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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Ascendant Meridian (2016)

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

Similar, but much quieter, than Particle Horizon, this album proposes smooth beats on a very good use of sequencing beats

1 Landfall 8:02 2 Unearth 8:15 3 Reactive Light 8:37 4 Liquid Memory 8:21 5 Frozen Clouds 11:50 6 Sub-Orbital Forest 6:50 7 Arcology 9:01 8 Solar Invocation 13:33 9 Meridian 6:26 10 The Age of Earth and Stone 6:00

(DDL 86:57) (V.F.)

(Soft & ambient EM)

My first exploration of the Ascendant universe had been a nice little revelation. Particle Horizon was full of different rhythmic lives animated by a good use of the sequencer. So, I was eager to hear this MERIDIAN which has been released in 2 editions. This one's dated of June 2016 and offers nearly 90 minutes of these fluid rhythms which flow peacefully in a setting flirting more with the many advantages of the psybient than that of an ethereal EM with a New Age vision. But it's safe to say that Ascendant fills these two extremes very well. MERIDIAN is a work with a cosmic philosophical flavor that tries to put in music the different evolutions of our universe. If this story deserves its musical significance, our ears deserve as much with a good set of headphones which will swaddling them in order to well listen the fabulous tales of Chris Bryant/Don Tyler. The sound aesthetic is at the rendezvous in its envelope of 24 BITS and the different forms of rhythm breathe through an opaque wave of sounds carefully woven by synthesizers whose imagination of the American duo make work to the maximum. The legion of fans who follow the Ascendant's activities confirms the talent of the two musicians who fill our ears up to the maximum with an album that will be reborn in a new form at the end of 2018 with Meridian EX. But before…

Landfall begins this new exploration with a movement of circular oscillations. Sound effects, which arouse my childhood curiosity as I listened to the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, explode here and there and their viscous effects resonate in the hypnotic movement of the ambient rhythm. A heavy bass layer covers this stationary rhythmic panorama of an obscure psybient veil which takes all its meaning with the multiplication of sound effects. The sound mass is very dense. And it's in this indecisive context that the sequences, always present but rather discrete, vibrate more quickly than layers of orchestral fog rippling on a lunar landscape. Hopping sequences perform a static ballet with a strong alternating motion between each key, pushing Landfall to drift into a riot of effects which is always richer and more conclusive than the rhythm. Unearth follows this tangent of pulsating rhythm that is keener for neurons than the feet, or even the fingers. The sequencer game, which dribbles its keys, reminds me of the good rhythmic patterns of Particle Horizon. The fog mass spreads its orchestral veils that make the music drift in a cosmic meditative sanctuary, even if the multiple oscillating loops twist in perpetual kaleidoscopic loops with some nuances in its hypnotic movement. We are still in the soft rhythm portion of this album when Reactive Light clings to our ears. The envelope is more in tones of Tangerine Dream here than elsewhere in MERIDIAN with a compact mass of ethereal haze and of synth lines in the colors of a cerulean blue from which get out percussive rattlings. The sequencer releases keys which gambol gently into these misty layers and in the circular synth rays which drag the chants of a choir of celestial voices. This movement is very melodious with an approach drifting up and down in a landscape filled of cosmic wadding. Frozen Clouds is molded in a similar mold, but in a more ambient universe. Liquid Memory is a title filled with intense electronic arrangements which fragment its intensity into multiple cosmic dust and layers of radiation. A line of sequences, strong in tonality of quartz, strongly alternates its keys which jump in the effects of reverberations of a circular wave which sweeps a horizon not too certain of its origins. Sub-Orbital Forest is another very charming title with its upward movement of the sequencer whose ambient rhythm is comfortably soaked with synth layers and lines whose fusion could even put Morpheus to sleep. I put that on to sleep! The percussive chords in the introduction of Arcology made me startle! It looks like the clinking of bells of an alien people, especially with the effect of organic language that sticks to the ambience. The sequencer's movement is always seductive with jerky riffs that weave the first truly catchy rhythm in MERIDIAN. That of Solar Invocation is not bad either with another alternating movement in the keys of the sequencer. Its chords jingle vividly into a dense core of reverberations and dreary drones that would be quite suitable for a movie soundtrack. And I would see a sci-fi movie for it. The skeleton of the sequencing pattern returns timidly to regain more vigor before disappearing completely in this mix of moods darker than ethereal. The title-piece feeds on these moods, while The Age of Earth and Stone ends MERIDIAN with another figure of ambient rhythm, whose sequencer is very TD of the Green Desert area, and with percussive effects that clink and resonate in a vision of psybient which is very present in the universe of MERIDIAN and of Ascendant. Sylvain Lupari (April 8th, 2019) ***¾**

Available at Ascendant's Bandcamp

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