BRIDGE TO IMLA: The Radiant Sea (2017)
“The Radiant Sea is a mosaic of atmospheric elements which is ideal for those who enjoy a long quiet journey in the twilights of dark ambient music”
1 Prologue: The Kuroshio Current 6:40 2 Tsushima Basin 1:56 3 Shatsky Rise 7:09 4 The Aleutian Current 3:15 5 Hikurangi Plateau 3:05 6 Mariana Trench 4:51 7 Louisville Ridge 4:47 8 The California Current 1:34 9 Richards Deep 7:14 10 Raukumara Plain 7:19 11 Emerald Fracture Zone 6:43 12 Fobos-Grunt 4:13
13 The Humboldt Current 5:24 14 Galathea Depth 5:22 15 Epilogue: Ring of Fire 4:24 Winter-Light – WIN 013
(CD/DDL 74:47) (V.F.) (Dark Ambient)
A quiet journey in twilights rich in synth waves and in hollow breezes where the purity of waters is confronted to the immorality of men! Set up on an implosive storm of 75 minutes, THE RADIANT SEA is the result of a collaboration between Michael Brückner and Hans-Dieter Schmidt who form from now on the Bridge To Imla project. I know well enough Michael Brückner's style to know that the German musician adapts himself at every level, from ambient music to sequenced Berlin School by touching a little to the EDM style, while Hans-Dieter Schmidt, who is known in the field since the end of the 80’s with its project Imaginary Landscape, is rather of the ambient kind with deep soundscapes which flirt with a meditative approach. The history behind this album goes back to the Fukushima Drones album, a collaboration of various artists to raise funds in order to support the victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster. This album appeared on the Aural Film label in 2013. Michael Brückner had composed then the track All the Weight of the Sun. He also wrote a rather impressive stream of ambient music of which the main lines guide the music of this album. It's at that time that the idea to realize an album with Hans-Dieter Schmidt, who had already collaborated on Brückner's One Hundred Million Miles Under the Stars back in 2012, had been moved forward. Some 4 years later, both musicians realized a solid quantity of purely atmospheric music, very cinematic music, to Robert Rich who has delicately retextured and remasterised it in his Soundscape Studio.
A muffled humming wraps gradually the tick-tock of a clock and the voice of a narrator. Like a starving rumbling, it swallows these elements in an avalanche of synth layers which outspreads such as a flow of lava. This flow of sound magma congeals its fury when it melts down into the Neptunian breezes of an azure blue. We hardly crossed the 3 minutes and already the atmospheric elements of Prologue: The Kuroshio Current give the colors of the tones of THE RADIANT SEA. Between an alarmist fury countered by the quiet force of the reconstructive elements of the nature, the music of Brückner/Schmidt spreads its contrasts with a tonal elegance which makes the strength of this first opus. But here, the music of this album is only intended for the fans of atmospheric elements, at the image of the artistic seal of the Dutch label Winter Light which produces this album. A melody sculpted in the abandonment escapes from a piano, signature of Michael Brückner who likes to mislay these pensive lines of piano. The soundscapes here follow each other like a morphic monument which takes place as a music for documentary on the continual battles of the Pacific Ocean. These rumblings pursue the descent of this flow up through the borders of Tsushima Basin, where ring bells in a mess, to reach the soft moaning of a violin skillfully sculptured by Hans-Dieter Schmidt on his EWI. These two elements are rather present in this oceanic ode. We are in the more melodious lands in this second part of Shatsky Rise. Except that the melodious verses are extremely rare in this album. But they arise as shadows throughout an opaque sound curtain. Like in The Aleutian Current and its strident whistles which very make contrasts with the backdrop always dark or still with the distant orchestrations in Hikurangi Plateau.
What fascinates in this album is this subtle gradation of the atmospheres, thus the emotions, which follows peacefully the advance of its sonic current. The caresses of Aeolus are lively and shrill, as in Mariana Trench which spreads slowly its shroud of fragility by crossing the very oriental approach of the violin in Louisville Ridge. The notes of piano roam here with a fascinating will to disappear in the steam of good synth solos. I have this impression to hear the surrealist decor of Vangelis here. After another interlude of dark mediation in The California Current, Richard Deep, which does very Steve Roach by the way, shakes elements of rhythms which fast sink into oblivion. Raukumara Plain is a good title where fascinating voices whisper in the tears of violins. Sound effects are painting the decor like knife blows on a silk painting. There are many elements in this title which seems to be the core of THE RADIANT SEA. Emerald Fracture Zone confirms this hypothesis with a very sibylline approach. The ringings which sparkle almost everywhere in this landscape of shadows remind me of the Michael Stearns' oceanic, and nevertheless melodious, universe on the M'Ocean album. A pure delight and a classic of ambient music which throws its particles in THE RADIANT SEA. Multiple ringings also decorate the somber universe of Fobos-Grunt. One has to wait until The Humboldt Current before hearing the shiny side of this album. It's a soft moment of serenity embellished by layers of violin and pearls of a piano always so subdued. With breezes become darker again, Galathea Depth calls the finale of this album with a pack of breezes which moves towards Epilogue: Ring of Fire. This last title contains in its 5 minutes the wealth of this first album of Bridge To Imla. An album very rich in tones and in colors of sounds which should undoubtedly please the aficionados of the genre. Need to say that with names as much legendary in the domain, the result meets the expectations.
Sylvain Lupari (January 15th, 2018) *****