samedi 19 avril 2014

JOHN LYELL: Reflection of Time (2014)

“Reflection of Time is a very beautiful album of ambient, cosmic or esoteric music which crosses new borders”
1 The Deep Unknown 6:06
2 Above the Stratos 9:21
3 Dreaming in Sine Waves 6:31
4 A Far Away Place 7:09
5 Space Ethereal 6:46
6 Dreaming in Sine Waves II 8:16
7 Reflection of Time 6:55
8 Crossing the Barrier 7:50

Independent (CD 58:58) ****
(Ambient and cosmic EM)
John Lyell is an American musician who began his career by playing guitar, at the dawn of the 80's, within diverse rock and hard rock bands. His career took a tangent closer to the electronic art at the beginning of the 90's when he discovered the ambient and cosmic music by listening to the famous radio show Hearts of Space. Since then this musician native of Minneapolis built quietly his own studio. He became with the years a very active personality in the up universe of the cosmic digital art, we can view his numerous paintings on his web site, and the ambiospherical American music by becoming a composer, a producer and a sound engineer for various projects which were inspired by the horizons of this American cult radio show. “Reflection of Time” is his 5th album and presents a very beautiful collection electronic music pieces where the mysticism and the esotericism mix up on structures of ambient, as dark as romantic in the soft fragrances of Vangelis, where the stars and celestial bodies sing the divinities of a cosmos to the unsuspected horizons such as put in music by a passionate of astronomy.
And we enter the universe of John Lyell's intergalactic atmospheres by the main entrance with steps of a sequencer to staggering organic chords which open the fragile ambient pace of "The Deep Unknown". Our ears discover, or imagine, a fascinating intergalactic dialect with tones which adopt a delicate structure of rhythms of which the little deformed echoes resound under morphic synth pads. "Above the Stratos" roots the perception that we are almost in the psybient world by spreading its translucent seraphic pads, where fine voice filets from the oracles of snows are escaping, which cover some electronic chirpings frozen between two ambiospherical layers. This is soft and floating, just like the title-track which takes the air of an ambient funeral walking and the next 40 minutes of “Reflection of Time”. Closer to the melancholic spaces of
Vangelis, "Dreaming in Sine Waves" spreads some delicate arpeggios which sing their fragilities in breezes of Orion. It's a very beautiful piece of music soaked of an attractive ethereal approach, just like the very beautiful "Space Ethereal"; the most beautiful track, imho, of “Reflection of Time” with this superb voice of cosmic Efle which hums with a symphony of stars. "A Far Away Place" is not outdone with its heavy and slow cosmic waves which roll over the singings of forgotten celestial bodies. Soft, dark and very melancholic. "Dreaming in Sine Waves II" presents the little darker side of its first part. But if the arpeggios are ringing with so much brightness here, the ambient structure is clearly gloomier. And we cannot be immersed farther in the cosmos than with the very black "Crossing the Barrier". This long ambient track sounds like a slow journey inside a space shuttle, needs to listen to it with headphones, where, fascinated, we watch the blackness becoming blacker. Even the seraphic voices, very discreet y the way, cannot manage to uproot this perception to sink into even more dark.
I have to admit that I was a little bit sceptical at the idea of discovering a new artist who does in ambient and cosmic EM. There is so many out there that we have the impression to always listen to the same thing. Except that the music of John Lyell really has its seal. If we can make a bit of comparison, that would be with the romantic approaches of
Vangelis. As for the rest, we are in originality or something that I still don't know. We can make links with Michael Stearns, for the ambient cosmic approach, but they are very fragile. Making of John Lyell an extremely rare artist who arrives to found his place in a musical crenel aired from everywhere. “Reflection of Time” is a very beautiful album of ambient, cosmic or esoteric music which crosses new borders. To discover …
Sylvain Lupari (April 19th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
Website: http://www.johnlyell.com/

jeudi 17 avril 2014

CODE INDIGO: The MELTdown Concert (2014)

“The MELTdown Concert is a superb mix of a great music from Code Indigo and the images which were floating with creativity in the head of Nigel Turner-Heffer”


AD Music| AD 140DVD (DVD 86:00) ****

We see the quartet which fades out behind a valence of ice which drops its gouts as it melts. A room in a somber building. Garbage scattered everywhere. Waste, excesses of the humanity. And behind these images floats the idle introduction of "Welcome to the Asylum". “The MELTdown Concert” is a very audacious project which rests essentially on the quality of the visual effects and graphics, which are interlace and melt themselves on a big screen behind Code Indigo, when the famous English progressive EM group has played the unique performance of MELTdown at the E-Day Festival in Oirschot, Netherlands, on April 6th 2013. The music is essentially the same. Intros and outros vary. Shortening or lengthening some tracks without modifying really the spirit of the album. Except that “The MELTdown Concert” is not essentially a video of Code Indigo in concert, although we rather see quite often the group in action. It's a DVD which groups all the stories, imagined and set in graphics by Nigel Turner-Heffer, which hide behind every piece of music of the MELTdown album. And these graphics are amazingly beautiful. The space, the real world, the money, stock exchange, big computers and health business. Everything is magnificently well designed and inter-connected with sharpness in the main lines of this concept album from Code Indigo which denounced mainly the financial greediness of a society which eats itself from the inside. And these images, these Nigel Turner-Heffer's visions melt themselves, coming from the ice or from the fire, marvellously with the shots of the quartet, dressed very soberly, which reconstituted splendidly this very beautiful album which is MELTdown.
I really enjoyed watching “The MELTdown Concert” and I really think that it should serve as reference in what concerns the future productions of this kind. It's a very beautiful DVD where the music serves the cause of Nigel Turner-Heffer's intuitivity. And the fusion between graphics, visual effects, short films and the images of the group in concert is just in time. There are no lengths. We see just enough of
Code Indigo and the music is the real star and not the contrary. And above everything, we can now see this very beautiful album with a dimension that we did not even dare to image in our head. Very well made and it goes great on my big HD TV screen... a little as if I was there.
Sylvain Lupari (April 17th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

lundi 14 avril 2014

VANGELIS: Ignacio (1975)

“Ignacio is a work in two times where, sublime, the Face A receives too easily the shadow of the noises from its Face B. You have to discover this...”

Entends-tu les Chiens Aboyer 39:04
(Face A  21:25)
(Face B 18 :25)
Barclay 813 042-2  (CD 39:04) ****¼

(Melodic, symphonic and experimental EM)
The first notes of piano which fall remain congealed in the time. One would say tears of cosmos which sparkle in the curvatures of intergalactic breezes. This wonderful, and much romanced, introduction of “Ignacio” has rocked my dreams since years. So beautiful, so moving that I would have liked that its small duet so innocent with a synth and its sonic pearls and sad violin lasts beyond its graceful 4 minutes. But nothing is lost because in the world of Vangelis the melodies or reveries like hare are often recurring. Here is an album which is really past under the radar of time, but which has all the same aroused many controversies. “Ignacio” or Entends-tu les Chiens Aboyer (Can You Hear the Dogs Barking?), is a soundtrack which went out in the stride of Heaven and Hell in 1975. A mythical album because he exists under several naming, of which a Mexican version, and on which an error (volunteer?) during the mixing, while being digitalized into the CD format, made of it an album which engendered so many passions as dissatisfactions among the fans of the Greek musician and this imbroglio have many a time mixed fans, columnists and historians of Vangelis. If at Barclay we find the original work, at CAM Record the Face A of La Fête Sauvage found its place on Face B. A choice which has pleased to the fans of a more musical Vangelis, because we have to admit that the face B of “Ignacio” is rather difficult to tame.
While the dusts of the first melody are fading away, a sharply more monasterial approach floods our loudspeakers with these soft pastoral voices so unique to
Vangelis who hum through bells, carillons and synth chirpings. This is more than beautiful and the very melodious wind of violins transport us literally in the core of Heaven and Hell with this rather dramatic symphonic and cinematic structure which quietly will go lulling in the soft and romantic artificial violins of which the harmonies are as much lunar than seraphic. And this melody, so haunting, comes back disturbing our emotions with a big organ which spits its fury. But still, this remains very musical. A fury which melt and scatters its ashes in this too beautiful introductory melody of the Face A. This piece of music is a pure beauty underestimated in the career of Vangelis. But as much Vangelis can be melodious, he can also offer some very stormy dishevelled structures. This is straight what is happening with the opening of the Face B and its first 7 minutes which offer a kind of free-jazz and improvised rock with superb solos from a synth which draw braids on a devilish rhythm of which the introduction sounds strangely like what's going to become the frame of Pulsar. Afterward we fall in a more peaceful structure with electronic effects, which we also will recognize on Pulsar, which perturb the temporary quietude of this atypical structure. Follows then a stream of electronic noises and percussions of any kinds which model an always invisible rhythm (Invisible Connections?). And quietly this ambient and noisy sonic skeleton gets lost to go towards a very cosmic passage before being charmed by a delicate tribal melody à la sauce Greek. A very beautiful melody lost in the tumult. It's the kind of finale that seems to have inspired the electronic rumbas of Jean Michel Jarre.
“Ignacio” is a work in two times where, sublime, the Face A receives too easily the shadow of the noises from its Face B. A Face B which, imho, does not also receive all the attention, nor the credit, which she deserves because after having listened to it we notice that she draws the path of the next more electronic albums of 
Vangelis who, by the way, has passed to another step by leaving his Parisian studio to become established in a new studio, Nemo, in London and compose Heaven and Hell. The history begins...

Sylvain Lupari (April 14th, 2014)
gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

samedi 12 avril 2014

BROEKHUIS, KELLER & SCHONWALDER: Repelen - The Last Tango (2014)

“Once again, the another new album of the Repelen series holds some fine pearls of an EM nicely interbreed in the roots of New Berlin School and of more acoustic and tribal fragrances”

1 Open the Gate 13:33
2 Philadelphia - The Repelen Mix 11:49
3 Frozen Nights 8:57
4 Lazy Afternoon 13:10
5 Clusterphonie 8:29
6 Latin Grooves 8:52
7 City Lights 8:11
8 The Last Tango 1:22
Manikin | MRCD7099 (CD 74:37)
***½

(Mix of tribal and minimalist New Berlin School)

A flock of sequences and undecided chords stomp on the winds and the knocks of cymbals of "Open the Gate". From these first seconds, we re-know this ambient rhythm so characteristic of the Repelen project. The chords raise themselves like riffs while the percussions, which flicker of fragility, supplant the sequences. Ringings, floating tsitt-tsitt and electronic chirpings decorate the ambiences, while that quite slowly a tribal structure of rhythm takes control of "Open the Gate" which skips in the curvatures of a bass line and of its throbbing notes. The rhythm is soft, between cosmic tribal and ambient groove. Well sat on percussions which sound like acoustic clanic ones, it pounds beneath the colors of synth solos rather dreamy which get melt in a sonic decoration flooded with mist bluish. Composed, interpreted and registered between 2011 and 2013, during a series of concerts and rehearsals performed at the Repelen church, “Repelen - The Last Tango” is an album which inhales literally the rhythms and the moods of the Repelen series. There are no surprises. Only some very nice music, among which 2 superb tracks, where the  Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder trio accepts the tribal and ethereal caresses of Raughi Ebert and Thomas Kagermann.
A little as in "Open the Gate", the introduction of "Philadelphia - The Repelen Mix" offers a structure which looks for itself and which quietly sets its shape with a series of floating sequences which get lost in the muffled pulsations of a bass line. Clouds of synth float in the horizon while trumpets try to wake up the ambiences. Ambiences which will stay of silk throughout the 12 minutes of "Philadelphia - The Repelen Mix". We hear the violin of Kagermann crying on the scrolling of sequences to the gleaming tones. The soft piano of
Detlev Keller and the very Latin acoustic guitar of Ebert come to harmonize a soft harmonious duel which rests on a rhythm become more sustained by the chirpings of sequences and sober percussions. A stable but always ambient rhythm, where the airs of trumpets and the mosaics of synths' cumulus add a touch as much spectral than romantic into this very beautiful track which flows in our ears like a morphic sweetness. We have to wait until "Frozen Nights" to meet the first Teutonic rhythms of “Repelen - The Last Tango”. This rhythm, he is nervous and very typical of what we are used to hear from BKS! He jumps on bouncy sequences and tribal percussions whose meshing is covered by synths with waves which are just as shadier than the solos and the chthonian choruses can be discreet. These synths, as well as the violin, are decorating the introduction of "Lazy Afternoon" of tears and of rather lyrical lamentations. If this intro seems foggy, even a bit cosmic, the track eventually offers a soft supple rhythm with a suite of sequences which hatches a spherical approach strongly flavored by Berber tribal essences. "Clusterphonie" is the pearl of pearls of “Repelen - The Last Tango” and possibly of all the whole Repelen series. And yet, everything here is so simple with the notes of piano which sing in the shadows of other ones which skip of a minimalist pace in order to forge an innocent ritornello which swirls and swirls. The musical itch is created. The violin enters and crosshatches the melody of curt riffs. The percussions follow. They drum a rhythmic as innocent as lively, entailing in the furrow of its strikes a swarm of harmonies sculptured in seraphic voices and synths layers whose veils are painted of foggy silk. The rhythm becomes livelier and we never felt it coming this way. This is simply wonderful. Maybe the gentle and innocent earworm of the year. Anyway, I made that tune played so much that the snow banks around my condo have melted right away! "Latin Grooves" quite means! On a quite catchy rhythm where a line of bass draws the sketch of a very beautiful groove, the guitar and the violin are going for a good harmonic duel which erases the synths and their discreet filets of blue mist. Before ending with the very ambient and tearful "The Last Tango", "City Lights" offers the most Berliner approach of “Repelen - The Last Tango”. Its introduction is as much intriguing and dramatic as a good movie about war or spy story in the Middle East. But once this mood past, the rhythm livens up with nervous sequences which skip in other lines of sequences and their criss-crossed movements. The synths throw a veil of mysticism while the rhythm gets more nervous and more jumping, riding a minimalist rhythmic cavalcade which belongs to the signature of Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder whose synth fogs and solos, electronic percussions and sequences always end forging these invigorating charming Berliner minimalist structures.
Is it the last chapter? Hummmm, even Mario won't tell. The fact remains that the series of
Repelen gave us very good EM and the latter is not outdone. This union of electronic instruments, and their Teutonic harmonies, to acoustic instruments, and of their tribal ambiences, gave a delicious music where the genres get mix with a fascinating and very romantic musical vision. Like a safe with treasures, “Repelen - The Last Tango” holds fine harmonious pearls, of which the wonderful and catchy "Clusterphonie", which are the witnesses of this very beautiful chemistry which very fast has settled down and developed between Bas Broekhuis, Detlev Keller, Mario Schönwälder, Raughi Ebert and Thomas Kagermann. By hoping for a suite and other musical treats...
Sylvain Lupari (April 12th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

jeudi 10 avril 2014

FANGER, KELLER & SCHONWALDER: Pure Relaxation (2013)

“With Pure Relaxation, the Manikin label transcends the way and colors of relaxation music such as shown by the American market under the name of New Age
1 Regeneration (Detelf Keller) 25:18
2 Floating Images (Mario Schönwälder) 24:11
3 The Inner Light (Thomas Fanger) 25:52
Manikin|MRCD9001(CD 75:26)
***½

(Ambient and relaxing EM)

Life is stressful? The problems of the everyday life get over us and we have some difficulty sleeping? The pains eat us away and deteriorate long minutes, even hours, of daily life? If so, then “Pure Relaxation” from Thomas FangerDetlev Keller and Mario Schönwälder is one of very beautiful antidotes that I heard recently. Far from being banal New Age which exploits to wear ropes and seraphic voices too much cliché, “Pure Relaxation” is a relaxing, soothing music which fits the rules and the principles of the long minimalist works with slow, but constant evolutions, of the German label Manikin. The 3 accomplices go of their very stylized touches on 3 long music pieces where harmonies, ambiences and esotericism flirt with the very personal seal of Fanger, Keller and Schönwälder.
A little as a rough draft thought which little by little takes its shape, "Regeneration" drags its peace of mind with hesitating arpeggios of which the tones of mirrors dance in the shadows of a line of bass sequences to the motionless pulsations. The reverberations are of crystal and a somber perfume of nostalgia floats above the first seconds of "Regeneration" when another line of sequences gets loose to forge a soft melodic tick-tock which rings in the sighs of fictitious violins and cellos. These sequences swirl like ballerinas of glass, colliding their feet and elbows in a soft passive duel to finally draw a morphic melody whose minimalist approach is coated of dense clouds of mist. A soft flute rises over this harmonious pendulum where are still dragging uncertain arpeggios. The union is seraphic. The dreams take shape. And when a melancholic piano invites itself throughout the fog, "Regeneration" reaches its paroxysm of serenity. Certainly the movement is ambivalent. Sometimes it is dreamy, sometimes it is just absentee with chords lost in the trails of cymbals. But always it comes back to its minimalist basis lost in mists, thoughts and orchestrations. These flutes, as these violins and voices which roam such as spectres floating on the down of pearls strummed with anvil, call out to a serenity which accepts gladly the caresses of our eyelids over our eyes while we remember of these soft unexpected melodies of
Detlev Keller's solo works, in particular Harmonic Steps or still Behind the Tears. Very beautiful! We are in weightlessness between the cosmos and the ocean with the very ambient "Floating Images" from Mario Schönwälder which, by the way, wears its naming marvellously. It's a long morphic music piece where our ears are mixing with fascination the waves of synths which float like submarine waves or seraphic wings. We hear voices murmured, as sung, dark themes here of which the weak harmonies appear to come from the oceanic bottom. A line of bass throws furtive chords which seem to snore in dense ethereal vapors while a line of sequence emerges from this sonic silence and made zigzag its keys which chirp and trample a strange organic dance. Keyboard chords are popping up, adding a morphic depth to this long track where our ears are constantly dumbfounded by this meshing of synth lines with colors and harmonies protean. This is very deep and very relaxing. This impression to be under the water persists with "The Inner Light" and its skeleton of rhythm slightly groovy where the lines of bass create subtle effects of organic swirls. On the other hand Thomas Fanger exploits a rather tantric approach with an esoteric structure very near the Hindu hypnotic trances. Clanic percussions and effects of sitar decorate lines of synth and fine solos filled with mist which raise their harmonies on an extremely mesmerizing structure which reminds me a little Mind Over Matter's ambient and very musical rhythms, but especially of Osamu Kitijama on his brilliant and famous The Source. This is quite good.
The dreamy and romantic harmonies of
Detlev Keller to the profound ambient and meditative structures of Mario Schönwälder by passing by the delicate groovy movements of Thomas Fanger, “Pure Relaxation” brings new colors, new dimensions to the word of relaxation music. Without denying the origins of the minimalist and hypnotic structures so dear to the movement of Berlin School, “Pure Relaxation” transcends the borders of New Age such as defined by the American market. This is a very progressive, even audacious, way of doing music for relaxation or meditation where the electronic charms of Berlin School breathe in ambiences to weave waking dreams. I liked this a lot and it has landing in my IPod for night music. A DVD version is also available, just to modify the images that our imagination embroiders a little more in each new listening.
Sylvain Lupari (April 10th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca