mardi 20 octobre 2015

REDSHIFT: Life to Come (2015)

“Bravo Mark Shreeve! Life to Come is the best thing which can be produced by analog machines this year. And 2015 was a great year in this field. A superb album my friends”
1 Soft Summer Rain 10:16
2 Vampyre 11:38
3 Mission Creep 8:47
4 Bloom 5:31
5 Slam 12:58
6 Circling Above 8:25
7 Life to Come 6:12

Distant Sun DS013 (CD/DDL 63:52) *****
(Pure analog sequencer-based style)
From the first seconds of "Soft Summer Rain" the Redshift signature for dark moods is gobbling up our brain out! The rhythm and the life take shape through breezes which are lost in dark industrial ambiences. Felted explosions, knockings of clogs, pulsations and abstract sequences, which answer to their echoes, are shaping an ambient rhythm which tries to take root with its scattered tentacles. Murmurs of a bass line breathe over this ambient anarchy, releasing big snores which chew a line of rhythm divided of its chaos. The movement remains magnetizing with a thick cloud of sequences which skip as imps and their hooves in a figure of a rodeo for dwarfs Capuchin. "Soft Summer Rain" becomes heavy and black, as a Gothic ballad, where sequences lost in the snores are eventually weaving a strange melody while another storm of sequences comes down to break up our loudspeakers and crush this portion of melody nevertheless more devilish than seraphic. Some people will say that it's not music. I'll say that it's the pure magic of the analogue world; build a life from nothingness!
This last opus of
Redshift was more than unexpected. It was madly desired for years! In fact, many of us thought that the adventure was well and truly ended. Arc took over with two wonderful albums which are marked of the Redshift seal. And even if there was Colder in 2011, we have to go back as far as 2008, with the boiling and incisive, Turning Towards Us to have new and original music to put between our ears produced by the mythical English entity. And it's Ian Boddy, the partner in crime of Mark Shreeve in Arc who gave the game away with a tweet on Twitter which announced a return for Redshift. It was like to put of the fire to a powder trail! The combustion sowed  a kind of collective enjoyment and all the fans of EM were looking forward to this “Life to Come”. Me, the first one! And what a feast my friends.... Heavy, powerful, dark and fiendishly melodious, this last opus of Redshift inherits from the past of Mark Shreeve who, once again, raises the standards of excellence for all those who aspire to the Redshift throne. The big Moog Modular spits the fire and the effects of its reverberations find echo in a tumult of sequences which have difficulty in containing the proposed structures of rhythms. The atmospheres are chthonian and remain soaked with a somber industrial veil unique to Redshift. I have listened to it several times, to dissipate all the doubts of my fanaticism towards Redshift and Mark Shreeve. My first idea changed in a certainty; “Life to Come” is a pure master work! It's one ton of bricks in the face and I savored with delight this magnificent fusion of both entities where Mark Shreeve, of his Assassin and Legion eras, is watering a Redshift always so dark and loud of a literally more harmonious water. By doing so, we have the best of both universes of England School between our ears. And if the ambient, but always howling, structure of "Soft Summer Rain" doesn't convince you, what is to follow is going to destroy your doubts!
"Vampyre" spreads its cloud of sonic intrigues with breezes coming from hell. An electric piano begins the drilling of a ghost melody which scatter its chords in fogs filled of white noises. A rattle titillates our ears in the background. The approach radiates these of Rick Wright's evasive melodies, while the hooting of spectres infiltrate insidiously our ears. The voices are as much beautiful and the piano is so much dark. While this contrast exhilarates our senses, a movement of sequences knocks down its keys which gallop at good speed now. The rattles become rolling of industrial percussions which push in the back of the galloping keys. And
Mark Shreeve settles his tenebrous moods. A delicious guitar makes counterweight to this structure of rhythm which seems so threatening, scattering its harmonious loops in the doubtful chants of the spectres. The bass line breathes a second life at this structure which will keep the course of a steady rhythm where the sequences flicker keenly in the slowly undulatory breaths of the bass line. Between a heavy, sometimes explosive,and a fluid rhythm, decorated with sonic intrigues, "Vampyre" weaves a beautiful bridge between the initial works of Mark Shreeve and the somber paintings of Redshift. The basis of “Life to Come” is anchored well and truly. It only just needs to fix its ornaments. "Mission Creep" wears judiciously its naming. Its intro is forged in the tumults of the spectres who decorate hell. A fascinating pattern of rhythm emerges from it a little after the 2nd minute. It skips as in a kind of heathen trance with nervous pulsations which are knotted with the bangings of bones and the jingles of chains. The effect is intrusive with a heavy structure which feeds on its echo and from where is coming a superb melody of horror which will leave its traces many hours later. Yes, Mark Shreeve will have never fed so well Redshift! A short track full of spectral atmospheres on a heavy and vindictive rhythm where sequences are forged in the hammering of silversmith's trade which tames the assault of these moods, "Bloom" leads us to the pinnacle of “Life to Come”.

Pulsatory heavy and humming sequences are dancing with jingles. Our ears hear well this mooing of the darkness, but our senses remain oriented to this feverish dance of sequences which fidget as spasmodic skeletons. A shadow of a melody lies down with dreamy chords, except that we feel the breath of the beast. The murmurs disorientate our senses and we feel that "Slam" is going to get wild. And it does! Of its long evolutionary structure, which feeds on many bites left for crumbs up to here in “Life to Come”, "Slam" travels between two universes with a structure always near the horror and near these macabre atmospheres. The rhythm goes and comes, always bent in the rotary arcs of the sequences movements which flicker like fireflies racing in a long oscillatory tube in order to flee the light. Avoiding the din, as much as the peace of mind of the harmonies sung by horned angels, it opts for a wild race at around the 6th minute. The rhythm becomes then explosive with a troop of analog sequences which avoid the bites of the percussions in order to run wild beneath a thick cloud full of fanciful violins. The flow of the sequences is as much indescribable as being breathtaking for the senses. Lost, a line of sequences makes jump up and clink its crazy keys in anarchic jerks 2 minutes farther, restoring some gas to "Slam" which runs again to lose breath and always by stepping on the accelerator of the indecision. This is huge Redshift my friends. "Circling Above" moderates the moods with a long dark introduction which flirts with gothism. Percussions dance a little before the point of 4 minutes. Sequences come to peck at this soft rhythm with the effects of attacks from giant flies. And while our ears are centered on this surprising meshing of ambiences, the rhythm spits a strange poison of white noises. It's heavy and vicious. The chthonian choruses add to the intrigue while the track fetches refuge in a very theatrical mooing. The title-track reborn again out of these ashes, throwing an ochred mist where are shouting the sparrows along with the hooting of spectres. The synth pads, and this is as in every corner of “Life to Come”, are as much black than weighty, wrapping an intro in a shroud of horror where will gambol a superb melodious approach which is knotted in suspense. That does very Mark Shreeve. That does very Legion and that feels good. And it also ends a splendid album which plays in loops in my cd player for already one week. “Life to Come” is a huge album my friends. It's a huge work from Mark Shreeve who does everything here. An inescapable and undoubtedly the best of 2015 which nevertheless showed some solid albums here! Yes, a big year for EM! There was only missing new music from Redshift and it's now done. Hat to you Mark!
Sylvain Lupari (October 20th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Redshift Bandcamp page here

mardi 13 octobre 2015

UWE RECKZEH: Perfection Mode (2015)

“This is without a doubt the best opus of Uwe Reckzeh who finally tamed a unique way to enrich his structures with a deep sonic texture equals to the great names in the genre”
1 Cold Mountain 14:50
2 Forbidden Thoughts 12:02
3 Perfection Mode 12:48
4 Sequence Mode 14:42
5 Transfer Mode 16:52

MellowJet Records | CD-r ur1501 (CD-r/DDL 71:14) ****
(Mix of New and Retro Berlin School on soft ambient beats)
Here is an album which has the ambition of its artwork. Of its presentation! The ochre color, the rusty red of an earth which is granulated of radioactive dust can be heard quite everywhere in the rich sound atmospheres which wrap the 71 minutes of “Perfection Mode”. Always influenced by the essences of the Dream, mainly of the Hyperborea period, Uwe Reckzeh shows on this last album an impressive assurance by flooding his rhythms, always braided in parallel sequenced movements, with an atmosphere as much puzzling as the colors which instigate the imagination. The German synthesist shows so much resourcefulness by sculpting ambiences that the link to make between his last work and those of Bernd Kistenmacher is more than omnipresent. “Perfection Mode”, it's 5 sonic corridors well settled over minimalist structures where the main rhythmic plans are delicately hijacked from their axes by movements of adjacent rhythms which divide their skeletons in rather harmonious approaches. These contrasts are objects of seduction for the ears which also stuff themselves with these completely unexpected duels between guitar and keyboards in an environment which is in continual movement.
Reference points to more contemporary works are also present in this album which throws off balance by the complex evolutionary phases of its 5 long structures. Take the introduction of "Cold Mountain" where the hummings of insects are switching for those of giants chainsaws, reminding the opening of famous
Paradise from Bernd Kistenmacher. A delicate morphic melody, played on a very nostalgic piano, extricates itself from those sound effects of a forest which enchants of its thousand noises of life, ending the first 3 minutes of a soft introduction fed by its artistic contrasts. A line of bass sequences emerges from a fog filled by crystalline tones, structuring a quiet rhythm which fattens constantly its vigor. The rhythm is soft and steady. It gives the impression of climbing imaginary tops along with solos silkily made by a synth which sing through this choir of prisms. Accelerating little by little the pace with abrupt movements of sequences, it hiccups in jerks. And the shadows of the hopping keys are swirling all around this upward structure. It's a very good New Berlin School (the structure of "Sequence Mode" is forged in the same rhythmic interlude) where the contrasts in the rhythm softens, while "Cold Mountain" reaches a more ambiospherical point, well filled of electronic effects, at around the 10th minute. This pattern of rhythms versus ambiences will be recurrent for the four other tracks. Filamentous noises are winding heavens, like big sonic worms, establishing the bases of a new approach where a heavy effect of snores re-orientates the structure of "Cold Mountain" towards more agile sequences which flicker and jump on a silky ambient structure of rhythm where sing synth solos and of which the harmonies seem out of place in these iconoclastic hummings which feed the superb ambiguity of "Cold Mountain" finale. The introduction of "Forbidden Thoughts" is also knotted in the weird. We hear chords of electric guitar there strolling in atmospheres which reflect marvelously a spirit been tormented by its forbidden thoughts. I don't know if it's me, but I find that it does so very Bernd Kistenmacher (the research and the structuring of the compositions). And it's very well done. These evasive ambiences don't go further the threshold of 3 minutes while "Forbidden Thoughts" goes alive by a spasmodic rhythm. An upright rhythm which is pecked by nervous percussions and by boiling sequences as well as by riffs of a ghost guitar which go and come to scatter fragments of harmonies. Riffs and keyboard pads remind the universe of the Dream of the Schmoelling's years; the usual signature of Uwe Reckzeh. And these influences of Tangerine Dream come to cover the more moderate atmospheres of the sound bridge of "Forbidden Thoughts" at around its 7 minutes. That really sounds like the Dream here. And it's even more evident with the title-track and its beginning of an ambient rhythm where sequences skip on the spot in a stealthy envelope. It's a delicious little 6 minutes before that "Perfection Mode" offers a structure of circular minimalist rhythm built on good bass sequenced pulsations, with an a little variable flow, of which the lively and the sharp knocks draw a slightly zigzagging pace. The atmospheres throughout “Perfection Mode” are the cornerstone of this last Uwe Reckzeh's album. Very tinged, sometimes same subdued like here, they embalm the various structures of rhythms of a backdrop misted by mysticism. "Sequence Mode" offer the most steady structure of rhythm here with line of sequences which crisscross in a sound atmosphere peppered by the influences of Tangerine Dream, in particular these ethereal solos which float like sighs. The guitar is very beautiful and its duel with the flickering sequences is a moment of charm which embellishes a finale which spreads its shadows up until the delicious "Transfer Mode" and its oscillating sequences which kick such as a sequenced ride worthy of the good ambient rhythms of Berlin School. Metallic elytrons peck at this structure which ennobles its beauty with veils of prisms, very musical synth solos as well as riffs and pads very well inserted. Another line of sequences breaks up its keys which wind with jerky spasms, ending an album on the same principle as its opening by deepening its field of ambient sounds, as mystical as lyrical, which binds both poles of the Berlin School. Yeah .... A very beautiful album charmingly different from Uwe Reckzeh.
Sylvain Lupari (October 13th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the MellowJet Records web shop here

dimanche 11 octobre 2015

PAUL ELLIS: Moth in Flames (2015)

“Moth in Flames is yet a nice album with a beautiful sound aestheticism from Paul Ellis where the ambient and the cosmic moods are adequately teasing magnetising slow beats, if not good sequencing of Berliner style”
1 In Flagrante Delicto 8:05
2 Moth in Flames 7:18
3 Birds Migrating over the Prison 8:47
4 Oh Well, Dear Silence 5:08
5 She Walks in Beauty 6:07
6 Lights of a Departing Train 7:41
7 Coeur De Lion 3:53
8 Waves for Durga 6:17
9 The Stained Glass Observatory 5:09
10 Between the Trees; Mount Hood 14:47

Spotted Peccary | SPM-2901 (CD/DDL 73:17) ****
(Mix of ambient, cosmic and sequenced EM)
We don't approach a Paul Ellis' opus like we look at a flashy object! If his artworks are always magnificent to the eye, his music is it just as much for ears. It's just that we have to take time to hear it. To listen to his subtleties, his finenesses and his sonic arguments which confront in one outstanding artistic aestheticism, as would say my accomplice Robert Hamel. The music of Paul Ellis is fed by a sound texture which goes beyond fantasy and his selection of album titles in his repertoire sounds just like a painting embellished in the complexity of the imagination. And “Moth in Flames” doesn't break away from this signature of the American master of musical abstracted paints. Embroidered around 10 tracks with, yet, finely chosen titles and slow evolutions, except for the sequenced driven "Waves for Durga" and "The Stained Glass Observatory", this last album from Paul Ellis is a whole sonic journey in the heart of his ever minimalist structures which develop in cosmic and ambient textures, sometimes even with a zest of Berlin School, ideal to expose the thousand colors of a sound pallet that Paul Ellis never stops renewing.
"In Flagrante Delicto" reminds me of 
Vangelis with its ethereal structure where stroll a series of chords lost in some very melancholic synth lines. Synth lines which draw arcs of musing and of which the floating strands resist to these delicate explosions of bass which dig up those of the famous Greek musician in Blade Runner. Moreover, the sound texture of "In Flagrante Delicto" crosses deliciously these futuristic zones, as well as those of video games, with an armada of chirping and electronic effects. A skeleton of rhythm cogitates a very long time before taking shape with a series of delicately jerky chords which drive in a loops before rolling for a more steady structure. Some people will hear TangerineDream's kinds of sound effects. They are not wrong, because no matter where goes “Moth in Flames” we cannot ignore these elements which give a fascinating depth to its structures in perpetual evolutions. The title-track offers a delicate structure of ambient rhythm with keyboard's keys which dance like in a very slow cosmic cha-cha where bass pulsations increase their delight like in the soft rhythms of Patrick O'Hearn (at this level, I have tasted with delight the short "Coeur De Lion"). And slowly "Moth in Flames" re orientates its movement, like these caterpillars which go out of their cocoon in order to dance with the caresses of the winds. It's very poetic, just like "Birds Migrating over the Prison" which continues on these structures of ambient rhythms where the chords, and their spectres a bit sizzling, remain finely jerky. The rhythm is slightly hopping and is limping into rich ethereal atmospheres thanks to the warm intensity of the orchestral arrangements. Some dramatic electronic effects are blowing a second part where the tones have an organic nature which goes hand in hand with these charming singings of birds which amaze our ears since the opening of "Birds Migrating over the Prison"."Oh Well, Dear Silence" stays anchored at these rhythms strangely indistinct of “Moth in Flames” with chords which move forward and move back in good electronic effects, among which these knocks of ethereal gas which escape at each knock of pulsations. A thin line of sequences emerges out there and swirls delicately into these rich textures decorated with sound graffiti and with discreet solos always very airy from Paul Ellis. After the very ambiospherical "She Walks in Beauty", the reference with the first works of TangerineDream cannot be ignored here, "Lights of a Departing Train" offers the first structure of electronic rhythm in “Moth in Flames”, to say the least for the introduction. Afterward, the track evaporates the heavinesses of its first minutes to offer these chords which dance on the spot with the reflections lost of its introduction. That does very Paul Ellis with a zest of a Jazz deconstructed a la Philip Glass. "Waves for Durga" is going to seduce for sure those who worship again and again this good old Tangerine Dream with a rhythm which waves delicately in the perfumes of flute and among good hallucinogenic electronic effects. Let's say that our hearing is sharpened right on the spot by this track! "The Stained Glass Observatory" is a dark track with huge vampiric waves which are waving over a thick cloud of small steps lost in a marble labyrinth. These steps dance like in a tap-dance for insane persons in a sonic decoration deserving of those dark horror movies. With flabby, even ambient, parts of rhythm which wind such as skeletons in search of bones in atmospheres decorated with sound graffiti and  hallucinogenic electronic effects, "Between the Trees; Mount Hood" concludes this last Paul Ellis' sonic ode with the same mysticism as his musical signature which continues to charm and amaze since The Sacred Ordinary. This is a long track built around the same sonic schemas which prevail all around this album with different chapters all interlinked by slow beats lost or wrap in deep ambiosonic moods where this mosaic of soundscapes never seems to find its way.
And yes, this “Moth in Flames” is a nice album built  around complexities. As much as in its sonic envelope as in its structures of beats, ambient as driven, with a beautiful sound aestheticism to be discovered. Just like
Paul Ellis' universe if it's not already done!
Sylvain Lupari (October 10th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Spotted Peccary web shop here

vendredi 9 octobre 2015

JEFFREY KOEPPER: Konnektions (2015)

“Konnektions is to Jeffrey Koepper what Skeleton Keys is to Steve Roach; an album of a rare intensity which aims to be undoubtedly an inescapable in the chessboard of modern EM”
1 After Glow 9:46
2 Oracle 3:41
3 Pantheon 8:45
4 Trance Electric 11:10
5 Astral Mechanika 13:13
6 Mercury Circuit 10:45
7 Among Stars 5:10
8 Belief 8:54

Air Space Records 007 (CD/DDL 71:29) *****
(Ambient sequencer based EM)
Listening to this Jeffrey Koepper's new opus is a little like making a long upward pilgrimage towards heavens! Connecting the human emotions, the spiritual feelings with the analog machines. That's the main spirit behind this mosaic of sounds which starts to unfold with the warm rays of "After Glow" which irradiate of its floating arcs filled of cracklings. Larvas of synth untie their sonic ink, establishing a parameter of lyricism which infiltrate our ears with such a sweetness. Oh...that it feels good to take up with the music of Jeffrey Koepper! Because everything coming from this American musician/synthesist is weaved in a kind of sonic poetry. A fine movement of sequences shapes a structure of ambient rhythm. One would say a group of turbulent keys which make shine their crystalline tones by cavorting, by skipping, by getting entangled and by spinning with synchronized capers, and others more random, in a tight weaved schema where every forgery-step is fast returned in the magnetism of the movement. This is a sonic universe, a sonic poetry of a rare delicacy that a discreet bass line propels for the beginning of an astral procession. Quietly, "After Glow" establishes the parameters of “Konnektions”.
It's been a while since Jeffrey Koepper has gave us some new music to throw between our ears. Since Arctisonia in fact, which dates in 2011. The man played around and did other things among which having some jam-sessions with friends. And this long wait will result in a wonderful album where each track follows a processional tangent filled with ambient electronic rhythms which are weaved in the subtleties of the analog equipments. Our buddy Jeffrey uses here the Synthesizers.com Modular, that 
Steve Roach had so silky toyed with in his masterpiece Skeleton Keys. And that's the reference point of “Konnektions”. Everything is built, blown and rendered in analog tones. The result is an album where the sound background is incredibly rich and warm. The minimalist structures are constantly nuanced by a depth in the ambient textures where the allegorical singings of the synths are used as springboard to rhythms which undo the strands of their sequence patterns with effects of echo which are transformed at times into real vertiginous spirals. Assembled and mixed by Steve Roach (his imprints are everywhere) in the Timehouse studios, “Konnektions” is to Jeffrey Koepper what Skeleton Keys is to his good friend Steve Roach. The rhythms, always very poetized, are wrapped up in rich electronic textures with a lot of soundscapes to the opposite contrasts. This connection between the souls and the machines is like a slow procession in cosmos with patterns of rhythms which are quiet and violent, passive and energetic. In fact, they adopt the visions as much of its author as the ears which absorb them with delight.
"Oracle" hangs onto the last notes of "After Glow", here the 8 tracks of this opus merge in a long mosaic of 71 minutes, with an ambient phase where are shouting these stars which shine with their thousand sound chants. Voices of astral nymphs are joining this sound choir where also flow tears of synth. The bass is shaping some kind of dramatic impetus that will feed the ambiguity of our feelings throughout this delicious processions cosmographical which is “Konnektions”. The introduction of "Pantheon" roams like a beast lying in wait. Sonic hoops pile up and the bass line snores while that, far off, a more musical synth line unwinds the carpet where will parade hopping keys and their glass reflections. The movement remains rather celestial, even if a bass line draws incomplete arcs which form a passive structure of rhythm where are dancing some keys weakened by their crystalline appearances. I hear some
Michael Stearns here. Kind of this pastoral procession in Chronos? We are approaching the jewel! After a delicious ambient introduction, where our senses float along the multiple synth layers, the gravitational rhythm of "Trance Electric", the signature of Roach here is omnipresent, makes hear bass sequences which skip in the steps of a long ascending spiral. It's the kind of rhythmic structure which makes dance our hemispheres with these nuances which degrade in the snags of the synchronicity. This is splendid and intensely exhilarating to the ears. And little by little we are heading to what we can easily compared this section of “Konnektions” to Roach's Empetus and lastly to Skeleton Keys. Behind the sonic filaments which deform, the keys make one thousand capers which split the rhythm of "Astral Mechanika" into a long stationary rhythmic skeleton which is forged by kicks, by spasms and by fitful jerks. It's the beginning of a trance monument. The head shakes softly and our fingers are on fire due to drumming of this static storm which risks to stun you. Minimalist, the structure remains not less generous with the additions of multicolored threads, striking strata and electronic chirping which push the violent and passive rhythm of "Astral Mechanika" into long caresses of sound braids and of intrusive bass waves. And trapped like a rebel which refuses the abdication, the movement escapes in order to contract its violence even more which oscillates this time with more serene synth pads. We always stay in the field of static rhythm with "Mercury Circuit" and its  multiple kicks which draw a strange cosmic rodeo. The movements, I would say rather the jolts, of the sequences leave no fraction of a second of freedom for the atmospheres which stand back, while drawing a beautiful cosmic soundscape. We are in the heart of a sequences tempest since 35 minutes and "Among Stars" moderates a little this storm of ambient rhythms which torments “Konnektions” since "Trance Electric" with a structure of rhythm as much boiling as "Mercury Circuit", except that the elements which surround it (astral pads, dark waves, slow circular larvas of synth and other effects of sound camouflage) wrap it up in a clearly more ethereal phase. While we imagine that "Belief" is going to end this last Jeffrey Koepper's album by an ambient finale, it's rather a delicate structure of rhythm which infiltrates our ears by a dance of sequences, and their shadows in tints as much fictionalized than iridescent, which skip in an effect of echo (you know these kinds of sound cannons that Roach built in Traveler and Empetus?), rooting even more this perception than we have literally here a pure jewel of analog EM between the ears. Yes sirs; “Konnektions” is to Jeffrey Koepper what Skeleton Keys is to Steve Roach; an album of a rare intensity which aims to be undoubtedly an inescapable in the chessboard of modern EM.
Sylvain Lupari (October 9th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the Air Space Records web shop here

mercredi 7 octobre 2015

ROBERT FOX: Into the Light (Remastered) (1997/2015)

“Into the Light is a solid album which mix wonderfully the orchestral moods to some very strong and lively rhythms proper to the England School movement”
1 Feel The Warmth 2:28
2 Brother Earth 6:10
3 A New Day 2:07
4 Paths of Change 8:49
5 Into the Light 11:35
6 Somewhere out There 8:24
7 Shadowedland 11:31
8 Lights.. Pictures.. Sensations 9:48
9 Nearer than Before 2:28
10 Sister Earth 5:59

AD Music|  (CD/DDL 69:76) ****½
(Orchestral England School E-Rock)
Where to place the music of Robert Fox in the immense universe of EM? With very well structured compositions, which leave no room in any forms of improvisation or spontaneity, filled with melodies which are coated in of silky orchestrations and of very beautiful arrangements, the hyper-melodious music of Robert Fox is cataloged as being of New Age. If I share a bit this opinion notice, well I don't here. “Into the Light” is a powerful album and it in every sense of the word. The rhythms are furious, sometimes even violent, and even the ambient phases, with the exception of short moments, are fed by upheavals and by emotions. Evidently, melodies are legions. But while being very beautiful, they charm more in the background altering not at all this powerful musical framework which is the envelope of “Into the Light”. Yes there are voices! But they are well measured and inserted skillfully sensibly, giving some more of relief and of depth to an album which will amaze you by the power of its contents. I have approached this album with many prejudices. And I hope that with this chronicle I shall bring down these barriers which stigmatize the image of Robert Fox in a too humdrum, a too honeyed style. I know that David Wright can be easily carried away about the music on his label. But I have to agree with his words when he puts this album very high in the chessboard of the EM made in England. And by this new mastering, which is totally justified, David Wright gives more depth to an album which already had amply.
We feel this touch of this new remaster from the first seconds with a storm of woosh and of wiish which infiltrates our ears. "Feel The Warmth" begins this very musical journey of
Robert Fox to the heart of his imaginary countries by a very evasive piano which lays down the beginnings of a melody of which the notes are drank by a delicate voice of a nymphet and by a somber synth wave which muffles "Feel The Warmth" in a dense apocalyptic veil. The atmospheres metamorphose with the arrival of "Brother Earth" and with its sharp pulsations. An Amerindian incantation floats on the beginning of a rhythm papered in heavy atmospheres that a piano cuts out by delicate harmonious lines. The rhythm which follows is very catchy. Flooded by these elements and with dense orchestral pads, it skips with a fusion of percussions and pulsations. We are in the lands of a good orchestral electronic rock that the piano tames with a delicious Honky-Tonk approach. This is as good as it sounds weird to read! "A New Day" moderates the moods with a short ambiospherical approach where sparkles a thick cloud of stars and whistles a shower of cosmic lines beneath the stories of a celestial nymph. A piano gets loose from these more or less cosmic atmospheres in order to draw up a very harmonious structure of rhythm which is sat on very agile notes. The percussions are also lively than these piano notes. And little by little "Paths of Changes" gets transformed into a monument of intense heaviness which is set ablaze by some dense orchestrations where the melody is now blown by a synth with the airs of trumpets. Whether it is from the piano or the synth, the melody which haunts the heavy passive structure of "Paths of Change" is as much poignant as intrusive. It leads us to the soft rhythm and to the intensely troubling title-track which uses the perfume of beautiful synth lines to the colors of ochre. A kind of saxophone cries in these sound turbulences where are pounding some sober and steady pulsations, but without really bite for a structure of rhythm. Orchestrations are intensely moving, but not as much as the piano with its strong and heavy notes which hammer the onirism of our cerebral rhythm. This is very beautiful.
And like every time, this
Robert Fox comes to shake up my soul, to set fire to my emotions. Add to this the voice of this astral goddess and the intensely touching piano, we are not really far from the very New Age structures of Vangelis. The rhythm of "Somewhere out There" is more sustained, maybe even as violent as in "Brother Earth" with beautiful crash of chords which resound in our eardrums and with some lengthened riffs which are dying in a structure decorated of beautiful electronic effects. Some carillons are ringing in this tumult drowned in arrangements rather very striking which remind me of Mike Oldfield in The Songs of the Distant Earth. With such references, that can't be mediocre! "Shadowedland" is a long track of atmospheres with loud effects of knocking and synth lines which try to flood a spectral melody which shows up the nose from time to time. Ambient and very intense! "Lights.. Pictures.. Sensations" is a splendid electronic rock. Certainly the wildest track in “Into the Light” with a meshing of sequences, percussions and pulsations which forge an intense rhythmic ride of which the harmonies are blown by a synth perfumed of the airs of a saxophonist lost in this tumult. "Nearer than Before" is another ambient phase which will lead us to "Sister Earth" and its structure of rhythm kind electronico-tribal-Amerindian of "Brother Earth", but in a more ethereal envelope. I would say even more joyful. What a way to close an album!
Between Mike Oldfield and
Vangelis, while passing by the high colors of Code Indigo, the music of “Into the Light” is a bulldozer of feelings and rhythms which is going to turn you upside down. There is quite a lot in there; furious rhythms worthy of England School's good moments, melodies which are going to hook you some sighs on your soul and arrangements (the piano is divine) which are going to set the fire on them. Alive and audacious, with this mixture of voices over tribal and ethereal rhythms as well as hard knocking e-rock, it's a very musical album which rolls at high speed in this universe of sounds that is EM. I didn't know the album before, so I don't have a clue if it's due to David Wright's remastering, but I am sure as hell that this “Into the Light” is a solid album which seems to have passed by incognito. And I always try to understand why.
Sylvain Lupari (October 7th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

vendredi 2 octobre 2015

BEKKI WILLIAMS: Elysian Fields (Remastered) (1996/2015)

“This is a solid album with a great orchestral EM filled of catchy melodies which always tickle the limits of New Age”
1 Megaera 3:39
2 Elysian Fields (Part 1) 6:01
3 Charon 4:57
4 Moons of Artemis 4:24
5 Hera 3:05
6 Aphrodites's Lament 6:49
7 Secrets of the Labyrinth 6:58
8 Icarus 4:57
9 In the Arms of Morpheus 6:08
10 A Glance from Medusa 7:09
11 Elysian Fields (Part 2) 10:12

AD Music | AD150CD (CD/DDL 59:12) ****
(Synth-Pop, England School, orchestral EM and New Age)
At its release in 1996, “Elysian Fields” had really hit the jackpot! Let's see the contexts. EM of the Berlin School style had lost its points of references in an EM oriented, with the possibilities ceaselessly renewed by the new digital/digital equipments, towards an approach resolutely more pop rock. Beatboxes, riffs of false guitars and fast flow of electronic percussions deviated the formerly floating atmospheres and the rhythms of ether of EM on ashes of a new EM taken away by the waves of the Synth-Pop and of the New Wave music. Tangerine Dream had also laid the foundations for a new EM which quietly found its followers in the emerging movement from the England School. Ian Boddy, Mark ShreeveJohn Dyson and highly esteemed Andy Pickford were the standard bearers of a style that the critics have always confused with the New Age and even of the ambient style (Sic!). It's in this stride that Bekki Williams proposes a first album which will seduce everybody with its rhythms as lively as the melodies tinted with a very feminine poetry which are wrapped up in beautiful orchestrations to be made capsize the souls of the most romantic. Between New Age and Synth-Pop sieved of a delicate ambient perfume, “Elysian Fields” deserved certainly the media attention of this time. Out of print since 2 years, the album finds its way again in a new remastered version which includes a bonus track while keeping those charms of the 90's tones. Tones which aged, but of which the beauty of its envelope is still very charming.
Let's forget the very pink-candy intro of "Megaera", and its fluty spasmodic voices, in order to concentrate us on the rhythm of lead which is transported by good electronic percussions and by a synth with very shrill solos. We are definitely in the good lands of EM here. "Megaera" is a solid e-rock which had made the lovers of the genre salivate during its first appearance on a compilation from the
AD Music label back in 1995. The rhythm is heavy and alive, in the pure spirit of Tangerine Dream of the dad and son Froese's years, but with more passion. More melody in the soul. "Icarus" is as much wild and lively with some very retro electronic percussions and a synth with very aggressive melody. "Elysian Fields (Part 1)" was also part of this 95 compilation. It's Ying and the Yang. If "Megaera" ploughs us the senses. "Elysian Fields (Part 1)" softens them with a sweet opening where fanciful violins caress the ascents of chords forged in glass. The rhythm which follows is in the kind of pure ambient ballad with breezes of voice which lead us to a silky orchestration of which the harmonies overfly a slow, almost lascivious, rhythm  ploughed by heavy percussions where a kind of guitar does into romance. Melodious and very beautiful and above all filled with orchestrations which are giving goose bumps. It didn't quite worked on me, but my love Lise adored it. "Charon" is a good track knotted in the darkness with lines of sequences which flicker in the torments of percussions which roll like a trolls' walking. The effects and the orchestrations set up a structure rather near of a good Synth-Pop. "Moons of Artemis" is livelier with a pattern of great sequences and good percussions. The rhythm is fluid and becomes more spasmodic while the harmonies blow against current. The orchestrations, quite in a Oriental mood, remind me of Yanni, while one of my friends finds a resemblance with the structures of Andy Pickford here. The same goes for "A Glance from Medusa" and its very Arabic orchestrations which encircle a heavy structure which is getting jerky. That does very cavalcade in movies.
"Hera" is a beautiful moment of tenderness rendered by a delicate piano. The orchestrations are hugely wrapping and encircle marvelously the very melancholic side of the music. Impossible not to like it! "Aphrodites's Lament" is the bonus track. And it's newly written by
Bekki Williams with the help of David Barker. Nasal singings are covering a very ambient intro while that quite slowly the rhythm beats more and more with a meshing of sequences and percussions which skip with liveliness in ambiences haloed by voices of nymphs, by beautiful orchestrations and, always, by this nasal synth. The finale makes very pastiche with these surges of synths which call back why Bekki Williams was retained by the BBC Radio in the adventure Shadow of the Wind. "Secrets of the Labyrinth" propose a rather ambient intro with dark lines of synth which release hybrid sound particles. We do not know if it is some water or dusts from cosmos. A line of sequences forges an interesting structure of delicately jerky rhythm where effects of guitar meditate beneath effects of synth washes. The rhythm is circular with a more or less dark approach and the jumping keys become more insistent as "Secrets of the Labyrinth" progresses and goes down into a heavy symphonic coat. After a furious "Icarus", In the Arms of Morpheus" calms down things with a rather vaporous intro where percussions drum a pensive rhythm. A rhythm all the same rather heavy which will remain stillness and which can make us lulled languishingly of the trunk, because of the orchestrations, under the sweet caresses of the singings of flutes and the harmonies of a synthesized sax. "Elysian Fields Part 2" is a very intense track, the best here imho, with beautiful orchestral caresses from the harmonies which are really going to weave to you an earworm. The music loses of its intensity a little after the 7th minute when a very beautiful piano scatters the harmonious beginnings of this delicious saga which is “Elysian Fields”. This is very nice, it's soft and very oniric. And it concludes an album which leaves me perplexed! Because when I listen to it I feel like this unfaithful soul who deceives his beloved one, because the other one is more attractive, is more charming. While one perfectly knows that it does not have the ounce of the depth of this first one who guides our senses since for so long. If you like a  good, a very alive and a well orchestrated EM with outbursts that will give you goosebumps to the soul with its strong flavor of New Age which gets lost in very lively structures of rhythms, this “Elysian Fields” from Bekki Williams is going to seduce you to the bone!
Sylvain Lupari (October 2nd, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca
You will find this album on the AD Music web shop here