jeudi 30 juin 2011

KLAUS SCHULZE: Big in Japan (2010) European Version

I hesitated for a long time before writing about Big in Japan. Those who read me know how much I can’t stand all the mercantilism that lives into the disproportionate ambitions of those who manage artists' career that fans venerate. In the field of EM, we can easily speak about Klaus Schulze and his numerous re editions, as well as the Dream and Jean Michel Jarre for their so numerous compilations and re editions. Big in Japan is among musical articles that fans of Schulze have to buy on 3 editions in order to see and hear all of these splendid concerts held in Japan on March 20th and 21st of last year. The 1st edition is the Japanese one released on 2010, September 22nd on Captain Trip Records label. Issued in 500 box-sets, it was sold at very high price and became quickly out of print. It was a wonderful box-set including a booklet of 80 pages with the following tracks on CD 1; A Crystal Poem and The Crystal Returns while CD 2 contains La Joyeuse Apocalypse, Japanese Benefit and The Deductive Approach. Moreover the CD 2 contains the same tracks for all the 3 editions. As for the DVD, it contains A Crystal Poem and Sequencers Are Beautiful. This last track isn’t on the 2 CD set.
A 2nd version came out some weeks later. The European version landed in tubs in November 26th MIG on label. This edition is the one that I will write to you about and is appreciably the same as the Japanese version except for CD 1 which doesn’t contains A Crystal Poem but rather Sequencers are Beautiful and the DVD contains A Crystal Poem and the complete version of Sequencers Are Beautiful. Everyone follow? And, finally, on April 17th, 2011 the American version invaded the North American market, still on MIG label, and included the same set-list as the European version except for the DVD which includes the whole CD 2 of all versions. So, to obtain the whole recordings (video and audio) from both concerts of Schulze in Japan we have to get your hands on the 3 versions! This won’t be easy because the Japanese version is sold out.
Big in Japan's story is fabulous. A very huge Japanese fan, Mr Gen Jujita, invited Klaus Schulze to give 2 concerts in Japan. To do so, he gathers a team that will build all the equipment and modules used by Schulze during his concerts in Europe during the majestic period of the 70’s. The legendary German synthesist had to bring only his toothbrush, so much everything was served to him on a golden bridge. And it is a strongly moved and inspired Schulze that we will hear and see on these concerts. Klaus Schulze who offered his first solo compositions since 2007, be since Kontinuum, and which had the taste to make a travel through time and so play with the fantasies of his fan host.
After a soft mist breathed in and exhaled by choirs of his synth Roland, we hear The Crystal Returns' first twinkling arpeggios skip. For this concert, Klaus Schulze agrees to retouch a jewel of his crown in the album Mirage (1977) and remodel a part of the wonderful Crystal Lake, be the divine crystalline carousel of arpeggios which espouses a perfect movement of ascension where glass chords cavort and are unfolding beneath fine synth pads and impulses of a bit dramatic bass line, while the movement is getting a bit more increasing. These first 12 minutes of The Crystal Returns are magic. We are letting ourselves float in time and taking by this minimalism flow which runs in our ears with the same bewitchment as in 1977, to sink into a soft ambient passage at around the 13th minute. Synths fly of their ambient stratas on a soft oniric movement, forgetting the synth surges and solos of the original work. The only track not represented on none of the 3 DVD, The Crystal Returns goes out of its musical torpor with good percussions around the 19th minute. Percussions which hammer a very rock progressive rhythmic, supported by a sequential movement which waves of its agitated and nervous doubloons to pound feverishly on a good line of bass. Schulze hammers these imaginary skins with ardour while he sculptures the atmosphere of soft and suave solos, getting closer so to more Crystal Lake's atmospheres. Too long? Hardly! Because there is a fine oscillation in the movement which is quieting down at around the 28th minute with a synth to solitary breezes which spread their romantic fragrances with celestial choruses that Schulze likes so much to sculpture. A brief passage before the unbridled rhythm of sequences takes back its rights and remains silent in a smashing spiral humming. With its heavy pulsating waves which run in loops, Sequencers Are Beautiful's intro can seem annoying. An intro where we see Schulze triturated a guitar to free iridescent layers and lamentations in a caustic ambiance where this minimalist movement is dying of its last humming at around the 4th minute. A point where superb percussions forge a curious rhythm of style to reggae and tribal. A rhythm that will be basis for rhythmic structure on other tracks such as La Joyeuse Apocalypse and The Deductive Approach. Silky, the synth spreads its layers and wraps this rhythm of dramatic pads with violin strings which tear up a festive atmosphere. Very musical, sequences pound a hypnotic tempo which runs out gradually to leak away in a foggy astral where Schulze let goes layers of synth over layers of synth and where celestial choirs breathe in of their synthesized voices in a very serene musical approach. They sing under strata of fanciful violins and on a structure sometimes suave, sometimes hatched and sometimes ambient on a long passage (maybe too long) of about 23 minutes before delicate sequences alternate and draw a nice melody which renews with percussions impulses of the opening. This passage is splendid in particular because of the orchestration skilfully added by a strongly inspired Schulze which frees choruses and violined salvoes on his juxtaposed rhythms. Too short rhythms which lie down in a weak finale where ambiances cross stormy passages of harpsichord, guitars and flutes. This is too many elements is so less time on a track rather long. That’s a proof that even the Master can blow the whistle and totally miss of discernment.
La Joyeuse Apocalypse is similar in many points to Sequencers Are Beautiful. If the intro is less annoying while offering fewer syncretic variations, the beat is there also nice and warm with wave-like tribal sequences. A bewitching rhythm which is more constant and slowly minimalist with some variances in sequences. It goes on until the appearance of a guitar that Schulze hands with a blade of metal to tear away a universe of tones as metallic as eclectic, slowing down the rhythm for a few moments. A short cosmic inserts is settling with nice synth layers which are disappearing above quixotic notes of an acoustic guitar played straight from the notes of the Roland. And La Joyeuse Apocalypse finds refuge in soft spheres that remind those of In Blue, while the tempo starts again. This time, it’s accompanied with nice pads of a light synth which lets float its chords as falling leaves. Synth solos fuse with dexterity. Solos which are winding to this long rhythm, semi trance and semi ambient, dressed in wonderful synth layers during the whole 2nd part. And quietly sequences of La Joyeuse Apocalypse ease down beneath the breezes of an oniric synth which frees layers astral choruses, guiding us towards a well deserved rest of senses. Monastic and angelic choirs, Nippon Benefit begins with a synthesized rippling choral. An element that Schulze exploits to profusion on Big in Japan, this time the choir is melting to heavy orchestral arrangements, witness of the still persistent craze of Schulze for fanciful operettas. The rhythm pierces with difficulty this vocal membrane to offer sequences which alternate by zigzagging and dancing crazily on a structure absent of rhythm but supported by nice synth layers. It’s a rather interesting structure due to its deflecting movement but which will miss time to be exploited deeper. After an intro with so ill-assorted and iridescent tones as we find on Sequencers Are Beautiful and La Joyeuse Apocalypse, The Deductive Approach concludes this 2 cd set concert to the antipodes of annoys and envy with a delicate rhythmic a bit chaotic where sequences skip beneath nice synth layers filled of ethereal mist. A synth which hooks its twisted and sharp solos on a captivating cadence where the rhythm seems cut in an amphibic approach. 
The DVD? Well, it’s quite well realized. We are seeing there a Schulze doing all the exhibit of his knowledge on a sober stage, in front of 3 giant screens where bluish geometrical figures are switching and melting according to his music. It’s not that daring but rather sober and the producers didn’t judge relevant to add bonus material such as interviews, a history of these concerts or a making of... Nothing! Zip! Nada! So there goes the fan respect! As for the music A Crystal Poem is very similar to The Crystal Returns and Sequencers Are Beautiful's version is stretched of 4 minutes. But beyond the music, there is a great performance of Klaus Schulze. We see a very inspired Schulze, more than on his concerts with Lisa Gerrard, who has fun with his toys and who makes a surprising demonstration of all the possibilities of these instruments to multiple tones and of which the immoderation equals the infinite absolute. DVD of the Japanese and European versions present nice shots on a sober editing whereas the American version is more nervous and I would say more audacious with close-up and beautiful fish-eyes effects and fading with more lively and pastel colors on screens that show images and drawings half psychedelic and half real. Regarding this, La Joyeuse Apocalypse version is by far superior to Sequencers Are Beautiful. And I still don’t understand why not produced a box-set of 3 CD and 2 DVD, instead of 3 versions that will cost big money if we want to see both concerts.
Lengths! There is because it’s 2 concerts with tracks that are enormously alike; The Crystal Returns and A Crystal Poem as well as Sequencers Are Beautiful and La Joyeuse Apocalypse which have the same rhythmic structures and sequential approaches. We can also put The Deductive Approach in this lot. But it’s part of Schulze’s process who enjoys dressing his minimalist symphonies with subtle ethereal synth layers, choirs and suave solos while playing on sudden rhythms. And these lengths possess this character so particular to Schulze emotions, poetic and roaming spirit. As for me, this box-set allowed me to rediscover the charms of Mirage while glancing through all the phases of Schulze with camera shots somehow very intimate. Of course I loved it! But I’m a Schulze mega fan. But I also believe that there is room for those who want to discover this enigmatic character because the music presents beautiful variations on the same themes, but with permutations quite noticeable to make a real difference and the American version is really make for a wider audience, so that everyone would fine a gain somewhere.

Sylvain Lupari (2011)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

jeudi 23 juin 2011

STEVE ROACH & ERIK WOLLO: The Road Eternal (2011)

The Road Eternal is a musical experience which rides long silent and nightly surges of synths and guitars as ambient as spectral on rhythms absent of sequences

1 The Road Eternal 21:21
2 Depart at Sunrise 9:16
3 The Next Place 12:15
4 First Twilight 4:35
5 Travel by Moonlight 10:06
6 Night Strands 5:16
PROJEKT| PRO00259 (CD 63:30) ****½

The Road Eternal's beauty is its evolution and all the ramifications that its title track spreads throughout this Roach/Wollo's 2nd collaboration. If Steam of Thought was an album where the ambient reigned over some electronic structures, The Road Eternal is all the opposite. It’s a lively opus where both masters of sound illusions mould rhythms and ambiences as spellbinding as perplexes on hypnotic minimalist structures where sequences are skilfully forged into wonderful layers of a fusion synths and guitars. It results into surprising rhythms where hooting melodies coming from guitars and synths laments are floating and swimming in cosmos, like celestial harmonies in contradiction with increasing rhythms. And when we pay attention and take a deeper listening we have the vague impression to hear a fusion of Structures from Silence and @shra from Manuel Göttsching's band. So be ready for something unexpected cause it's as much difficult to enter The Road Eternal's ambiences as to get out of it. Chronicle of a surprising album and another small master piece from our frien Roach who, undoubtedly, continues to amaze and to charm.
The whole thing starts as if we were in the cosmos, sat by the edge of a river which sparkles of gleaming arpeggios. Slender musical layers, from what seems to be a fusion synths and guitars, drive slow lamentations which are criss-crossing and floating lazily in a fanciful firmament where tranquility filled the space. The heavy, ambient and dramatic effect is not without recalling the analog years of Ashra Temple. A rhythm is drawing in the background, but it’s without sequences. There are nervous synth pads of which hatched chords collide, forming a chaotic rhythmic movement which skips nervously. This linear rhythmic line dined by jolts is simply brilliant. It pounds with a soft frenzy and rolls in loop as wavelets on a sea which wakes up. And the sea will wake up! Little by little this rhythm livens up with the adding of fine and subtle pulsations/percussions, while the sky becomes strewed by fine musical shooting stars which sparkle and fly like in the analog years of Klaus Schulze and that some slow astral layers fly over "The Road Eternal" with delicate movements of wandering. It’s an idyllic fusion that leads us halfway, there where guitars laments pierce this hatched rhythmic and the tempo becomes livelier. We are in deep in Steve Roach musical labyrinths with a suave and enchanting evolution which is finely wriggling with the addition of heterogeneous percussions and pulsations unique to his universe, whereas delicate morphic layers coming out of a synth /guitar fusion are suspended and undulate in contrast with this progressive cadence. The minimalist loops of the fragile rhythm of "The Road Eternal" hiccup on a quavering progression. Always so vaporous this rhythm breaks itself with a nervously syncopated approach which pounds fervently beneath bewitching guitar layers and howling. A solitary guitar that let goes superb morphic solos. Isolated solos on a tempo without sequences but which quavers over an outfit of tones and heterogeneous percussions of tribal structures that make the charm of Steve Roach. And "The Road Eternal" goes out as it had start, leaving its musical imprints on 5 other following tracks. "Depart at Sunrise" spreads out its rangy and gloomy musical waves as slow flights of an eagle on hunting. It’s an ambient intro assorted of soft ethereal layers and sweet laments coming from a hypersensitive guitar which are finally pulled by a delicate rhythmic which skips finely on the tips of its chords. A cadence with charmingly harmonious jolts, a bit weaved as those on the title-track, flooded by very nice synth layers and supported by stunning glaucous ball bearings which are dazzling strangeness from a percussion universe unique to Steve Roach's overflowing imagination. And, lasciviously, synths layers and guitars laments float over this rhythmic warmly mesmerizing and strangely morphic for a track which offers quite a lively beat. "The Next Place" is a long track which swarms of a life liven up by a mixture of pulsations and heterogeneous percussions. A world of percussions which pound and run at nice flow on light guitar riffs and slinky as well as moving synth layers. It’s a track which is highly similar to "Travel by Moonlight" which on the other hand is more sinuous, ambiguous and hypnotic. Delicate, "First Twilight" floats above our thoughts as an angel above our dreams. The fusion of synths and guitars layers shape a universe of extreme solitude on this ambient track, quite as on Night Strands which on the other hand is more syncretic and soaks in an eclectic sound fauna on a guitar substructure equal to Michael Rother's sounds.
I just loved The Road Eternal” which is a musical experience which rides long silent and nightly surges of synths and guitars as ambient as spectral on rhythms absent of sequences. Unusual and uncommon rhythms, witnesses of a sound research that establishes Roach and Wollo in a league of their own  in this constantly evolving musical world. This 2nd collaboration is a brilliant stroke of genius and a meticulous work which brings to a simply brilliant result. It’s poetry without words, a bedside book makes of sounds and an inescapable companion for empty nights when we try to understand what we are doing on this road which, by moments, seems to us so eternal.

Sylvain Lupari (June 23rd 2011)
Cette chronique est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

lundi 20 juin 2011

STEVE ROACH: Live at SoundQuest Fest (2011)

Recorded during the SoundQuest Fest in Tucson, Arizona, Live at SoundQuest Fest is the 2nd album in concert realized by Steve Roach in these last 2 years. After the very quiet and serene Live at Grace Cathedral, Live at SoundQuest Fest shakes a bit the apple tree of sequences and trance rhythms that Roach approached Destination Beyond and investigated deeper with Byron Metcalf and Dashmesh Khalsa on Dream Tracker. We add the meditative boiling elements of Immersion 5 and we get a delicious cocktail where trances and tribal rhythms of Roach marinade marvellously with his synth surges and shaman prayers of Dashmesh Khalsa and Brian Parnham.
Singings of locusts and swaying synth waves, with a fine metallic textures, open the intro of Momentum of Desire. Oblong synth layers are entwining and float in a slow maelstrom where more piercing layers scratch halcyon structures of its soft and warm intro. This juxtaposition of synth stratums shape an ambiance at once celestial and dramatic with its tender élans which end into divine embraces. Quietly life takes rhythm beneath this sky to thousand charming layers of a hybrid synth. Percussions and pulsations fragments can be heard in distance. They break through this dense synthesized opaqueness and pulse with more vigour, bringing to this intro a pleasant tribal savour. A savour that will accompany us throughout these20 minutes, because the rhythm is drawing and becomes more precise with heavier pulsations and cymbals which roll as rattlers tails. Heavy, the tempo continues its expansion with the addition of diverse percussions and pulsations that shape a more accentuated debit which enrich a musical direction where the multiplicity of synth layers amaze and captivate. Towards the 12:30 spot the tempo modifies subtly its axis. It becomes more fluid and flows on percussions/pulsations with nervous jolts and a sequential line with chords which skip nervously in a percussion fauna unique to Roach tribal fantasies. This sequence is delicious and frees chords shaped in a structure of bass with glaucous hiccups which pound under a sky always multicoloured of synth layers to varied breezes. We can even hear some roaring. Like we can also hear astral choruses criss-crossing the valley of rhythms abstruse by an intense synthesized opaqueness which floats on more and more shady sequences and percussions/pulsations as heavy as resonant. The synth/keyboard drops chords and nervous riffs which quaver in an immense flora of percussions, pulsations and bass sequences. That is so much that our ears have difficulties to catch all those vibrations and pulsations which shape an upside down rhythmic covered by weak breaths of apocalyptic mermaids. Simply superb, Momentum of Desire continues its rhythmic migration and can’t dye away underneath the weight of angelic voices which finally oppress the ardour of this superb movement which still haunts our ears during the transition of the desert plains tribal singings which is Medicine of the Moment. Synth layers undulate and float in a sombre ambiance where synth implosions flow in oblivion. Tribal percussions roll like balls of branches in desert, introducing Didgeridoo enchanting breaths. Medicine of the Moment is a strange phonic dialogue between Didgeridoo and sound elements such as whistles, Indian cymbals and other heterogeneous tones of an unknown tribal world which drive us towards the mostly dynamic Thunderwalkers and its tom-toms of a lost world (or a Jurassic one) which resound among Didgeridoos’ hoarse breezes.
If the introductory rhythm is slow and mesmerizing with the hypnotic beatings of its tribal drums it gains in intensity with its strikes that are closer in a whimsical jungle filled by thousand of heterogeneous tones. Thunderwalkers becomes a superb shaman dance with choirs in trances which chant curtly among a sublime thunder coming from the clan gods. Heady and hypnotic, Thunderwalkers is a powerful track as much by its rhythm that grows subtly than its tom-toms which are sticking to the beatings of a madden heart and feed a unrelenting cadence, confronting Didgeridoo lugubrious breezes in a strange phonic ambiance. Morphic is an odd result coming from an exchange of Didgeridoos’ breathes from Dashmesh Khalsa and Brian Parnham in an atmosphere without rhythms but livened up by a cloistered life. Dialogues deflect quietly and fill Off Planet Passage's intro of these strange guttural dialects that are sticking to a more serene environment, but always so nuanced and ambiguous, where delicate layers of a solitary synth glance through a sound fauna always so eclectic and mysterious. And it’s in a musical landscape to multiple heterogeneous variances that unfolds Off Planet Passage where isolated flutes meet serpentines to movements crushed by bells and percussions which growl with the subtlety of metal sheets underneath slow synth oscillations. It’s a tribal and heterogeneous world unique to Steve Roach that we taste ears wide open and senses in alert.
Presented in a superb digipak with nice photos, Steve Roach's Live at SoundQuest Fest is another pleasant surprise coming from the American synthesist. I know that Steve Roach produces albums in industrial quantity and that each of them can’t be splendid, brilliant or better than its precedent. But in spite of all these years and his impressive collection of works stigmatized on CD, Steve Roach succeeds to amazed and produced albums of impact that mark down in his gargantuan discography. Live at SoundQuest Fest is one of those!


Sylvain Lupari (2011)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

There are 2 nice videos of this concert on You Tube:

mardi 14 juin 2011

STEVE ROACH: Destination Beyond (2009)

The synth wind of a musical Western territory sweeps dry dunes and criss-crosses, like shadows of American eagles, the vestiges of a world where the musical poetry is the meeting point between the breathes of an ethereal daydreaming to flexible and slinky rhythms of a spiritual trance. With Destination Beyond Steve Roach pursues his quest for a transcendental music which mixes the Zen thought to hypnotico-trances rhythms with crafty clothing cogitate in an elixir of serenity. It’s skillful mixture of the sweet and dark tranquility of Dynamic Stillness to the stormy, but well controlled, agitation of Arc of Passion. Simply divine!
A dark and slightly fleeing sound wave opens Destination Beyond’ first measures which is extending in a long epic track of 72 minutes. The synth is making of crystalline breezes which hoot with elegance through stigmas of a quixotic desert. Quite soon we sense its captivating and rippling sublime layers which characterized the superb and out of print Western Spaces released on Innovative Communication in 1986. The sonority is so close that we can’t ignore the resemblance and we are letting ourselves taking away by this soft musical influx which broods of increasing pulsations with rattlesnake sounds which are entangling with a balanced loudness with layers of angelic sonorities.
Steve Roach's world evolves with its musical convictions. Here, there is no salute to musical atomism. Destination Beyond teems of a life full of powerful oscillations which are gobbled up by slinky and crystalline layers with morphic roundnesses. But the intensity of its ethereal musical layers don’t deaden nor keep silent the resonances and those rattlesnakes pulsations which abound in this acoustic fauna to resonant diversity so complex to these musical kermises from the American synthesist. Of course, everything is not similar, nor linear. Steve Roach brings subtle variances where the rhythm isolates itself, bringing a movement of sweet hypnotic trance and sometimes disappears to leave the entire place to superb and smooth layers which wind around in a cerebral cortex high in phonic forms. By moments, this poetic tenderness is going violent and making justice with a so elongated linearity that we getting near Morpheus arms.
In short, it’s another stroke of genius by Steve Roach who years after years continue to amaze on the same sound themes, but with so tempestuous approaches that the sweetness can allow it. Destination Beyond is a splendid introspective journey which flows with all the poetry and the wisdom from the master of thought and conceived music to be heard with the tranquility of its movements.


Sylvain Lupari (2009)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

lundi 13 juin 2011

STEVE ROACH: Dynamic Stillness (2009)

The dynamic stillness! It's quite a tour de force to create such a sound illusion that flows as weighty reverie. Steve Roach cogitated and matured for a long time on Dynamic Stillness during his last 3 years. A period where he also realized some more powerful albums, on rhythms and sequences level. But above all Dynamic Stillness is a quest for silence passes by atonal sound waves which are slightly in movement, personifying the spirit’s quiet strength and its invisible, but perceptible, movements. We are on the grounds of Structures from Silence and A Deeper Silence but with more heaviness, sorrow and nostalgia.
A dense musical cloudburst increases a somber movement on the opening of Birth of Still Places. It’s a world of sonorous reverberations which coos slowly but with a musical strength which drives us to a cerebral hypnosis. Powerful, but languishingly slow, the musical structure spreads as a big charmer snake ready to grab you toward your sleep with a slender musical piece of nearly 61 minutes divided into 2 soporific, but slowly ethereal, acts; Birth of Still Places and Long Tide. From powerful, the movement eases slowly as if the sleep seized us. To Darker Light opens with a less intense structure, as a soft warm wind which caresses our hearing leading us and making us float all along Opening Sky.
CD2 opens with the same chloroformed effect which ended CD1. Nature of Things is a long passage with finely oscillating waves which revolve in a somber cosmos that lets filtering wandering choirs. A cosmic journey as if we were there. Always in the cozy comfort of immobilism, Further Inside slowly flows like enchanting loops that would form an invisible cadence. It’s a long piece of music where the rhythm tries to gush out, held it is by an internal strength that Roach controls by his synths. That’s a melodramatic quest which pushes more towards the nostalgic reverie than the meditation and which is tie to Slowly Revealed, a softer and more romantic track with its delicious fragrances of tranquility which sails on a harmonious sea with its fine charming undulations. We don’t get tired of it so much the movement flows with a strange melody blown by an obscure romanticism, from where leak out subtle fluty essences of a spectral ambiance. Canyon Stillness depicts the creative strength of Steve Roach. Here, as throughout Dynamic Stillness, Roach forges his music with an incredible dexterity for its nominative structures. Throughout this23 minutes music piece, we feel winds whistled towards the imperfect furrows of Roachian desert canyons. A desert to thousand utopian facets that lull Steve Roach's creative illusions.
Dynamic Stillness is a powerful floating album which is filled by emotions and sensitivity from an artist in constant quest of a spiritual ideal. It’s quite beautiful and mostly very sincere; this is ambient and atonal Steve Roach at his best.


Sylvain Lupari (2009)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream:


mercredi 8 juin 2011

RAMSAYGEE: Ways (2011)

With Exotic, released in 2010, RamsayGee offered us a musical bouquet of freshness with tribal rhythms characteristic of the African cultures. In Ways, the South Africa synthesist does it again by offering a very clannish album with a more world approach. On rhythms always so suave and ebullient we can hear a lot of diversified world flavours as Oriental, Mexican, Latin and African. A little as in Exotic, Gareth Ramsay plays enormously on variety to offer 11 tracks of which tribal savours often border a soft techno synth-pop filled with strong multicoloured samplings. I feel there a curious and attractive scent of Software, Digital Dance era and post Chip Meditation II, and even Jean Michel Jarre on percussions and sequences structures, with brief intrusions toward the musical approach of DJ and their nasal and synthetic vocalises that tilt a bit on the easiness of Teen-pop. But be reassured, RamsayGee has known how to keep intact his sounder spirit.
Heavy resonant chords which slide on mix tones open noisily Vortex Ethnicana. There are a lot of things that happen on this 3:33 length track! And this is the way that Ways goes; a lot of sounds and tones on short periods of time. The fervent rhythm is moulded in heavy syncopated sequences which quiver among heavy and curt riffs of synth and metallic percussions à la Jarre. A tempo which is relenting by brief inserts of Latin guitar and a very nice passage of Arabian kind tribal percussions. That’s a hell of a start. More exotic and strongly tinted with oriental vocal samplings, Universal Nomad turns on a circular tempo with ascending sequences rhythmic structure. We have beautiful orchestrations, stunning nomad peoples’ vocal samplings and beautiful mellotron layers which are winding around this syncopated rhythm to maintain a pace accompanied by a soft melancholic violin. The multiplicity of sounds on very commercial phases finds all its sense on Island Flowers which begins with chimpanzees’ shrieks. Shouts which cross a heavy sequence and percussions pounding a steady beat, the whole thing is wrapped by a subtle mellotron synth. A felted, nasal and very synthetic voice (a bit in the mould of Lady Gaga, Cher and Britney Spears) is showing with shouts of whale and Island Flowers stumbles over an abundance of sounds on a very catchy rhythm. The kind we hear everywhere on commercial radios these days. It’s not that bad but it sounds very Teen-pop mixed in a fauna of very fluid and tribal sound samplings. Love Mirage is in the same vein but a bit more unctuous, languishing and exotic with its heavy sequence which pulses among synthesized voices and gypsy violins. Homelands pursues the African world quest with a nice electronic ballad where sequences and percussions shape a slow hypnotic tempo that a fluty synth accompanies towards more fluid rhythms. That’s a nice track which changes from ballad to in sweet synth-pop on a circular and finely hatched tempo. The flute here is particularly superb, especially in duel with the acoustic guitar. That track would fit very well in a soundtrack for a documentary about the African savanna. Always in the same register, Loona Faze flows slowly on a fluid rhythm with strong African tendencies.
Tennis is a very good track which brings us back in the Software era with an intro furnished of volatile sequences which flutter in a gyrating movement when percussions fall with Arabic flutes. A nice intro where the acoustic guitar is grafting to this musicality which deviates to borrow a chaotic rhythm à la Kraftwerk with a use of vocoder. The nasal and robotics voice talks on a nervous structure fed by hopping sequences and banging which are colliding as balls on a tennis court. And the suave musicality of the intro re-appears to sink again towards an even more hard-hitting and robotically technoïd tempo. It’s one of Ways’ best tracks, quite as Zeros and Ones and its heavy rhythm eroded by a hatched structure and this great diversified musicality that we find on Ways. Vocuitar is a sweet ballad with a languishing and oscillating rhythm on warm suggestive vocalizes. After a soft oniric intro where a synth hems above bells and a smooth synth/ sax spreads its melancholy, Ways the title track, borrows soft Arabic tribal paths with fine percussions which drum with pulsations while the cadence is accentuating to pours into a tribal techno worth’s of great word music. The Path to You concludes with a heavy rhythm which turns in a quite robust ballad sung in a man / woman vocal duel on a tempo à la Mike Oldfield. It’s quite out of key when we listen all around Ways, with its pop approach.
I quite enjoyed Ways, as much as I appreciated Exotique. Gareth Ramsay is forging himself a style that it strands him out from this very fluctuating universe that became EM. It’s not Berlin School style. I would say that it’s a delicious blend of Software, Kraftwerk, Jarre and Oldfield styles. Surely there are tracks that left me of ice (Island Flowers and Love Mirage), but it’s quite little if we compared to those 11 very diversified tracks that weave the musical canvas of this RamsayGee’ 2nd opus.

AD Music: AD89CD-R

Sylvain Lupari (2011)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

You can watch videos of RamsayGee here on You Tube:
Universal Nomad: 

If you want to know more on Divine Matrix, visit his web page on the AD Music web site:

vendredi 3 juin 2011

ROBERT SCHROEDER: Cygnus-A (1982/2010)

If Harmonic Ascendant put Robert Schroeder's name on the map, Galaxy Cygnus-A concretized the immense talent and creativity of the Aachen synthesist. Initially conceived for a science fiction project, Galaxy Cygnus-A consisted in getting sound waves coming from galaxies with the help radio telescope placed in high altitude. Robert Schroeder edited and sampled these galactic tones on a music that he performed during a big event in sounds and images, because that a big screen broadcasted images of cosmos during this concert presented within the framework of the prestigious ARS-Electronica in Linz, Austria in 1982. Released on Klaus Schulze label (Innovative Communication), Galaxy Cygnus-A got lost in CD reeditions and was never released on this format. We had to wait until last December when Spheric Label presented a reworked version of this small masterpiece of ingenuity. Straight off, I have to admit that I was a little disconcerted by this new renamed version; Cygnus-A which puts down lot of emphasis on sound effects and the strength of sound, abandoning a bit the warmer approach and the subtleties of the vinyl sound curves. But if the purpose of Schroeder was to let us hear all that we missed due to limitations of the vinyl, I may say mission accomplished. Because in spite of the difference between both productions, Galaxy Cygnus-A remains a pure masterwork where the melodious approach of synths espouse marvellously tones got beyond our terrestrial frontiers. And this new version includes even a bonus track left aside for lack of space at the vinyl time.
An immense resonant thump falls and scatters static sonorous strands. And so, fall knocks of mace whereas the statism and astral choirs float in a sublime cosmic immersion. Sounds which stretch such as slender serpentines to deformed metallic resonances give to Search Direction a strange static immobility stuffed with tones of arcade games. Already the differences between both works are tangible; everything is more detailed and more limpid. Schroeder voice floats among superb synth layers which fluctuate over a mellotron choir. Sounds, sounds and sounds which sway and roam in a cosmos that we could touch on the tips of our fingers. And there appears this small cosmic duck that spreads his "Wah''-"Wah" which are following in series of two. Receiving Signals is by far one of the most beautiful pieces of music produces by Robert Schroeder. Everything is perfect on this track which increases in intensity and drama. Cosmic "Wah''-"Wah" which set a first schema of the minimalism tempo, in addition of galactic sound effects, a synth with fluid spectral and astral layers, a line of bass which supports this delicate rhythm and percussions which fall in a asymmetric way make a wonderful jewel of tranquillity and serenity which gets dressed constantly of new assets and galactic sound effects on a delicate serial rhythm which is gradually growing. But intensity held by all this sonorous radiant which ensues from it. The key point is this synth which is coming apart at around the 5th minute to offer the most beautiful cosmic melody that my ears heard to this day. To me, Receiving Signals (or Teil 2) is one of cosmic EM highlight and as much as on this new edition as on the original the impact is the same; it’s a track simply splendid. Lift off to the Galaxy imbibes us with cosmic tones. Here no rhythm but all sound effects! Tones all so strange than others which could effectively come from galaxies situated at light years from earth and which surround fine notes of a kind of electronic harp with a zest of Chinese fragrance and suave layers of misty mellotron. We perceive there all those subtle fluid moves of a synth which frees celestial choruses. That’s a prelude to the undulating and hopping rhythm which livens up1050 Mill. Light Years where extraterritorial sonorities invade a suave rippling sequence to uncertain tempo and a synth filled by a lunar saxophone tone. It’s a soft rhythm which is breaking through blackness of space and concluded the whole first side of Galaxy Cygnus-A’s album.
Following huge reflecting and resonant sparkles, Galaxy Cygnus-A widens its galactic sonorities whereas a superb sequential minimalist movement settles a tempo to delicate alternating strikes. If Receiving Signals is a jewel, Galaxy Cygnus-A is a pure diamond of cosmic tenderness where the fine hypnotic tempo pulses beneath suave astral choruses, sonorities of misty flutes and cosmic signals which accompany a sulphurous synth with piercing sonority. It’s a very beautiful music piece where the meshing of various synth tones to the hypnotic rhythm brings us near an imagination without borders. Constellation Swan ended the original work with a long ambient track to cosmic fragrances. On this version, cosmic noises, interferences and astral choirs are amplified so that nothing escapes the attentive and fond of sounds ear. The synth is fluid and melodious freeing brief twisted solos among an array of analog tones, among which these singings of whales that are so associated with the extraterrestrial communications. Interstellar Quasars is the bonus track from this new edition of Galaxy Cygnus-A. It’s a long track which is really in the spirit of this conceptual work with its heavy reverberating tones which float in a mellotron fog. We feel synth momentums, as on Lift off to the Galaxy, which are snapped by extraterrestrials conversations on an absent rhythm, an abstract structure. Choirs roam here and there with erratic synth pads and cosmic sounds which yell among stars. A slow ambient structure is floating there before a circular tempo makes a brief appearance. A tempo quick absorbed by meanders of cosmos and which will return later in the form of hopping and crystal clear sequences dancing beneath the breezes of a poetic synth.
Cygnus-A, or Galaxy Cygnus-A, is a pure masterpiece of cosmic EM. Even if the difference between the two editions can disconcerted ears moulded in the furrows of the first edition, we are fast absorbed by all the beauty of this cosmic work. And when we listen to those two works in parallel, we eventually find a justification in this reworked version which displays all the power limited by the recordings of this period. As for me it’s a major work which has its place in any EM record collection, whether it’s Berlin School or cosmic music, so much the magic which comes out of it hasn’t finds an equal yet regarding that kind.

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Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream

You can watch a video from Galaxy Cygnus-A on You Tube: