1 Acceleration 6:39
2 Seen from Above 5:04
3 Clouds 6:16
4 A Ancient View 5:51
5 The Pacific Ocean 5:57
6 Polar Region 7:59
7 The Road to Germany 7:28
8 The Moon 6:42
9 The Challanger Deep 7:59
Bandcamp (DDL 59:59) ****½ (Driven based sequences EM)
After the very strong Roots and Legends from the North, released at the beginning of this year, Johan Tronestam invites his fans, and those who miss a possible return of Jean Michel Jarre to his post Oxygene basics, to another musical rendezvous of high quality. Available only in a downloadable format, “Impressions” is Johan Tronestam's musical point of view on the art of composing EM. The Swedish synthesist delivers 9 compositions where the music is literally inspired by its titles and vice versa. But beyond this conceptual approach, Johan Tronestam inflates literally our ears with a hard-hitting album where fascinating rhythms are fired by movements of sequences to the acrobatic feats which scoff at the order of the mathematics and the cosmic melodies are blown by synths which refuse the roads of improvisation to make some obsessive harmonies.
From the first sequences which oscillate with fury, we understand that Johan Tronestam entails us in his universe of leaden rhythms. "Acceleration" takes the shape of a funky e-rock with pounding sequences which wriggle in all senses and run with percussions to the symmetric hammerings. Fine stroboscopic serpentines and sonic falling stars are winding here and there a lively rhythm of which the nuances in its beat give the impression of splitting up a bit the swiftness. If the rhythmic nuances are one of Johan Tronestam's strength, the way that he makes singing his synths remains the quintessence of his artistic approach. The synth solos are as much furious as the rhythm and supplant these hollow voices which give a Gothic depth, both to "Acceleration" and to the whole of “Impressions”. There is no respite. And if the influences of Jarre threw a cosmic balm on "Acceleration", it's the same with "Seen from Above" and its harmonious rhythm which leads us towards another vertiginous structure where sequences are raging of their crisscrossed movements, one hyper lively and the other very melodious, in another good cosmic electronic rock. The rhythm is infectious and the harmonic envelope is more nuanced with these beautiful synth solos in the clothes of cosmic trumpets. Solos which haunt the hearing, even when flooded in a heavy rhythm. There are not even 11 minutes in the meter that we are plunged at full ears into an album as attractive as Roots and Legends from the North. "Clouds" brings a bit of serenity in our mind with a beautiful airy rhythm. The sequences are always so catchy, but they skip with confidently in the breezes of the ethereal voices and in soft solos in tints of nostalgia. But there is even softer, more ambient with "A Ancient View", a track where the wandering spirits of Jarre roam as a bard ghost with beautiful harmonious solos which spread their melancholy on a soft carpet of cosmic mist.
The ambient ashes of "A Ancient View" go beyond the intro of "The Pacific Ocean" which draws its rhythm on good electronic percussions and echoing loops which coo in some kind of typists' strikings tones. A beautiful allegorical serpentine is swirling with its contrasting harmonies around a stoical rhythm which ennobles its charm with striking synth solos which remain always so silky, so harmonious. And the more we go further in “Impressions” and the more our ears remain conquered. Johan Tronestam handles marvellously the art of well presenting his scale of rhythms and ambiences. "Polar Region" is a heavy, slow title. Even if the sequences are frivolous, the rhythm swirls such as a big shell on wet sand with good percussions which scatter their strikings with industrial tones and others more conventional. The hoarse breaths of ghost Didgeridoo throw a lugubrious ambience into this delicious down-tempo finely hatched in a long stroboscopic movement and well fattened by a bass line with viciously lively chords. This is very good and very catchy. I hear in the background a bit of a beat that will fit into a James Bond movie. It's the same with "The Challanger Deep" which dresses itself of a very sci-fi approach with cosmic chirpings which sparkle in a structure of rhythm of which the versatile movements beat in nonsense into a harmonious envelope a bit ambiospherical. The finale is going to blow your ears away! After a "The Road to Germany" which is similar to "Seen from Above", "The Moon" presents another lively beat with a movement of sequence which makes its keys waddling in the jingles of metallic percussions. If the rhythm is sober, the harmonious approach which settles down forms a very nice musical itch with a synth which spreads its musicality in the shape of strata a bit darker. The contrast between the Teutonic rhythm, the sibylline strata and the angelic harmonies is completely catchy. And this goes for this track as well as the whole of “Impressions”.
The strength of Johan Tronestam is this disconcerting facility he has to marinade leaden rhythms to melodies as much catchy as the tempos which unstitch them. His universe is of nuances and subtleties which hook the listening and drive us in whirlwinds of rhythms with harmonious envelopes always very attractive. There are small jewels on “Impressions”; a very good album which is in the same lineage as the powerful Roots and Legends from the North. And if you read the chronicle I wrote on it, there is nothing more to add!
Sylvain Lupari (October 28th, 2013)
Cette chronique est également disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream: