• Sylvain Lupari

AUGENSTERN: Skydancing (1987/2014)

Updated: May 5

Very peaceful, Skydancing is a beautiful opus of ambient music of which the New Age approach seduces of its progressive fineries

1 Introduction 5:35

2 Chakra Pt. I 19:30

3 Chakra Pt. II 4:42

4 Chakra Pt. III 6:42

5 Chakra Pt. IV 3:26

6 Breathing Sky 3:17

7 Floating Water 7:14

Ricochet Dream | RD032

(CD 50:00) (V.F.)

(Ambient, New Age, Meditative)

The fans of Tangerine Dream will be familiar with the name Steve Schroyder who was one of the first musicians to board the wonderful adventure of the Dream, as a replacement of Conrad Schnitzler, for the Alpha Centauri and Zeit albums back in 1971 and 1972. After his short association with Ash Ra Tempel (Seven Up in 1973), he concentrated his career in the field of organ builder while also participating to several projects that will stay under the radar. He formed in 1980 a duet with Gene Gross whom the initial name of Oxo was going to change for Augenstern in 1985. Only 3 recordings, all in cassette format, was going to be realized between 1986 and 1987, besides a compilation, this time on CD, in 1991. Even if some sites allege that its music flirts with that of Tangerine Dream, there is nothing more inaccurate. It's rather New Age, a music of meditation well adorned by luxurious synth waves with colors of serenity. And for several connoisseurs in the genre; SKYDANCING is one of the best album in this style of music. And I have to say that I was fairly seduced by this work lost in the ramifications of time on which the Ricochet Dream label has decided to make revive. The limitations of the recording sources are very present and can bother the pure audiophiles, but the main part of the work glitters even better than on cassette.

The introduction reminds me the soft peace of mind that we find on Mind Over Matter's La Vie. The German narration adds an exotic touch to an enveloping music where the buzzing lines deploy large winged movements which bring us to the doors of meditation. Here, there are no flafla or artifices which are used to trivialize the music with approaches in rose water whose only goals is to raise the hair of the arms with an overabundance of tasteless orchestrations. The short Chakra Pt. IV is the exception, but it is so beautiful. The general idea of ​​this 3rd album of the German duo is based on Tantrism, hence the presence of Margot Anand who murmurs her dreamlike breezes. Although very relaxing, the music also remains very intense with slow dense waves that wind and twist like musical's lovers of music in an enveloping moment of spiritual ecstasy. This sonic magma is adorned with fine carillon ligaments which sparkle and tickle the moods of light modest kisses in, what I could call, a concentric movement of serenity. The dark shadows draw monuments of contrasts with the breath of voices and the sparkling filagrams that blend with the bewitching layers of organ. Despite its meditative vocation, Chakra Pt. I deviates at times in hallucinatory phases with tantric incantations which are witnesses of an ambient work closer to the paths of progressive than of New Age. Chakra Pt. II opened the B side of the cassette with a sibylline approach and a rather dark side while Chakra Pt. III offers delicate snippets of harmony with an Elvish voice which blows on the murmurs of the chimes. The base remains dark with fine modulations in the movement which in no way amplify its thirst for ambient rhythms. After the very relaxing Breathing Sky and its long morphic wings, Floating Water ends this peaceful immersive journey with an approach of slow tears flowing from the layers of synth floating between our two hemispheres. The movement can be as sad as serene and lets exude clearer chords which tinkle with snatches of harmonies whose sanctuary isn't really too far from the origins of Steve Schroeder, making of SKYDANCING a nice album of ambient music whose New Age approach seduces with its progressive ornaments.

Sylvain Lupari (December 9th, 2014) ***½**

SynthSequences.com

Available at Ricochet Dream

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