• Sylvain Lupari

AGEBJÖRN & ÖGREN: Artefact (2021)

Updated: May 24, 2021

It's a good 65 minutes of an intelligent cosmic EM that has everything to please

1 Extravehicular Activity 2:48

2 Passing the Gates 6:12

3 The Plain 5:59

4 The Storm that Passed 5:47

5 Flight Over the Sea 5:18

6 Static Air 4:39

7 Octapod 3:49

8 Monitoring the Zooids 6:59

9 The Hall of Crystals 5:19

10 Interplanetary Threat 1:09

11 Space Travel 8:10

12 Final Sight 8:33

Spotted Peccary ‎| SPM-3302

(CD/HQ-DDL 64:46) (V.F.)

(Cosmic EM, EDM, IDM)

When I get an album from the Spotted Peccary label, I never know what I'll stumble upon, but I know it will be good! I have a good feeling here because I have already heard the duo Johan Agebjörn and Mikael Ögren with We Never Came to the White Sea in 2017, still on the American label. ARTEFACT is quite different! Articulated around a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous with Rama, the music has this cosmic vision that relies on the influences of Jean-Michel Jarre and Moonbooter. And it gets more convincing the more you evolve in this unofficial soundtrack. The winds and its gusts project essences worthy of the cosmic works of the French musician. Each track explores cosmic soundscapes in an organic and celestial fusion, especially in the voices that can be celestial, as if spoken in NASA samples. The structures are constantly moving with diversified rhythmic visions that remain in the bosom of Electronica and EDM. A very nice album with strong moments that reminds us that Spotted Peccary likes to wade into everything, as long as it's good, if not great. And it is!

Muffled explosions and village bell tinklings rumble in the opening of Extravehicular Activity. An intimidating shadow buzzes and echoes, like those machines that have come from afar to invade and dominate a species. Instead, a necklace of suspended arpeggios begins to shimmer in harmonious choreography. Here we are, in the land of Rama. And the first rhythmic structure is on Passing the Gates. It consists of a kind of floating, resonant clay drums with vocal effects. A pulsing bassline straightens the rhythm into a morphic Techno phase that a bassline covers with a hungry presence. Minimalist and rich, this rhythm structure collates good sound effects to radiate in more ambient phases, while other lively phases still leave Passing the Gates in a Techno for Zombies lost on the way to ambient Chill-Out. There is a fascinating musicality that emerges from the imagination of both musicians on ARTEFACT. The sonic impact and arrangement of the ambient spaces is as thoughtful as Carbon Based Lifeforms, for the attention to detail and that organic fauna, and Solar Fields for the orchestrations and crescendos that stimulate the listening during those ambient phases, like on The Plain. The cosmic winds are always buzzing, and the cosmic choral effects create soundscapes closer to the Earth than Cosmos. This is the illusion given by the introduction to The Storm that Passed before the music stretches our legs with an ethereal melodic synth-pop. Oscillating loops roll in the strong winds of Flight Over the Sea. Synth pads stuck in the rhythm gear release a melody that flows with a jerky effect. This unexpected disco flute effect invites some gurglings' sequences to mimic the ambient beat, as Flight Over the Sea gets mired in Electronica and its EDM dress, not to mention the Lounge and Jazz aspect of the keyboard. Static Air is in the genre of Moonbooter in his COSMO series. A track that shares its NASA-like vocal effects over a spasmodic Electronica rhythm.

We are startled by the violence of the synth chords with a very Jean-Michel Jarre tone that break the ambient opening of Octapod. What follows is like a war of arpeggios and chords in a festival of sounds and sound effects lasting 2 minutes. More or less! Cosmic breezes, like ululating hollow winds, are the main part of the decor that survives this big 120 seconds of Electronica annexed to IDM. The more we progress in ARTEFACT, the more Agebjörn & Ögren impresses with a cosmic vision that sounds very J-MJ. Let's take Monitoring the Zooids and these melody lines swinging like violin lines under the bursts of big resonant chords. Crazy, lost little steps structure a bubbling rhythm on the spot, while synth blasts remind us of The Magnetic Fields. The rhythmic organs, the arrangements and the melodious synth layers confirm more than anything this connection with Chronology. A passive and nervous track! The Hall of Crystals follows with a splendid cosmic ode. The orchestral synth layers follow the drift of the ambiences suspended to the lips of a seraphic choir. The stars sparkle and shimmer in front of the rise of a sensitivity that our ears encircle at the same time that our shivers follow the barometer of our emotions. A beautiful ambient track! Explosion and sustained heartbeat explain the 69 seconds of Interplanetary Threat. Space Travel follows the tangent of Monitoring the Zooids in a swirling musical fairyland. It's like a JM Jarre and Moonbooter duet offering us the best of EDM and of cosmic dance. It's the FM and the most commercial track of ARTEFACT, and the only one with synth solos too. Final Sight says it all. In a structure that gains in intensity, a vocal layer throws in wails that grow in amplification without any explosions. Thus, ending an album full of good moments that make us spend a good 65 minutes of an intelligent EM that has everything to please and nothing to displease.

Sylvain Lupari (May 23rd, 2021) *****

SynthSequences.com

Available on Spotted Peccary Music

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