ALPHA LYRA: Full Colours (2021)
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
“An artist and a great album to discover, to get out of anonymity!”
1 Tender Garance 13:01
2 Crystal Red 17:43
3 Mars Yellow 17:19
4 Deep Indigo 12:45
5 Celestial Blue 14:34
(CD 75:21) (V.F.)
(Ambient Berlin School)
This project from Christian Piednoir is the perfect example of an excellent artist whose lack of visibility prevents thousands of cosmic ambient music consumers from discovering Alpha Lyra. FULL COLOURS is already a 10th album for the French musician who came out of the anonymity since his first opus, Music for the Stars released in 2006. This new album revolves around 5 long tracks more or less inspired by the pandemic that has been going on the globe since winter 2020. More or less, since FULL COLOURS proposes an intimist music where Alpha Lyra paints in music the blue as the madder and/or the red in pastel tints to make us dream eyes open and abandoned to our ears for 76 minutes of pure delight. In a perfect balance between Berlin School style and meditative music, FULL COLOURS can be listened to actively, with all its nuances, or idly in search of sleep, but after Crystal Red. Here is why...
It's in morphic caresses that the subdued shade of Tender Garance lights up. Tender and it is, with waves idly flirting with time. Flickering effects differentiate the hues of this ode so serene that a single breath could uproot its softness. This is what happens around the 4th minute when a timid humming makes the synth cry, stretching its sighs like prismatic whispers. Like the weeping of the ondes Martenot! A bass introduced itself in the decor. Its curves lost in time give a gloomy appearance to the music that continues its nightly march which is now invaded by a tide of woosshh. Breathing as freely filtering the colors of its cover from a painting by Amanda Rackowe, artist-painter and Christian's spouse, entitled Contemplation Dufy. And slowly Tender Garance joins its privileges of nocturnal music escaping in the confines of its iodized texture by a repressed rage. The scarlet rage! Crystal Red begins with a timid jumping sequence whose successive beats are lost in a raise of ominous drones. Threads of voices on a phantom rhythm complete this esoteric vision which plays on its impulses as on its velocity. This cleavage between different atmospheric elements leads us to the 5th minute, even a little earlier, where the initial sequence returns with a new rhythmic vision. Running under the stars, this rhythmic sequence extends its random flow before performing a series of rushes that takes us further away from the ambient universe of FULL COLOURS. This first scheme of disjointed rhythm sequenced, Alpha Lyra wraps this unreal dance of the sequencer of chthonian waves as very good solos whose twisted forms and loops have this light perfume of spectres howling of terror. No, Crystal Red is definitely not a track to go to sleep on!😊
Piano notes fall with resonance at the opening of Mars Yellow. The shadow of Chopin, of his nocturnal sonatas hovers over this introduction which gradually joins the nocturnal colors of FULL COLOURS. Developed with care, this 3rd part of the album remains soaked in this atmosphere of flaming candles illuminating a part of this pianist isolated in a corner of a chapel. The first movement of anger freezes around the 10th minute as Alpha Lyra raises his emotions in orchestrations that heavily drag this grief, this anxiety that gnaws at us since the pandemic. The march is heavy and emotionally exhausting. And those who did not manage to fall asleep on the first two colors of this album chant with the pianist in order to overcome this emotional ordeal that lasts for almost 4 minutes. This is where the angels have chosen to bring Mars Yellow to a finale where one envies those who sleep with their eyelids closed. Possibly the most beautiful track on this album, Deep Indigo mixes rhythm and ambience in a soft structure initiated by a guitar scattering its chords on a carpet of lunar mist. The shadows of the music soon invade this procession that seeks itself for a few moments through various fractured orchestrations. Three chords! That's all it takes to start this serenade on an ambient rhythm where the mist serves as oxygen. This fragile ambient structure is carried on these sibylline layers nimbed of absent voices and of fragmented stars. The mixture creates lunar orchestrations that flow towards a rhythmic structure in a Berlin School as ethereal and morphic as Neuronium's in the mid-70s. It's in scents of ether and chloroform that the more than sweet Celestial Blue floats. An acoustic guitar adorns its dreamy chords in a musical road of silk leading to this sequenced rhythm that made many of us dream when Klaus Schulze structured it in his Moondawn and Body Love period. A very beautiful moment in music that brings us to the door of the 10th minute where Celestial Blue takes a last flight towards the promises of a long meditative moment. The time to sleep has already arrived for some. For the others, there is always the possibility to hear again this other intimate rendezvous with the music of Alpha Lyra.
What more to write? FULL COLOURS is a great album by Christian Piednoir. Alpha Lyra succeeds in a perfect marriage between rhythms, ambiances, melodies and lunar orchestrations. In a very contemporary musical envelope, the French musician revives great moments of the 70's that make us smile as much as sigh with melancholy. An artist and a great album to discover, to get out of anonymity!
Sylvain Lupari (September 3rd, 2021) ****¾*
Available at Alpha Lyra Music