AGE: Néphélomancie (2020)
Updated: Feb 24
“Beautiful and ever torn towards other skies, the first minutes of this album are its most suspicious. Thereafter, it's splendor to lyricism...”
1 Néphélomancie 51:55
(CD-R/DDL 51:55) (V.F.)
I needed more than one listening to well seized the 52 minutes of this recent album by the Belgian duo AGE that is also available in CD-R format on Groove, as for download on the Bandcamp site of AGE. NÉPHÉLOMANCIE, for inspection of clouds as a means of divination, is a musical mosaic whose greatest peculiarity is this lack of homogeneity which ties up rather well after a few listenings, a few painkillers and finally a few minutes, or at most a dozen, in order to hear a certain coherence, both musical and spiritual. This discovery made me think a lot about good old Vangelis in the time he lived in Paris and that he was already thinking of Blade Runner.
It's with chirps, borrowed from the opening of Supertramp's Even in the Quietest Moments, that the long title-track develops its stratagem of seduction. You will notice that I have a bunch of references to this album. Already, synthesized complaints bear the seal of Vangelis! The arpeggios which also fall there have this tonal radiance of a fragile limpidity. While elements of more murky ambiences, such as strange shivers, thundering noises and sequenced impulses, already muffled after a first breath of oxygen, caress the tissues of our eardrums at the same time as reverberating shadows are getting heard in circumference. The decor also plunges into the sinister with effects of voices to be exorcised and prismatic pulsations that try to suck us into the other parallel universe. The mysterious beauty of the glass arpeggios, that we will hear guiding our emotions throughout the 57 minutes of the album, and the cabalistic side of several atmospheric elements are flirting with the apocalyptic vision of Blade Runner. Especially when the electric piano is making waddle its pensive chords a little after the 10th minute. Moreover, these very good oneiric phases will undoubtedly remind you of this eternal fight between serenity and its tumult, more acoustic goes without saying, of the album Ignacio from the Greek magician-musician. For the duo Emmanuel D'haeyere and Guy Vachaudez, these phases are synonymous with artistic integrity since clouds also have this tendency to anger and to incoherent eruptions when pushed by black winds. And that's how this fascinating title-track unfolds, which reflects in sound these images that we give to our interpretations of the slow course of the clouds.
The bass drum's rollings of the 18th minute announce an entry into the sino-musical territories of NÉPHÉLOMANCIE in a structure of symphonic-electronic rhythm clearly more alive than the last 8 minutes which were sewn into the romance of the clouds. Let's say that Vangelis' China is rather conquering in this 3-minute phase which brings us to another more lunar segment with this always melancholic piano. We are in a phase where we are drifting in the axes of a more cosmic music. The gods and goddesses can thus admire the movement of the clouds which is pushed by dusty breezes. Unstable, the movement remains shaken by brief explosions which weaken our desire for meditation. The entry into the 30-minute territories is focused on a more meticulous approach, a bit like in Beaubourg de Vangelis. On the other hand, the meditative side becomes more adequate here with the ringing of bells, stray arpeggios ringing in solitude and even, further on, these morning bird songs caressed by celestial voices which begin to hum silently. And NÉPHÉLOMANCIE ends in murmurs of EM and its effects, giving again the arguments necessary to hear again this album whose homogeneity was behind its ramparts of modifications since its first note. We just had to hear the 51 minutes from start to finish, to capture its full dimension.
Beautiful and constantly torn towards other skies, the first minutes of NÉPHÉLOMANCIE are its most suspicious! And we must go beyond this milestone of 10 minutes that AGE sculpts with this desire to challenge our ears. Thereafter, it's splendor to lyricism in a very beautiful oneiric album.
Sylvain Lupari (February 22nd, 2021) ***½**