ANANTAKARA & GERCHAMBEAU: Pancha Bhuta (2022)
Updated: Aug 13, 2022
“It turns out to be a pleasant album that merges Berlin School to intriguing soundscapes”
1 Prithivi (Earth) 8:12
2 Apa (Water) 10:40
3 Tejas (Fire) 13:04
4 Vāyu (Air) 13:04
5 Akasha (Ether) 16:00
(DDL 61:00) (V.F.)
(Ambient, Berlin School, Soundscapes)
Playful yet harmonious tinkles and a sequenced bass line sculpt Prithivi's very Berlin School approach. This amazing mesh between what sounds like a zigzagging xylophone and a sequencer, and its shadow, drives a fluid rhythm that rises and falls with variations in its intensity. Other more mournful chords and sound effects accompany this upward movement that gradually abandons its fluidity for a finer, more jerky texture. It's in this surprising way that begins PANCHA BHUTA, a new album offered for download by Frédéric Gerchambeau and Anantakara. Much more accessible than Ashta, this second collaboration between the two musicians with creative antipodes yet very pronounced has something to surprise many ears. Prithivi flows very well! Its rhythm remains in this texture of an ascending Berlin School to which are grafted various percussive elements with a moderate amplification of the sound effects which give it a light sibylline cachet. And if like me you are fascinated by these structures of ascending rhythms more ambient than cadenced, they are the unique link that ties the 5 tracks of this surprising new album of this duo that always tries to innovate even in a context where the music is more accessible. For Gerchambeau, PANCHA BHUTA follows Ashta's first journey which was a horizontal odyssey from the ends of the earth to its central point. Except that here, the duo sets a vertical odyssey in music. We are in Hinduism with 5 elements taken from the Veda which is a set of texts that were revealed to the Indian sages called Rishi. I must admit that I lose my Latin, but not my sense of listening on a very beautiful music, even if sometimes it leaves its auditory comfortability to take more tortuous ways.
Like in the procession of Apa which unfolds itself on a hypnotic movement of ambient rhythm whose ascensional kind marries aerial volutes. It's like a serene whirlpool where sequenced arpeggios swirl over a minimalist structure hatched by orchestral riffs and various sound effects, some of which have an aquatic texture, that draw the music towards an experimental musical art form, almost orchestral neo-punk. The sequences split up, amplifying this meditative rhythm structure that tinkles with its most opalescent tones. Tejas follows a similar pattern of magnetizing circular rhythms in a sound envelope braised of sizzling and white noises. There is something about these two rhythmic structures that rivets us to old auditory memories! It is this vague impression, which is confirmed even more in this title, to be plunged in the oneiric ambiences and the rhythms of Michael Stearns in the title track of M'Ocean. And this feeling continues throughout the rhythms of PANCHA BHUTA. Felted percussions and reverb loops sit on top of its setting, which bewitches us until it mutates after the 4th minute, plunging the music into another universe of sonic experimentation that does not erase the hypnotic power of the continuous loops of rhythm. A little less poetic than the work of the American musician but just as beautiful, even in the regeneration of the tumult. An excellent track! The tracks follow each other with this link of sequenced ambient rhythm that goes up and down in a Berlin School mode. And the further you go, the more the feeling that it's diluting its backbone for flayed filaments takes over your ears. It scribbles ample oscillating loops in Vāyu, nuancing the amplitude and velocity of those loops as they circulate among muffled blasts, noise-white layers, keyboard chirps, or ectoplasmic mumbles. Synth lines mimic its circular axis, giving an enchanting depth that magnetizes our need to stick with it. Dressed in its conventional outfit as the one a little obscured by Dantesque sizzles, the rhythm always stands out from the crowd to impose this oneiric approach that cradles the sonic spells much more pronounced in this track. Longest track of PANCHA BHUTA, Akasha harmonizes its sound textures on this minimalist circular rhythm structure. So, these are huge loops of an ambient rhythm that roll as well as drift in a sound envelope scribbled with drones and effects that constantly chew up its progression. Somewhat like the other four structures, the second part of Akasha reinvigorates this desire to listen by bringing more firmness to the rhythm whose muffled pulsations flirt with a vision of trance. Here as elsewhere, the keyboard multiplies these chirps which give an organic tint to the music whose spells do not cease rolling in loops in a sound universe where the sounds are sometimes reinvented.
Against all odds, PANCHA BHUTA turns out to be a pleasant album that merges the Berlin School style with an assortment of ever more creative and intriguing sound palettes that abound throughout the 5 structures of this new album by Frédéric Gerchambeau and Anantakara. We easily fall under the charms of an electronic-acoustic music where the sound alchemists that are these two experienced musicians dose marvellously the fruit of their perception which does not alter in any way the bewitchment produced by this magnetizing rhythmic framework and its ghosts.
Sylvain Lupari (August 12th, 2022) ****½*
Available at Anantakara Bandcamp