ALBA ECSTASY: Studio Collections 2 (2022)
Updated: Apr 19
“I haven't heard any EM here that didn't deserve to find a place on an album”
1 R.E.M. 9:55
2 Shortcut to Berlin 3:49
3 Monopropellant 7:38
4 A Transient State of Being 3:23
5 Before the Midnight 7:43
6 Secrets of Another World 4:31
7 Metempsychosis 26:14
8 Metempsychosis 31:34
(DDL 94:49) (V.F.)
Here's a 2nd part of tracks that could not find a place in the albums of Alba Ecstasy. And like with Studio Collections 1, released in April 2021, STUDIO COLLECTIONS 2 raises a real questioning on the reasons that these tracks could not find a place on Mihail- Adrian Simion's recent albums. It's possible that a track like Metempsychosis could have failed to find a legitimate place on an album. But then again, you have to know that the București musician's music is always offered as a download. So, I haven't heard any electronic music (EM) here that didn't deserve to find a place on an album-download from AE. True, I'm a big fan, but I don't think I'm biased here in writing that much of STUDIO COLLECTIONS 2 is more than very listenable.
No ambient introduction! R.E.M. develops with an ostinato rhythm linked to a sequenced arpeggio that jumps briskly while unleashing good modulations, making it as catchy as quite melodic. With a bass-sequenced line in the background, two lines guide its destiny while a third offers a harmonious swaying dangling. True to its vision on the art of developing his long minimalist structures, AE fills the 10 minutes of this first track with rhythmic additions, like this solid pulsing bass-line which is more accentuated about 20 seconds after the 3rd minute, and melodic additions too with this variation of the tones of the arpeggios swirling in this rhythmic spin. Like a good minimalist Berlin School, the title gives this impression to go in a tunnel when the sound, like the rhythm, attenuates its reach. Already crystalline, R.E.M. deepens even more this notion with the echo of the arpeggios which answers themselves with a tint as limpid but less crystalline. An excellent track that should have had a place of choice on an official album-download. A bit like with X Edition and Synth Collection Vol. 1, the long tracks are followed by shorter ones. These tracks seem to me more exploratory with an approach bordering on experimentation about the oscillators' possibilities. This is the impression we got with Shortcut to Berlin and its oblong oscillations, still quite lively, in a more experimental context. A good intermission between another ostinato structure with Monopropellant. The structure is like that food for headbanging in a rave party. So the rhythm is pulsating with harmonic rhythm lines and percussive effects sounding like taps. Fog layers and industrial screeching effects accompany this journey whose subtle attenuating modulations keep us constantly in this pulsating trance vision. So far, Alba Ecstasy's rejects are fat cabbages! A Transient State of Being offers a harmonious choreography on a crystalline timbre. The arpeggios frolic in a body expression free of any rhythmic scheme, focusing on the purity of sound.
And it continues with this animated flow of two chords answering each other like a bolo ball hit by an arm slowly losing its strength in the opening of Before the Midnight. This track also sits on a pulsating formula but with arpeggios twirling casually. The synth is more dominant with its harmonious breezes and solos that fly over a more vitaminized rhythmic backbone in the 2nd half. This is good electronic rock, more convincing than Secrets of Another World whose random jumps of glittering arpeggios form a melodious and fascinating imperfect carousel. Divided in 3 phases, Metempsychosis is a long track that develops slowly. Its opening is composed of series of independent chords that come and go, even clashing a few times, in a haze of the psychedelic years and nice synth harmonies. Its rhythm is static without any real impetus and ends up embracing a harmonic phase that is more atmospheric and definitely more experimental a few seconds after the 5th minute. The Romanian musician elaborates from this moment on a psychedelic vision with reverb effects and synth lines that curl up in loops and go pfftt in breezes of sulfur. Arpeggios appear to tinkle softly, recalling those vague rhythmic structures of the first 5 minutes. Arpeggios appear and tinkle softly, recalling those vague rhythmic structures of the first 5 minutes. This parade of arpeggios is the slow signal of a rhythm caught in the charms of those 70's synth breezes that elaborates around the 16th minute. This rhythm is devoid of a solid membrane, instead embracing those moody, confused rhythms where arpeggios are making rodeos over well-spaced percussions and pulsing bass-lines. It takes a few listens...and then some. The download comes with a hidden track, the original version of Metempsychosis (Original Edit). Stretched by 5 minutes, this version is more musical and also more accessible, though...
Except for this last track, the music of STUDIO COLLECTIONS 2 is in the line of good EM from Alba Ecstasy. Good electronic rock, good Berlin School and tasty minimalist structures finely raised by its ingenuity get a real treat for the ears which must work a little more for the last 2 long titles. But the sound, the tone of the arpeggios is so seductive that it facilitates its taming.
Sylvain Lupari (April 18th, 2022) ***½**
Available at Alba Ecstasy Bandcamp