samedi 31 janvier 2015

FREDERIC GERCHAMBEAU: New Colors of Sound (2014)

 “We are in the lands ofpure musical experimentations here. No rhythms, fews harmonies and lots of New Colors of Sound”

1 Uncertainty Bridge 16:35
2 Watching the River Flow 13:51
3 Circumreverbambulation 11:46
4 Chakchouka 14:22
5 Misshappen Morning 13:02

PWM Distrib (69:38) *** (Expérimentations Sonores)
Sounds! A constellation of sounds and their correlations in a purely experimental pattern. Dissonances or electronic harmonies? The heart of the debate. Adventurer of sounds, as much comfortable in harmonic envelopes as in cacophonous spheres, Frédéric Gerchambeau pushes his sound experiments to the limits of the tolerance with an album built on loops and echoes which are used as supports to a sound constellation without rhythms, nor harmonies. The idea behind the concept is more a matter of theory where Frédéric Gerchambeau illustrates, in sounds, methods of composition which are dear to him by exploring sonic territories that he would never have imagined. The result is rather puzzling and will suit mainly to the real fans of synths, their tones and their immense possibilities. I'll say it straight to you; I heard in this nothing very appealing if we are seeking for melodies or rhythms. Except that once we took knowledge of the reasons and motivations around “New Colors of Sound”, we listen to it with another ear. But the result remains the same. The sounds gather in our ears such as a thousand of bees uncertain to want to pollinate and where they are a little lazy, like winds without strength. Although in "Uncertainty Bridge", doubtless the most musical music piece of “New Colors of Sound”, they roar, fume and doze off in the fascinating colors of the multiple reverberations. One would say an exorcist of a synth possessed by the Phantom of the Opera. And it's even more true in the cathedralesque, "Circumreverbambulation" which eats our eardrums with its reverberations which agglutinate and crawl such as a knot of grass-snakes in the mud. The effect of big organ with hoarse sounds remains rather intrusive. Each track is delivered in a spirit of live sessions. There is no re-recordings and Frédéric Gerchambeau shows a surprising cohesion (Uncertainty Bridge) for a completely improvised music. I wouldn't say that Gerchambeau reveals here pallets of sounds in order to build harmonious landscapes. No. I would rather say that he democratizes the ambiences, the art and the possibilities of synths by bringing them to a closer level of understanding of the general public. At this level, the progression of "Watching the River Flow", I like the very cosmic background in it, is rather attractive if we put ourselves in the skin of an astronaut of sounds. For the rest, we cross perfumes of cosmic dissonances in some ambient chirping where Frédéric Gerchambeau remains proud of his uncompromising approaches which demonstrate, and it is the ultimate purpose of this exercise on the color of the sound, the  immense possibilities of a modular system. Good listening. And say to yourselves that EM has started from there. Imagine now all the genius which hides beneath the envelopes of skin of those who grind and torture those toys, bringing EM at the level it is today!
Sylvain Lupari (January 31st, 2015) &
You will find this CD here at PWM Distrib
You can also view a video trailer here on YouTube

vendredi 30 janvier 2015

TANGERINE DREAM: Tangerine Dream Plays Edgar Froese ‎– The Epsilon Journey (2008)

“You are looking for a tribute? You are seeking for the best legacy that Edgar could have left? This is the one to have”

Please refer to the wonderful site Voices in the Net to take knowledge of the complete set lists offer by EastGate for this event.

How to say...! Fans of Tangerine Dream, are we extraterrestrials? Are we living on another planet? The question deserves to be asked because it's with consternation that I noticed that the death of the old silver fox hasn't make any waves. But where do I begin? There is so much to say. True that I always had a critical ear in front of certain albums from TD. This musical ship that Edgar Froese downright puts to dependence in front of these new technologies since the arrival of the digital synths and sequencers in the 80's. But it was the shout of the hunger! The hunger for what Tangerine Dream, for what Edgar Froese and his superb solo albums from this era, has insidiously put in me, in my ears. But I always respected the man. Without Edgar Froese, what would be the face of EM today? Klaus Schulze is not the answer to everything. Without Froese, there is no TD. EM would not has the face it has today. Edgar has completely democratized this art by bringing into it a harmonious and a rhythmic vision. We may not agreed on it, but Edgar has brought this breath of fresh air that this industry needed in order to reborn from its ashes in the 90's. I raged in those years and I had to make my mourning. That been as long as restless, especially since this old man had begun to make me dream again with his damn Sonic Poem Series. And recently his Quantum Years. I knew that Edgar was just sleepy. The thing is, he won't wake up any more! What is left of his inheritance? Hundreds of albums my friends. Music to make you bulimic. DVD! Lots of them. And like a man grieving of love who is looking at videos of his ex, until all tears fled his body, I looked. The old ones like the new. And what I cursed at that time, I love it today.
Not always agreed! Oh no! Linda Spa and her saxophone which brings frigging nothing to the music of the Dream. Iris Camaa and her percussions which seem to dictate the speed of her hands and not the opposite. No... Not always agree. But strangely here, it's OK. Recorded within the framework of the famous Dutch event of EM; the E-Day Festival on April 13th, 2008, “Tangerine Dream Plays Edgar Froese-The Epsilon Journey” is the most beautiful legacy, the most current one, where we see an Edgar still in great shape interpreted, with his gang of young wolves, some of his best music. In spite of big absentees from
Aqua and Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, the set list remains impressive. Set apart "Hamlet", which is very good by the way, and the last 3 tracks, everything is from Edgar. And there, no doubt, the gang of Froese plays for real. The camera shots seem to have been taken in order of dissipated any doubts on this subject. Is it good? Better! It's a blow of nostalgia where we seize all the dimension of the character. On a solid performance of the band and the very beautiful interpretations, yes yes you read me well, (OK I hated that Linda Spa plays sax on "Lightcone", "Stuntman" and "Metropolis"... It's written there!), the DVD presents some beautiful video footages of an Edgar dragging its smile and a small keyboard in a desert or on a beach or into a rowboat (what a sneaky little romantic fox he was). It's so many delicious wink of eye in his Stuntman period, as well as those videos of the Three Bikes in the Sky time. We see a serene Edgar with these short footages which are melting quite artistically to the video scenes of the event. An event which is well filmed by the way, with a beautiful lighting and good camera angles which make no doubt on the skills of the quintet. Surprise, and that passes well enough, the images are mainly in black and white or in sepia drawing, giving a rather particular cachet to this concert which uses aptly its numerous computer generated images on a giant white sheet screen. The interpretations are delicious (Bof! I'll skip my thoughts on the sax parts) and the old music of Edgar (what a version of "Metropolis"!) takes a good youthful boost. And we see our dear Edgar smiling constantly, as being proud to transmit his philosophy, his legacy to Thorsten Quaeschning who I'm sure never asked for that much. The whole thing, what! The key points? They are several. "Drunken Mozart in the Desert" is something not to be missed. The same goes for Bernhard Beibl's stunning guitar solos on "One Night in Space" and "Leviathan". The duel of both guitarists is a good moment in "Hamlet", which is much  better on the DVD than in audio. At this level, I strongly recommend you the DVD instead of the audio version which seems lacking of depth, of punch. But we are not for a controversy near in the world of the Dream, No?! But no matter. You are looking for a tribute to the great man? Don't expect the unexpected and get yourselves this DVD. The music and Edgar's images will have ever aged so well. And when your ears will cross this infernal melody which roams as a trap to madmen in "Drunken Mozart in the Desert", you will understand everything. The best memory of him, his music is here on this “Tangerine Dream Plays Edgar Froese-The Epsilon Journey”.

Sylvain Lupari (January 30th, 2015) &
Rest in peace my dear friend. Forever you will live in my heart, soul and memories...

jeudi 29 janvier 2015

FRANK AYERS: Different Skies (2014)

“Different Skies is a big surprise filled by splendid sonic perfumes. A travel through time where EM shines of all its assets”
1 Different Skies PART.I 6:43
2 Different Skies PART.II 4:38
3 Different Skies PART.III 5:40
4 Different Skies PART.IV 6:18
5 Different Skies PART.V 5:24
6 Different Skies PART.VI 6:24
7 Different Skies PART.VII 6:21
8 Different Skies PART.VIII 5:54

Frank Ayers | Bandcamp (CD/DDL 46:37) ****½
(Cosmic, astral and melodious EM)
It has been a long time that I talk about it; France is becoming little by little the new nerve center of EM, a little as Poland was it in the turning of the 2000's. There are fine artists who emerge constantly. I think of Sequentia Legenda, Pharamond (Sylvain Mazars), Kryfels and now Frank Ayers. There is also the ones of the old guard like Olivier Briand, Alpha Lyra (Christian Piednoir), MoonSatellite and Bertrand Loreau who, from time to time, come by to surprise our ears with works always eager of the new contemporary tendencies wrapped by old analog perfumes. That is without forgetting the experimental side of EM which remains the pride of the French electronic art (one remember of Messe pour le Temps Présent de Maurice Béjard?). And where is situated “Different Skies”? Far from the experimental! In fact Frank Ayers is doing melancholic and outstandingly romantic with a cosmic work where Vangelis, for the melancholy, Jarre, for the cosmic rhythms and ambiences, Klaus Schulze, for the minimalist rhythms in jerks, and finally Tangerine Dream, for the very melodious approach of the Schmoelling years, enchant our ears in what I call a delicious electronic sound feast.
From the first astral blows of wind of "Different Skies PART.I", we agree about the New Age control that Frank Ayers has on his vision of electronic harmonies. The tone is warm. I have flashes of Nik Tyndall which light my ears. The movement is celestial with peaceful larvas of synth which interlace and glitter in the echo of arpeggios' ringing of which the reflections of prism are tanning in the sun. We are in the sky of the gods. “Different Skies” is an immersion into unknown heavens. An astral journey inspired by distant and enigmatic soundscapes which are drawn from the imagination of sci-fi books authors such as Arthur C.Clarke and Frank Herbert. The approach is very soft, very musical. A sinuous reverberating line is winding among prismic stars, cosmic spherical bells and dreamlike orchestrations which will remind the first works of Kitaro. A synthesized language perfumes the astral oceans with delicate solos which will awaken Tim Blake's memories. Solos which quite slowly divert the peaceful moods of "Different Skies PART.I" towards a rhythm delicately sequenced with keys which skip and waddle from an ear to another, caressing the harmonious rhythmic patterns of the Halloween genre, from John Carpenter. As you read, there are a lot of references here. And the list will grow. This sequence of minimalist rhythm is running away saves from embraces of mists to dance all alone in the intro of "Different Skies PART.II". The shadows get loose and dance with more delicacy, in order to weave a more harmonic parallel figure. The effect of cascade in sequences is quite attractive, even if it sounds familiar, and the duel rhythm / harmony unveils a delicate intensity with the addition of another line of sequences as well as pulsations of bass sequences. An interesting pattern of ambient rhythm begins then to glisten, as to resound under wandering synth pads and breezes a bit nasal. We are still in the edge of “Different Skies” and everything gets harmonize with delicacy. Then comes the very ambient and cosmic "Different Skies PART.III". The synth pads float lazily in oniric cosmic fogs, reminding me a little of Thierry Fervent's universe.
This slow ambio-cosmic movement serves as bridge between the delicate rhythm of "Different Skies PART.II" and the one of "Different Skies PART.IV" which is more lively and deliciously seducing with these lines of sequences which run and stumble in an always rather ambient figure. Voice pads and sweet solos, whistled by very warm breezes, invite us in a feast of the beautiful analog years whereas the rhythm is always offering these upward spirals where the keys are running against the tide, forging these rhythmic paradoxes so unique to the Berlin School. The race stops a little after the 4th minute, diving "Different Skies PART.IV" to a beautiful dreamlike and relaxing passage, before that "Different Skies PART.V" is whipping our ears with a lively and jerky structure of rhythm. The jumping keys agglutinate, skip on the spot with fury and crush their shadows in a kind of staccato cosmic full of traps and pitfalls. The serpentines of sequences and the spasmodic jerks parade in an astral decoration (do you hear these gongs?) which is wrapped by these stellar mists, by these intergalactic dialogues and by cosmic effects where
Jarre and Baffo Banfi are meeting (you remember Earthstar?) in a sonic sky sprinkled with delicate solos. Frank Ayers wanted absolutely to revisit the golden age of EM.  And he didn't miss his target, that's for sure. We are on cloud nine here. "Different Skies PART.VI" brings us to another level of contemplativity with sonic auroras borealis which are coloring brightly a horizon broken by drum rolls and tears of metallic percussions, but charmingly decorated with shining stars of which the solitary songs get lost in the long night gaps. It's there that "Different Skies PART.VII" makes jump our ears with a lively and shrill rhythm which couples with another line slightly less piercing. Then comes a strange ballet with oscillations shortened of curt movements. One would say a continual  movement of allegorical kicks where sequences sparkle and glitter into some uneven figures. Synth pads to the silvered charms add a very TD electronic dimension to this rhythm which makes move more the ideas than the members but which remains charmingly lively. The kicks get out of breath and "Different Skies PART.VII" embraces a brief moment of misty ambiences with winds, rustlings, howlings of dented bodywork as well as a panoply of cybernetic elements and some rather avant-gardist electronic effects which remind all the wealth and the borders of the electronic art. Wealth which bursts even more violently in "Different Skies PART.VIII" and its bouncy structure of rhythm. Ambient, this rhythm quivers with an alignment of bright hoops which collide their stroboscopic shadows under the laconic pulsations of a bass sequence. The sound structure glitters with fragrances of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream with rolling of percussions, Babylonian breaths, serpentines lamentations and synth lines decorated of modernist which adopt the madness of this electronic staccato of which the fine nuances avoid the traps of redundancy. And that ends in banks of mist, strengthening even more Frank Ayers' vision which offers his “Different Skies” a subtle mixture of genres and times. A very beautiful and musical album that you will still listen to in 10 years.
Sylvain Lupari (January 29th, 2015) &
You will find this CD here at PWM Distrib
You can also view a video trailer here on YouTube

samedi 24 janvier 2015

ROACH, METCALF & THOMAS: Monuments of Ecstasy (2015)

“Monuments of Ecstasy is of an incredible sound wealth that will challenge the limits of your imagination”
1 Archaic Layers 11:29 
2 Monuments of Trance 16:31 
3 Primal Analog 9:20 
4 Molecules of Momentum 9:05 
5 Monuments of Ecstasy 15:08 
6 This Place on Earth 4:36

Projekt | PRO313 (CD/DDL 66:07) ****½
(A mix of ambient and frantic tribal EM)
Tribal ambient!? Everything but ambient! Even if at times the rhythms are a little less frantic. This last collaboration Roach/Metcalf, with this time the contribution of the master of disturbing shaman voices in the person of Rob Thomas, is of an incredible sound wealth with an impressive play of percussions, as acoustic as electronic, which cements more than 60 minutes of soundscapes which will challenge the limits of your imagination. The percussions are thundering, hammering, ploughing and tumbling in structures of rhythms, as much as semi-ambient than frenzied, which raise proudly the meaning of a naming such as “Monuments of Ecstasy”. The electronic and tribal effects enrich structures that I would describe more gliding, more floating than as totally ambient. And the nirvana is doubtless the wonderful title-track which shows without any doubts that EM remains very beautiful, even when it's out of its comfort zone. Once again, the universes of Roach and Metcalf are sparkling with magic. Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf and Rob Thomas unite their fates and their passions in order to make us topple over into a universe where the bewitchment takes quite its senses. “Monuments of Ecstasy” wears a unique signature which leaves an undeniable imprint of enchantment deep in the bottom of our ears.
A long drone perfumes the more or less cosmic introduction of "Archaic Layers". Woosh, wish and wash abound. They whistle by forming some long and sinuous cosmic lassoes, while quite slowly the awakening of the percussions will feed the merciless structure of fervent tribal rhythms that will whip almost the whole of “Monuments of Ecstasy”. Imagine 6 hands which beat wildly various drum skins and you have the color of the rhythms which get breathless the dance spirits of this last effort that offers us the trio
Roach, Metcalf and Thomas. The ruminations of the didge and the synth lines of Roach decorate this furious rhythm which eventually calmed down a little after the bar of 7 minutes to dive into a little more meditative atmospheres. These minutes, as well as "This Place on Earth" and the intro/outros will be the only ambient phases of an album which can only seduce, both by the strength of its rhythms and by the meshing of an impressive pattern of clanic percussions. "Monuments of Trance" starts slowly. Transported by the undulatory breaths of the didge, it proposes a tribal/ambient rhythm with heavy percussions which bewitch both the listening and the senses. The effect in a room is totally intrusive. The rhythm remains linear, minimalist. But there are so many jingles, nuances in the strikes of percussions and in the charms of the guttural hummings that we just don't see time passing by, nor the 16 minutes of it. Very impressive! Especially the ferocious spasmodic rhythm of a finale which brings us to another level of spiritual trance. "Primal Analog" skips from an ear to another with a delicious electronic approach. The modular synth weaves superb oscillations which wave along with the breaths of didge and the organic tones, while the percussions, rather sober, and the elytrons of steel forge a delicious ambient rhythm which magnetizes the listening. "Molecules of Momentum" gets out from the soils of "Monuments of Trance". The rhythm is however less dark with a subtle effect of gap which makes it feel a little more furious. The electronic effects are just well measured while the shaman murmurs prick constantly the curiosity of the ears. The approach brushes even an atmosphere of African jungle with tones as much organic than animal. This is a beautiful mixture which is cementing more and more while "Molecules of Momentum" explores a clearly more frantic structure in its second half. This immersion effect in hostile territories is clearly more tangible in the very beautiful "Monuments of Ecstasy". Between electronic and tribal moods, the title-track is a pure moment of delight. The percussions roll an ambient rhythm from where emerges a fascinating organic flora while the synth throws an immense pattern of morphic mist and takes good care to accommodate us of an intrusive melody. A superb electronic, invisible and magical melody! That could last hours, you know the universe Roach, that it would always be magic! Just like this impressive album which is going to join a lineage of little masterpieces so unique to the universe of Steve Roach. Strongly recommendable, even if Roach is not in your taste. To me, it's the best way to adopt him!
Sylvain Lupari (January 24th, 2015) &

jeudi 22 janvier 2015

OLIVIER BRIAND: The Tape (2014)

“Like Phillipe Valin has written it; The Tape is Olivier Briand's very own Moondawn. This is what EM is all about!”

1 Part I 10:37
2 Part II 8:30
3 Part III 2:04
4 Part IV 5:31
5 Part V 16:58
6 Part VI 3:21
7 Part VII 9:48
8 Part VIII 4:49

PWM Association (CD-r 61:44) *****
(Mix of vintage, modern and avant-gardist EM)
My distinguished colleague to the very esthetic feather, Phillipe Valin, whose Blog Clair & Obscur is among the finest in the field, qualifies this last album from Olivier Briand as being no more and no less his Moondawn. On a scale of 10, he rated the album at 9.5! Knowing his very selective appetite for this kind music, I had more and more haste to listen to this last album of the one who had lifted me from the ground with the excellent Transparences in 2012. And after some listenings I only have to agree with what Philippe has written. But I'll go further by saying that “The Tape” is in the lineage of the big works. Not only the best from Briand, but the best album of 2014! Here is why...
Don't let yourself being fooled by the very ambiospherical approach of "Part I". Quietly, the synth wizard of Nantes is setting the tone, is setting the basis of “The Tape”. A synth to nasal tones is whistling its airs a bit cheerful which coo in banks of mist of which the nebulosity caresses a cozy rivulet of prismic sequences. Quite slowly, we are getting bewitched. A line of bass makes pulsing some jumping keys while the synth exchanges its charming singings for those of a nightingale in tints of jazz which always shouts and still in a more and more charming sound decoration. A sonic background which reborn out of the vast reverberations from the waves of the bass. And as nothing ever is stigmatized in the ease in
Olivier Briand's universe, "Part I" plunges a little into a kind of ambiospherical indiscipline with solos without leaders which skim now a more cosmic approach, as well as some soft and weak breezes of Orion. What always has differentiate the music of Briand is his visceral desire to restore in synths the letters of noblesse that they have lost in all this puddle of harmonious sequences of the New Berlin School mode. Here he fills our ears of delicate electronic flavors with solos to the thousand twists, hypnotizing our attention which perceives well enough these sequences and these percussions which are born and are reborn in a sonic mishmash where are glittering the wave-like prisms of sequences and interlacing solos bearing the soul of forsaken violin tunes. Little by little, the ambient disorder of "Part I" is melting in the structure of "Part II" and of its intro where one believe to encounter an amphibian night-world. The movement of sequences weaves this ambient rhythm which glitters so much like those of Tangerine Dream in the Jive years. We hear the elytrons of metal flickering in the celestial mists as well as the long gurglings of an organic beast. And the sequences begin to dance, to skip. The movement of sequences makes some brief kicks with keys which dance awkwardly on the spot, increasing subtly a pace which catches briskly a heavy pulsating bass line. There is a kind of dramatic mood which bites our eardrums with a threatening mist which always floats in the background. The tension rises. We feel it! The elytrons are clicking more and more and solos become more and more aggressive. And when Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's percussions tumble down; I hear the analogy with Moondawn!!! They roll on a delicious structure of rhythm from the analog years. And they float on the wings of mist as much as they knock down the dissonant harmonies of the numerous synth solos with tones just as much mocking as nasal. Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's play is sublime. Very near Harald Grosskopf with surgical strikes which enrich this electronic / acoustic symbiosis while giving an impression of live which floats throughout “The Tape”.
The rhythmic movement of the short "Part III" awakens in me some souvenirs of Richard Pinhas' sequences in his East-West. The synth solos are also shrill but surprisingly very harmonious. The battle between contemporary and vintage rages. We are in a kind of a still virgin territory where the analogue flirts with the digital technology and it's even more convincing with the intro of "Part IV" where the synths remind me of
Jarre and his Revolutions. The synth airs and tones, as well as the ambiences and this structure of rhythm in a perpetual restructuring, will remind for some of you those delights of Edgar Froese in his Stuntman and Pinnacles albums. Quietly we go towards the sublime "Part V" and of its famous duel between sequencer and Mourad Ait Abdelmalek. The long intro amplifies each second the explosion to come with electronic percussions and sequences always so gleaming. The drum invites itself in the duel at about the 7th minute, giving all the analog latitude to other shiny solos from Olivier Briand. This is as great as "Part II", even a little more violent. But not as on "Part VI" whose bridge is always so deliciously ambio-cosmic kind. It's a great space rock with kicks of free-jazz which scatters its fury in the first minutes of "Part VII" which revisits a little, in a more rock structure, "Part II" and "Part V". Except that I hear, with a great pleasure, this crackling of Richard Pinhas' percussions here. PinhasSchulze and Tangerine Dream! All this in a pure electronic envelope. What to ask furthermore? And quietly “The Tape” rushes towards its last minutes. And no way that Olivier Briand will end this in meditative atmospheres! "Part VIII" livens up those last moments with a beautiful battle between sequences and electronic percussions among which the strikes and the kicks fidget under a carpet of contemporary electronic ambiences. The loop is so looped!
Why “The Tape” is the best after albums such as 
Node 2 and Umbra from Arc? Beyond the fact that we have this very perceptible sensation to have the  ears riveted to a mini recital, the big strength of “The Tape” lies in this splendid mixture of old and modern. The old analog perfumes of Klaus Schulze and Pinhas mixed in the pure rhythms of Jarre and in the sequences of Tangerine Dream's Jive years. Olivier Briand casts a wide net here. And he makes it with a vision where the spirit of the cosmic rock of the vintage years can marvelously goes alongside to the new madnesses allowed by the infinite possibilities of EM and of its accessories. And admit that Schulze with TD, while passing by Jarre and Pinhas, has enough to charm the most demanding of us here.
Sylvain Lupari (January 22nd, 2015) &

lundi 19 janvier 2015

RENE Van Der WOUDEN: Sequential Mixed Up - The Best of REWO (2014)

“What we have here is a fair compilation of nice music which shows all the facets of REWO; great cosmic e-rock which requires a zest of patience before it swallows us in the gates of EM heavens”

1 Gruga Platz 4 20:51
2 Numerus Fixus Part 6 (Extended) 11:53
3 Golden Dreams of Silver Elements (Remix) 14:26
4 Go Quiet (2011 version) 9:44
5 Sequential Tourism 16:11
6 Far Across the Heavens (2011 version) 8:42
7 Get Quieter (2011 version) 9:44
8 Arcadia (2011 version) 18:17

REWO Bandcamp (DDL 109:53) ****
(Sequencer based Cosmic Rock)
The holiday period, these end of year are often synonym of avalanches of CD Boxset, remix and/or compilations for the major labels as well as for the independent artists. The 2014 year was no exception with great gifts from Ultimae Records and DiN label, without forgetting these artists who offered a selection of their best tracks for a price which was, still is, more than affordable in the purpose to make better known their music. “Sequential Mixed Up - The Best of REWO” aims exactly this goal. And the least that we can say is that Rene van der Wooden  aimed accurately. Rene van der Wooden is a Dutch artist/synthesist who makes no compromise. His music, strongly inspired by the sequence based Berlin School or the cosmic moods and beats of the French School, is thumbing one's nose at the more melodic rhythms and at the more ethereal ambiopsheres of the Dutch School style. The man likes to exploit long structures, establishing slow ambient intros which little by little are pouring in rhythms which become patiently wilder. At this level "Gruga Platz 4", with its heavy and steady rhythm which gets excited in a long introduction fed by some metallic rustlings which go beyond the 6 minutes point, will rock you off the ground with a sequenced rhythm of an incredible violence which will remind that of  Bernd Kistenmacher in  Let it Out!Splendid and wild! I allready scheduled it for my next radio show named Murmure du Son (Radio Centre-Ville Montreal). “Sequential Mixed Up - The Best of REWO” is concentrated on the following albums; Alchemia, 2006, Universal Quiet and Sequential Tourism, both released in 2008, and finally Numerus Fixus, launched in 2009. Each track was remixed, remasterised and even worked again with the additions of sequences and new tones. Only "Gruga Platz 4" is a new track, having being written and performed during a concert held in Gruga Park Essen on June 4th 2011.
After this powerful piece which washes ears, "Numerus Fixus Part 6" arrives at us with a version lengthened of almost 4 minutes. The sound is more current and clearly more detailed with pulsations which resound more. And the addition of sequences bring another dimension, as rhythmic but also more melodic than on the original version. "Golden Dreams of Silver Elements" and "Far Across the Heavens" are both tracks which take advantage the most of these benefactions of a new remaster with a new sequencing and cosmic tones. "Golden Dreams of Silver Elements" keeps its approach of static rhythm which swirls into brief spirals made up by jerky loops. Already that the original movement of sequences was very unforeseen, here it radiates of a more accentuated approach with more lines of sequences which wind these uncountable loops. "Far Across the Heavens" is the track which has got the most beautiful sound-lift. Even heavier, the rhythm feeds on the oscillations of an analog Moog. The spirit of 
Tangerine Dream and of Chris Franke's hyperactive sequences, and their dances a bit free-and-easy, is very present on this heavy and lively track. A little as in "Get Quiet" which is another strong track with some very TD sonic fragrances. Coming from the Universal Quiet album, this track is quite underestimated with furious sequenced oscillations which undulate under the charms of a synth to the perfumes of East. From the same album, "Go Quiet" offers a finely jerky rhythmic which spreads its coat of ions to the intermittent jolts in the sinister envelopes of a morphic synth. Out of the album of the same name, "Sequential Tourism" was my first real crush with the universe Van Der Wooden. This is very Jarre, as much in the sequences of oscillating loops, of which the heaviness ends to get the upper hand over the velocity, than in its attractive cosmic envelope. Even if the differences are less blatant here than on the other tracks of this compilation, the same goes for "Arcadia" of the same album, to re-hear these two tracks of Sequential Tourism shows the Ying and the Yang which cuts clearly Rene van der Wooden's works.
With this nice mix of
Jarre and Tangerine Dream, “Sequential Mixed Up - The Best of REWO” is a beautiful, but above all, a fair compilation of Rene van der Wooden's very uneven universe. And when I say uneven, I do not say it in a pejorative sense. Far from there! The author chose aptly a series of tracks, showing the vast gap which marks slightly too often his music. As Van Der Wooden is capable of sculpturing structures that make you totally hooked from the first listening, as he is capable of testing your patience with long introductions which always eventually give birth to a trick that is very pleasant to the ear. "Gruga Platz 4" and "Arcadia" are striking examples of his universe sometimes strongly tinted with paradox. But when it starts, hold your hats with both your hands and feet.
Sylvain Lupari (January 18th, 2015) &

samedi 17 janvier 2015

RENE Van Der WOUDEN: Numerus Fixus (2009)

“Numerus Fixus is a real nice album which aims to be a continuity of the analog space music of Jarre without getting into some kind of ordinary plagiarism”

1 Fixus Part I 14:33 
2 Fixus Part II 10:24 
3 Fixus Part III 4:25 
4 Fixus Part IV 4:56
5 Fixus Part V 7:33
6 Fixus Part VI 8:27 
7 Fixus Part VII 4:18 
8 Fixus Part VIII 9:11

REWO Bandcamp (CD-r/DDL 63:27) ***½
(Sequencer based Cosmic Rock)
Masterised by Ron Boots, “Numerus Fixus” is Rene van der Wooden's 8th opus. It has as background the fragility of the ecosystems in a world which is going smaller and smaller. I think that it's a beautiful opus with a melancholic aroma. Very much like the Dutch synthesist in a way. Him who is strongly inspired by the analog sound effects, giving so to this album a musical approach more galactic than earthly very much influenced by the French School style of EM. “Numerus Fixus” sails between two universes with a strong scent of Jarre where the cosmos interlaces the perfumes of the Earth with a contemporaneousness which does not really bind to the theme of the album. If the 3 first parts form a moving symbiosis where the paradox earth / space is vibrating, the 5 last ones are projecting us in a sound universe where Van Der Wooden follows the paths there where Jarre  has once stopped his creative meter.
"Fixus Part I" opens “Numerus Fixus” with fine arpeggios which tinkle, such of the hits on a xylophone, in order to dance lazily on a movement of sequenced rhythm of which the minimalism shape adopts a spiral swirling at the infinite. It's turning into a galactic twisting accompanied by space choirs to the vaporous breaths which scrolls such as a bed song worthy of a Halloween theme where the humming of some motorcycle engines are bursting and get lost in this crystal space. It's an intro full of paradoxes and quite eclectic to which is added the weight of a good bass line which rocks the movement of a same minimalism similarity and where the synth solos breathe of an approach more spectral than cosmic. But the fact remains that "Fixus Part I" is closer to cosmos than Earth with its Mellotron and its slow breaths of violins which cross a sequencing pattern fed of twisted momentums and harpooned by strikes of e-percussions and beautifully painted of colorful sound effects which bring the track towards another level of intensity without however derived "Fixus Part I" of its beautiful ethereal bed song. Electronic tones in the fragrances of the analog years water very often the works of
Rene van der Wooden and “Numerus Fixus” is full of it. "Fixus Part II" soaks in these tones with a shower of sound constellations which breaks out under powerful cosmic waves before that a heavy oscillating sequence, and sometimes resonant, livens up a tempo which beats through a panoply of sound particles. Slowly the rhythm gets loose from its lunar approach to kiss a more earthly structure beneath the breaths of a Mellotron which always hesitates between both universes. A Mellotron which harmonizes its fluty airs while that "Fixus Part II" is flirting with the tinkling arpeggios of the introductory part. Always in the register of the crystalline arpeggios to the soft musical prayers, "Fixus Part III" is simply wonderful. It's an oniric sweetness which sings life and hope, like the tick-tack of a timeless watch, in order to finally adopt a sometimes hot and sometimes poetic musicality which in the end is a real pity that it has to be end.
"Fixus Part IV" brings us back to the rhythmic soils of Space Art with its fierce beat adorned with some juicy synth interlaced solos, whereas "Fixus Part V" is of a galactic weightiness extremely well structured. It's a kind of mix between
Jarre's Magnetic Fields and the post electronic punk of Daft Punk with a heavy and livened up tempo from which a nasal synth offers some beautiful symphonic impetus. Just like "Fixus Part VI" which moreover has a splendid ambiospherical intro and a clearly more roaring rhythmic pattern. This is the wildest and my best track here. "Fixus Part VII" is similar to Jarre's Oxygene period. This track has a very beautiful ambient and cosmic structure which is endowed with a dramatic approach of a rare intensity. "Fixus Part VIII" ends “Numerus Fixus” with a livelier way. It's a heavy piece of music encircled by juicy and fat sequences which run and roll beneath the ethereal caresses of a beautiful Mellotron whose fluty breezes float and wrap some bright tones of xylophones which dance in the shadows of festive percussions.
If not in my Top 10 list of 2009, “Numerus Fixus” is then not really far from it. It's a nice album which aims to be a continuity of the analog space music of
Jean Michel Jarre without getting into some kind of ordinary plagiarism. There are great passages on this opus that we listen to without having one second of boredom. So, it's another very nice album from Rene van der Wooden who doesn't stop to amaze and also touch. But at the end of the day and once we get familiar with his music, we observe that Rene van der Wooden is to Jarre what Redshift, Arc or Free System Projekt are to Tangerine Dream; the reflection of eras sealed in the time with a fair dosage of creativity and originality. Fans of Jarre and Vangelis; “Numerus Fixus”, and most of Van Der Wooden's albums besides, are true sure values.
Sylvain Lupari (February 10th, 2009 / Translated on January 17th, 2014) &

mercredi 14 janvier 2015

BORDERS EDGE MUSIC: A Touch of Berlin Vol. I (2015)

“A Touch of Berlin Vol. I is a nice and very fair compilation which will rock your world down and draw dreams beyond the stars”

1 Floh 5:52
2 Emerald Path 5:28
3 Astral Gates 7:52
4 The Caves of Steel 5:36
5 Infinite Improbabilities 11:52
6 Nexus 6 4:04
7 Encounter at Proxima 5 4:46
8 Ion Storm on Jupiter Station 6:48

Borders Edge Music (DDL 52:19) ****
(New Berlin School, E-Rock and Berlin School)
Maybe I'm dreaming. But I have this feeling that the Berlin School style, the progressive EM which for a long time was cooking in the German caves and basements seems to resurface. The Facebook pages abound. Radio programs get multiply and solid releases are hopping up to the ears at almost every week. For the Canadian independent label Borders Edge Music, it's the right time to release a compilation on the genre entitled “A Touch of Berlin Vol. I”. I'm maybe going to make you smile, or to shock some of you, but with all the genres and the sub-genres which are teeming in the studios and are produced over the last couple of years, the collective Borders Edge Music is what it gets closer to Software EM fabric and of their numerous music styles which lived under the same banner; Innovative Communication, after the Peter Mergener years. Lot of styles and a lot of music. Borders Edge Music presents good and lively EM, from e-rock to IDM and New Age by passing in the New Berlin School range. There are for all tastes. And as in these Software years, the compilations have a thematic nature, as DreamScapes and Wavefront, or are making a brief glimpse on the albums appeared each year. Mixing so all these genres which sparkle and charm the tastes of all and each in the beneath the same sign. As we can guess, “A Touch of Berlin Vol. I” aims at plunging the listener into the territories of Berlin School. But I would rather say that it is much more about a compilation of New Berlin School and of E-Rock tracks, than of pure Berlin School where the minimalist sequences are generative of ambient rhythms which inter change their forms in approaches more progressive than harmonious. Having said that, “A Touch of Berlin Vol. I” is a good compilation and an excellent way to get acquainted with one of the numerous facets of this Canadian label.
And that begins with tears of synth which squeak by intertwining their waves. A muffled rhythm, raise up on a heavy and insistent pulsation, pounds laconically while sequences flicker with liveliness, ready that they are to smash the barrier of a structure of rhythm which will explode in a e-rock a la
Tangerine Dream. "Floh" is pulled from the album Cosmic Touch, which is very well represented here with "Astral Gates", he superb "Nexus 6" and the solid "Encounter at Proxima 5", showing all the depth of this album which appears undoubtedly among the pleasant surprises of 2013. Kuutana also takes out a pearl of his Fantastic Stories album with the powerful "The Caves of Steel". This is a solid mix of e-rock and New Berlin School here. "Infinity Improbabilities" is the only vestige of Quantum Earth album and is doubtless the track which sticks the most to the ambiences of the Berlin School. I was very surprised by the heaviness of the circular rhythm of "Emerald Path", a very dark track with sinister moods of tension or horror movie which nests on the Walking Sun album released in 2013. An album that I never heard and if "Emerald Path" is a faithful reflection, that deserves an investigation. Another unknown track to me is the very ambiospherical "Ion Storm on Jupiter Station" from the Undiscovered Shores album, also released in 2013 which would deserves amply its place on a Berlin School compilation. But this track is at its place here. With "Infinite Improbabilities", they mix a little the New Berlin School and retro Berlin School genres with a skillful insertion between the rhythms of fire which make this beautiful and very fair compilation of Borders Edge Music rocking the house down and drawing dreams beyond stars.
Sylvain Lupari (January 14th, 2015) &

mardi 13 janvier 2015

MIDNIGHT AIRSHIP: A River Once Flowed Here (2014)

“Peaceful prog rock creates from EM equipments; A River Once Flowed Here possesses all the attributes to please the fans of Pink Floyd...well, more or less”

1 A River Once Flowed Here 8:48
2 Money for your Soul 11:38
3 Midnight Airdrop 10:46
4 Making it Right 5:29
5 Glimmer of Hope 8:53

Midnight Airship Bandcamp (DDL 52:19) ***
(Synthesizer based prog rock)
There are a lot of things going on in the world of Borders Edge Music. This small independent label based in Ontario Canada is piling releases over releases, where the music created and computer-aided takes the forms which can really please to many ears. As we say; there is something for all tastes, for all purses! Midnight Airship is the last project of Ron Charron, the one-man band behind this worldly brotherhood of EM musicians, who, this time, abandons the ethereal ambiences and the chronological rhythms of the New Berlin School for an approach closer to the one of the progressive rock. Incredibly inspired by the music of Pink Floyd, “A River Once Flowed Here” possesses all the attributes to please, and to the fans of the mythical English group, and the fans of a light EM which nevertheless has no all of its characteristics.
And yet the spiral of chords, as bright as harmonious, which swirls on the spot at the opening of the title-track reminds unmistakably the influences of
Tangerine Dream, the Rockoon years, on the music of Ron Charron. The rhythm which settles down is heavy and jerky. Soft but still heavy and a bit bumpy. A kind of mid-tempo with a scent of ambient funk and with a good line of bass of which the resonances are fitting to the hammering of the percussions. Ethereal, the guitar leads us towards the more vaporous moods of the second part of "A River Once Flowed Here". It floats with very beautiful solos which mix in subtlety to the breaths of choruses, while its light riffs, scattered in the tears of the solos, speak to the more curt riffs of the keyboard and later in the lonely notes abandoned by a rather melancholic piano. All of the improbable universe of Pink Floyd lives in a new address. The rhythm weighs down its senses and caresses our ears with an approach which will call back the memories of US and Them to overflow on "Money for your Soul". This is very nice and the cloning is very incisive. From  Dark Side of the Moon to the post-Waters years, “A River Once Flowed Here” fills our ears with these rhythms softer than violent which are disguising behind an approach made up by a tepid psychedelism vision. Here it's the guitar which is the king and fills our ears of David Gilmour's charms and wisdom. The synths occupy a supporting role by drawing and by enriching the ambiences and the sequencing pattern is rather sober. Everything is mainly sculptured around a fake guitar by the magic of the Korg synths and some very tasty plug-ins. So the fiction goes beyond the reality. This synth six-strings is simply charming on "Midnight Airdrop" which is the most creative, the most dynamic and the most electronic track of “A River Once Flowed Here”. Between a sort of cosmic blues and an ambient funk, the 5 tracks flows into our ears with a certain frustration. Something is missing there; the voice of Gilmour or Waters. And it's a stumbling block which annoys the listening. The music being intensively traced upon the roots of Floyd, we are always expecting to hear the voice of David Gilmour all the times. Instead, it's the guitar. And the whole thing sounds exactly like Pink Floyd. Even this saxophone in "Making it Right" is really in its place, while "Glimmer of Hope" sees its psychedelico-progressive and electronic touch be stolen by a more cheerful structure of rhythm where the guitar still continues its domination over the ambiences.
Peaceful, relaxation prog rock creates from EM equipments! I buy half of it. In fact, I'm half in earnest, half in jest  in front of the fruits of this album from Midnight Airship. Even if a part of me raises my hat in front of all the work of composition which structures the bases of “A River Once Flowed Here”, I believe that rock, as progressive as pure rock, belongs to a real guitar, a real bass, a real drum kit and, especially, to voices. Even if very melodious, the music of this last Ron Charron's opus never reaches the depths, or this invisible link which cements a music among which the essence and the feelings doesn't apparently belong to the spheres of EM as such. Set apart this thing which annoys me, the potential to resuscitate the soul of Pink Floyd is very present and rather effective at times. We swim in it at full ears. Even that the atmospheres of the last album, The Endless River are outstandingly present. And let's give to Caesar what returns to him; Ron Charron's talent at the level of the composition, and also as musician, is undeniable. His boldness and his perspicacity make of him an artist who is establishing some robust foundations for a very diversified career. But I would well give another chance to “A River Once Flowed Here” with a real just band to see and hear.
Sylvain Lupari (January 13th, 2015) &