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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Active Region Horizon Dispatch (2023)

A nice music with a vision of ambient beats carrying cadenced melodies that can be heard as futuristic poetry

1 Into the Black 8:24

2 Tight Beam 5:57

3 Horizon Dispatch 12:24

4 Dreamspan 17:50

5 Gaia-X 10:18

6 Two Giants 12:10

7 The Star Shield 10:56

(DDL 78:00) (V.F.)

(Psybient Psychill)

You remember Solarmetric! It's a very nice album that Peter Brefini offered to our ears when he was working under the name of Echo Season in 2020. Well, Active Region is his new project and HORIZON DISPATCH is his second album, only available for download this time, to be released by the Californian label Synphaera Records. Moving away from his vision of psychedelic music of the time, he offers us a beautiful album still musical but a little less cold where his downtempo and psychill styles reveal some very nice surprises to our ears. Faithful to the signature of the American label, the sound texture of HORIZON DISPATCH is very detailed with a cloud of composite tones that create this universe of fascination where visions of cinema and literature of science-fiction are welded in panoramas that challenge the greed of our ears.

Into the Black kicks off this album built around the same precepts. Buzzing waves clump together in its panorama where muted clackings radiate into more or less muffled explosions, recalling the dystopian universe of the movie Blade Runner and of Vangelis music. These sound memories are moreover recurrent in the ambiences of HORIZON DISPATCH. The rhythm takes off after an explosion around the 90th second. The movement of the sequencer sculpts a rhythm built on a lively alternation of jumping arpeggios that have a bright tone, some souvenirs of Tangerine Dream's Flashpoint are rushing to mind here. Misty synth pads and organically textured synth sighs garner this spherical ambient movement that undulates with an upward effect. Magnetizing, the beat evolves in a turmoil with sudden bursts of percussions, voodoo vocal effects, electronic whip-like metallic slams and those explosions that fill the soundscape of Into the Black. These elements thwart the progression of the rhythm, and of its harmonic equivalent. They torpedo its momentum and derail its progression, except that the structure constantly resets itself by bringing good modulations in its momentums. Also sailing on an ambient rhythm structure, Tight Beam is closer to the more psychedelic textures of Peter Brefini's Solarmetric, especially with those organic hums that adorn its opening. The rhythm lives on a lively parade of the sequencer and its arpeggios that reverberate in an echo that modifies its texture. A melody, blown in a glass flute, rolls loops as cadenced as the rhythm in a universe that flirts with that of Solar Fields, notably with those numerous exhalations of a solid bassline and its rubbery pulsations as well as its vampiric shadows. The first part of Horizon Dispatch offers an intense web of drones with some roaring layers and others that spit out a fog of industrial particles. The first rhythmic phase is rather retiring. It sounds like metallic pulsations that suck the time while the synths spread a melodious vision whose fluty aspect is reverberated by more or less cadenced loops. The rhythm develops in a second part, where the mist also thickens its grip, in a slow spiral. The sharp and curt repetitive movement of the sequencer ignites a jerky movement that gives it a stroboscopic reflection unfolding its spasms in a heavy atmospheric context. Dreamspan develops a more psybient vision with momentary rhythm lines that come and go, like bits of melody cooing in loops, in a soundscape filled with haze, electronic tricks and stabilizing effects that keep the bits of rhythm and melody in ambient phases. The longest track on this HORIZON DISPATCH vaguely reminds me of the rhythms that Space Art was building in the beginning of their career, especially in terms of tonality. The anaesthetizing voice layers and those melodies that roll in loops, which are also recurrent in the album, are elements that fill and oversize its panorama.

With Gaia-X we remain in this phase of vaporous rhythm which feed the second portion of the last album that the American label proposes. The impression to float is more tangible here than elsewhere with nice layers that waltz and drift in the darkness of the Cosmos. The sequencer takes advantage of a beautiful serene layer, shortly after the second minute, to make beat a rhythm which is more melodious than purely lively. It makes tinkle its arpeggios with subdivided tints in a long course of ambient and cadenced melody which justifies its presence near scintillating constellations. The bass vibrations let its muted poetry humming in a structure languid of its chloroformed presence. The keyboard, rather discreet until now, takes advantage of these moments to elaborate a musical strategy which dances in cohesion of the melodious rhythm. We are not far from neo Psychill here! Two Giants is the quintessence of ambient rhythms! The track offers an atmospheric opening of a cinematic kind with a dense soundscape that flirts with an apocalyptic vision. Synths abound with flute-like tunes and seraphic vocal layers that meander and/or emerge from the caramelized hint of buzzing waves. Muted beats, similar to those explosions of Vangelis' bass pulses in Blade Runner, are at the heart of this prophetic setting of the title that brings out a delicate rhythmic movement after the 6th minute. The sequencer's tone matches that of percussions delicately drummed by hypnotist hands. The synth still crumbles these iridescent lines into fine particles that settle like crystal dust between our ears, while this ascending rhythm rises and falls in a dense velum of eerie haze with hints of gothic voices. There is no better way to end an album of this dimension than with a track like The Star Shield. Structured like the other 6 sonic chapters of HORIZON DISPATCH, the track makes drifting its 11 minutes like a thick layer of anaesthetizing mist where effluvia of metal in combustion makes gild its membrane both lyrical and sibylline. Its movement is very slow, even if it is pushed by bass implosions and adorned with percussive tinklings that try to create a cadenced melody.

I enjoyed a lot this HORIZON DISPATCH! It's the kind of album that seduces with its vision of ambient rhythms carrying cadenced melodies that can be heard as futuristic poetry. There is a fusion of influences from Tangerine Dream, Solar Fields and Steve Roach that can be heard throughout the evolution of this new album that Peter Brefini brings to our ears in a sonic aesthetic worthy of the vast horizons of the Californian label. For the pleasure of your ears and senses!

Sylvain Lupari (April 17th, 2023) *****

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

(NB: The texts in blue are links you can click on)

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