ALPHA LYRA: Between Cloud and Sky (2016)
“Travelling, dreaming and gliding between clouds, my ears have devoured this Between Cloud and Sky”
1 Dancer in the Blue 5:32 2 War Memory 14:18 3 Between Cloud and Sky 13:12 4 Before the Storm 17:22 5 Cumulus Song 9:28 6 Summer Day 4:22 Alpha Lyra Music
(CD 64:33) (V.F.) (Ambient and Floating beats)
Travelling, dreaming and gliding between clouds! It's exactly the sensation which torments us when our ears absorb little by little the 64 minutes of this BETWEEN CLOUD AND SKY. Faithful to his musical signature, Christian Piednoir delivers here an ambient work as surprising as his very beautiful From Berlin to Paris with just enough structures of ambient rhythms to confront a possible journey towards a total anesthesia. Comparing this last opus of Alpha Lyra to the hypnotic quiet rhythms and the enigmatic atmospheres of Steve Roach's famous Structures from Silence, although similarities can also be made with Vangelis' Soil Festivities, would only be a simple step to cross. Except that this album is clearly more musical while being also very oneiric. It's like to rummage on the other side of the night when everybody's sleeping. And yet, we are in clouds should I remind. Christian Piednoir leads the listener to another level with a thick cloud of synth lines which converge like an immense ambiospheric vessel through the astral waters where every furrow reveals the sound charms of its secrets. A strong opus which fits marvellously with an exercise of meditation. For a hard sleep to be found where its torments will find the comfort in the surprising musicality of this work which redefines the senses of ambient music. A little as Structures from Silence did when it went out.
And that begins with the delicacy of Dancer in the Blue. The rhythm is slow and sounds arduous, such as a hermit who climbs a long hill by carrying the weight of the world on his frail shoulders. Step by step it climbs up a ladder of passive intensity. Carillons ring behind a veil which weakens their ringings. Walls of synth tears are waving like these arms in those graceful movements in T'ai chi ch'uan, taking the shape of the slow curve of the synth waves which undulate in symbiosis with the singings hummed by the angels. It's delicate and so poetic. And that sets the tone to a very beautiful album where every track brings us in the depths of Alpha Lyra's lyricism. Cracklings of carillons are bronzing the tones under the slow curves of intrusive drones, and rather musical should I add, that open War Memory. The arc of these long hummings are waltzing slowly with the divinity of the astral airs, while quite slowly this ambient ship derives between the layers of the stratosphere. It's there that a delicate structure of rhythm makes glitter three sequenced keys which skip by trying to thwart their shadows. The movement is magnetizing with these tints of ambient rhythm which change tones and velocity while preserving an always ambient approach. One would say a kind of gnome which cavorts furtively in search of the fourth key which is transformed according to the whims of his creator. Because even if the approach remains all the same rather serial. The way that Christian Piednoir plays with the reflection of this rhythm, from which the variances will spring even better in Cumulus Song, is as much appealing than hypnotic.
The slow waves of the synth are also very enveloping and captivating as intrusive in the ambiospherical Between Cloud and Sky. Its first 4 minutes are sculptured in a phase of deep ambiences carrier of the secrets of the sleep with sonic pearls which sparkle behind a dense waverer curtain. The image of a vessel going adrift without rudder on a sea shaken by quiet waves comes to mind. One would say an armada of sailboats which floats in the heavens where the gods play the flute and the angels hum. While the movement clears up, a delicate pulsation forges little by little a structure of rhythm as ambient as in Dancer in the Blue but clearly more ethereal. Pulsations and felted beatings embroider a structure as much delicate than the ambiences by untying their shadows which run away with a more golden finery. Their twinkling reflections hold onto the immense veils of synth tears of which the astral walls of orchestration bear these paradisiacal singings to the doors of skies. Before the Storm is also immensely entrancing with slow layers haloed of astral voices which float adrift between two stratospheres. The kind reminds me of Michael Stearns' Chronos for these orchestral waves which move like a slow herd of clouds. These herds and these elegiac voices also rock the quiet rhythm of Cumulus Song which is weaved in the ritornellos of a line of sequences where six keys cavort with their twinkling shadows. The movement stretches its 9 minutes with a beautiful crescendo, both in the tones and the serene power of the rhythm. That gives the effect of a perpetual cannon rhythmic, finely jerky by the way, that the embraces of a synth are caressing with airs which coo such as astral trumpets. That does very Steve Roach, but with an ethereal touch which is less sibylline that the Californian synthesist. Summer Day ends with these delicate synth waves which roll in the depths of the nothingness. Chirping solos accompany this slow dying waltz in order to lead it towards oracles blown by a seraphic choir. That reminds me the finale of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring.
My ears, and my eyes calmed in an ocean of dreams, have devoured BETWEEN CLOUD AND SKY! An intimist work, due to its quiet nature, that plunges us into an introspection, with an appealing wealth in sounds and tones, and where the delicate rhythms and the intrusive atmospheres of Soils Festivities and of Structures from Silence melt together in the imprints of Alpha Lyra. A very beautiful album which nests in my iPod, section night music!
Sylvain Lupari (January 16th, 2016) ****½*
Available at Alpha Lyra Bandcamp