jeudi 29 janvier 2015

FRANK AYERS: Different Skies (2014)

“Different Skies is a big surprise filled by splendid sonic perfumes. A travel through time where EM shines of all its assets”
1 Different Skies PART.I 6:43
2 Different Skies PART.II 4:38
3 Different Skies PART.III 5:40
4 Different Skies PART.IV 6:18
5 Different Skies PART.V 5:24
6 Different Skies PART.VI 6:24
7 Different Skies PART.VII 6:21
8 Different Skies PART.VIII 5:54

Frank Ayers | Bandcamp (CD/DDL 46:37) ****½
(Cosmic, astral and melodious EM)
It has been a long time that I talk about it; France is becoming little by little the new nerve center of EM, a little as Poland was it in the turning of the 2000's. There are fine artists who emerge constantly. I think of Sequentia Legenda, Pharamond (Sylvain Mazars), Kryfels and now Frank Ayers. There is also the ones of the old guard like Olivier Briand, Alpha Lyra (Christian Piednoir), MoonSatellite and Bertrand Loreau who, from time to time, come by to surprise our ears with works always eager of the new contemporary tendencies wrapped by old analog perfumes. That is without forgetting the experimental side of EM which remains the pride of the French electronic art (one remember of Messe pour le Temps Présent de Maurice Béjard?). And where is situated “Different Skies”? Far from the experimental! In fact Frank Ayers is doing melancholic and outstandingly romantic with a cosmic work where Vangelis, for the melancholy, Jarre, for the cosmic rhythms and ambiences, Klaus Schulze, for the minimalist rhythms in jerks, and finally Tangerine Dream, for the very melodious approach of the Schmoelling years, enchant our ears in what I call a delicious electronic sound feast.
From the first astral blows of wind of "Different Skies PART.I", we agree about the New Age control that Frank Ayers has on his vision of electronic harmonies. The tone is warm. I have flashes of Nik Tyndall which light my ears. The movement is celestial with peaceful larvas of synth which interlace and glitter in the echo of arpeggios' ringing of which the reflections of prism are tanning in the sun. We are in the sky of the gods. “Different Skies” is an immersion into unknown heavens. An astral journey inspired by distant and enigmatic soundscapes which are drawn from the imagination of sci-fi books authors such as Arthur C.Clarke and Frank Herbert. The approach is very soft, very musical. A sinuous reverberating line is winding among prismic stars, cosmic spherical bells and dreamlike orchestrations which will remind the first works of Kitaro. A synthesized language perfumes the astral oceans with delicate solos which will awaken Tim Blake's memories. Solos which quite slowly divert the peaceful moods of "Different Skies PART.I" towards a rhythm delicately sequenced with keys which skip and waddle from an ear to another, caressing the harmonious rhythmic patterns of the Halloween genre, from John Carpenter. As you read, there are a lot of references here. And the list will grow. This sequence of minimalist rhythm is running away saves from embraces of mists to dance all alone in the intro of "Different Skies PART.II". The shadows get loose and dance with more delicacy, in order to weave a more harmonic parallel figure. The effect of cascade in sequences is quite attractive, even if it sounds familiar, and the duel rhythm / harmony unveils a delicate intensity with the addition of another line of sequences as well as pulsations of bass sequences. An interesting pattern of ambient rhythm begins then to glisten, as to resound under wandering synth pads and breezes a bit nasal. We are still in the edge of “Different Skies” and everything gets harmonize with delicacy. Then comes the very ambient and cosmic "Different Skies PART.III". The synth pads float lazily in oniric cosmic fogs, reminding me a little of Thierry Fervent's universe.
This slow ambio-cosmic movement serves as bridge between the delicate rhythm of "Different Skies PART.II" and the one of "Different Skies PART.IV" which is more lively and deliciously seducing with these lines of sequences which run and stumble in an always rather ambient figure. Voice pads and sweet solos, whistled by very warm breezes, invite us in a feast of the beautiful analog years whereas the rhythm is always offering these upward spirals where the keys are running against the tide, forging these rhythmic paradoxes so unique to the Berlin School. The race stops a little after the 4th minute, diving "Different Skies PART.IV" to a beautiful dreamlike and relaxing passage, before that "Different Skies PART.V" is whipping our ears with a lively and jerky structure of rhythm. The jumping keys agglutinate, skip on the spot with fury and crush their shadows in a kind of staccato cosmic full of traps and pitfalls. The serpentines of sequences and the spasmodic jerks parade in an astral decoration (do you hear these gongs?) which is wrapped by these stellar mists, by these intergalactic dialogues and by cosmic effects where
Jarre and Baffo Banfi are meeting (you remember Earthstar?) in a sonic sky sprinkled with delicate solos. Frank Ayers wanted absolutely to revisit the golden age of EM.  And he didn't miss his target, that's for sure. We are on cloud nine here. "Different Skies PART.VI" brings us to another level of contemplativity with sonic auroras borealis which are coloring brightly a horizon broken by drum rolls and tears of metallic percussions, but charmingly decorated with shining stars of which the solitary songs get lost in the long night gaps. It's there that "Different Skies PART.VII" makes jump our ears with a lively and shrill rhythm which couples with another line slightly less piercing. Then comes a strange ballet with oscillations shortened of curt movements. One would say a continual  movement of allegorical kicks where sequences sparkle and glitter into some uneven figures. Synth pads to the silvered charms add a very TD electronic dimension to this rhythm which makes move more the ideas than the members but which remains charmingly lively. The kicks get out of breath and "Different Skies PART.VII" embraces a brief moment of misty ambiences with winds, rustlings, howlings of dented bodywork as well as a panoply of cybernetic elements and some rather avant-gardist electronic effects which remind all the wealth and the borders of the electronic art. Wealth which bursts even more violently in "Different Skies PART.VIII" and its bouncy structure of rhythm. Ambient, this rhythm quivers with an alignment of bright hoops which collide their stroboscopic shadows under the laconic pulsations of a bass sequence. The sound structure glitters with fragrances of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream with rolling of percussions, Babylonian breaths, serpentines lamentations and synth lines decorated of modernist which adopt the madness of this electronic staccato of which the fine nuances avoid the traps of redundancy. And that ends in banks of mist, strengthening even more Frank Ayers' vision which offers his “Different Skies” a subtle mixture of genres and times. A very beautiful and musical album that you will still listen to in 10 years.
Sylvain Lupari (January 29th, 2015) &

mardi 27 janvier 2015


“Titanic, Paradise is probably, imho of course, Bernd Kistenmacher best album to life”

1 Ghosts 4:52
2 Born from Innocence 16:18
3 Devastating Destruction 7:33
4 Raindance 12:09
5 Distant Danger 6:53
6 Everlasting Magic 8:45
7 Belt of Forests 9:14

Mir Records | MI10080 (CD 65:37) ***** (Symphonic EM)
Bernd Kistenmacher had literally riveted my ears to my loudspeakers with the striking Utopia. He managed to implant a rather dramatic cachet in black intrusive universe where the dissonance has found the roads of harmony. Clearly more melodious, a bit less clashing, a little more ambiospherical but always so wrapped by an immense dramatic veil, “Paradise” lies down its fascinating influence on our senses. The paradise in question is literally the one that we wish at the end of our days. Is it a utopia? The link is to make, so much Bernd Kistenmacher pulls us with so much subtlety in the spheres of a fantasy that alone we have the keys of the secret.
Singings of birds are waiting for our ears at the opening of "Ghosts". Their chants are melting in a threatening decoration where are muttering breaths of thunder and oozes a rain which becomes more and more plentiful. An attractive sound fauna unveils little by little its charms as time goes by and  as "Ghosts" evaporates  in its dust. Delicate philharmonic breezes are blowing among the paradisiacal birdsongs, bringing these soft ambiences outside the paths of sadness. Of all this, there will be the vestiges of a forgotten melody which will resuscitate in the tumults of "Born from Innocence". But before, its intro shines like a rivulet of prisms delicately whipped by lazy breezes. An unctuous wave gets gild by the charms of a flute, while slowly some notes of a Hispanic guitar try to lure the percussions which are tumbling more and more heavily. The tumult, the dissonance of
Utopia is reborn here. The rhythm of "Born from Innocence" is hammered by titanic percussions which structure a heavy and slow war march. The melody buried in "Ghosts" splashes up here by the breaths of a philharmonic synth. The rhythm is shaking with frantic percussions. Angelic voices perfume the ambiences of a celestial approach while the heavy bass line inflates its trumpetings. We dive into the comfortable Kistenmacher frenzy. Violent thunders of percussions roll like infernal waves of rhythm, propelling whispers and sniggers. Voices, elements of paranoia get graft in a hubbub as much dissonant as this heavy and violent structure of rhythm which will free itself of its madness at around the 9th minute into a more rock structure. And as if it was possible, "Born from Innocence" glorifies itself of a fluid rhythm, surprisingly musical. A kind of heavy but fluid hip-hop which quietly turns around in the electronic markers of its intro. Wonderful and totally exhilarating! Already, I feel that this “Paradise” will fill me of pleasure, as much as Utopia. From a snore of a chainsaw to that of a big bumblebee, the intro of "Devastating Destruction" does nothing to moderate my waits. And as soon as the chords of nostalgic Vangelis go out from dusts of trees coming to fall, the magic remains stuck deep in my eardrums. Sad and oppressive, "Devastating Destruction" is a very meditative piece with a synth to the harmonies weaved straight from the tears rolling on our cheeks.

"Raindance" is the other huge jewel of “Paradise”. The bass line is of a kind of groove with chords which pulse and wave on the rollings of the percussions. Percussions which rub a hymn more rock than electronic, whereas keyboard chords get mix up with guitar riffs which fall nonchalantly, pecking at a ambiguous rhythm which magnetizes us of its skin of cosmic rock. This is no more and no less a continuity of "Born from Innocence", but in a less dissonant envelope and in a more poignant crescendo. The heaviness is omnipresent there. And the cinematographic veil is just as much intense with enthralling layers to the aromas of old penetrating organ. The same goes for "Distant Danger" where these layers float on the tick-tocks of an asymmetrical metronome. There are also ashes of Utopia mixed up in these synth layers. The tick-tocks become frantic tam-tams. And "Distant Danger" is melting into a stunning tribal rhythm filled by deep Roach fragrances where the movement, all the same rather violent, floats more that it moves. It's rather transported, livened up by synth pads in the colors of old apocalyptic organ which float as the shadows of vampires on some unchained tam-tams. Majestic! I'm nailed to my armchair. And that doesn't stop! A distant drone emerges from the silence to mold these fascinating black twists which embrace the tormented melody, and drummed on a keyboard, of "Everlasting Magic". Of its minimalist cocoon, the melody wraps itself of nuances of which the dark veils shape the slow impulses which guide its movement through a thick cloud of twinkling prisms. We cannot deny the influences of Vangelis on the works of Bernd Kistenmacher and it's even more striking on this track which uses perfumes of superb orchestrations. And these orchestrations are slow, anfractuous and enveloping in "Belt of Forests". The prisms are always shining here, but they are wrapped by orchestral caresses which are transformed into violent torrents of staccato, imposing a hatched rhythm where violins and cellos bicker between violence and tenderness in a filmic structure where the disorder is astride on paradoxes before losing any swiftness in the jingles of the chords and the bass pulsations which brand our ears by all this dimension of a work that we hoped anymore after the powerful starting gun which was Utopia. Hat to you Bernd! Here is your best album to life.
Sylvain Lupari (January 26th, 2015) &

samedi 24 janvier 2015

ROACH, METCALF & THOMAS: Monuments of Ecstasy (2015)

“Monuments of Ecstasy is of an incredible sound wealth that will challenge the limits of your imagination”
1 Archaic Layers 11:29 
2 Monuments of Trance 16:31 
3 Primal Analog 9:20 
4 Molecules of Momentum 9:05 
5 Monuments of Ecstasy 15:08 
6 This Place on Earth 4:36

Projekt | PRO313 (CD/DDL 66:07) ****½
(A mix of ambient and frantic tribal EM)
Tribal ambient!? Everything but ambient! Even if at times the rhythms are a little less frantic. This last collaboration Roach/Metcalf, with this time the contribution of the master of disturbing shaman voices in the person of Rob Thomas, is of an incredible sound wealth with an impressive play of percussions, as acoustic as electronic, which cements more than 60 minutes of soundscapes which will challenge the limits of your imagination. The percussions are thundering, hammering, ploughing and tumbling in structures of rhythms, as much as semi-ambient than frenzied, which raise proudly the meaning of a naming such as “Monuments of Ecstasy”. The electronic and tribal effects enrich structures that I would describe more gliding, more floating than as totally ambient. And the nirvana is doubtless the wonderful title-track which shows without any doubts that EM remains very beautiful, even when it's out of its comfort zone. Once again, the universes of Roach and Metcalf are sparkling with magic. Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf and Rob Thomas unite their fates and their passions in order to make us topple over into a universe where the bewitchment takes quite its senses. “Monuments of Ecstasy” wears a unique signature which leaves an undeniable imprint of enchantment deep in the bottom of our ears.
A long drone perfumes the more or less cosmic introduction of "Archaic Layers". Woosh, wish and wash abound. They whistle by forming some long and sinuous cosmic lassoes, while quite slowly the awakening of the percussions will feed the merciless structure of fervent tribal rhythms that will whip almost the whole of “Monuments of Ecstasy”. Imagine 6 hands which beat wildly various drum skins and you have the color of the rhythms which get breathless the dance spirits of this last effort that offers us the trio
Roach, Metcalf and Thomas. The ruminations of the didge and the synth lines of Roach decorate this furious rhythm which eventually calmed down a little after the bar of 7 minutes to dive into a little more meditative atmospheres. These minutes, as well as "This Place on Earth" and the intro/outros will be the only ambient phases of an album which can only seduce, both by the strength of its rhythms and by the meshing of an impressive pattern of clanic percussions. "Monuments of Trance" starts slowly. Transported by the undulatory breaths of the didge, it proposes a tribal/ambient rhythm with heavy percussions which bewitch both the listening and the senses. The effect in a room is totally intrusive. The rhythm remains linear, minimalist. But there are so many jingles, nuances in the strikes of percussions and in the charms of the guttural hummings that we just don't see time passing by, nor the 16 minutes of it. Very impressive! Especially the ferocious spasmodic rhythm of a finale which brings us to another level of spiritual trance. "Primal Analog" skips from an ear to another with a delicious electronic approach. The modular synth weaves superb oscillations which wave along with the breaths of didge and the organic tones, while the percussions, rather sober, and the elytrons of steel forge a delicious ambient rhythm which magnetizes the listening. "Molecules of Momentum" gets out from the soils of "Monuments of Trance". The rhythm is however less dark with a subtle effect of gap which makes it feel a little more furious. The electronic effects are just well measured while the shaman murmurs prick constantly the curiosity of the ears. The approach brushes even an atmosphere of African jungle with tones as much organic than animal. This is a beautiful mixture which is cementing more and more while "Molecules of Momentum" explores a clearly more frantic structure in its second half. This immersion effect in hostile territories is clearly more tangible in the very beautiful "Monuments of Ecstasy". Between electronic and tribal moods, the title-track is a pure moment of delight. The percussions roll an ambient rhythm from where emerges a fascinating organic flora while the synth throws an immense pattern of morphic mist and takes good care to accommodate us of an intrusive melody. A superb electronic, invisible and magical melody! That could last hours, you know the universe Roach, that it would always be magic! Just like this impressive album which is going to join a lineage of little masterpieces so unique to the universe of Steve Roach. Strongly recommendable, even if Roach is not in your taste. To me, it's the best way to adopt him!
Sylvain Lupari (January 24th, 2015) &

jeudi 22 janvier 2015

OLIVIER BRIAND: The Tape (2014)

“Like Phillipe Valin has written it; The Tape is Olivier Briand's very own Moondawn. This is what EM is all about!”

1 Part I 10:37
2 Part II 8:30
3 Part III 2:04
4 Part IV 5:31
5 Part V 16:58
6 Part VI 3:21
7 Part VII 9:48
8 Part VIII 4:49

PWM Association (CD-r 61:44) *****
(Mix of vintage, modern and avant-gardist EM)
My distinguished colleague to the very esthetic feather, Phillipe Valin, whose Blog Clair & Obscur is among the finest in the field, qualifies this last album from Olivier Briand as being no more and no less his Moondawn. On a scale of 10, he rated the album at 9.5! Knowing his very selective appetite for this kind music, I had more and more haste to listen to this last album of the one who had lifted me from the ground with the excellent Transparences in 2012. And after some listenings I only have to agree with what Philippe has written. But I'll go further by saying that “The Tape” is in the lineage of the big works. Not only the best from Briand, but the best album of 2014! Here is why...
Don't let yourself being fooled by the very ambiospherical approach of "Part I". Quietly, the synth wizard of Nantes is setting the tone, is setting the basis of “The Tape”. A synth to nasal tones is whistling its airs a bit cheerful which coo in banks of mist of which the nebulosity caresses a cozy rivulet of prismic sequences. Quite slowly, we are getting bewitched. A line of bass makes pulsing some jumping keys while the synth exchanges its charming singings for those of a nightingale in tints of jazz which always shouts and still in a more and more charming sound decoration. A sonic background which reborn out of the vast reverberations from the waves of the bass. And as nothing ever is stigmatized in the ease in
Olivier Briand's universe, "Part I" plunges a little into a kind of ambiospherical indiscipline with solos without leaders which skim now a more cosmic approach, as well as some soft and weak breezes of Orion. What always has differentiate the music of Briand is his visceral desire to restore in synths the letters of noblesse that they have lost in all this puddle of harmonious sequences of the New Berlin School mode. Here he fills our ears of delicate electronic flavors with solos to the thousand twists, hypnotizing our attention which perceives well enough these sequences and these percussions which are born and are reborn in a sonic mishmash where are glittering the wave-like prisms of sequences and interlacing solos bearing the soul of forsaken violin tunes. Little by little, the ambient disorder of "Part I" is melting in the structure of "Part II" and of its intro where one believe to encounter an amphibian night-world. The movement of sequences weaves this ambient rhythm which glitters so much like those of Tangerine Dream in the Jive years. We hear the elytrons of metal flickering in the celestial mists as well as the long gurglings of an organic beast. And the sequences begin to dance, to skip. The movement of sequences makes some brief kicks with keys which dance awkwardly on the spot, increasing subtly a pace which catches briskly a heavy pulsating bass line. There is a kind of dramatic mood which bites our eardrums with a threatening mist which always floats in the background. The tension rises. We feel it! The elytrons are clicking more and more and solos become more and more aggressive. And when Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's percussions tumble down; I hear the analogy with Moondawn!!! They roll on a delicious structure of rhythm from the analog years. And they float on the wings of mist as much as they knock down the dissonant harmonies of the numerous synth solos with tones just as much mocking as nasal. Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's play is sublime. Very near Harald Grosskopf with surgical strikes which enrich this electronic / acoustic symbiosis while giving an impression of live which floats throughout “The Tape”.
The rhythmic movement of the short "Part III" awakens in me some souvenirs of Richard Pinhas' sequences in his East-West. The synth solos are also shrill but surprisingly very harmonious. The battle between contemporary and vintage rages. We are in a kind of a still virgin territory where the analogue flirts with the digital technology and it's even more convincing with the intro of "Part IV" where the synths remind me of
Jarre and his Revolutions. The synth airs and tones, as well as the ambiences and this structure of rhythm in a perpetual restructuring, will remind for some of you those delights of Edgar Froese in his Stuntman and Pinnacles albums. Quietly we go towards the sublime "Part V" and of its famous duel between sequencer and Mourad Ait Abdelmalek. The long intro amplifies each second the explosion to come with electronic percussions and sequences always so gleaming. The drum invites itself in the duel at about the 7th minute, giving all the analog latitude to other shiny solos from Olivier Briand. This is as great as "Part II", even a little more violent. But not as on "Part VI" whose bridge is always so deliciously ambio-cosmic kind. It's a great space rock with kicks of free-jazz which scatters its fury in the first minutes of "Part VII" which revisits a little, in a more rock structure, "Part II" and "Part V". Except that I hear, with a great pleasure, this crackling of Richard Pinhas' percussions here. PinhasSchulze and Tangerine Dream! All this in a pure electronic envelope. What to ask furthermore? And quietly “The Tape” rushes towards its last minutes. And no way that Olivier Briand will end this in meditative atmospheres! "Part VIII" livens up those last moments with a beautiful battle between sequences and electronic percussions among which the strikes and the kicks fidget under a carpet of contemporary electronic ambiences. The loop is so looped!
Why “The Tape” is the best after albums such as 
Node 2 and Umbra from Arc? Beyond the fact that we have this very perceptible sensation to have the  ears riveted to a mini recital, the big strength of “The Tape” lies in this splendid mixture of old and modern. The old analog perfumes of Klaus Schulze and Pinhas mixed in the pure rhythms of Jarre and in the sequences of Tangerine Dream's Jive years. Olivier Briand casts a wide net here. And he makes it with a vision where the spirit of the cosmic rock of the vintage years can marvelously goes alongside to the new madnesses allowed by the infinite possibilities of EM and of its accessories. And admit that Schulze with TD, while passing by Jarre and Pinhas, has enough to charm the most demanding of us here.
Sylvain Lupari (January 22nd, 2015) &

mardi 20 janvier 2015

ARCANE: Aphelion (E.P. / 2015)

“All the charm of Aphelion lies in this continual growth which possesses a listening all the time dumbfounded by this art that only Paul Lawler possesses; reinvent the TD sound and legend”

1 Aphelion 1 5:24
2 Aphelion 2 5:19
3 Aphelion 3 6:43
4 Aphelion 4 10:13

Paul Lawler Bandcamp (DDL 27:42) ***½
(E-rock for picture minded)
Those, and there are several, who want and/or think that Tangerine Dream doesn't have completely explore all the veins of its sound experiments; Arcane is the answer to your expectations, to your recriminations. Since Gather Darkness, in 1999, that the music of Arcane follows the shades of that of Tangerine Dream. In fact, the music, the myths and the legends of Tangerine Dream versus those of Arcane are so much near one of the others that we have to investigate the fascinating birth of the English trio who saw, little by little, two of his members leaving the ship in rather misty circumstances, leaving the rudder to none other than Paul Lawler. But let's get back to the music. To “Aphelion”! Contrary to Revenants, “Aphelion” is less heavy, more melodious even with its Near Dark ashes falling here and there. Paul Lawler brings us in the paths of the mysticism here with delicate aromas of Legend which float here and there.
And that begins with some soft murmur of synths which float and fall from an ambient sky, such as leaves falling of a sonic tree. The waves of their reverberations awaken a fine line of sequence which shapes a rhythm as much agile as fragile with keys skipping like the delicate clogs of Bambi on a land of fire. Of this indecision, "Aphelion 1" falls in our ears with sounds of flutes and voices of clouded choirs. The movement of the keys increase the pace, widening a delicate rhythmic empire which catches the weight of the mute pulsations while the melody which pierces little by little the core, the center of “Aphelion” awakens in us the memories of
Legend, as also of Underwater Sunlight. "Aphelion 1" establishes the pattern of “Aphelion” which will roam all around its 4 structures. If the approach remains melodiously ambient and delights our ears of fluty harmonies and foggy choruses, "Aphelion 2" offers a structure of rhythm always so mysterious but slightly more livened up where is sparkling a glittering chain of sequences. There is as a scent of mystery which revolves around the music as its structure shells its minutes. Always hesitating, waddling almost like a virgin in front of a carnal buffet, the rhythm rocks and stays hooked on the melody. It develops itself stage by stage, always increasing a strength and a swiftness which will harmonize constantly in these melodies so similar which roam as spectres of Legend. "Aphelion 3" remains just as much delicate, but we observe all the same a swiftness in the tone, so much in the melody as in the rhythm, which announces a probable explosion somewhere. The sequences are more nervous. They divide the rhythm between an approach delicately pulsating and one which is made up of ambient drummings of which the origins become get entangled and tickle in the strikes of good e-percussions. Bit by bit “Aphelion” grasps a kind of electronic rock which is very near of Underwater Sunlight. And it's even more true with "Aphelion 4" and its sequenced keys to tones of harpsichord which little by little sink into a kind of gallop, well detailed by riffs and percussions. The orchestrations give a more film structure while the riffs of guitar cannot ignore the influences that Underwater Sunlight, and even Tyger for the sequences, have over the destinies of this E.P. which would doubtless have explode violently if an Aphelion track 5 would have been. But would it really have been necessary? Because all the charm of “Aphelion” lies in this continual growth which obsesses a listening all the time dumbfounded by this art that possesses Paul Lawler to extract all this water from a source that several people considered once dried up of imagination.

Sylvain Lupari (January 20th, 2015) &