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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BALTES&ERBE: A-11 (2019)

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

“Sometimes heavy and slow with atmospheric peaks that break their momentum, the rhythms in A-11 are flirting with EDM and Berlin School styles”

1 No Return 11:38

2 The Olive Branch 5:43

3 A-One-One 8:52

4 Incertitude 3:50

5 LUNA 9:18

6 Site Selection Board 4:58

7 At the Last Stage 6:46

8 Error 1201 4:24

9 Silence 5:07

10 One Time in History 10:51

11 Earthrise 7:31

(CD/DDL 78:57) (V.F.)

(EDM, Berlin School)

A good headphone! One approaches Baltes & Erbe's mission A-11 with a good set of headphones in order to capture this wave of sounds that quietly is winding the cosmic void to cling to our eardrums. The opening of No Return is a broth of sound ambiences with mechanical noises and strokes, jerky sound waves and layers of hesitant orchestrations that lose the step to an almost symphonic rise of the synth. Wooshh and wiishh add a veil of intensity to this mishmash of sonic vibes that reaches a storm point around the third minute point. There where the sequencer unfolds its sails of beads that radiate like prism reflections and where some nervous sticks are drumming electronic skins while fluttering in a structure still in gestation. It's a line of bass pulsations, rock-style percussion, and two lines of contiguous sequences that shape No Return's catchy rhythm. A first mutation reorients the rhythm structure that is now hesitating between rock and EDM. The synth solos are present and discreet, leaving layers of wiishh and other more orchestral wrapped this structure where a heavy bass effect hops with gurgles in the notes' pantry. Sometimes heavy and slow, with atmospheric peaks that break its momentum, No Return is moving towards the ambient horizons of The Olive Branch which in turn will be victim of the changes of rhythmic skins that announce the true colors of A-11. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission has occupied the news in recent days. Everything seems to have been said! In pictures, with many documentaries and news programs and finally in music. Closer to the kind that we are talking here, there's Brian Eno who released a remixed and extended 2-CD version of his album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, not to mention the numerous releases of musical ode from many musicians on download platforms. Closer to this, in the factory-made CDs, there's this energetic duo of Baltes & Erbe, who returns with a third opus titled A-11. And if you're expecting an ambient trip, you're not in the right place! Sewn on a long thread of 79 minutes, A-11 offers an energetic EM with atmospheric spikes that the duo has always known how to dose well to maintain his listeners in an environment where the two options never pour in a lack of inspiration. Attractive percussive elements, great sequencing with lines of ascending beats in Berlin School mode, layers of sibylline voices and of Arabic orchestrations; A-One-One sways between the universe of Michael Stearns and the first opuses of Rainbow Serpent. Even the sequences and the percussive clicks breathe a little of this world of Frank Specht in Sebastian In Traum. The noises related to the percussion elements become wrecks that go towards Uncertainty whose atmospheres and cosmic hip-hop approach respect in all aspects the visions of title. There are beautiful percussive elements, sequences that stretch their phases into stroboscopic filaments and good synth solos with a nice touch of intensity. We stay in a phase of ambient rhythm with LUNA whose progression remains stationary in its psybient vision.

Site Selection Board is really in EDM mode with a strong imprint of Stefan Erbe on the music which is always very rich in percussive elements. Two rhythmic visions oppose here. One more stationary and the other more in Electronica mode with good resonant pulsations. We arrive at The Last Stage and its union between the Groove and the Ska styles which advances slowly before being strafed by percussive rods. These chopsticks inject a nervousness with rotary and undisciplined strikes in a structure whipped by an approach of frenzy that would accompany without problems these challenges of break-dance and dance-street which make the delight of improvised dances. Error 1201 takes us back to this heavy and slow rhythmic structure with a touch of Berlin School that had opened the borders of A-11. Very good with a load of synth solos that always stay in the background, as if it was imperative for Baltes & Erbe not to cast a shadow on the succulent structures of rhythms in this album. Silence comes to a point with its melody poured into arpeggios and sequences glittering in a cosmic night. The arpeggios flow is rather fast but its fight against the ethereal elements and the morphic sweetness of layers contains it in its appearance of meditative lunar ballad. After samplings of voices that are lost in orchestral mists, One Time in History places its balls of rhythms that begin with a strong ripple whose flow remains at the mercy of these lunar orchestrations. The music is thinking about the scope of his 11 minutes, wondering how to spread its bone structure behind such an imposing orchestrations' velum. The resonant pulsations come and go like these big drones threatening whereas the percussion box releases strikes that arrive by strafing. The orchestral effects take on a disco hue and the sequencer forges a line of rhythm that becomes harmonic. This line embraces a minimalist tune while One Time in History gets resolutely in EDM mode fluid and rather easy to catch. Silence was so nice that Earthrise has decided to take its coat. It's indeed in a vision of electronic ballad very easy to tame that ends this new adventure of the Baltes & Erbe duo. An adventure not too wild nor guided by a stunning dance-floor approach that would be, from what I hear here and there, a pure dynamite in concert. Hoping for an official recording of one of these concerts, the series of shows starts at the end of July I believe, A-11 remains the most accessible work from Baltes & Erbe.

Sylvain Lupari (July 26th, 2019) ***½**

Available at Stefan Erbe Music

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