1 Excelsis Dei 10:05
2 Gefallener Engel 9:58
3 Die Maschine 11:41
4 Kontakt 13:52
5 Lazarus 15:15
6 Verwandlungen 8:57
7 Stoersignal (Bonus Track) 6:43
SYNGATE: CD-R RSGW (76:31)
I am of those who discovered the musical universe of Rainbow Serpent on the late. If I remember well, the first album that I heard of this German group was Voyager, released in 1996 and out of print since years. I open this bracket because I believe that Rainbow Serpent, formed by Gerd Wienekamp and Frank Specht, is one of the very good EM bands to have passed under the radar.
Of this fact all their albums, before the Manikin years, are discontinued for ages, including each of the solo albums of Wienekamp and Specht. Kontakt was released in 1998 and is soaked with the rhythms and ambiences that we found on Voyager. Evolutionary rhythms, sometimes cosmic and technoïd, coupled to ethereal and morphic ambiences where revolve so many beautiful orchestral arrangements as well as electronic tones of all stripes. An album that I missed and which reedited by the Syngate label for the biggest pleasure of our ears, including a bonus track (Stoersignal) which completes very well this superb musical odyssey which wants an unconfirmed, but so felt, sequel to Voyager.
"Excelsis Dei" is a very indicator title of the ambiences and rhythms that we find on Kontakt. Electronic tones of a spacecraft ring under the hoops of a synth with blurred waves. Envelopes of mist cover this opening with beautiful warm caresses which cradle the intro of "Excelsis Dei" like a soft movement of classical music. Gregorian choirs emerge out of the depths of cosmos, awakening beeps which evolve along a brief bass line as well as among strange suction-cups pulsations, while the soloing breaths of synth roam as snakes forgotten in space-time. The whole thing is of a strange auditory fascination; so much the tones are raining from everywhere. We have just crossed the course of 4 minutes and a sequenced bass line spits its staggering chords, jostling the hoops suspended in space and propelling "Excelsis Dei" towards a delicate chaotic rhythm which bends the spine over the strikings of a bass-drum. A bass-drum that knocks such as the pulsations of a suction cup thirsty for ambience and which forms the uncertain rhythm of "Excelsis Dei" which collects the tribal percussions and the related tones of a purely electronic world. In 10 minutes Gerd Wienekamp makes it a real tour de force by displaying the shape of rhythms and ambiences that will lull Kontakt until its finale. After a departure filled of a classical approach, the melody of "Gefallener Engel" takes shape on stratas of violins which sing under the vocalizes of electronic hummingbirds. The violin layers intensify in a good staccato movement to unite those of cellos and the breaths of oboe which lean on a good bass line with fragile chords. Of course all is electronic, but Gerd Wienekamp weaves a so realistic musical universe that we imagine to be in a movement of contemporary classical music. Only some beeps and other electronic tones thwart the mystery while a furtive rhythm accepts the sweetness of morphic choirs to espouse a staggering approach, like a spiral with vertical circles. "Die Maschine" follows with the soloing breaths of a lonely synth in which join the chants of a cosmic choir. Sequences resound. They collide and form a chaotic beat which skips and answers to the echo of its resonances. A true intergalactic ride, "Die Maschine" gallops of an erratic pace under a rain of twisted solos of which the choirs are caressing the soft curves through the nuances in tones and forms of the sequences as well as rangy distorted solos. Fans of Software, we are on familiar ground.
After a long ambient intro, stuffed by wandering choirs and breaths of plaintive synth complaining in the arias of beautiful orchestral arrangements, "Kontakt" livens up around the 5th minute with a fine sequenced pattern where the undisciplined ions collide peacefully. These are charming and poetic chords to crystal clear, echoing and felted tones which agglutinate to move towards a more technoïd approach with percussions/pulsations which fidget under a bass line cooing on the metallic jingles of the tsitt-tsitt cymbals. And "Kontakt" continues its technoïd crusade by amassing diverse related tones, giving to the title-track a rhythmic depth as much fascinating as on "Excelsis Dei"."Lazarus" offers a rather similar introductory pattern with lines of vocalizes which float in a cosmic drift. Fine sequences are ringing, following lost pulsations which go astray in this cosmic waltz. A move which deviates towards an immense oblivion submerged by absent choirs. Beautiful fluty sequences are popping out a little before the 6th minute. Their zigzagging steps draw a rhythm which vacillates under the weight of these wandering choirs and nasal synth lines before espousing a superb ascending spiral of which every circle amasses a pleiad of composite tones. It’s one of the best tracks on Kontakt which revolves in a great progressive and complex approach. "Verwandlungen" begins with jingles of cymbals which ring under a mass of cosmic winds. They flitter near fine pulsations of bass-drum to join some unexpected tribal percussions, drawing the lines of a surprising techno, with a disco flavor, flooded by sequences with tones of wooden percussions of which the echo resounds under a waltzing mist. Sequences fall and swirl all around this linear rhythm which pulsates of a hypnotic way under the blades of beautiful twisted solos so unique at the signature of Rainbow Serpent. White noises introduce the spectre of "Stoersignal" which quietly wakes up around a pulsatory approach which is similar to "Verwandlungen". The rhythm is soft and flooded with this musical fauna to thousand and one tones which cover all of the rhythms and ambiances of Kontakt.
Kontakt is a superb album soaked by a great musicality where melodies, as much cadenced as cosmic, evolve on structures in constants evolution. From ambient to rhythmic, with rhythms bordering a sweet morphic techno, Kontakt is making us to listen all the beautiful universe of Rainbow Serpent where the multitude of electronic tones gives an incredible relief to this album where we recognized the signature of Gerd Wienekamp. It’s an album which pleasantly surprised me and deeply conquered that I recommend without hesitations to all the fans of new Berlin School of the 90’s.
Sylvain Lupari (2012)