CARBON BASED LIFEFORMS: Twentythree (2011)
Updated: Jan 19
“Sharply more ambient Twentythree remains not less sharply remarkable”
1 Arecibo 9:20
2 System 7:31
3 Somewhere in Russia 8:36
4 Terpene 5:56
5 Inertia 10:33
6 VLA (edit) 10:01
7 Kensington Gardens 6:24
8 Held Together by Gravity 8:05
(DDL 66:26) (V.F.)
(Psybient, Chill-out, Electronica)
I read over internet that Carbon Based Lifeforms is unpredictable. That the Swedish duo loved diversity and that their first 3 opus puzzled an audience always captivated by the tetanized approach of Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad. And TWENTHYTHREE reinforces these comments. After a percussive album in Interloper, where lascivious rhythms rubbed shoulders with cerebral ambiences, this 4th opus of CBL is a delicious ambient ode. An interstellar journey whose 8 tracks, independent one of the other, lived by latent rhythms, scattered voices and composite sounds trapped and floating in the dense and sumptuous layers of multi-sonic synths. It is a tale for cosmonauts, a breath of life for the lonely and, above all, a monument of drifting music.
Arecibo initiates this astonishing cosmic odyssey with a heavy dark breath which drifts quietly towards the space abyss. Like flows of cosmic lava, the synth layers with hybrid tones pile up and invade the progression of this dark introduction. These heavy and slow layers are entwined in an oblong cerebral ballet where angelic breaths caress an implosive sound fauna and stifle stray riffs which modulate a delicate latent pace. One would believe to be in the astral territories of Steve Roach with this multiplicity of synth layers of varied tones which sing and flow like cosmic tributaries towards a powerful atonic crescendo to crash on the shores of an interstellar beach. System's cosmic waves are clearer, smoother and sharper. They flow and float like morphic winds and awaken chimes, pulsations with sounds of rattlesnakes and this astonishing tonal flora that slumbers behind these synthesized curtains. This abundance of colorful tones, implosive rhythms, cosmic noises and poltergeist voices is one of the great riches of TWENTHYTHREE and provides an increasing auditory curiosity. Somewhere in Russia is an ode to contemplative solitude. Very moving with these poignant synth layers which are juxtaposed in a superb and slow dreamlike ballet, Somewhere in Russia draws emotions which pierce us with very beautiful layers of mellotron gravitating like a fusion of lamentations under a collection of unfinished rhythms. You have to hear them cry. They tear the soul! Floating synth pads push and jostle to introduce Terpene. Like fluty curls' airs, they roll and undulate while reminding us of how beautiful Structures from Silence is. Here again, you have to hear this sound fauna which is doing tick-tock under its melancholic synth loops to appreciate the multi-dimensionality of TWENTHYTHREE with this title which oscillates between cosmic and oceanic serenity.
And so goes the erosion of this album! Continuing between the ambivalence of spatial seas and spaces, Inertia envelops us in an immense shroud of placidity with its multitude of intersidereal winds that bundle up an astonishing sound fauna with abstract tones. Voices of cosmic sirens blow above the synthesized chants, creating a tasty mixture of litanies as angelic as they are morphic which easily transports us to the doors of a lethal sleep. And the more it goes, the more beautiful it is! VLA is the calmest and warmest track on this album. It is a slow catatonic immersion whose heavy breaths spread an aura of serenity over the few fragmented movements and the few sound scraps which find refugee under the slow morphic oscillations. Kensington Gardens is at the gates of a real promiscuity with a bustling neighborhood life which struggles to make its bell-ringed uses heard behind heavy canvases with syncretic sounds. Held Together by Gravity closes this album with an approach tinged with latent paranoia. We hear whispers, chimes and curious sighs foment, while the synth layers are entangled to unify in a very soft morphic ballet, quietly chasing away this smell of insidious madness which is metamorphosed into a splendid ode to the serenity of souls.
Clearly more ambient, TWENTHYTHREE is nevertheless clearly as remarkable. The Carbon Based Lifeforms phenomenon transcends the universe of down tempo and the ambiences sclerosed by a radioactive sound fauna to radiate an incredible approach as meditative as cosmic. TWENTHYTHREE is superb. Different from Interloper, of course, but just as delicious. It is a long cosmic and dreamlike ballet full of emotionality like oblong synth layers with hybrid tones which fold up with outbursts of tenderness and tear. It is a foray into the universe of the poetic environment where only Steve Roach had set foot with his titanic works. To recommended and not just halfway!
Sylvain Lupari (November 17th, 2011) *****
Available at CBL Bandcamp