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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BERTRAND LOREAU: Nostalgic Steps (2013)

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Nostalgic Steps throws so many winks to Berlin School's old classics that we can't ignore it and bring it to our bank of memories

1 Modulator 2:26   

2 Nostalgic Walk 7:10  

3 Noises and Voices 2:09   

4 Semblance of a Mysterious

Dream 11:34   

5 Mind Floating 6:14   

6 Mini Mood 8:02   

7 A Light of Encore 9:27   

8 Birds of Nowhere 5:12

9 Sense of Heart 11:15

(CD 64:26) (V.F.)

(Vintage Berlin School)

Spheric Music is one of the last bastions of retro Berlin School. And during a discussion I had with his founder Lambert Ringlage, he insisted on saying that his label was going to continue to carry out its commit for perpetrate these mesmerizing minimalist and hypnotic movements of the 70's. And it's in the respect of these orientations that NOSTALGIC STEPS has landed in the CD racks at the beginning of February. As its title indicates it, this is a musical journey soaked of nostalgia which visits the heart of the rhythms and ambiences of masterpieces such as Klaus Schulze's Body Love and Tangerine Dream's Stratosfear with a very strong influence of Edgar Froese's solo works. Contrary to his last albums, NOSTALGIC STEPS offers 9 completely original tracks that the bard of electronic poems wrote during the last years. Tracks which reveal quite the sensibility of our timeless dreamer who seems to have been the privileged witness, hidden in the breaches of time, of these musical creations which rocked our dreams and emotions of a legion of always insatiate followers.

After a storm of electronic winds, which lift a thick cloud of cybernetic tones, Nostalgic Walk infiltrates our ears with a bass line sequence which lays a slightly hopping rhythm. The synth blows a charming melody which whistles on the bed of other sequences with keys alternating with a soft velocity, crossing a minimalist structure among which the variances, both in the forms and in the rhythms, reminds me of Peter Baumann's soft melodies in Trans Harmonic Nights. More cosmic, Noises and Voices roams in an intersidereal ambience which calls back the soft caresses of ether of a certain Klaus Schulze. You also have to hear Sense of Heart! Always journeying in the heart of his nostalgic periods, Bertrand Loreau revisits a great classic of Tangerine Dream in Semblance of a Mysterious Dream and its rhythms mislaid in its ambiospherical labyrinths. Initially galloping, the rhythm zigzags through its lunar phases with atmospherical passages up to the undeniable nostalgic recollections of the 70's. It goes then by a movement animated of lively sequences, with playful and alternating keys, to finally live on its cosmic wanderings and on its rhythmic jolts with the lugubrious ambiences weaved by a nasal synth and choirs roaming in iodized mists. This is a great track and Birds of Nowhere a real delight! Mind Floating embraces a little more the structures of New Berlin School with a circular rhythm which swirls as a long timeless waltz where synths draw fine harmonious lines à la Software.

The whirlwind of sequences which has liven up the tracks of the album so far is slightly different on Mini Mood which offers a more static rhythm with furtive movements of the sequencer which hesitate to dip the end of their keys into an icy water, developing thus a finely jerky rhythm which is rocked by the uncertainty and caressed by a synth which puts down as much of many cerebral lullabies as some smooth studded drizzle. It's a good lunar track, such as Birds of Nowhere which is more psychedelicosmic with a good dose of Mellotron tenderness. A Light of Encore gathers the ill-assorted cosmic elements of Birds of Nowhere to offer an intro which goes out of tune in this very down-to-earth circular rhythm. A rhythm forged of sequences with edgy tones of which the shadows shape a subtle echo which multiplies the depth. If the rhythm bewitches, the synths are not outdone with those Froesian harmonies which sing to us, this is one of the key points of NOSTALGIC STEPS. These solos have melodious forms which are overhanging a rhythm of which the increasing vigour passes under the radar in front of so much harmonious beauty. And Sense of Heart to end the album with these volutes of sequences forging these languishing hypnotic spins of which the bewitchments are adorned by their adjacent movements and of their rhythmic shades a bit discordant. These crisscrossed rhythms, which teem on this tribute to retro Berlin School which is this second album of Bertrand on Spheric Music, are always blown by harmonies in the sweet solo forms of a lyrical synth.

A little like if Bertrand Loreau was a ghost limb of Tangerine Dream or a spectral accomplice of Klaus Schulze, NOSTALGIC STEPS breathes of these supernatural ambiences which surrounded the classics of the vintage years' Berlin School. There are a lot of musical winks, and this is the spirit of the whole album, towards some works which revolutionized the genre. Thus, you should not be surprised or deceived to still have in the ears these old electronic hymns which make us regretted the bite of time in the cozy comfort of our memories. And even if the poetic musical universe of Bertrand Loreau is drawn in the skeletons and recollections of Berlin School, you should not lose of hearing that the synth wizard from Nantes always managed to affix on them his own harmonious signature. And it's the highest quality of NOSTALGIC STEPS.

Sylvain Lupari (April 8th, 2013) ***½**

Available at Spheric Music

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