BATTERYDEAD: Yield to Gravity (2016)
“This is modern EM where the elements of dance go alongside to those of Berlin School at the level of sequencing and ambiences”
1 What if not 5:57 2 Eisblumen 6:13 3 Butterflight 5:35 4 This one Place 6:04 5 Jet Stream 5:10 6 Magic Lanterns 7:48 7 Sublime Sunset 5:28 8 Endless Restlessness 7:11 9 Too much Coffee 4:01 10 Expectations 5:43 11 Spring Breeze 4:58 MellowJet Records | cdr-bd1601 (CD/DDL 64:07) (V.F.) (EDM, New Berlin School)
I like these kinds of albums which at the first listening leaves you unmoved and afterward seduces you quietly. I have a chance to make a thing that I like very much for a hobby; reviewing EM. So, I must peel patiently each new album that I receive by multiplying the listenings. Some albums go straight ahead, while others eventually found very interested ears. Some rather quickly and others which ask for more listening times. It's the case of YIELD TO GRAVITY, first album of BatteryDead on MellowJet Records. The first observation is that Christian Ahlers has modified a little his approach in order to adopt a style of EDM which is as much appealing as that of Moonbooter, for that purpose Endless Restlessness sounds like a remix of the wonderful Adieu from Moonbooter. That is the second observation!
What if not can destabilize with its very Jean-Michel Jarre approach and its rhythms of tropical dance of Waiting for Cousteau. Heavy electronic sighs, percussions which crumble its echoes and vampiric effects; this introduction of Jarre ambiences seduces us on the spot. And while the synth sleeps and drops those static snores, the rhythm wakes up little by little. Forcing an amorphous down-tempo which is growing rich of effects and of ethereal voices. The pulses remain delicate and we hear a fragile melody offering its subdued notes which sparkle in a mosaic of beatings, pulsation and stroboscopic sequences. This is where that a soft pleasant Enigma voice tickles our ears, rooting down What if not in its envelope of static EDM. Let's say that in the first listening, my ears were in suspicion mode. But that be all the opposite with Eisblumen! Feeding on the last breaths of What if not to start, the title is exploding with a line of stroboscopic rhythm of which the first jerks lift the activity of elytrons of metal. A second line shows more power, thus lifting percussions now which slam with hunger but which remain frozen in an immense magma of jolts. Voices come to caress this very solid rhythm when the percussions lead the rhythmic fate of Eisblumen which becomes a great fusion between EDM and an electronic rock a little bit tinted with elements of New Berlin School. The effects of the voices here are very appealing. Butterflight proposes a more danceable approach with a structure of up-tempo. The bass crawls languishingly on a rhythm all the same rather delicate knotted by jolts and decorated of ringings, of discreet keyboard riffs, of cosmic effects and of totally charming effects of percussions. This one Place follows with a rhythm weaved in heavy and deep pulsating jerks which wind the clubbing of the percussions with thin stroboscopic strands. Some fascinating sequences which spin as a shoal of fish silvered in front of a predator add a more crystal-clear depth to this rhythm of lead. The melody which decorates this skeleton of rhythm is similar to those that we hear with Moonbooter. This one Place slows down its velocity in a brief ambiospherical phase before taking back its pace which is rather lively, I would say. Let's say that it's a title which makes move our feet rather easily!
Jet Stream is slower but livelier. Here the effects lay down the law, from where a 2nd and even a 3rd listening is needed before falling under its charms. The secondary percussions and their effects of rattlers, the chords which crumble their airs in echoes as well as the sequences which flicker of admiration in front of these effects eventually instigate the curiosity of the sense of hearing. The effect is even more striking with the ears wrapped up well in a headset. Effects psybient on a delicate rhythm which makes our fingers drum, effects of stroboscopic jerks which boost some fragile chords, Magic Lanterns brings us back in the universe of Sands of Deception. The bass is effective and pushes the rhythm towards a good cosmic up-tempo. That also asks more than one listening. The same goes for Sublime Sunset which is heavy and without a real rhythm. Like a little rhythmic pattern in agony, Sublime Sunset uses these phases of atmospheres to take back a little of vigor. Endless Restlessness puts down, on a heavier rhythm, the bases of harmonies, a little modified, of the excellent Adieu that we find on the Still Alive album. One guesses that with Too much Coffee that will be hardly restful. It's a good up-tempo in what it could be more than very danceable. Not too violent with a nice play of spasmodic sequences and good percussions. The melody is rooted in a rather sober keyboard and the beat jumps with some delicious organic bumps. The 2nd part is the liveliest. Expectations is in the very repertoire of some good BatteryDead with a very psychedelic approach where the rhythm lives, and progresses weakly, below an electronic fauna of noises and effects. It's rather lively, like a dance where we swirl in a cosmos of colorful noises and tones. The approach of Spring Breeze sounds so out of what we are used on this album. The sound is clearer and cleaned of the noise effects from BatteryDead's universe. That gives a solid up-tempo, sewn in a fusion of diverse beating which skip in the shadows of some and of others, with a melody which takes all its luster in a short ambiosonic phase.
The passage of BatteryDead at MellowJet Records gives an album of which the essences of Christian Ahler's psybient are better defined, more detailed and less iridescent. But YIELD TO GRAVITY stays always in the same mold as Shades. This is to say album which presents 2 to 3 titles on which we stick to it as soon as the first listening and where we savor the other titles with more appetite in the course of subsequent listenings. This is modern EM where the elements of dance go alongside to those of Berlin School at the level of the sequences and atmospheres. On the whole; an album which it's necessary to tame in order to appreciate to its just value.
Sylvain Lupari (July 16th, 2016) ***½**
Available at MellowJet Records