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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Cartas de Japón Rucalen (2023)

Updated: Feb 9

An excellent album of tribal vibes on great sequencer-based Berlin School

1 Rucalen 7:39

2 Toay 6:22

3 Pochi 7:55

4 Sus Scrofa 7:06

5 Medanal 7:51

6 Space Gauchos 8:16

Cyclical Dreams CYD 0072

(CD-(r)/DDL 45:11) (V.F.)

(Tribal, Berlin School)

Sequence at the end of the World is an album that totally seduced me when it was released in spring 2021. This first album by Cartas de Japón, a trio composed of Lucas Tripaldi, Pablo Bilbao and Esteban Menash, was, and still is, a breath of fresh air in the wonderful world of contemporary electronic music (EM). We heard very lively rhythm structures driven by sequencers and electronic percussion in a sonic revival proper to this new genre of Latinos School that follows the adventures of these 3 musician-synthesists who are at the origin of the excellent label Cyclical Dreams. It is very much the recipe of this excellent RUCALEN, an album all in dominant rhythms with a more accentuated tribal essence, premise of the superb decor of the natural reserve of Parque Luro. In fact, the main lines of this album come from the concert that Cartas de Japón gave in February of this year in this mythical place located in the province of La Pampa in Argentina. Here is a link for a video to watch about it: Cartas de Japón Live at Parque Luro. One finds a tribal vibe that breathes the majesty of the landscapes with organic textures and rubbery percussions that give an incredible sonic relief to the evolving rhythm structures find on this album.

The first rhythmic phase of the title track lands in our ears with percussive clappings that twirl in a circular axis. A mixture of percussion and of bass sequences with elastic jumps already restructures this rhythm some 60 seconds later. Becoming heavy and resonant, Rucalen's structure, even interspersed with atmospheric phases, has the elements to make us dance like those African dances where our senses are slowed down by a drug making us limp zombie-like. The introductory claps have become less noticeable and float in the background, crumbling a semblance of harmonic riffs as synths divide the elements of magic mushroom ambiences with short tunes that roll in loops. This slightly groovy electronic rock extends its dimension over a distance of more or less 4 minutes before the introduction of Rucalen comes to swallow its finale. The synths are more dominant in a track like Toay, which offers an almost identical structure but slightly more lively than Rucalen. The harmonies are always brief and also roll in loops in a tonal setting that is more organic, which is more faithful to the panorama proposed by the Argentine trio. A guitar texture also brings a new dimension to the music whose rhythm literally metamorphoses around the 5th minute with percussive slammings and a very nice dribbling rhythm at the sequencer, sending my ears to the side of White Eagle, one of my favorite albums of all time in the sphere of electronic music of the MIDI years.

The elasticized resonance of the slow hammering in the opening of Pochi is an element that immediately hooks us into this structure that evolves with an acceleration mode approach. Without being very fast, the rhythm is catchy enough to make us roll our neck! The synths throw lament jets that float above an organic fauna, and just below the stars. A texture of tam-tams adds depth to this rhythm whose synths' ambiences breathe a bit of the essences of TD's Flashpoint soundtrack. Lucas Tripaldi, Pablo Bilbao and Esteban Menash elaborate all the finesse of the tribal ambiences linked to the reserve of Parque Luro, especially in a context where the Earth flirts with the Cosmos. Although present on most of RECULEN structures, the mesh between the textures of aboriginal percussions, heavy and hammering, to the restrained impulses of the rubbery sequences is quite simply hallucinating on this title.

Twisted waves of reverberation await our ears as Sus Scrofa opens. Samples of an awakening forest and a fluty tune float between our ears, and early on a bed of clangorous percussions. Sequential bass chords are thumping greedily, extending their resonance over the tempered frenzy movement of the drums as the flute becomes a synth coo that will create soon an earworm. The synths are more present in this track which transits towards an atmospheric phase before perfecting the rhythmic richness of the music. We flirt with a tribal psybient mood with a track like Medanal which proposes a structure of sleepy, of meditative rhythm with good percussion effects, resonating like the arrow thrown of a crossbow, on a slow cadence imposed by a metronomic beat of a bass-sequence. A tribal dialogue accompanies the opening, as well as the closing, of this track where the synths draw translucent arcs above a terracotta horizon. There is a good dose of emotion in these synth waves, especially with these hallucinogenic haze banks that have a flavor of Pink Floyd from the Wish You Were Here years. These waves let filter melancholic filaments, like these electronic chirpings which remind me oh how much I miss Klaus Schulze and sound effects which have this tendency to flirt with terrestrial elements as much as extraterrestrial ones. Good fat chords, full of reverb juice, add a dramatic dimension to a very bewitching music. The hazy waves of the synths give a sordid atmosphere of angst movie in the opening of Space Gauchos. Strange whispers help to feed this essence of hidden terror. The breaths of these waves are like those of a mechanical beast that burns with despair on a superb structure of ethnic trance. Latent, this dance of submissive spirits explodes with another splendid texture of aboriginal tam tams of which the feverish beats resound under a huge block of mist compacted by orchestral arrangements. Percussive claps echo all around, increasing the rhythmic mass of a structure that will metamorphose to lead our ears towards the infinite possibilities of sequencers and electronic percussions in a final two-cadence that also projects us into the rhythmic fantasies of Chris Franke from the time of White Eagle and Hyperborea. Even the synths are impregnated with this Tangerine Dream influence! No but what a way to conclude an excellent album of Cartas de Japón. A name to remember and this RECULEN is definitely an album to get! Yes, as good as Sequence at the end of the World.

Sylvain Lupari (February 9th, 2023) ****¾*

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

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

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