jeudi 25 septembre 2014

JOHN CHRISTIAN: Susbarbatus (2009)

“Susbarbatus is a strong EM album where retro Berlin School meets the charms and loudness of the England School”
1 Susbarbatus 9:22 
2 Los Ashes 9:29 
3 Brane Storm 7:45 
4 Forest of Weaver's Beams 6:21 
5 Mangrove (live) 7:26 
6 Antiquark 9:13

Independent (CD 49:36) ****
(Mostly sequencer-based EM)
John Christian is a member of the England EM band Airsculpture and in “Susbarbatus” he presents us here a strong 2nd solo opus filled by heavy and lively rhythms that has nothing to do with the long ambiospherical improvisations of the English trio.
It's with a fleeing and flickering synth wave that the title track opens. A morphic synth veil which zigzags lazily launches "Susbarbatus" where choirs and mellotron moods are floating in an ethereal universe before embracing a beautiful sequenced movement coated by a sweet rhythmic of a bass line. Growing in strength, this tempo bites the ears and progresses in a captivating cloud of strata whereas a synth, with some pretty melodious solos, spreads its ambient harmonies beneath the weight of a hammering sequential approach, bringing a very progressive dimension to this beautiful and catchy Berlin School track. This is a very nice opening which leads us to the dramatic and intriguing "Los Ashes". Divided into 2 sections, "Los Ashes" opens with a bass line taken out from hell which pulses with a hypnotic slowness in a strange cataclysmic universe. The approach is dark and near 
TD soils with a pace which flows between two rhythms and under the ochred pads of a synth and its sibyllin charms. This criss-crossed rhythm is suspended at the middle route to give way to a sound passage which scrolls by pieces, like a panoramic vision of images coming from a kaleidoscope. Images in sound which accelerate constantly a pace whose madness dives into the rhythm of a heavy movement of sequences of which the strikes of beats are multiplying in a kind of drummed chaos. This intense hammering movement is filled a pile of synth layers which gobble up "Los Ashes", like waves gobbling up the cliffs. This is a great track, at both times hypnotic and striking. The heavy drones of "Brane Storm" brings “Susbarbatus” back to the ambiospherical moods of Airsculpture, but with a darker and obscure approach. After this somber cerebral interlude, "Forest of Weaver's Beams" falls straight in our ears like a sonic drop which crosses both hemispheres of our loudspeakers. This has to be the most beautiful track on “Susbarbatus”. It goes smoothly on a superb synth, and its tearful waves, and a sequencer with its flow fractured by echoing chords which unwind such as a timeless sonic spiral. Not really a lively track, but nor devoid of beat either, "Forest of Weaver's Beams" enchants with its continual knockings which hammer in an ambivalent structure where the musical poetry is fitting to a creative sequencer. I really hooked on that one! Recorded in concert at the 2006 Hampshire Jam, "Mangrove" spreads its moods with a dense mix of scarlet strata and their echoes which get lost in an aquatic environment. A heavy and sharply nice sequencing embryo emerges out of this intro to draw a breathless rhythmic which rolls under an exhilarating synth whose sonic forms adopt a sweet ghostly madness.
"Antiquark" ends “Susbarbatus” by a sweet minimalism melody which sails between some soft sequenced keys a la Love on a Real Train combined to the atmospheric approach of Wavelength, both music scents by Tangerine Dream. We cannot love that one!
Susbarbatus” is a strong EM album. It's only default, if we can call this a default, is its length. It's too short, compared to what most artists present us since the venue of CD. As one says, small but mighty! John Christian lugs us around in a sonic universe fills of catchy sequences which beat on different paces and beneath the highly melodious sounds of synth and mellotron. Like what EM can be as well beautiful than intrepid. The fans of Berlin School are going to devour that one.
Sylvain Lupari (Initially written on December 2009, translated and updated a bit on September 24th, 2014) &
Cette chronique est également disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream:

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