ALBA ECSTASY: The Night Shift (2021)
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
“A track like EquiVox is worth the price of the download alone”
1 Traffic Lights 12:48
2 The Night That Is Coming 7:42
3 EquiVox 10:55
4 An Ancient Story 12:16
5 The Calm Before the Storm 14:24
6 EquiVox (Binaural Headphone Mix) 10:55
7 The Night That Is Coming (Binaural Headphone Mix) 7:46
(DDL 76:47) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School)
THE NIGHT SHIFT offers us an Alba Ecstasy in great shape who proposes a virtual album bordering on 77 minutes. Well, we will play the card of honesty by specifying that nearly 20 minutes are used to offer 2 bonus tracks that have been mixed for a binaural listening. A good idea that Jean-Michel Jarre had exploited earlier this year with Amazônia. I love the effect! But let's come back to this new album of the Romanian musician who, faithful to himself, fills our ears to the rim.
A good Berlin School with an alternating and ascending movement of the sequencer awaits our ears in the opening of Traffic Lights. Imagine the vision of a busy traffic by a summer evening and play with its speed, always in your imagination, and you have the fluidity wanted to get a fluid and driving EM for the joy of the neurons. The synth injects its allegorical haze, as well as those familiar sound effects, while a bass-sequence line adds more velocity to the music. Voice samples serve as a warning to indicate an initial rhythmic shift with enticing percussive effects, like water-soaked tennis balls bouncing with a rubbery effect, while the keyboard serves up a line of sequenced arpeggios that boost Traffic Lights' harmonious side. The synth solos flow symbiotically over this steady beat that fades out around the 9:30 minute mark. The sequences become silent; the synth draws those ambient wings that take a last look at what's left of a hectic evening. The particularity of The Night That Is Coming is to have been conceived in the optics of a binaural listening with the help of headphones. A good pair is enough to appreciate its slow flow, a bit like David Bowie's Cat People. The pulsations are distant, facilitating an attentive listening, and are covered with a layer of synth overlapping under the resonance of these. Our ears are fixed in this happening canvas for almost 4 minutes before a sequencer movement dictates a circular rhythm master of its stroboscopic destiny. Percussive effects are invited to bounce on our eardrums, further justifying the binaural listening that continues to be enriched with sequences and other percussive elements, including the tinkling of glass beads that clash without breaking. Pure auditory delight from AE!
Afterwards, we are treated to a Tangerine Dream track (sic!) Excuse-me! To a track where Chris Franke (not him!?). Designed in the same way, EquiVox offers a slightly more accentuated flow in a track that literally sounds like Tangerine Dream in their best Virgin years. Think of Silver Scale and you're right in the middle of it, especially with the sequencer dribbling its jumping keys over a more harmonic rhythm line. The track gradually turns into a good electronic rock topped by a beautiful orchestral vision of the mellotron. The bank of sounds and rhythms is superb! The ears in open air but especially with headphones. An Ancient Story starts with chloroformed synth layers that wrap around dull pulsations of bass-sequences. The synth draws good meditative solos and does not hold back any longer this emergence of the rhythm that we sensed straight from the beginning of this slow and resonant flow. The rhythm remains ambient and thus ready to receive these magnificent solos, some of which have these perfumes of the Middle East. Aluminum drumsticks get excited on the slow flow, adding a passage that swells with charms while the synth stays active on solos. This is a good track fading into a hazy finale which refuses its help to die. I'm a little confused about the nature of The Calm Before the Storm as the track displays an ambient rhythm structure with a sequencer that sculpts a gyrating motion that is filled with limpid chords dropped from the keyboard. Minimalist, the structure takes its time to develop, leaving the keyboard and synth to accentuate its setting. A barely whispered bass line and organic chirps are among the elements that are added, as well as a new melody with that false Tubular Bells air. In short, a long minimalist track that progresses like Alba Ecstasy usually does and ends in a calm and orchestral haze when we reach its 12th minute. So, no storm but all full of calm. 😊
THE NIGHT SHIFT offers some very nice Berlin School in rhythmic structures that are less flamboyant than in Vox of Sequencing, but still very attractive. A track like EquiVox is worth the price of the download alone. In the end, this is another very nice album from Alba Ecstasy that justifies its growing legion of fans.
Sylvain Lupari (November 10th, 2021) ***¾**
Available at Alba Ecstasy Bandcamp