mercredi 10 décembre 2014

AUGENSTERN: Skydancing (1987/2014)

“Very peaceful, Skydancing is a beautiful opus of ambient music of which the New Age approach seduces of its progressive fineries”
1 Introduction 5:35
2 Chakra Pt. I 19:30
3 Chakra Pt. II 4:42
4 Chakra Pt. III 6:42
5 Chakra Pt. IV 3:26
6 Breathing Sky 3:17
7 Floating Water 7:14

Ricochet Dream | RD032 (CD 50:00) ***½
(Ambient and meditative music)
The fans of Tangerine Dream will be familiar with the name Steve Schroyder who was one of the first musicians to board the wonderful adventure of the Dream, as a replacement of Conrad Schnitzlrer, for the Alpha Centauri and Zeit albums back in 1971 and 1972. After his brief association with AshRa Temple (Seven Up in 1973), he concentrated his career in the field of organ  builder while also participating to several projects that will stay under the radar. He formed in 1980 a duet with Gene Gross whom the initial name of Oxo was going to change for Augenstern in 1985. Only 3 recordings, all in cassette format, was going to be realized between 1986 and 1987, besides a compilation, this time on CD, in 1991. Even if certain sites allege that the music of Augenstern flirts with that of Tangerine Dream, there is nothing more inaccurate. It's rather New Age, a music of meditation well adorned by luxurious synth waves to the colors of serenity. And for several connoisseurs in the genre; “Skydancing” would be one of very beautiful realizations in the domain. And I have to admit that I was fairly seduced by this work lost on the corridors of time on which the Ricochet Dream label has decided to rejuvenate. The limitations of the recording sources are very present and can bother the pure audiophiles, but the main part of the work glitters even better than on cassette.
The introduction reminds me the soft peace of mind that we find on
Mind Over Matter's La Vie. The German narration adds an exotic touch to an enveloping music where the buzzing lines spread ample winged movements which bring us near the doors of our perception. Here, there is no frills nor of artifices which serve to trivialize the music with mushy approaches of which the purpose is to give goose pimples with a profusion of insipid orchestrations. Exception made of the short "Chakra Pt. IV", but it is so beautiful. The general idea of “Skydancing” rests on the Tantrism culture, from where Margot Anand's presence which murmurs her dreamlike whispers. Although very relaxing, the music remains thus very intense with slow and dense synth, or organ, waves which coil-up and contort as the mistresses of music in a wraparound moment of spiritual ecstasy. This sound magma is decorated with fine shimmered ligaments which sparkle and tickle the ambiences of light chaste kisses in, what I could call, a totally wrapping movement of serenity. The dark shadows draw monuments of contrasts with the breath of voices and twinkling watermarks which melt into the mesmerizing layers of organ. In spite of its deep meditative vocation, "Chakra Pt. I" diverts at times in hallucinatory phases with Tantrism incantations which are the witnesses of an ambient work closer to the paths of progressive music than of New Age. "Chakra Pt. II" opened side B of the cassette with a sibylline approach and a rather dark side while that "Chakra Pt. III" offers a comfort by some delicate fragments of harmonies that an Elvish voice blows over the murmurs of the carillons. The basis remains somber with fine modulations in the movement which amplify not at all its thirst of ambient rhythms. After the very peaceful "Breathing Sky" and its long soporific wings, "Floating Water" ends this peaceful immersive journey with an approach of slow tears which come out of the synth layers floating between our two hemispheres. The movement can be as well sad as serene and lets exude more crystal clear chords which ring with fragments of harmonies of which the sanctuary is not really too much far from Steve Schroyder's origins, making of “Skydancing” a beautiful opus of ambient music of which the New Age approach seduces of its progressive fineries.
Sylvain Lupari (December 9th, 2014)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

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