dimanche 19 octobre 2014

APEIRON: Imagic (1993)

“Imagic is a solid album of EM which unveils a pretty good range of sub-genres from a musical style which literally revolutionized the musical art”

1 Way To Paradise 5:59
2 Imagic 14:17
3 Vortex 8:20
4 Head-land 14:36
5 Roomless 12:37
6 75 Dreams 3:59

Spheric Music | SMCD2001 (CD 60:09) ****
(Progressive Berlin School)
I like going off to explore these albums and these artists that the time has buried far in the forgetting. At the time where the Berlin School style gets metamorphosed with the presence of the MIDI technology and the massive use of samplings, a movement of resistance raged in the German underground scene. The big labels have skimmed the genre, keeping the most known names and favoring the American answer to the German EM; the New Age and the Easy Listening. Artists such as Lambert Ringlage, Stephen Parsick, Klaus Schulze (with IC), Robert Schroëder and Mario Schönwalder, to name only those, stayed the guard dogs of a movement which became a little more progressive and which at the same time was also going to give birth to the New Berlin School. It's in this stride that Spheric Music was set up. This label of Lambert Ringlage was going to produce a series of albums which would respect the tangents of the German movement, while finding a pleiad of local talents and a few outsiders. Apeiron is one of these names. Andreas Konrad is the man behind Apeiron. “Imagic” is his 3rd album to appear on Lambert's label and recuts a surprising range of a genre which literally revolutionized the musical art.
 "Way to Paradise" tickles our hearing with a lineage of twinkling stars which sparkle like knocks of baguettes on a crystal xylophone. A pad of voices invites itself quite slowly in this astral choreography, on which is also added some rollings of celestial water. Between a sordid hymn to Halloween and the seraphic moods of
Legend, "Way to Paradise" accosts our listening with a heavy and slow rhythm where the synth throws at us a very New Age acute melody that percussions make shiver with strong strikes. The approach militarizes itself, as a lot of structures on “Imagic”, with drum rolls whereas the synth stays of silk with this wonderful melody which wriggles in a series of solos of which our ears had so much forgotten all the charms. This is very beautiful, on the verge of being lyrical, it catches our attention on the spot and it's deliciously musical. And then it ends rather abruptly! The title-track starts with small ringings which seem to be trapped in winds of which the quirky dissonances tangle up in oblivion. Percussions, kind of hand drums, drum a plan of absent rhythm while quite slowly "Imagic" finds its shape. A spheroidal shape whose outlines remain fuzzy. Some nice juicy sequences join this draft movement which swirls in an astral cotton pad. The synth comes again throwing these famous solos which are the core of “Imagic”, while the track, apparently inspired by Tangerine Dream of the 80's, lost its beatings in an astral passage where a series of sequences a la Poland restructures a more progressive approach from which the essences Krautrock perspire throughout a thick cloud of superb harmonious solos. And quite slowly, the beatings and the sequences, to the acrobatics randomly so attractive, are fading away while that "Imagic" evaporates its last musical moments in some sinuous line with a resounding acoustic. I may say that it could take some times to like these strange figures of rhythms but at the end we get out of it with difficulty.
This observation goes to the whole work which has a clear tendency for being more progressive with rhythms, sometimes motionless, which change directions constantly. And this even if "Way to Paradise" seduced straightaway and that "Vortex" releases a harmonious rhythm which finds niche between our ears. The approach is always so near improvisation, or rough draft, with an intro filled with heterogeneous noises which sparkle on the back of cosmic waves. We even hear there singings of stellar whales. A structure of rhythm emerges with the complicity of two segments of sequences, one is melodic and the other organic, which skip and pound in an a little bit hesitating symbiosis. Andreas Konrad covers his tactics of rhythm to circular outline a bit blurred with more beautiful solos, as twisted as melodious, whereas the rhythm wins in velocity with other sequences which shiver as a figure of synchronized aquatic swimming. This vision applies as much to "Head-land" and "Roomless", to some variances near! After some hits of carillons, "Head-land" gets out of the limbos with an ingenious movement of sequences where the crisscrossed jumps of the keys bloom in colorful tones. Still there the electronic percussions hammer and roll in the shade of a more harmonious line which draws a slender stroboscopic filet. Although cosmic, "Head-land" spits a steady rhythm. The rhythm becomes heavier and livelier with a meshing of sequences and percussions of which the very livened up bed welcomes these fabulous solo which perfume the hybrid ambiences of “Imagic” of astral singings. After a very ambiospherical intro, "Roomless" attacks the peace of mind with a beautiful sequenced serpentine which gets loose from these morphic moods. The keys skip in waterfalls there. Trampling in the fragility of their shadows, they swirl in vaporous synth lines which remind the spirits of the Dream. In spite of the attacks of sequences and the bites of the percussions, "Roomless" remains static and swirls as a damaged stroboscopic hoop in a mishmash of sequences and percussions which have difficulty in well structuring a wild rhythm but all the same rather still. And this in spite of all these sequences which flutter and wink here and there, harmonizing their rhythmic melodies with synth solos always so lyrical while the percussions drop their last beatings in a dying structure. This is a cosmic rock rather difficult to tame but which in the end revives well enough the flames of the past. "75 Dreams" ends “Imagic” like "Way to Paradise" had started it. The chords remind me the melody of Heart and Soul, but in a delicious lento mood. The synths are always so magnetizing and flood our ears of these so seraphic e-chants which bewitch all these structures a bit complicated of a beautiful album forgotten on the counter of time and which this chronicle, I hope, will give you a little the taste to make a real beautiful detour in a period when the Berlin School was in full transformation.
Sylvain Lupari (October 19th, 2014)

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vendredi 17 octobre 2014

SEQUENTIAL DREAMS: Quantum Earth (2014)

“Solid e-rock, with a zest of IDM, flavoured of a futuristic vision, Quantum Earth has a lot to seduce those who want to rock on solid cosmic grounds”
1 Quantum Earth 6:32
2 The Universe Builders 7:26
3 Destination Terra 7:10
4 Solar Sails 6:34
5 Celestial Bodies 5:14
6 The Ice Canyons of Miranda 6:00
7 Fireflies in the Starlight 4:48
8 Infinite Improbabilities 11:52

Sequential Dreams Bandcamp (DDL 55:38) ***½
( Psybient and Psybeat E-rock)
Sound waves take the shape of air-raid sirens. The roarings are quieting down in a kind of din from where raises a heavy jerky structure of rhythm. With a plethora of bass sequences and pulsations, electronic and guitar riffs, as well as a lot of percussions with skins of Bongo drums which are thundering a lively rhythm of which the futuristic tribal approaches have quite the appearances of a solid cosmic e-rock a la Jarre, the title-track of “Quantum Earth” sets the tone to another solid album of electronic rock with a futuristic dimension from this collective project (Celestial View, The Roboter, Johan Tronestam, Kuutana and Synthesist) that is Sequential Dreams. Without surprises, the international quintet offers an album where the rhythms are sometimes raging in moods from time to time sieved by moderations and where the harmonies always hang on to the hairs of our ears. Hard-hitting, with short passages a bit more moderated, "Quantum Earth" forces our eardrums with a heavy and lively electronic approach which is lying on a meshing of sequences and percussions to which are added beautiful ethereal synth pads, filled of sweet artificial voices, which counterbalance the ferocity of the rhythm. For the fans of Sequential Dreams, we are on familiar ground. And I would add that this “Quantum Earth” is a little wilder with a technoïd approach which is very near to a loud IDM. The rhythms cross the tribal aromas, in particular because of the bongo drums, in envelopes which mix the mid and the down tempos. But it's heavy. This is strong e-rock very influenced by the periods of electronic rhythms from Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream. When to those who like an EM tortured by keen percussions and stormy sequences far from the wanderings sequenced of Berlin School, excepted for the very beautiful "Infinite Improbabilities", and closer to a type of psybeat, Sequential Dreams should appears in your notebook of discoveries to come.
"The Universe Builders" also begins with a long whoosh and a lot of short whaash. The intro is fascinating with a double speed sonic dialect which will call back the attempts of communication in Close Encounter. Soon, the rhythm begins to sparkle and gesticulate with deep sequences before falling in a kind of heavy hip-hop with a pace, clubbed by robust percussions and bangings of hands, which skips in a puddle of pulsations, gurgling and electronic winds. Break-dance or hip-hop; "The Universe Builders" skips and pounds with sequences which flicker mockingly and orchestral synth pads which make counterweight to this tempo pounding in a thousand of sound flavors. Less heavy and closer to synth-pop, "Destination Terra" crackles on a structure of electronic percussions and sequences with an unbridled flow, while the harmonious envelope crosses as much a cosmic, at both ambient and ethereal, as a synth-pop. Just like "Celestial Bodies" moreover, but which leans more towards a strong IDM. "Solar Sails" is the relaxation moment on “Quantum Earth”. Its intro is seraphic and the rhythm which holds its hand is silky slow and soaked of a dense sound fauna which brings a bit of distortion. "The Ice Canyons of Miranda" offers a structure of sequences where a line of jumping keys gallops in the harmonies of another more fragile line. The synths bathe the atmospheres of a heavenly approach which is very near the fragrances of Tangerine Dream. In fact, the rhythm moves with good percussions and with beautiful harmonies which make relive the vibe of the Canyon Dreams. It's beautiful synth-pop, as much delicate and cheerful as "Destination Terra". "Fireflies in the Starlight" brings the clock to rhythm with a heavy mid-tempo which oscillates on good sequences, as lively as those bongo drum percussions, which thunder to the ton and with solid riffs of an e-guitar which remind the Miramar ambiences, always from TD. And like on every track of “Quantum Earth”, the music dives into a more dreamy, a more ethereal passage, before taking back its shape with subtle modifications in its structure. The introduction of "Infinite Improbabilities" makes us revisit the dreamy moods of Flashpoint with a line of bass sequences of which the oscillations crawl under the charms of a synth to the singings flavored by the flutes of desert. A carpet of prisms covers this sneaky rhythm whereas the singings take on a dress of spectres. The ambiences are on the edge of the works from the psychotronic era with organic pulsations and threatening synth pads which depict the evolutionary rhythms of the Dream, periods Wavelength and Near Dark. Moreover it's about this album that I'm thinking when the percussions approach the moods with strong disordered strikes, turning upside down a passive rhythm which gesticulates like a poisoned skeleton before becoming as steady as the good passages of Near Dark. By far, the most fascinating track on “Quantum Earth” which at the end is a solid album of electronic rock to the trends always so futuristic.
Sylvain Lupari (October 17th, 2014)

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jeudi 16 octobre 2014

ASURA: Radio-Universe (2014)

“Here is another gogeous psybient opus from the magical lands of Ultimae Records”
1 Overture 9:56
2 Interlude Sky 7:17
3 Oblivion Gravity 11:57
4 Gaea (Transit) 1:08
5 Ascension in Blue 7:58
6 Farscape 7 7:20
7 Lonely Star 8:30
8 Illuminations 8:51
9 Back to Earth 4:02
10 Everlasting (Album Edit) 9:56

Ultimae Records | inre057 (CD/DDL 77:00) ****
(Psybient and psychill)
I don't know for you, but I always wait for the new appearances of the label Ultimae Records with an impatience and an auditive curiosity which are rewarded at every time. And as each time, I am sceptical in front of this sound fauna where quietly the atmospheres are outlined, the rhythms take shape and the melodies weave some very attractive musical itches. The magic operates and the charms bewitch me. I know that I am far from my hobbyhorse, bass sequenced or ambient Berlin School, but the craftsmen who nest on this label have the gift to create sound mosaics, covered with parasitic noises and by atmospheres more than supernatural, of which the dissonance always ends to harmonize in a matchless harmonious crescendo. One calls that of psybient or psychill. And there is of everything! Like these notes of Kyoto which pearl in hollow winds and secret quaverings. Notes of a pensive piano are also roaming in a silvered drizzle under the eye of a sonic revolving light which covers the ambiences of "Overture" of his its circular sonic beams. A countdown may blow the almost parasitic vibes of this opening of the last Asura's album that they remain passive. And this, even with these gas explosions a la Blade Runner which adorn the decoration of "Overture" of a texture of science fiction. An enveloping wave, full of sizzling light, sweeps the horizons with several mass arrivals, flooding our ears of a seraphic choir and with a song of spectre hummed by synth waves of a Martenot sort of. Rich in sound textures and in white noises, the last work to come from the Ultimae Records studios remains faithful to its impeccable catalog. With its lunar rhythms, its ambiences which mix stellar and terrestrial life and its luxuriant ambiosonic fauna, “Radio-Universe” from Asura, his fourth album on Ultimae is an audacious and very attractive odyssey in the universe of sounds and far beyond.
Shapeless synth hoops, singing of synth to the interstellar harmonies and mislaid pulsations; the introduction of "Interlude Sky" catches our ears with a superb seraphic choir which sings on the bed of a timeless sonic rivulet. The ambiences rebel themselves and a sketch of rhythm makes gesticulate its oscillatory keys which wave restlessly while a stroboscopic line crosses a nervous structure of rhythm which will always remain implosive. The sonic adventure continues with the weary bass pulsations of "Oblivion Gravity" which pounds randomly in a strong ambiosonic current. We enter a universe rich in sounds and vibes with this long soporific ballad where some silvery lines snore in the secret gravitational harmonies of a bass line which will never give birth to rhythm. Except that "Oblivion Gravity" explodes like a huge volcano in its gravitational universe, bringing the dreamers that we are on the wings of beautiful floating orchestrations. After the brief breezes of "Gaea (Transit)", the introduction of "Ascension in Blue" gets in our ears with a scent of
Blade Runner. Explosions and tears teem among synth lines which remind me of Jean Michel Jarre in Ethnicolor. A keyboard shells its pensive chords here while the background let floating a threatening crescendo. It's very touching. Almost poetic with a melancholic approach where we can imagine songs of stellar whales wandering in a sonic cloth filled of prisms. Evolving in a kind of ambiospherical crescendo which follows the curve of the rhythms, “Radio-Universe” reveals its core with a movement of sound swing which introduces its rhythmic phase. "Farscape 7" floods our ears with pads of white noises which go and come in movements of percussions a bit military-cosmic. The very ethereal voice of Ayten is simply surrounding. Her orgasmic songs pave the way to a wonderful lunar melody which makes sing its prismic stars. The debit is fragile. Sometimes interrupted, it restarts with an ambient rhythm a little heavier. The percussions beat it with good strikings while the pads of cracklings sparkle even more in our ears and while the songs of Ayten is coupling to a seraphic choir. This is a very good passage which leads us towards the splendid "Lonely Star" and of its pensive piano which misleads its thoughtful notes in futuristic visions. A pulsatory line spits its sonic poison while the melody hangs on to its nostalgia. The percussions weigh down its movement of mid-tempo while the notes forget their tears deep into some beautiful orchestrations which waltz in a brilliant movement of sequences whose static keys sparkle in a wide bench of sizzling waves. Synth solos are crying while the sequences blink in an intense and heavy movement which hesitates between its gravity and its evasive melancholy, making thus of "Lonely Star" a very beautiful psychedelic melody where the disorder goes eventually harmonized in a vaporous finale and where the notes of piano get melt in the breezes of interferences. It's catchy and very beautiful. Jerky movements of drums and Middle East clanic percussions, "Illuminations" oscillates between a briskly rhythm, stoned to death by good percussions, and its ambient short phases which perk up a rhythm fattening its fury with an incredible heaviness. It's a weighty psybient and rather lively which evaporates in the oasis tranquillity of "Back to Earth" and of its impressive avian fauna. I hear Kitaro (Silk Road era) in an intense envelope of sonic eccentricities. Most of Ultimae Records albums always end with an assassin track. A kind of track which explodes the slow crescendo approaches of psybient or cosmic chill music and which made the fame of this label. And "Everlasting" does not make exception. It's a delicious torrid down-tempo where every pulsation, each beating is piercing our heart and where the enveloping synth waves cover us of gloom. There is a small tinkled melody which tears a hole in this sonic density and which brings us to another level. But always, these wrapping synth waves, and their so seraphic singings, floods us in a sound immensity which is so powerful that we have difficulty in seizing all of its dimension. Our ears overflow and our heart bleeds. And it's heavy, it's poignant and it's especially the signal that another very beautiful album comes to decorate the luxuriant discography of the Lyon label.
Sylvain Lupari (October 16th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca 

mardi 14 octobre 2014

PHOBOS: Sector Four (2014)

“Sector Four is yet another fine opus of dark ambient music from Phobos”

Sector Four 69:39
Phobos Music (CD/DDL 69:39) ***½
(Dark Ambient Music)
A warm breeze out of nowhere lifts the subtle particles of the windy harmonies from “Sector Four”. These euphonies exchange the refulgence of the first breaths to be transformed into more somber, hollower winds. Winds which will always be at the heart of this atonal symphony and of these secret singings which little by little are coppering themselves of more astral, more cosmic atmospheres. Letting ourselves being absorbed by the hot cosmic winds of "Sector Four", and of their sibylline complexions, it is to agree to let travel our aura in the abstruse territories of the dark ambient music of Phobos. David Thompson is structuring a long ambient dawn serenade where only the fine subtleties bud the slow implosions which redirect in delicacy the flows of winds, the immobility of the movements. Except that there is nothing really new in the darkness of Phobos. Much less dark than Darker (can we really have darker?), but just as much atonal, “Sector Four” is a long ambient journey where the listener has constantly this sensation to float with celestial bodies throughout the 70 minutes that lasts this concerto for winds mislaid in the cosmic corridors. It's quiet. Very quiet! The delicate morphic changes chase away a possible boredom with momentums full of restraint which propel every segment of “Sector Four” towards new horizons of night-contemplativity. Flowing like an invisible water into the profound bed of a cosmographical river, the 70 minutes of "Sector Four" switch around quite slowly the sensibility of the intersidereal breaths which trade its translucent suntans for more neurasthenic tints. Composed and played with a minimum of equipment (VST and plug-ins), Phobos digs the grooves of his sonic breaths like an architect polishes lovingly his mouldings in order to harmonize them with the singings of winds. An opus exclusively ambient whose atone form exchanges imperceptibly according to the slow peaceful oscillations, “Sector Four” makes us adrift in a nothingness skillfully put in sounds by David Thompson who always finds a way to charm the listening with fine modulations in his times.
Sylvain Lupari (October 13th, 2014)

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dimanche 12 octobre 2014

ZANOV: Virtual Future (2014)

“Solid sci-fi rock wrapped up in sonic ambiences and membranes coming out of future, Virtual Future exceeds the usual borders of EM”
1 Very Far 9:41
2 Neuronal Storm 7:31
3 World Adrift 5:44
4 Brain Activity 5:37
5 Conscience in Danger 4:18
6 Alone Again 6:14
7 The Final Cut 4:11

Zanov Music (CD 43:27) **** (Sci-fi E-Rock)
Surprisingly, in spite of all the panoply of electronic instruments and their infinite possibilities, few artists made a purely futuristic sonic bend. The musical genre has found rather shelter in an experimental approach, favoring the improvisations sessions or the minimalist structures versus a more structured artistic approach. And while the cosmic music of Jean Michel Jarre made us travel in stars and the cosmic rock of Tangerine Dream pushed us in the hallucinogenic musing, Zanov upset the chessboard with a clearly more strategic music which already, in 1976, breathed of this strange perfume of science fiction. And after an absence of more than 30 years, the French synth wizard makes a strong comeback with an album, but especially a style, which starts again where In Course of Time had stopped.
Well hid in an artwork which depicts pretty well the musical approach of Pierre Salkazanov, "Very Far" gets loose from its ambient sound strands to spit an oscillatory rhythm which makes roll its ample rhythmic loops beneath the spectral singings of a synth to the harmonies as much melancholic as a person sentenced to death. Zanov follows his curve of time by watering his music of sound effects worthy of a futuristic movie, while the harmonies divide into halves their melodious spectres on a structure of rhythm which reasons its mad course for a beautiful ambiocosmic passage where rise ambient organic noises. These fascinating white cosmic noises withdraw to give room to a nice lunar melody of which the aromas of French movies of the 60's are now surrounded by a mix of ghostly and sci-fi rustles. The rhythm takes back its rights. Slower, it's dying in sonic clouds with prisms tinted of solitude. This is as much beautiful as striking. More black and vampiric, "Neuronal Storm" stole all the same the rhythmic basis of "Very Far". The percussions slam, the cosmic effects abound and the rhythm remains proud of its jerky pulsations and of its robotics percussions which couple to a beat of futuristic rock where synths subdivide the approaches with lines fed by white noises and by cooing solos. This sounds as Kraftwerk, for the rhythm, on Jarre, for the cosmic ambiences. Ambiences which also wrap the very ambient "World Adrift" and its dialect molded in a mixture of interferences and crushed harmonies. Psy sci-fi at its best? Not as much as the delicious black march of "Alone Again" where one would say an irregular robot which roams without its mother board. After an intro fed by uncertainty and by its noises as colorful as its ill-assorted harmonies, "Brain Activity" offers a structure of rhythm as crawling than on "Alone Again". Except that the march is blacker, closer to the cabalistic moods of the Phantom of the Opera, but in a version of the 2222 year. "Consciousness in Danger" is less quirky, although the delicious ambiences of a universe in dissolution always abound, and offer a more invigorated structure of rhythm, let's say between "Very Far" and "Neuronal Storm", with arpeggios and sequences of which the parallel movements are waving or flickering in a rich ambiospheric pattern torn between the past and the future. After the very funeral "Alone Again", which is literally going to nail you on your armchair, "The Final Cut" awakens our senses with a lively rhythm which taps of the foot with impatience in a sonic envelope where the words chew our ears and the gurglings flip them from back to front.
Strong sci-fi rock (remember these scenes of dance-music in Star Wars) wrapped up into sonic ambiences and membranes which go out of future; Zanov builds, beat by beat and futuristic vibes between-welded, a sonic universe which exceeds the usual borders of EM such as we know it. And I have to admit that I was taken by surprise by all this luxuriant sound fauna of the Zanov universe. My distant memories remind me an album (In Course of Time) that my friends praised as brilliant, while my senses were still numbed by
Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene and by Tangerine Dream's Stratosfear. It is only years later, Internet and Napster helping, that I was lucky enough hear again In Course of Time and I had been struck by the very avant-gardist approach of Zanov. In spite of 30 years which separate “Virtual Future” of its embryo (Nous Reprenons Notre Avenir), this last album of Zanov breathes of all this sonic freshness that the French synthesist had blown on EM of the 70's. This just goes to show that he was really a stage farther than a lot of EM craftsmen. A sensation which is always so present with this very good “Virtual Future”. Let's just wish that Pierre Salkazanov will reedit his catalog for the biggest good of EM which should visit the intersidereal spaces skillfully sounded by Zanov much more often, so much the possibilities seem to me so infinite.
Sylvain Lupari (October 12th, 2014)

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