AGE: Landscapes (1980-2018)
“Landscapes is a must-have item in any music library which leads us in an era where creativity was on top of everything in thi emerging era of EM”
1 Hymalaya 2:31 2 Symfonieën 5:40 3 Landscape 5:31 4 Electronics 3:38 5 La Corde D'Argent 9:13 6 Plage 4:41 7 Ritmo 3:45 8 Tides 5:41 (Bonus Tracks) 9 AGE in Concert 1 9:11 (Bonus Tracks) 10 AGE in Concert 2 7:26 (Bonus Tracks) Groove | GR-248 (CD 58:03) (Cosmic Rock Music)
AGE! The name vaguely says something to me to have seen it on a LP in a friend's home back in the 80's. There was among the records of Jean-Michel Jarre, Synergy, Earthstar and Space Art this thing called AGE. And the memory awoke when I heard the splendid cosmic melody of Symfonieën. So it was LANDSCAPES that we have listened to! Some 35 years later, Groove rekindles this old flame forgotten in the chessboard of time, allowing a whole new generation, even 2 or 3 it's according to, to discover how was built the EM of that time. No MIDI and a bank of rather rudimentary samplings, like cosmic noises. Synths, oscillators, sequencer, a vocoder and percussions! LANDSCAPES was in the wake of these sound essays which shone among a public fond of musical adventures far more than conventional structures. And yet this duo, made up of Belgian musicians Emmanuel D'haeyere and Guy Vachaudez, had all the necessary elements to seduce an audience that was both close to Space and Jean-Michel Jarre.
Would Vangelis be inspired by Hymalaya to lay the foundations of his album Antarctica? The question arises since the music of this opening title to LANDSCAPES, especially those keyboards that float in the cold, is not really far from Antarctica Echoes. But whatever! Hymalaya radiates the dimension of its title with a sober procession, like an escalator, where sparkle frozen prisms. These prisms weave a floating melody, in perfect equinox with the ambient rhythm. I remember Symfonieën. Of this carousel of glittering chords which goes in circles like this merry-go-round, where the wooden horses galloped each in turn. Magnetizing with its thousand imaginary reflections in my head, the melody is crystalline and was especially the cornerstone of the Face A, from the vinyl of the time. The title-track frees these perfumes of this period with a distant layer of voice which is swallowed by the lament of a synthesizer alone on an ice floe of the Sea of Tranquility. A sequencer plays a harmonic portion a little before the second minute, giving me this irresistible taste of re-hearing another classic of this era; French Skyline from the German group Earthstar. The melody, while the rhythm is still passive, will be propelled by thrusts of synth pads, giving so much movement for so little time. The more we listen and the more we like this title. Electronics is a title of sonic ambiences that comes with a din between our ears. At the time, we didn't go all the way. Face B was played right after LANDSCAPES. However, it was one of the first dark ambient music tracks with good chthonian organ pads that were joined by a choir of ghosts wandering between two parallel universes and of its inexplicable noises.
Face B started with La Corde D'Argent. A more progressive title inspired by the gloomy structures of Thierry Fervant, that I discovered a few years later, and whose theatrical vision undoubtedly inspired Jean-Pierre Thanès, whom I discovered at the same time as Thierry Fervant, in his Lux Terrea. The synth is very seductive here and its harmonic loops weave a cosmic rhythmic pecked by keyboard riffs. A rhythmic pattern which become more catchy when the sequencer bites into the music in its 7th minute. At the time, the synthesizers wove more harmonies than today. So after the loops of La Corde D'Argent, "Plage" follows with its sampling of hectic tides and a synthesized melody that is well supported by the motorik rhythm of the sequencer. The approach thus makes Kraftwerk, Autobhan era. A beautiful melody emerges from the collisions of the tides surfing the rough sea around the 3rd minute, weaving the 2nd musical itch of LANDSCAPES. Ritmo is a good and lively, and quite commercial, electronic rock which is supported by percussions and keyboard riffs and where the synth is always dominant in its harmonic texture. This reissue of Groove includes 3 bonus tracks. Tides could not carve a place in the album. It's a title which offers a long ambiospheric introduction before hatching a structure of rhythm cut by keyboard riffs and by rapid and sequential sequencer keys, while the synth launches some feeble spectral lamentations. I understand the decision of the time! Subsequently, we are entitled to a real little masterpiece; a performance of AGE put on a cassette by KLEM in 1986. AGE in Concert 1, or Listen to the Music, begins with a nice movement of the sequencer which ripples like the mechanism of a musical carousel for the elderly. Hyper melodious, the movement is covered with a voice on vocoder reciting Listen to the Music. Keyboard riffs, very Pink Floyd, foggy synth pads, a bass line and percussion accompany an authentic procession of cosmic rock where the synth is unleashed and releases fiery and thunderous solos, bringing AGE in Concert 1 to an impressive pinnacle of emotion to make raise our hairs over our arms and our back spine, while vibrating this emotional membrane which tells us that we live a very special moment. Very intense, this title casts however a lot of shadow to AGE in Concert 2 which is a good electronic rock very Düsseldorf School, for the jerky and motorized approach of the sequencer. The drums plow as well this path of electronic rhythm while the synth, more discreet, plants its riffs to accentuate the ferocity of an electronic movement as cold as this sensation that Emmanuel D'haeyere, Guy Vachaudez and Marc Vachaudez, on percussions, were Cyborgs.
This first AGE album is a must-have item in your music library, as long as you love cosmic rock from the 70's-80's. Re-hearing it after nearly 30 years gave me an enormous sense of pleasure and a taste to hear again the old classics from those same years. An excellent initiative from Groove, which expands its catalog with reissues of vinyl albums lost in time. And I have nothing against, because like many of you, I discovered the delights of the EM on the late and that there are still many treasures missing in my records collection! And this reissue of LANDSCAPES has just landed on one of my tablets.
Sylvain Lupari (May 31th, 2018) **** ½*
Available at Groove