1 What if not 5:57
2 Eisblumen 6:13
3 Butterflight 5:35
4 This one Place 6:04
5 Jet Stream 5:10
6 Magic Lanterns 7:48
7 Sublime Sunset 5:28
8 Endless Restlessness 7:11
9 Too much Coffee 4:01
10 Expectations 5:43
11 Spring Breeze 4:58
MellowJet Records | cdr-bd1601 (CD/DDL 64:07) ***½
(Mixture of EDM and New Berlin School)
I like these kinds of albums which at the first listening leaves you unmoved and afterward seduces you quietly. I have a chance to make a thing that I like very much for a hobby; review EM. So I have to peel patiently each new album that I receive by multiplying the listenings. Some albums pas straight ahead, while others eventually found very interested ears. Some quickly and some ask for more times. It's the case of “Yield to Gravity”, first album of BatteryDead on the MellowJet Records label. The first assessment is that Christian Ahlers has modified a little his approach in order to adopt a style of EDM which is as much appealing as that of Moonbooter, for that purpose "Endless Restlessness" sounds like a remix of the wonderful Adieu of Moonbooter. That is the second assessment!
"What if not" can destabilize with its very Jarre approach and its rhythms of tropical dance of En Attendant Cousteau. Heavy electronic sigh, percussions which crumble its echoes and vampiric effects; this introduction of Jarrish moods seduces us. And while the synth sleeps and escapes those static snores, the rhythm wakes up little by little. Forcing an amorphous down-tempo, it grows rich of effects and of ethereal voices. The pulses remain delicate and we hear a fragile melody offering its subdued notes which sparkle in a mosaic of beatings, pulsation and stroboscopic sequences. This is where that a soft pleasant Enigma voice tickles our ears, rooting down "What if not" in its envelope of static EDM. Let's say that in the first listening, my ears were in suspicion mode. But that be all the opposite with "Eisblumen"! Feeding on the last breaths of "What if not" to start, the title is exploding with a line of stroboscopic rhythm of which the first jerks lift the activity of elytrons of metal. A second line shows more power, thus lifting percussions now which slam with hunger but which remain frozen in an immense magma of jolts. Voices come to caress this very solid rhythm when the percussions lead the rhythmic fate of "Eisblumen" which becomes a great fusion between EDM and an electronic rock a little bit tinted with elements of New Berlin School. The effects of the voices here are very appealing. "Butterflight" proposes a more danceable approach with a structure of up-tempo. The bass crawls languishingly on a rhythm all the same rather delicate knotted by jolts and decorated of ringings, of discreet keyboard riffs, of cosmic effects and of totally charming effects of percussions. "This one Place" follows with a rhythm weaved in heavy and deep pulsating jerks which wind the clubbing of the percussions with thin stroboscopic strands. Some fascinating sequences which spin as a shoal of fish silvered in front of a predator add a more crystal clear depth to this rhythm of lead. The melody which decorates this skeleton of rhythm is similar to those that we hear with Moonbooter. "This one Place" slows down its velocity in a brief ambiospherical phase before taking back its pace which is rather lively I would say. Let's say that it's a title which makes move our feet rather easily!
"Jet Stream" is slower but more lively. Here the effects lay down the law, from where a 2nd and even a 3rd listening is needed before falling under its charms. The secondary percussions and their effects of rattlers, the chords which crumble their airs in echoes as well as the sequences which flicker of admiration in front of these effects eventually instigate the curiosity of the sense of hearing. The effect is even more striking with the ears wrapped up well in a headset. Effects psybient on a delicate rhythm which makes our fingers drum, effects of stroboscopic jerks which boost some fragile chords, "Magic Lanterns" brings us back in the universe of Shades. The bass is effective and pushes the rhythm towards a good cosmic up-tempo. That also asks more than one listening. The same goes for "Sublime Sunset" which is heavy and without a real rhythm. Like a little rhythmic pattern in agony, "Sublime Sunset" uses these phases of atmospheres to take back a little of vigor. "Endless Restlessness" puts down, on a heavier rhythm, the bases of harmonies, a little modified, of the excellent Adieu that we find on the Still Alive album. One guesses that with "Too much Coffee" that will be hardly restful. It's a good up-tempo in what it could be more than very danceable. Not too violent with a nice play of spasmodic sequences and good percussions. The melody is rooted in a rather sober keyboard and the beat jumps with some delicious organic bumps. The 2nd part is the most lively. "Expectations" is in the very repertoire of some good BatteryDead with a very psychedelic approach where the rhythm lives, and progresses weakly, below an electronic fauna of noises and effects. It's rather lively, like a dance where we swirl in a cosmos of colorful noises and tones. The approach of "Spring Breeze" sounds so out of what we are used on this album. The sound is clearer and cleaned of the noises effects from BatteryDead's universe. That gives a solid up-tempo, sewn in a fusion of diverse beating which skip in the shadows of some and of others, with a melody which takes all its luster in a short ambiosonic phase.
The passage of BatteryDead at MellowJet Records gives an album of which the essences of Christian Ahler's psybient are better defined, more detailed and less iridescent. But “Yield to Gravity” stays always in the same mold as Shades. This is to say album which presents 2 to 3 titles on which we stick to it as soon as the first listening and where we savor the other titles with more appetite in the course of subsequent listenings. This is modern EM where the elements of dance go alongside to those of Berlin School at the level of the sequences and atmospheres. On the whole; an album which it's necessary to tame in order to appreciate to its just value.
Sylvain Lupari (July 16th, 2016)
You will find this album on the MellowJet Records shop here