ASCENDANT: Particle Horizon (2017)
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
“Particle Horizon is a great album that will pleased fans of Chris Franke's sequencing patterns and of the musical visions of TD's soundtracks”
1 Luminescence 8:24 2 Gateway Aura 6:08 3 Edge of the Infinite 7:11 4 Zero-Crossing 5:58 5 Twilight Gap 6:02 6 Gardens of Light 7:19 7 Radiance 7:43 8 The Age of Acceleration 8:05 9 Taking the Void 8:37 10 The Particle Horizon 8:16 Synphaera Records | SYN10 (CD/DDL 73:44) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School)
A Los Angeles duo consisted of Chris Bryant and Don C. Tyler, we heard one of their compositions (Black Flowers) in the Greenosophy Chapter II compilation from the Ultimae Records label, Ascendant has a solid background in the world of electronic music. Both musicians are involved in various projects, either as musicians or at different levels of production. PARTICLE HORIZON is a third album on Synphaera Records, an American label which seems to offer very nice productions inspired by the Berlin School or by the ambient cosmic rock. Two genres that are at the heart of this album whose 10 tracks are flowing following this vision of ambient rhythm, and especially very melodious, which are mainly animated by multiline of sequencers in Black Flowers. From the outset, I have to tell you that I really loved this album! Complex since the model of rhythm proposed is structured on formulas of rhythmic centipedes which disintegrate in order to form groups more harmonic, when not convoluted, and which entangle in a tonal universe that Ascendant adorns with swarms of crystalline arpeggios which tinkle and sparkle in the furrow of these rhythms. Cosmic effects, streaks of shooting stars as well as percussive effects and creeping bass lines infuse a little bit of the psybient universe fantasies and its derivatives of floating rhythms, into intriguing carcasses of tones and sounds effects.
Luminescence doesn't waste time to show us what will be the 74 minutes of PARTICLE HORIZON. A swarm of arpeggios escapes the ascent of an anesthetic layer, releasing a rhythmic melody stigmatized in the flight of a dragonfly. Another melody emerges. More invasive this time, she adopts the shadow of the rhythm with beautiful cooing and other paradisiacal songs rolling in loops. A bass line adds a dramatic weight to this opening, as do percussion effects stifled in some prism, reminding us that the psybient universe still breathes in the maneuvers of Ascendant. It's at this moment that the sequencer releases a compact mass of sequenced keys which hop on the spot with an incredible sonic precision. A small ambient passage and the title breathes again on a rhythmic structure livelier but always retained in a stationary state. What skips first is this musical and tonal promiscuity between the Los Angeles duo and a certain German trio who drew the parameters of a more harmonious Berlin School-style EM at the end of the 80's. Added to these lines of crawling bass with a psybient vision educated in the Ultimae Records mold and we have a refreshing thing which seduces title in title. Gateway Aura follows with an equally nebulous intro where hang oblong dying riffs in the tart colors of Tangerine Dream. We can't pass aside! The similarities are so obvious and so abundant that not talking about it would hurt my credibility. There are not just these elements of ambiences which correspond to them, the rhythms too. That of Gateway Aura gallops into cosmos with fine nuances in the colors and the oscillations, weaving in fact an earworm with its harmonic propensity. Rampant like a snake full of vices, the bass line does its job by deflecting the first axis of rhythm to another livelier phase by the accumulation of an armada of sequences whose purpose is to structure a rhythm slightly removable. We walk here between Firestarter and Wavelength. And I would say the same thing about Edge of the Infinite which starts crumbling chords which stroll in a desert cultivated of Tangerine Dream's protein-tone vitamins. The structure of rhythm flows while subdividing its core which is moored to sober pulsations, thus giving an approach a little more of the cosmic rock genre. The color of the tones as well as the sound aesthetic, the great strength of PARTICLE HORIZON make this title particular which refuses all harmonic compromise. Zero-Crossing relies on the spheroidal movement of the sequencer to build a rhythmic approach that remains the main harmonious attraction of this title invaded by a mass of video game sounds.
Twilight Gap is a more atmospheric title with filaments of sequenced rhythms which break through a great wall full of obstacles, like a sonic centipede and its strange zigzags which come and go with fascination. Speaking of fascination, Gardens of Light is one of the easiest titles to assimilate in this album. The ambiances and the jeremiad of the stars à la Wavelength on a bed of nervous sequences, jumping with a captivating cohesion in the agitated tumult, are weaver of musical itches' elements. Closer to the roots of a cosmic psybient, Radiance also proposes this structure where the legs of duck giggle frantically while the palmiped shows its passive phlegm. If one likes sequences which bone out their tones on a conveyor on which is missing a check mark, tell yourself that The Age of Acceleration respects the meaning of its title with accelerated lines of a rhythm which breathes the passivity of psybient vibes with these felted percussions and this heavy bass line which invades the listening. A slight point of comparison can be made with the melodious cooing of Luminescence. Taking the Void covets this conveyor but in a speed-oriented approach. I would say that at this point, blinking rhythms like glass beads in each centipede membrane can become aggressive. It's for this reason that we must refocus our ears on the illuminated cosmic setting of PARTICLE HORIZON. In addition to this lunar haze and its celestial curtain of mist, the stars sing and the celestial bodies appear in different tonal forms in the soundscape of the 74 minutes of this 3rd album of Ascendant. The American duo completes this fusion between cosmic rock and these sound elements which flirt with the more contemporary borders of its decor. Like this frank and well-drawn rhythm of the title track which is a pure Berlin School, without the harmonies and the synth solos. A great absent from this album that will certainly please fans of structures built around sequencers than of synths and their solos, although their effects are also ubiquitous.
I enjoyed the discovering of Ascendant music. As long as I asked for the latest album entitled Meridian. The sound and musical aesthetics are high level and I loved the play of the sequencers and those rhythmic swarms which subdivide themselves in order to create parallel rhythmic movements rolling at different speeds while sharpening melodic rhythms which flow and roll in a lunar scenery that can be associated to the music of Wavelength, or other soundtracks of Tangerine Dream, I think of Firestarter or Flashpoint. Sometimes I like to think that Chris Bryant and Don C. Tyler attended Chris Franke School as the similarities are so obvious. A very nice discovery! Sylvain Lupari (January 11th, 2019) ***** SynthSequences.com Available at Synphaera Records' Bandcamp