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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Beyond Berlin World Gone Mad (2023)

Ambient and rhythmic Berlin School that link the old and new visions

1 World Gone Mad 20:37

2 Legacy 21:20

3 Stages 10:46

4 Pleasant Challenge 14:17

(CD/DDL 67:00) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

If the Groove NL label's releases are always very appetizing to New Berlin School fans, Beyond Berlin's music is probably the only one that transits between the old and new musical looks of this style still revered by thousands of ears around the world. The title WORLD GONE MAD refers to the events that shook our planet in 2022. Blending elements of dark ambience with plucked melodies over glass arpeggios and stationary yet slightly driving rhythms, Rene de Bakker and Martin Peters evoke the consequences of these incidents on the people and creatures that inhabit Earth.

A delicate misty breeze is the source of the title track on the Dutch duo's 6th opus. It weeps in the background of a carousel of arpeggios of which the shimmer makes our eardrums scintillate. The synth waves have a very melancholy texture in this slow opening, putting a lot of emphasis on the title of the track and its origins. Further arpeggios, twirling with a rhythmic essence, add in the background, while a pulsating bass line makes its boom-booms heard over a good distance. The rhythm is ambient. The silver sequences shimmer more than they incite a driving rhythm as the synths' apocalyptic trumpets sing. The track takes on a dramatic momentum just before its 8th minute, coinciding with a new rhythmic dynamism propelled by the increased velocity of the sequencer and a more sustained beat of the pulsing bass line. The color of the sequences varies as much as the inflections in its rhythmic texture which serves more to make radiating the rhythmic tunes and the segmented melody of the arpeggios. The synths filter sizzling airs that undulate lazily over this ambient rhythm which in the disappears in a light cacophony of winds and drones. Legacy emerges from an opening conceived in dark breezes, drones and apocalyptic trumpet tunes to lay down a genuine old-school electronic rhythm structure with sequences that gambol and leap in short oscillatory cycles. It creates a nervous, an agile flow that nevertheless remains stationary. The sequences share the rhythmic and melodic aspect of the track, until isolated arpeggios begin to tinkle and undulate in a more melancholy texture. The synths weave fogbanks and good lyrical harmonies that float in the form of evanescent solos. The track takes a more atmospheric turn around the 12-minute mark. The mellotron throws out fluty airs with that very Tangerine Dream essence, creating evanescent melodic bits that shimmer even more in the gleam of the circular ballet of arpeggios. A synth bass slumbers in this lunar setting, where we also hear some pretty nice analog-era electronic effects, and its exhalations support this upward ambient rhythmic movement of the sequencer which is in symbiosis with the dance of the arpeggios. Thus, concluding Legacy on a more atmospheric note that is ideal for the daydreamers.

Rene de Bakker and Martin Peters bring the sequencers out of the shadows in the second half of WORLD GONE MAD. Dark winds, dull pulsations and electronic noises of a night of terror are at the origin of Stages. The pulsating beats resonate more and more, even shaking an arpeggio necklace that makes a melody sparkle in a circular ascension axis. The synth throws jets of melody in shades of flute and fog. Both are cohabiting in an increasingly tenebrous ambience. Like a scary movie! The ambiences, like the cadenced melody of the arpeggios, accentuate presence and velocity until ...Boom! Stages explodes with a heavy, driving rhythm, like some great Redshift stuff, around the 4-minute point. The sequencer is heavy, and its cadence resonates in the artifices of the synths. They release banks of mist and some evanescent melodies in the form of short solos. In short, a solid Berlin School heavy, slow and circular that's ideal for getting our memory bank and neurons working. This is a huge Beyond Berlin track! Rumbly bass exhalations initiate the delicate, bouncing rhythm of the arpeggios in Pleasant Challenge. A second sequencer line gets graft. It rams the stationary rhythm into the gentle swirling effect of the first sequenced arpeggios. And the more the structure develops, the more it borrows a sequence pattern that sounds very Tangerine Dream. The bass beats inject an aura of resonance into this slow opening where the 2 sequencer lines escape, competing between cadenced melody and pure rhythm. There are beautiful ratcheting effects in this structure, where the bass line, stealthy and ever present from the start, structures an ascending rhythm slightly as fluid as the melodic sequenced line. The synths are not silent. They complete the decor with the usual effects of the chthonian genre, as well as some fine musical solos.

If, like Beyond Berlin's message suggests, we only have one Earth, we have to take care of it. The adage is also true for the Dutch duo. Rene de Bakker and Martin Peters flirt with all the styles of Berlin School on WORLD GONE MAD. And they do it with style, creativity - particularly on Pleasant Challenge - and panache in the art of creating rhythmic melodies that stick to the ear and set the memory bank ablaze.

Sylvain Lupari (July 24th, 2023) *****

Available at Groove nl

(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)

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