dutchmen Ron Boots and the brothers Eric and Harold van der Heijden to the German guitarist/synthesist Frank Dorittke was on tablets. We saw well the band here and there performed on festivals, but nothing more. And finally, after almost 3 years of wait, the group makes a strong comeback with an album which transcends the first 2 opuses. Set ablaze by the influences of Pink Floyd, Van Der Graff Generator, Ozric Tentacles and even Alan Parsons, the music of “Tantalizing Thoughts at the Dawn of Dreams” redefines the standards of this fusion so wished between EM and progressive rock. In particular because of the imposing presence of Harold van der Heijden on percussions (boy is he good!) and Frank Dorittke, and it without wanting to take away anything to two others, who carries the music of MorPheuSz towards another level.
A delicate movement of sequences escapes from the thick cloud of psychotronic noises which feeds the intro of "Psychedelic Poetry". The guitar draws wandering airs which float in clouds of mists as well as on this movement of sequences of which the soft tom-toms sculpt an ambient rhythm which is very near the electronic ballads of
Ron Boots' repertoire. But we cannot also avoid this sensation to mislaid our thoughts in Roger Waters' Amused to Death and The Ballad of Bill Hubbard. The guitar and the soft intrusive rhythm are so similar. The emotions soar, as the crescendo gets intensified. The percussions of Harold van der Heijden make "Psychedelic Poetry" running in a kind of cosmic blues while the movement of sequences unfolds parallel lines of ambient rhythms which wind the structure with the complicity of a six-strings and of its more incisive solos. And, a little before the 6th minute point, "Psychedelic Poetry" explodes into a huge heavy progressive rock where it looks like Carlos Santana had replaced Peter Hammill in VDGG. The rhythm is heavy and surprisingly lively where the harmonies of Eric Van Der Heijden and Ron Boots bicker with Frank Dorittke's solos. Noises and electronic ringings, as well as these movements of sequences became stroboscopic, confer a splendid sound wealth which will seduce the music fan throughout this 3rd opus of MorPheuSz. I often make a reference to Pink Floyd? The voices and the hesitating arpeggios which open "Tantalizing Thoughts" would remove all of my credibility if I don't write about it. We are in the Animals era (Sheep). Only the rustlings of Frank Dorittke affix the signature MorPheuSz. Muffled and steady pulsations support a ghost rhythm which pulses in an ambient setting decorated by the guitar of  F.D. Project's founder. A splendid guitar which takes care of charming our ears with sweet solos which take the shape of the harmonious curves of the keyboards. The drum and the pulsations become louder, more insistent and synth solos whistle over this ambient bicker which drops some very beautiful harmonies. I hear Ashra here. But for a brief moment. Because "Tantalizing Thoughts" falls under the wraths of the drum and the bites of a six-strings' riffs which weigh down and transport the ambiences towards a solid rock which will stay under the charms of the fluids synth solos. Simply superb! While the synths and guitar swap harmonies and peaceful solos, the very effective Harold van der Heijden clubs the rhythm with violent strikes and "Tantalizing Thoughts" sinks into the heaviness and the psychedelic perfumes "Psychedelic Poetry" where Frank Dorittke unchains his anger. This is a great track of which the conclusion revisits the harmonies abandoned by its intro.
You love Ozric Tentacles? You are going to devour "Arousing Imaginary Vortex". It's a nervous track which is knotted around a strong meshing of sequences and percussions but also pierced by the solos of a guitar with Arabian harmonies. Breezes, as black as accentuated, and pastoral ringings are bickering its rather ambient opening. Sequences are roundly skipping in tones of starving gargoyles and the percussions of Harold van der Heijden hammer a rhythm which espouse a kind of furious gallop. It's a solid piece of music which finds its charms in the light and subtle inclination of its movement, initiating a very good duel between nervous riffs, both from
Frank Dorittke's six-strings and from the synths of the Ron Boots/Eric Van Der Heijden tandem. It takes some magic fingers to match the capacities of the synths. As says it the guide press; Frank Dorittke plays a bigger role on “Tantalizing Thoughts at the Dawn of Dreams”. A brilliant guitarist! And his Arabian fragrances persist on the very beautiful "Oriental Insomnia" which is more or less ambient and very rich in its perfumes of EM. Except for the finale which is as much explosive as the wild structure of rhythm which devours our ears from the 6th minute of "Psychedelic Poetry".  "Dawn of Dreams" is also marbled by a more electronic approach. After a rather ambiospherical intro, a meshing of sequences and pulsations, as resonant as glaucous, sculpt an ambient rhythm which deeply pounds without exploding. The structure is tinted of black is of used as base to keyboard riffs and synth mists which seem to smothered the rollings of percussions, but not these delicate guitar solos which reveal some harmonies difficult to ignore. After a brief ambiosonic phase, "Dawn of Dreams" falls in a heavy but stagnant rhythm, where the guitar unfolds solos as heavy as the strikes of the drum in a sonic decoration which yet merges marvelously the borders of EM and of progressive rock.
The wait was long, but was worth it. The music of
MorPheuSz is what does best in this universe where we try to join the poles of a music without concession and free of any commercial constraints that those of EM and of progressive rock. Except that, as Pink Floyd or yet Alan Parsons, the music of “Tantalizing Thoughts at the Dawn of Dreams” rejects the corridors of dissonance or simple improvisations to offer a music to which we will become accustomed to a bit more easily. And never previously, the guitar and the drum will have served never so well this fascinating marriage of sonic forms.
Sylvain Lupari (May 20th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Groove web shop here