mercredi 1 janvier 2020

SYNTH&SEQUENCES keeps moving

Dear readers and followers, I want to thank you warmly for this massive support of you in the evolution of my Blog Synth & Sequences. Unfortunatly, du to the fact that it has a lot of stuff and a long list of artist whose music is reviewed here, I have to move this Blog to a more convivial way to read it and to find reviews. So it's the main cause of why this Blog is switching for a real website.

Now SynthSequences will need a new way to search from you, but you will see the differences between it and this Blog Please take to time to dig it will continue to read here. But you will remark that reviews will diseapper and reappear on the new website. Allready, more than 235 reviews have been removed and put on my new website.

I hate to do this, but this site cost me an average of 500$ a year. This is the reason you see the Donate sign. It's not an obligation for anyone, and it will be remove once this amount is reached each year.

Thanks and advance and long live to Electronic Music :D

Sylvain Lupari

dimanche 28 novembre 2010


Hummm…! Robert Schroeder's musical adventures are rich, both in tones and varied rhythms where the funky flirts with the groovy on heavy percussions surrounded of a universe full of synths with rich tones. A mixture of kinds, rich and smooth as the cream and as Cream; the 22nd solo album of the mythical German synthesist. An at once heavy and limpid album, so much notes and details are finely chiseled on sweet and stormy rhythms. Tempos broken, interrupted and wrapped by synths which separate their pads to mold choirs, mists and angelic breezes among voices, vocoders and murmurs of all genres. An album with mesmerizing intros and varied rhythms, hammered by heavy electronic percussions, as bongo and conga style. In brief a powerful album with ambivalent rhythms which cross periods and musical styles of Schroeder, and this since Paradise in 1983.
Arpeggios skip awkwardly on Magnetics opening. They espouse a delicate line of bass which molds a discreet funky rhythm on fine percussions, while beautiful mellotron pads float slightly above this atmosphere sieved by cosmic sound effects. A little as everywhere on Cream, Magnetics pours and moves in rich and unctuous sound cream where various instrumentations come to enrich its minimalist and hypnotic structures. Synths flow with abundance and nuance there, mixing skillfully the sweet vocalizes, melodious solos and ethereal pads which glance through a soft rhythm sometimes shaken by scattered percussion strikes and keyboard keys which gossip as a galactic duck. Groove Electronically is a very beautiful track with its notes of piano which are spreading in a cosmic ambiance where whispers, very plaintive synths and sound effects hatch this strange ethereal intro. Hesitant pulsations light finely the tempo, trampling on the romantic series of these minimalist piano notes. Percussions tumble down and increase the rhythm of a notch. But Groove Electronically remains secretly delicious in spite of this full array of percussions and tones with colorful forms which break out on a constantly evolving tempo of which cadenced contrasts can be hear under strata of a shrillness and spectral synth, percussions rolls, hatched keyboard keys and a tempo which gallops under undulations of a wandering synth such as crystalline prisms which hoot between brief and delicious solos. A tempo rich in tone which dies away in the notes of this piano so delicious even if minimalist. The world of Schroeder is complex and harmonious. On each of Cream tracks, the German synthesist sprinkles quantity of instruments which kick away thick clouds of tones as intriguing as attractive. So The Zong starts with heavy metallic sounds, as monsters robots of The War of Worlds. Percussions unfurl with strength, but remain indecisive, while others more nuanced forge a soft rhythm livened up by a fine bass pulsation and encircled by a synth with extraterrestrial waves which hoot at once pleasant and childish laments. The rhythm became heavier and more intense; The Zong evolves in an ambiance of the carnival with a mi funky and mi groovy tempo which zigzags on circular keyboards keys and among glaucous pulsations. A world of strongly diversified rhythm which is wrapped by a synth with foggy pads and wandering choirs.
Funky Spacetrip is very representative of its title; a big cosmic funk with vocoder, strong percussions and a tempo vaguely wavy accompanied by a magnificent synth whose lines are subdividing to create a rich atmosphere where solos go alongside ethereal pads. A very rich track which is near Groove Electronically structures. Languishing and sensual, Foaming Waves is simply captivating with its soft rhythmic which flows as a graceful exotic dance under soft foggy pads. Suggestive and daring, Foaming Waves embraces almost the textures of an electronic and cosmic blues, on a cadence which increases gradually the pace with its subdivided chords beneath a synth with delicious laments. A great track from which the musical intensity keeps increasing, bringing us near Paradise and Time Waves era with smooth synth solos which flow under pulsations of an enticing bass line. Hesitating piano notes, sensual murmurs and sensual pulsations open Simply Cream. Bongo percussions unfurl on a languorous rhythm, between funk and groovy, coated by magnificent strata of a foggy mellotron. The synth there is suave, the rhythm suggestive and keyboards draw fine hatched lines, crowning a catchy synth melody and Simply Cream disentangles such a sensual hymn in a shape of musical retrospective of the first 5 tracks of Cream.
Rich, Cream is! Rich in sounds and tones of any kinds and in diversified rhythms, Robert Schroeder handles his synths with an incredible address and makes us discover a rich sound fauna where reliefs are as much feel as hear. A pure marvel where we are riveted to our loudspeakers so much the rhythms, atmospheres and ambiances are finely cut and returned to us with a surgical precision. A beautiful, rich and unctuous cream which dilutes very well in the universe of dreams where the music of the 80’s, with the technology and the sonorities of today, floods our ears with soft, suave and stormy rhythms unique to Robert Schroeder's world.


Sylvain Lupari
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream:

mardi 23 novembre 2010


S&S:How was the Refuge en Verre project born?
Synth.NL: Ron and I didn't plan upfront to make an album at all to be honest. Ever since I have joined the Groove Unlimited label in 2007 I have become good friends with Ron. We visit each other on a regular basis and our wives, kids and even the dogs like each other too. Last summer our wives decided to rent a holiday house in the Belgian Ardennes together and Ron and I decided to both bring a synthesizer and try to make some music. We never played before together and we thought we might maybe record one or two songs. It turned out we could make music together very quickly and after the weekend we had quite some material. Only after that weekend then we decided to make this album.

S&S: With Refuge en Verre, Synth.NL touches lightly a music that is closer to the atmospheric and ambient progressive borders (Orage d'Été, Rosée du Matin and Coucher de Soleil). Is this the influence of Ron Boots or simply Synth.NL progression?
Synth.NL: When we started playing the first two tracks they were quite uptempo and as you can probably tell the first track sounds a bit more like Ron Boots and the second track a bit more like Synth.NL even though you can hear us both clearly. From the third track on we wanted to do something different that was more the both of us. From there the idea came to play a more ambient track and Orage d'Été was born. Later on we decided to do some more quiet stuff. We actually both like this kind of music very much so it was not the influence of one of us, but the influence both of us.

S&S: After an album with catchy rhythms and melodies such as OceanoGraphy, don't you fear to destabilize your fans with an album that has a more progressive musical orientation as Refuge en Verre?
Synth.NL: No I don't fear that at all actually. I have a very simple view on my own music. I make the music that I like myself first of all and then if other people like it too... great!! If they don't... no problem at all! I won't get upset if people don't like my music. Everybody has his own taste fortunately and I can't change that :). Besides, this album is collaboration and there you have to make compromises of course. My next solo album will sound more like Synth.NL again I guess even though I'll try to improve myself of course and try not to do the same thing as on the last albums.

S&S: On is another side, your very rhythmic and orchestral approach is strongly present (La Roche-en-Ardenne, Combat de Coqs and Contemple de Ciel) on Refuge en Verre. How did the communication passed between you and Ron Boots?
Synth.NL: That went very easy, not in words but in notes :) Almost all tracks were played live as improvisations. Most of the times I started playing something and Ron just played along. Ron is a very good live artist with a lot of experience playing with other artists. I most often was amazed how easy it all went actually. This is really Ron's quality and not mine. Besides that Ron knows what kind of music I like since he helped mixing and mastering my solo albums and next to that we always have a lot of discussions about music together.

S&S:Did you feel swallowed or intimidated by Ron Boots experience and skill with random rhythms and sequences?
Synth.NL: No not at all. Ron is a very nice and easy person to work with. I'm way more difficult I guess ;) I'm quite stubborn and perfectionistic, but Ron handled that very well :) I think both our styles mix very well on this album. We are both melodic and chord oriented even though our individual approaches are different. The only thing I had to get used to is the longer length of the tracks. Usually my own tracks are a bit shorter, but it is Ron's quality again to keep these tracks interesting especially with his sequencer work.

S&S: Refuge en Verre is your 4th album. Wasn't it too early in your career to twin your music, which after all hardly flowers, with the one of a musician also experienced such as Ron Boots?
Synth.NL: I haven't thought about that to be honest. I was planning to release a solo album in October, but because this project was so much fun I decided to postpone that solo album and release this one together with Ron first. Actually when I think about it now, it might be even a good idea to get my name out to Ron's fans that don't know me yet. Ron has been around for a very long time and is very well known all over the World, where I just started out. But like I said before, that was not the reason for doing this at all. It was just a lot of fun to work with Ron and I'm very happy with the end result.

S&S: How did you like working in team? Does it take a lot of comprehension to work, write and match musical ideas with someone else?
Synth.NL: I could not work with just anyone I guess. Like I said before I'm not an easy person to work with. I have a strong idea about what I would like to do up front normally. Especially when I'm working on a solo project I already have a clear image of the theme of the album, the whole story and build-up of the album and even the music is already in my head before I start playing a note. In this project with Ron I just let myself go and I just went with the flow. There was no up front idea, no theme nothing. We just played and had fun. I guess this is why it worked. There were no complicated discussions at all. I liked working like this for a change and will do so again in the future for sure, but now I go back to my own way stubborn way again.

S&S: Does Refuge en Verre marks a new turning in the musical progression of Synth.NL?Synth.NL: Well yes and no. For me every track is a turning point actually. I try to improve myself with every track. Fortunately I still learn new things every day. I guess when I would not be able to improve myself anymore it would be better to stop completely. It would get boring then to make music for me. I learned a lot by the way from this project with Ron. He solves things differently than I would have done on my own. So it could well be that I will use this experience on my next projects. But Synth.NL will still remain Synth.NL :)

S&S: Talk to me about Rosée du Matin. We have the feeling to hear Vangelis at the time of Opera Sauvage. What is the influence of Vangelis on your music and which are your other musical influences?
Synth.NL: You are very right about that. I have all albums by Vangelis on CD and listen to them at least once a year, so I'm sure you will hear influences from him in my music. In my opinion he is the best EM artist in the scene, a very brilliant composer. Besides that I like Jean Michel Jarre a lot. I visited some of his concerts and even got to meet up with him a while ago. I also have all his albums on CD. Next those two artists I also like: The Art of Noise, Jan Hammer, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Orbital, The Prodigy, Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Frankie goes to Hollywood. As long as it has lots of synthesizers in it :)

S&S: What are your 5 best albums? Your albums references that influenced your artistic choice?Synth.NL: A top five, that is always hard :) But I guess at this moment in time it would look like this:
Vangelis – Soil Festivities
Vangelis – Antartica
Vangelis – China
Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene
Jean Michel Jarre – Equinoxe

S&S: How does Michel van Osenbruggen comes to make EM?
Synth.NL: That is a long story, that you can read in the biography on my website, but here is a short version: I have a background in electronics and when I found out that you could make sounds with electronics I was immediately hooked. Then I bought my first synthesizer in 1990 or so and started collecting them from then on. I did a lot of sound design, but never recorded any music. I was just too busy with my job and then I started my own company in 1996 and I had even less time. Unfortunately I suffered a burnout in 2005 and I was at home, not able to work at all. Then I though that it was time to finally start doing something productive with all those synthesizers I collected and I started recording some tracks and from there my first album came in 2007.

S&S: What are the instruments you are using and fascinate you the most and why?
Synth.NL: I have a lot of synthesizers in my studio. There is a complete list of everything on my website if you are interested and there are lots of pictures of the studio as well. I try to use all synthesizers as much as possible, but I have my favorites of course. I use both analog and digital synthesizers so I'll name five favorites for both categories. On the analog side I just love these: Moog Minimoog, ARP 2600, Elka Synthex, Roland Jupiter 8 and the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. And yes they really are as good as everyone says :) On the digital side these are my favorites: Access Virus TI, Roland V-Synth GT, Korg M3, Roland JP8000, Roland D50. But what fascinates me the most are not any of these actually but the modular synthesizers I bought and those that I am building myself. It is just unbelievable what you can do with those machines.

S&S: Since AeroDynamics in 2007, you were always produced by Groove. What was the impact of Ron Boots on the music of Synth.NL?
Synth.NL: Not that much actually. The only thing Ron every said to me on my first album is that I should lay down a bit on the drums. In the first versions of AeroDynamics that I did myself the drums were a bit more upfront in the mix. Ron also thought some of my sounds were too dry so he advised me to use more reverb here and there. While mixing and mastering AeroDynamics with Ron I learned a lot from him. So much in fact that on my two following albums he didn't have that much work any more. But musically Ron lets me do my own thing and I'm still very happy that Ron and Kees gave me the chance to release my music on the Groove Unlimited label. And if it is up to me I hope to release a lot of new albums with them in the future.

S&S: Why Synth.NL and the NL?
Synth.NL: My own name is Michel van Osenbruggen and it is quite difficult to pronounce for a lot of people and even Dutch people never seem to write it correctly, so it didn't seem very suitable to use as an artist name to me. When I was thinking of an artist name I wanted people to recognize that I did something with synthesizers right away. Synth is short for synthesizer of course. I was also looking for a name that was available on the Internet as a domain-name and a name that was easy to remember for everyone. Then I found out that was still free. That seemed like a good and short name for a website and then I thought why not use it as an artist name as well. It is obvious that I do something with synthesizers and the .NL shows that I am from The Netherlands. If people can remember this name they don't have to think about my website either. They can just type it in the browser and it will work :) Some people like the name some don't, but everyone remembers it and I think that is the most important.

S&S: After Refuge En Verre, what can we expect from Synth.NL in the near future?
Synth.NL: There are lots more to come. First of all I'm working on finishing the solo album that I postponed for Refuge en Verre. That album will be called 'Apollo' and that will be about the Apollo Space missions to the Moon that NASA did in the so called 'Space Race' to beat the Russians back then. I was born in 1969 myself and that was the year that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. So I always felt very connected to this event. I hope to release it in April 2011 during the E-day festival. I'm also working on my Classical Project for a long time already. Unfortunately I had some technical difficulties that forced me to postpone that project as well, but I hope to release that in the near future too. Besides that I'm already working on a lot of new stuff, so I'm sure lots more will come in the future, maybe also some more collaborations with other artists..... Who knows? ;)

S&S: Are you satisfied of the rise of EM and the progression of Synth.NL?
Synth.NL: I still have fun producing my own music and I'm happy that I can still improve myself. It is also nice that there are lots of people that apparently like music and give me positive feedback on it. That is really what keeps me going and motivates me to make new music. I am a bit disappointed though how much attention EM gets on the radio and more public media. I put in a lot of effort to get my music out there and notice that people are delighted to hear there is more music than the main stream stuff they hear every day. I really hope that some day some popular DJ's might notice that movement too. Music is not all about heavy beats and screaming guitars. Sometimes people also want to relax. Funny enough I have a lot of fans that are really into Dance music or Heavy Metal and like my music to relax to from time to time. As for my personal progression I would really love to do more projects like the Planetarium project I did a while ago. I'd love to make a score for a movie or documentary some day, but then not just the ordinary orchestral Hollywood sound, but give it my own touch, like Vangelis did with the Bladerunner movie and the Antartica documentary. Ah well.... we all need our dreams right? ;)

mardi 16 novembre 2010

GERT EMMENS: The Nearest Faraway Place Vol.3 (2010)

The Nearest Faraway Place Vol. 3 is the last part of this cosmic trilogy that the Dutch synthesist began in 2008. Once again, Gert Emmens covers his sound galaxy by a pleiad of synth lines with tones unique to his gears conception and where plentiful strata wrap of their foggy cosmic sequences to intertwine lines. Sequences sometimes hesitating and sometimes mordant but always constant, which criss-cross a cosmic tale under synth lines with foggy steam and suave weeping solos. A musical universe signed by Gert Emmens with a beautiful complicity between analogue and digital where the borders of imagination belong as much to the listener as its designer.
A distant synth line ripples lazily on Part 15 opening. We could imagine ourselves at a cosmic fair where mechanical streaks tear the firmament below subtle bass pulsations. A sequence comes along. She waddles at good speed, wrapped that she becomes by a beautiful layer of a lyrical synth which frees soft solos through synth mist, whereas the rhythmic bustles in a universe where synth breaths to multi- coloured tones embrace a languishing rhythmic which finishes its race under cosmic droplets and thunders. Within the years, Gert Emmens left his sound imprints in the wonderful world of electronic music. All that the Dutch synthesiser touches is inevitably transformed into musical enchantment. A long movement divided into 8 parts, The Nearest Faraway Place Vol. 3 presents structures with morphic and floating intros which dive into progressive rhythms with always striking sequences. Part 16 offers a more cosmic intro with Jan Dieterich's guitar which frees soft vaporous strata in a most heterogeneous sound universe. Mellotron strings bring us to a strange ethereal waltz, guiding us near a wriggling sequence which skips nervously to shape a pace which hems on a beautiful bass line. Part 16 becomes then a big cosmic rock, little as Part 20 finale, where Gert Emmens controls skilfully the rhythm with increasing and decreasing sequences which furrow over vaporous inserts and great synth solos. After its heavily cosmic intro, Part 17 bites to full teeth in a sequential movement which recall a lot those beautiful TD years. A heavy and nervous sequence that runs breathless beneath the wandering hazes of a foggy synth, until the rhythm explodes and deviates under strikes of e-drums. Beautiful peaceful solos float above this rhythmic incandescence where we recognize amply the sound universe of the Dutch synthesiser who doesn’t stop surprising with its loopy solos and those soft synth blows so personalized which tussle between sequential permutations. Great Emmens there! With its peaceful tempo, escaped from the morphic depths of its introduction, Part 18 is the most accessible musical piece among The Nearest Faraway Place's project. A beautiful track sits on a sober sequential movement, where guitar and synth are exchanging solos and vaporous strata.
After a superb cosmic intro where synth lines hem above stars, a threatening sequential movement bombards the always indecisive rhythm of Part 19. A ceaseless race where the sequential impulse undergoes of subtle modulations, among breaths of a foggy synth, before explode beneath a synth with twisted and languishing solos. Part 20 offers a caustic and threatening intro, before becoming supple with a beautiful wave of a synth at once nostalgic and protective. A soft and beautiful intro crushed into increasing sequences which draw a tempo skipping soberly under a synth with ghostly breaths. Structured in three phases, the movement becomes more hard-hitting with the emergence of electronic percussions which are gobbled up by synth solos which hem and contort under a heavy vitamined tempo. Afterward, we close eyes and we contemplate the end of this long 3 parts cosmic trip with a floating ending where strata confront and collide in a cosmos of ether on Part 21 and mould lovingly in the beautiful orchestrations of Conclusion.
The Nearest Faraway Place Vol. 3 is in the continuity of the first two volumes. An album where Gert Emmens can seem predictable, but continues to amaze with a subtlety in tones and rhythmic modulations that makes his music as unique as it sounds. As on each of the albums from the Netherlands synthesiser, the music pours between a wonderful complexity of structures and pleasant melodies that hang on to an ingenious sequenced vision and a synth that kicks away its long solos twisted in a strangely poetic and cosmic foggy. Some great Gert Emmens, as he always used us to.


Sylvain Lupari
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream;

GERT EMMENS: The Nearest Faraway Place Vol.2 (2009)

Here is the 2nd part of this trilogy to be complete, which took shape during the E-Day festival organized by Kees Aerts and Ron Boots from the EM Groove label. Faithful to what Gert Emmens produced for years, this 11th opus of the Dutch synthesist is filled with sequences with varied rhythms, synths with ingenious solos and hooking melodies as well as mellotrons with poignant arrangements. An album where the Berlin School style oscillates between the old and the new generation.
Divided into 7 parts quite as the Volume I, Part 8 starts things rather quickly. After a short cosmic intro, a sequence hopping with strength gives a constant tempo, enveloped by a mellotron which spreads its sweetness over a very lively cadence. Tinkled notes filter a sweet dreamy harmony, paving a new rhythmic direction. A rhythm forking under a fine synth with lyrical harmonies and a mellotron with sober choirs which flow into a syncretic ambiance. Slowly we cross towards the 9th part where a cosmic guitar offers its notes in a charming nebulosity with a Spanish voice to repetitive incantations. Gradually we are submerged by an aggressive sequence which moulds a heavy and hypnotic rhythm, supported by a keyboard which coils up to the tempo. A heavy tempo encircled by a mellotron choir and which bursts with electronic percussions sustained by good sinuous synth solos. A floating intro opens part10. Heavy cosmic vapours free a nervous sequence of which the staccato movement gives an echo resounding feeling which eases gradually, offering a hypnotic rhythmic structure drowned in a cosmic atmosphere with fine synth movements. But Gert Emmens doesn’t stray too long into minimalism spheres. At the 7th minute spot, the movement takes a tangent liven up on a more hatched rhythm and adorned by a suave mellotron choral. A finale of an unsuspected softness, guiding us towards the delicious rumba of Part 11.
A cosmic rumba with shimmering keys which flirt with a fine harmonious synth. The 12th part brings us back into an electro cosmic concept with a nebulous intro which engenders a sequence making its way through a heavy musical ambiance. Once again, Gert Emmens multiplies the sequential rhythms around a captivating mellotron, creating an unstable atmosphere under romantic harmonies. Part13 deploys a noisy and colourful intro which gives birth to a sequence à la Phaedra, wrapped by a mellotron with spectral breaths. Minimalism, the sequence accelerates the pace with kind of echoing percussion which jolts a soberly harmonious universe where a French voice is improvising words on a heavier rhythm and mellotron pads. A beautiful track imprints of a sentimental nostalgia, as a feeling of a lost love. Part14th begins with a din gleam before settling down on heavy circular reverberations which float in echoes into a sonorous oblivion. Slowly, a sequence blinks as the wings of a metallic dragonfly, before marrying the Emmens style which restructures the movement with diverse rhythmic directions under of big vaporous synth, creating a universe sometimes less inviting, sometimes more harmonious.
And so goes on the musical universe of Gert Emmens. Once again the Dutch synthesist amazes, even if we are used to his style, with an imaginary approach that we can live as nebulosity can always makes place to iridescent beauties. Another great piece of EM art!


Sylvain Lupari (2009)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream;